Monday, March 7, 2011

2011 Umstead Marathon

Umstead 2011: Attack of the Ticks
Ticked off
Despite my detailed and expert Mascotologist analysis, I once again failed to prognosticate the Umstead Marathon mascot. None of my four leading candidates landed the title this year.

Surprisingly, it was Umstead newbie Barefoot Josh who correctly picked the critter. As you can see above, The Conclave decided to follow up last year's cute bunnies with creepy little ticks. For picking the correct animal, Josh wins a bag full of live ticks. I'll start collecting them off of the dogs and will ship the bag to him at the end of the summer.

Mascot Grade
I'm going to give the Conclave's choice of a tick a B+.
I like that they got back to the dark and edgy spirit of the original horse fly mascot, but I think they neglected the superior arachnid: the spider.

Anyone who has run Company Mill early on a summer morning and collected a dozen spiderwebs with their face would agree with me.

Sam Brown on his way to sub-3
Photos from the Race
Harold Hill
Let's start with the important stuff:
  • Peak Photo Media generously provides professional finish line photos for free (I think)
  • Awesome endurance celebrity Frank Lilley took this race off to volunteer and take pictures.
  • Jim & Jade Wei got a lot of great shots too.
  • Shannon ran with her camera while cruising to an Umstead PR.
Blog Posts
Links to more timely and creative posts than this one:

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Cannot thank the volunteers enough. Year after year, they put on the best race experience you could ever hope for.

A Shout Out to Shout Outs
Umstead is a friendly race, and runners will shout words of encouragement to one another as we cross paths.
However, we tend to rely on the well worn out "Good job!". I found myself spouting this over and over again on Saturday.
In fact, in Der Scott's account above, he heard it so many times it made him sick to his stomach.
His only salvation was a novel shout out of "Strong work!", which powered him to the finish.

During the race I tried to think of something creative like that, but my oxygen starved brain could only come up with the somewhat demoralizing and insulting "Hang in there!"

Maybe the race could help us out and post signs along the way with alternative phrases we could use. Things like:
  • "You look fabulous!"
  • "Slow down! Enjoy the day"
  • "Nice Legs"
  • "Love the way you tie your shoes!"
  • "Your chest hair is quite symmetrical!"
  • "There are ticks crawling on your back!"

The "Finishing in Style" Awards
(Updated results)

5th Place
Goes to my sister Monique.
It is quite astounding that she has only run on trails twice, and both times were Umstead Marathons. Training only on the flat concrete in Michigan, she navigated the roots, rocks and hills in a fast 3:47 without falling. But that's not why she gets the award.

The months of running on snow and ice covered streets prepared her somewhat for trails, but she did not escape the single track unscathed.

"I'm afraid to take off my shoe," she told me when she finished, "Since mile 4, it felt like I was growing a 6th toe."

She took the shoe off to reveal something straight out of a cartoon.
It was a ridiculously gigantic, brilliantly glowing, neon red blister on her big toe. It made a "thump, thump, thump" throbbing sound as it grew larger by the second.

"WOW. That's going to need some medical attention."

4rd Place
Goes to Dr. Ken.
After busting out a crazy fast 3:10 in Umstead (equivalent to a sub-3 road marathon), he heroically went on to do emergency surgery on Monique's big toe, popping the life threatening blister before it got any bigger.

3nd Place
Goes to Jason Figge, who risked severe calf cramping by going airborne and tagging the finish line banner.

2nd Place (update)
Goes to Shannon D., who scored trail-love just a half mile into the race.
He went on to run another 25.7 and finish bleeding from four places.

Photos by Jim Wei and Shannon
1st Place
Goes to Brandy Burns.
She stopped at the aid station at mile 20, and donned a stunning red dress, and sprinted down the home stretch.
Now that's finishing in style!

Other Results
Monique, Shannon and Josh all ran together most of the way. You can read Josh's account here.

Shannon went on to finish 3rd female, and Monique 5th.

My Race
As for my experience, I'll spare you the details, because  it was pretty much the usual:
  1. My legs hurt all week
  2. I ran the race anyway
  3. Got incredibly lucky that I finished in one piece
  4. My legs hurt worse now. 
The photo below captures my mix of emotions:

  • Utter exhaustion
  • Stunned disbelief that I had made it the whole way
  • Amazing fortune to be bestowed with "wood"
  • Horror and revulsion that it was a tick.

Image by Peak Photo Media