3 Days at the Fair

Timed races are always interesting.  It’s hard to even call it a race, because you are really not competing against anyone else.  In theory, all you have to do to be a finisher is to start.  Each person has their own goal and can stop when they have reached it.  Placements are made on overall distance, but you can constantly hear people ask “what’s your goal today?”, and encouraging each other to push just a little bit further.

Mother Nature was in a sour mood, AGAIN.  All day Friday it rained…hard.   It was a sufferfest to push through the wind and sideways rain.   It pummeled us from shortly after the start until pre-dawn the next day.  It was brutal, punishing, and truly not fun.

It is easy to step off the course and call it a day.  Most people don’t.   Canadian National records were broken.  Many PR’s were set .  I watched runner after runner dig deep and do what they had to do to maintain relentless forward progress.

Here’s how it went for a few of my friends:

Jim-If you asked him, he would tell you that he didn’t have a goal.  He turns 50 next week, and that was his minimal acceptable distance.  However, he kept upping the ante with each mile.  Even when he stopped, he would start a new lap, just in case he decided to start again.  He pushed and pushed, and eventually finished 77 miles.  That last mile was with me on my final lap. 
It is funny to note that this man and I, we share a gift.  We are able to think the same thought simultaneously, and without prompting.  However, our gift is limited to Seinfeld dialogue.  I remember the first time it happened.  We were slogging along and started giggling.  We looked at each other and said in unison, “Kramer as a turkey---“hey Buddy”.  OMG!  Pandora’s box has been opened, and we’ve done it innumerable times since.
Happy birthday, my friend.  I hope you enjoy your BRC.

Ken-He is new to ultra racing, although he is one of the race directors for the Beast.  He had an amazing showing during his first 24 hour race.  I was with him when he passed the furthest distance he had ever run.   He would go on to more than double it.  He too increased his goal from 50 miles, to 62, and eventually settled on 65.  The next day, he kept saying, “I should have signed up for the 48 hour race”.  Other than one horrible, horrible mistake (Matilda), he ran a perfect race and finished his final lap ahead of the overall winner.   Way to go, Ken.  You earned your merit badge.

Marco---Oh, Marco.  I have been running with this guy for years.   Jim and I refer to him as our son.  He just turned 35 and aimed high.  He registered for the 72 hour event, which meant he started the race a day early.  It gave me a chance to crew for him and I loved it.   When Marco runs, everyone knows it, because he talks to EVERYONE.   I’ve seen all kinds of moods and challenges face him, and he takes them all with a joke and a smile.  
You would think that on a one-mile loop course, I would see my friends constantly, but it is funny that I can go hours without passing them.  It cracks me up that for the first 24 hours we ran together, I NEVER saw Marco on the course.  I only saw him at the tents or aid station, not running.  Hmmmm…I know he was out there, because he hit a lifetime distance PR of 110 miles.   Go runner, Go!

Chris-  This is one strong lady.  She is made of solid muscle and determination.  She set out to run a qualifying Boston time and then crew for her husband.  I watched her literally run circles around me as she pounded out the pace she would need to qualify.  She hit a small bump in the road close to the end but was able to rally and nail the time she needed with five minutes to spare.  
When she finished, she immediately championed the cause of helping her friends.  I would see her every loop and she gave me either a kick in the butt or a pat on the shoulder.   When I was struggling, with tears in my eyes, she offered about six different ways to help.   When I overcame the struggle, she was there, cheering me on loud and strong.  Thank you Chris….It meant the world to me!

Joe- This man belongs to Team RWB (Red, White, Blue) an organization that helps soldiers transition back to civilian life after time in the military.  Joe spent the last several months getting as many veterans as possible to sign his team shirt.  His goal was to run as many miles as the age of the oldest soldier.  When I would ask him what mile he was on, he would say, "this one is for ____". This 69 year old gentleman ran faster than I have ever seen him go and he completed 80 miles!  Truly impressive.  Kudos.

Nicole-OMG!  This is Marco’s girlfriend.  I call her Tinkerbell.  She just sparkles.  She ran the race starting on Saturday, after the rain had stopped, and I truly believe she was a living rainbow.  I saw her on one of her first miles (in a sparkly rainbow tutu) and she hugged me and told me, “I have something waiting for you back at camp, and they rhyme with cupcakes”.   It was like she said she loved me.  She kept that sparkle and ran 25 miles further than she had ever gone before.   When I woke up on Sunday morning, Tinkerbell was outside on the course and said, “I ran 22 miles while you were sleeping”.  Then she did a little ballet jump and was off again.  Amazing.

Otto- This is going to look like a typo.  Otto ran 212 miles.  When I was crewing Thursday night, Jim texted me and asked for an update.  I told him Otto was struggling.  Jim’s reply, “that’s okay, no one recovers like Otto”.  This is true, I saw him rebound time and time again.   He was the one who saved my race.  I had thrown in the towel.  I took myself off the course, enjoyed a very long nap and a leisurely shower.  I was on the sidelines cheering when Otto stopped me.  He said three words that turned me back into a runner:  “walk with me”.   Thank you, Otto. 

As for me, It wasn’t my prettiest 100.  There were points where I could only run 5 miles at a time without requiring an extended break.   The rain trashed my feet and I was ready to call it a day at 75 miles.   I found a way to get back in the game and was able to do what I needed to do to reach 100.  I worked hard for those final 25 and am proud of myself for turning a stop into a pause.

Thank you my friends for an epic weekend full of smiles, belly laughs, good food and great conversations.   I love you all and feel blessed that I could share this time with you.  I'm proud to say that we all won our races.


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