“Thanks, man, I really appreciate it, but I’m sorry to be messing up your time.” “No, not at all. Not a problem.” I had come across this distressed comrade sitting on a log when I had about five miles to go in the Bull Run Run 50 Mile race on April 12, and went over to see how I could help. He said he had stopped to retie his shoes and then got such bad leg cramps he couldn’t bend over to reach one of his shoes, or even to get up. So I tied his shoe and then offered him a hand to pull him up. He looked much relieved, so off I went. It kind of made my day to be able to help somebody out, and I chuckled silently over the fact that I had no finishing time to mess up. You see, I had screwed up the turns at the Do Loop aid station several miles back, causing me to cut three miles off the course and, when I realized what had happened I turned in my number at the next station as a DQ – not eligible for a finishing time. I proceeded on with a very long and grueling “fun run” that wouldn’t count for anything but for training value and proof to myself that maybe I could do this some time.
|Photo by the author, race shirt backside|
|Bob Fabia photo, Pope's Head Creek|
|Mike Bur photo, Little Rocky Run|
|James Williams photo, near Hemlock|
It was a long, hot day, and though things were cooling rather pleasantly toward the end of the afternoon, the battlefield casualty rate was significant. 49 runners out of 321 starters, or about 16 percent, had missed the cutoffs, pulled out voluntarily, or DQ’d somehow like me. Many still finished, and that was an impressive feat. That included two 70-year-olds, and two who had finished all 22 races. This was one awesome group of runners. I won’t know exactly what would have happened had I done the Do Loop, although finishing within the official cutoff time would have been very doubtful. That would have required some big-time second- or third-winds, and this wasn’t a day for that. Apart from sore feet and blisters, I had stumbled several times throughout, and fallen twice the first 16 1/2 miles, none of which was a sign of a strong run. Indeed, I was plain old beat, no two ways about it. So will I come back and try again? I don’t know, but I can’t let myself think about that now. I have to recover and get my butt into some serious training before I head to the beautiful Bighorns in June. One challenge at a time.
In closing, let me just say: Go, Boston runners, go!