A few days ago I made it pretty clear that I was not going to reveal any of the details of the 10K race (my first) that I was going to run on Saturday. The simple reason for this is that I did not train properly for the race. I would say that I didn’t train at all for it, but the truth is I went on a whopping two training run/walks in preparation for the race. Despite what I said a few days ago I will now tell you about the race in great detail because, frankly, it makes me look good.
Apparently this race day was part of a series of race days called “Beat the Blerch” run by somebody named “Oatmeal” and somehow involving exploding kittens. Sculptor?! patiently answered all of my questions about this but I still don’t quite “get it.” Whatever. The swag was decent and the cake was good. Beyond that I might as well have been at a Renaissance Faire for all I understood/connected with my surroundings on Saturday.
Alright, here’s what went wrong.
First, the event was supposed to be held over two days (Saturday and Sunday), but at some point, for somewhat vague reasons, Sunday was no longer an option and it was made a single day (Saturday) event without any change to the number of events being held (10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) and without any limit put on the number of competitors, the number of which was around 3,000.
Second, while the racers took off in “waves,” they were completely random both in their timing and in the sense that they were not based on anything, e.g., number of racers in each wave, age group, gender, ability, etc.. The result of which was that for most of the day the trail was filled with everyone from the slowest 10K walkers to the fastest marathon runners. Which brings us to the next issue.
Three, even if the race had been staged better it might not have mattered. The trail was 90% double and single-track trail (more on this issue below) and was simply too small to accommodate the the literally thousands of runners on the trail at any given time. There were multiple times during the race when I stood (not “walked,” stood) and talked with my fellow competitors while we waited for sections of the course to clear out so we could move again.
Fourth, the course itself. Since the announcement of the race the course had been billed as having some “trail sections,” but also including running on pavement, “groomed trails” (think packed gravel, wood chips, etc.), and some “cross country” sections. This was the party line until three days before the race when, via the events Facebook page (not via email, it should be noted), it was announced that this was a “serious trail race.” The end result was that the 10K racers arrived- most to their shock- to find that the course had .4 miles of pavement, about a hundred yards of groomed trail, and the remainder was constant up-and-down paths full of roots and large, loose rocks.
Fifths, the combination of overcrowding, narrow trails, unprepared runners (wrong footwear choices, anyone?), and the fact that most of the course was only accessible by foot meant that when I finished and entered the staging area the longest line was not at the water table, the food table, the bathrooms, or the swag/medal table, but at the medical trailer. Dozens and dozens of people with everything from broken bones (no, really) to dehydration were standing in line waiting for treatment. If there are no lawsuits in the wake of this event I will be shocked.
There were also issues with parking and transportation. Apparently the parking company hired by the race organizers never showed up and many of the bus drivers- including ours- didn’t know where they were going resulting in us, and many others, showing up late for our races, leading to even more congestion on the course.
Now, if you think I’ve exaggerated all of this to make myself look good, here are the actual numbers:
The winning 10K time on Saturday was 43:55 and only 23 of 1089 runners (male and female) completed the course in under an hour. Two things you should know about that 43:55 time. First, it’s about ten minutes slower that a normal winning time should be in a 10K XC or trail race. Second, it was run with a mostly empty course. Anyone hoping to win the 10K race was encouraged to be in the first wave of runners meaning they only had to contend with the half and full marathon runners who were already on the course (and half of their course was separate from the 10K race). Even those who walked the course needed as much as 3.5 hours to complete it!
So, where do I fit into all of this?
My time was 1:35:25, the average 10K time for men was 1:29:43. Again, to give you an idea of how tough this course was, I WALKED my second (and final) training effort in 1:19:00.
I finished 590th of 1089 1oK runners (male and female) and 27th of 41 in my age/gender group (males, 40-49).
So, by all accounts I was slightly below the “mid-line” in this fiasco.
As I said before, I did not train for this race and, oh by the way, I broke my left big toe 8:52 into the race when I had to stop short to avoid a fallen runner.
The Defense Rests.
ps: That I’m not mad at Sculptor?! for getting me into this debacle is a testament to the strength of our friendship! Also, we went to Steak n’ Shake afterwards.