Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Umstead Marathon Mascotology

Here we are again, only a few days away from the 2013 Umstead Marathon.

Beginners Guide
For those unfamiliar with the race, every year there is a different animal "mascot".
The mascot adorns the website, the shirts, and the finishers pint glasses for that year's race. Also, the top 15 male and female finishers receive a handmade wooden plaque in the shape of that animal.

The mascot is chosen by a bizarre and shadowy ritual known as the Umstead Conclave.  See here for details. The choice is kept in absolute secrecy until Friday, the day before race.

But we here at Running-Down are Umstead Mascotology experts and read the tell-tale signs to accurately predict what the mascot will be.

Adding further excitement to this year's mascot is that this is the 10th anniversary of the race. Anonymous sources have hinted that it will be "something special", and that "We will never be able to guess". We shall see...

Here is the chronology of the mascots so far:
  1. 2004 - Horse fly
  2. 2005- Flying squirrel
  3. 2006- Turtle
  4. 2007- Fish
  5. 2008- Turkey vulture
  6. 2009- Frog
  7. 2010- Hare
  8. 2011 - Tick
  9. 2012 - Bat
  10. 2013 - ????

Track Record
Running-Down has been making the calls as to not only what the mascot will be, but also what it should be. We have accurately predicted the mascot 1 out of 3 times.
On the matter of what it should have been, we were right 100% of the time.

YearShould have beenPredictionActualPrognosticator
2010DeerOpossum (see post)Hare?
2011OpossumDeer (see post)TickJosh
2012OpossumBat (see post)BatRunning-Down! 

The Rubric
This year I will be ranking the potential mascots along the according to the following categories:
  • Presence:  How often is the animal seen in Umstead?
  • Inevitability: Given what has come before, does this belong with the list?
  • Decennialality: Does it celebrate the 10th anniversary?
  • Cool Factor: How likely will it be for someone to come up to you and say "Cool Shirt!"
  • Intangibles: Anything else
Each category will be ranked with a score of 1-10, and added up for a final score.

The Candidates
We took submissions from facebook, and here are the nominees.

Submitted By Scott, et al.
PresenceYes, quite a bit7
InevitabilitySeems like this is way down the list of priority2
DecennialalityUnless they did something with the wing pattern, not much2
Cool Factor
"Come my lady. Come, come my lady. You're my butterfly. My sugar baby." 3
Scott saw one in Umstead this past weekend. A sign?10

Total Score24

Great Blue Heron
Submitted By Kristine Pryzgoda
PresenceIn the lakes, sure.8
InevitabilityYes, but not for a while5
Cool Factor
With the wings spread out, it wouldn't be too bad5
I think it is too soon after the Turkey Vulture10

Total Score28

Submitted By Scott
PresenceAaaa!! They are everywhere!!!8
InevitabilityYes, sooner or later. This one won't be a surprise at all12
DecennialalityHmmmm. Maybe they could hide the past mascots in the pattern on the scales?3
Cool Factor
This is a safe choice by the conclave.8

Total Score41

Submitted By Shannon, Josh 
PresenceUm, no.0
InevitabilityNot really2
Cool Factor
Would make a cool shirt, but an awful plaque. 6
Yes, a ten tentacled cephalopod would be popular with the kids, but let's be adults here.  0

Total Score18

10 Point Buck
Submitted By Heiko 
PresenceQuick, name the last animal you've seen in Umstead. Yeah, that's right, a Deer. 15
Inevitability  Again, a certain faction of the conclave is adamantly against a Deer since it previously was the mascot of the Uwharrie Mountain Run. But COME ON that was years ago!6
DecennialalityThe 10-point Buck idea is brilliant, but maybe a little too subtle8
Cool Factor
A deer isn't intimidating, but it is majestic6
Plaque would be difficult to carve.3

Total Score38

Swarm of 10 Horse Flies
Submitted By Brian Tajlili 
PresenceIn the summer, they are omnipresent10
Inevitability  They already did the Horse Fly in year one. Would they bring it back?3
DecennialalityAbsolutely. Ten Horse Flies is a great celebration, bringing back the original.10
Cool Factor
One fly on a shirt is great. Ten flies and people will be keeping their distance from you.3
There's already a horse fly on the back of every shirt. Maybe too many flies?5

Total Score31


Submitted By Josh
Cool Factor
Someone got beat up a lot in high school0

Total Score0

The Nine Part Decennial Hybrid Beast
Submitted By Shannon
PresenceIt may be lurking in deep in the forest...3
InevitabilityIt's either this year, or never2
DecennialalityThe ultimate 10 year mascot. A combination of all 9 past years.20
Cool Factor
Disturbing? Yes! Cool? No.2
Would be the worst plaque ever. It would be nothing but pipe cleaners1

Total Score28

Other submissions:

Owl - Iris Suttcliffe.
Coyote- Steph Jefferies. 
Dung Beetle - Debs Springer. 
Horse Manure - Jim Wei

Finally, the official Running-Down pick for 
the 2013 Umstead Marathon Mascot is... 

Drum roll, please...


Submitted By AC
PresenceOh, yes. I saw this one perched in a tree just outside of Umstead last year. He told me things...10
InevitabilityThe Conclave cannot deny me forever10
Decennialality10 toes on the front feet. What could be more special for the 10th? NOTHING10
Cool Factor
With snarling teeth? Oh yes. And that rat tail? Oh yeah. And just for Shannon, let's throw in glow in the dark eyes. Would be the best shirt, plaque, and glass ever.10
I know they have been purposefully NOT picking the Opossum just to spite me.
And they know that I know that.
So that's why they think they can sneak it past me this year without me picking it.
HA! But I know that they know that I know. That's how I know.

Total Score50

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Iron Dog 5K

These are IRONDOGS! Hard as nails!
(But even IRONDOGS sometimes need little doggie raincoats)
Shannon and I have a policy to run any race in the area that has "Dog" in the title or otherwise involves dogs.
So this morning we were standing in line at the North Carolina Art Museum to get our bibs for the Iron Dog 5K, in a steady 37° rain.

Many brave souls showed up with their pooches for the dog walk. We left our pack of dogs at home, as they were not allowed to run the 5K.

While standing In line, we ran into our friend Sean Kurdys, a guy who often kicks my ass in races.
After a quick warm up, I lined up behind him, desperately trying to tie my shoes before the race started.
I did four 5Ks last year, all without shoes. But today was way too cold and wet for barefoot. I'm no IronDog.

With a blast from an air-horn we took off with a sprint through the mud. Immediately a white iPhone flew past me and went skipping like a stone through the puddles. Next thing I saw when I looked up was the owner who had turned around to fetch it. He was twice my size and I ran straight into him like a bug hitting a windshield. "Whoa! Sorry!" My elbow is still hurting from that.

"Get on the greenway!", someone shouted. Suddenly the whole group of runners were jumping of a row of low bushes to get on the pavement. This wasn't starting well.

Wrong Way
I caught up to Shannon who was running with Sean and a guy in FiveFingers. The four of us were following a skinny guy in an orange hat, who stopped at the first intersection, "Which way?"

There was 3 orange cones across the path, but no person or marking indicating whether to go right or left.
"Right!", FiveFingers instructed confidently. I had no idea, so I followed him incorrectly down the greenway across the bridge over I-40.

The "suggested" 5K IronDog course

Coming back, Sean and I passed the skinny guy and then we came across a volunteer at another intersection. "Which way?"
"I don't know", she shrugged and pointed down a side path, "You were supposed to be coming from that direction"

We had totally screwed up the route, and led the entire 5K field the wrong way. I guess some volunteer course monitors had not shown up due to the weather, which is understandable. In any case, it really is the runners responsibility to know the course.

I looked at Sean, who was decisive, "Let's go straight!" Now we where just making it up as we went along.
"Let's go around the big loop. That should be about 3 miles."

The Official Sean Kurdys 5K course 
So Sean and I led the group down by the pond and through a parking lot. As we neared the finish line, he slowed to a jog. "You go. Go ahead." I think he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of "finishing" first.

But I have no shame. I sprinted through the finish line like a champion, winning in 20:57.
Though it is unclear what I "won" since I didn't actually run the course.
I immediately confessed this to the volunteers there, but they didn't seem that concerned. My garmin said we had run exactly 3.12 miles, so I sort of ran a 5K, just not the intended one.

Shannon was right behind us, the first female to finish the random 5K. We went back out for a "cool down" mile to see the chaos on the course. There were runners with bibs on running in every possible direction like ants who had lost their queen. Some were just standing frustrated in the rain. "Wheres the finish line?"

We went back to the car, to warm up and dry off, and had to start the heater because Shannon's feet had gone numb and were turning  a disturbing shade of yellow. Afterwards we headed back to the finish area to discover they had enough burritos to feed 100 people, but only about 10 runners left.

I grabbed two bags of free dog treats, and a burrito.
"Here take two", the volunteers offered, since they had extra. So grabbed another chicken burrito and a bag of chips.
"There's steak too?", I remembered that our fridge was pretty bare. "Can I have one of those too?"
I also grabbed a vegetarian one for Shannon.
And another bag of chips.
My hands were full until Shannon handed me a box. So I grabbed another 2 bags of dogs treats. Shannon grabbed two burritos of her own.
I looked around, expecting the police to show up and shoot us for looting.
"Well, there's no sense letting it all go to waste!", I said, trying to justify my greed.

While Shannon I sloppily stuffed burritos into our faces, they handed out age group awards to the few people left there. They were some sort of free pass to a "Warrior boot camp", possibly where we could work off our huge pile of food. I was relieved that there was no first place award, because I clearly was not eligible.

But as we were walking away, "Anthony Corriveau?", they handed me a gift card for first place.
An honest person would have declined the award. But my mouth was filled with burrito, and I just didn't have the courage to explain why I didn't deserve it. So I just nodded and took the envelope.

But before we could escape with our loot, I was accosted by a woman. "Are you the winner? I'm a reporter from the News and Observer and I'd like to ask you a few questions"
I wiped bits of food from my hands and face, and shook her hand.
She asked Shannon and I about why we ran this race, and we said "For the dogs!". Or specifically, the fund that helps people pay vet bills who can't afford them.
(You can read about the race in the article here. The reporter not surprisingly left us out.)

We then picked up our giant box of stolen goods and headed home.

When we got back, our 4 dogs bounced around as I pulled open a bag of the free dogs treats.
"Don't be greedy!", I scolded them, not least bit hypocritically.

The tainted award is a $50 gift card to "Unleashed, The Dog and Cat Store" in Raleigh.
We'll give it to the next person who adopts one of the dogs Shannon is always pushing on facebook.
We'll throw in some dog treats.
And a couple of burritos.

Friday, February 8, 2013

2013 Uwharrie Mountain Run Photos

Just in case you didn't see the photos on facebook, here is a link to them:

2013 Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 Miler finish line photos

You do not need an account to view them. Let us know if you would like a high rez one.

After running the 40 miler the past 3 years, Shannon and I decided to take a break and volunteer. I was still recovering from trying to run the 40 last year, and Shannon is training for the Umstead Marathon.

Race director Kim from Bull City Running gave us probably the most plum volunteer job there is there.
We got to work the 40 miler finish line, and we didn't have to show up until noon.

Water was still frozen at noon.

We still managed to screw it up however. Jason gave us the simple task of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but we just couldn't get the bread to line up.

So we left the kitchen area to some other more competent volunteers. Shannon took photos while I recorded peoples times.

Shannon worked VERY hard... to stay awake.

All I had to do was push a little button on a timing machine when someone finished. But after about 8 button pushes I broke the machine, and it started freaking out.

So I just recorded the peoples times by hand. If your finish time seems off, it is because the added/subtracted style points. If you ran through the finish line fast, I added extra time because obviously you didn't run long enough.

Next year we are going to try running it again, where we can do less damage.

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