"Why my father-in-law inspires the hell out of me."
So, Preston's dad has been visiting from Utah this week. It's been a blast having him around, especially since we hadn't seen him since our wedding last year.
He was here to see us, but in particular, he was here to run a race.
A really, really badass race.
This is the warning on the course website:
This is not your normal marathon. This is all rural, not a city marathon. The course is not certified. You will be in the middle of nowhere all the time with no porta-potties, no splits, no mile markers, nospectators, and late in the run possibly even no other runners. There are only 6 houses on the course and they have dogs. Aid stops are over 5 miles apart, so you will need to carry a water bottle. If youdecide to quit, there are no pick-up vans, so you will either have to walk to the aid station or hitch a ridewith somebody. The race will start at 6 pm and the temperature will probably be about 85 degrees withlittle shade. Darkness comes about 9 pm and there are no street lights. You will need a light for thereasons cited in the waiver. If you need to be catered to every couple of miles along the course or worryrunning in the dark, perhaps you should not come. We really have seen everything listed in the waiverexcept the polecats and they are there too. The drop out rate among veteran 50-milers is usually 40%or so. Think long and hard before you enter this event. If Lao-tzu were to give advice about this eventhe would say, "Come with no expectations and you will not be disappointed."
Now, if that doesn't get you jazzed up to run this race, I just don't know what would.
We headed down to Ellerbe at about 3:00 on Saturday for the 6pm start. And the description was correct - it is in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Preston and I had a job - we were to run support for Jim and make sure he was eating/drinking throughout the night. We found a great spot on the course (they pass by the start every 6 and 4 miles, so it was a great race to help with.)
This is the very casual, pre-race meeting. They mentioned rattlesnakes one too many times for my tastes.
There were maybe 60 people in the 50-miler, and maybe another 70 for the marathon. Here's Jim at the start. Pretty good spirits to start out!
P and I headed into the church nearby for dinner - the church ladies cook for racers and their teams. Yummy!
We knew we had to be back at the car around 7:20 to meet Jim. On the first loop, he was doing well, but it was pretty hot. Like, 85 degrees hot. Thankfully, he was staying hydrated and looked pretty good. 2nd and 3rd loops went like that - the heat was rough, but he was determined.
By about mile 20, it started storming. Thunder, lightning, rain, wind. Your basic nightmare. At this point, it was probably 1 am. I hid out in the car, and P stayed up to help Jim. The rain was very welcome because it cooled things off considerably. On the other hand, it made everyone's shoes wet, so we heard a lot of complaints about bilsters (not from Jim, but other folks).
My favorite part about the race wa getting to watch everyone come by - because they passed us 10 times, you could really cheer them on. We had nicknames for everyone. "Skinny" won the marathon, and "Yellow bra" came in second. "Cute asian lady in blue" finished around 6:00 am. Red-headed moustache guy said hello every time he passed. By the end, I was pulling for everyone on that course.
The winner finished at about 1 am. (um. wow.) After that, people straggled in until about 6 am. An army colonel ran with his friend who had been blinded in afghanastan. Tethered, they crossed the finish just before Jim. I got a little teery.
My triumphant father-in-law came across the line just after 6 am. After 12 grueling hours of storms, heat, and hills, he was in great spirits. It was so damned impressive. Seriously, you have no idea.
I'm definitely not interested in running a 50 miler, but man, that race had a very cool vibe. I'm seriously considering doing the 15 mile "shirt run" to be a part of the Mangum Track Club for life. Such cool people. I really enjoyed being a very small part of this very cool race.
Today, we've slept all day, and I suspect work is going to be tough tomorrow, but it was a fantastic adventure.