Thursday, March 5, 2015

¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!

Although the 2015 Umstead Marathon has been canceled, the mascot speculation continues, as we still do not know what the critter is for this year's defunct race.

It is tradition among Umstead runners to try to guess what the mascot will be. But on this blog we also argue for what the mascot should be.

Unfortunately the Umstead Conclave is a very secretive group and actively avoids choosing mascots that are obvious, or ones the public is clamoring for. While this does provide surprise mascots such as the "horned devil caterpillar" of 2014, it also discriminates against such worthy candidates such as the common black rat snake or the coyote.

Last year, this horrible mascot injustice sparked the great Possum Revolution.
Our short-lived, but successful coup managed to install the Possum as a co-mascot for 2014 race.

Our small band of rebels then formed our own secret society, the:

Revolutionary Umstead Mascot Possum Society (R.U.M.P.S.)
Leading the Crusade to end Umstead Mascot Injustice

With RUMPS, the revolution lives on, and we will continue our struggle to bring the people their mascots. So let us consider just some of the worthwhile candidates, considering  both questions: Will it be? Should it be?.

There were many suggestions such as: javelina, mountain beaver, whales, Bigfoot, etc. But we will just stick with things that are in Umstead. Everybody knows that bigfoot is in Uwharrie.

Candidate: Beaver
Suggested By: Shannon
Chance it will be: 5%
Why it should be: Every time you were out running, and saw someone wearing the shirt, you could call out: "NICE BEAVER"
RUMPS score: 55
Candidate: Running Cedar
Suggested By: Jeff Wald, Steph Jefferies
Chance it will be: 1%
Why it should be: Has "Running" right in the name, it is everywhere in the park. A plant is due!
RUMPS score: 65

Candidate: Crayfish
Suggested By: Bill Harris
Chance it will be: 1%
Why it should be: Crustacean long overdue. Unique, and damn scary looking.
RUMPS score: 70
Candidate: Black Snake
Suggested By: Jay Spadie
Chance it will be: 2%
Why it should be: Most common snake in the park. IT IS NOT A COPPERHEAD. Would look awesome on a shirt and pint glass.
RUMPS score: 45

While these are all worthy candidates, there is one that is long overdue, and yet perfect for this year's dead race... to be revealed Saturday...

Candidate:  2015 RUMPS Mascot
Suggested By: The Revolution
Chance it will be: 100%
Why it will be: We already have the shirts printed...
RUMPS score: 100

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Umstead Marathon- THANK YOU!

Photo by Harold Hill
As you have all heard by now the Umstead Marathon has been canceled for 2015.
At first we were heartbroken. For Shannon and I, it's more than a race. It is THE event of the year.

But it's like when you break a finishers pint. It's sad at first, but then you realize you haven't lost the experience or the friends behind it.

Thank You Volunteers!
Photo by Dennis Geiser
The cancellation just makes us realize how much we appreciate this race and all the people behind it that make it happen. Thank you for twelve great years, and looking forward to many more.

Thank You Conclave!
Photo by Dennis Geiser

Thank You Godiva!
Photo by Dennis Geiser
Hard Climb Hill
And really the Umstead Marathon is just an excuse to run and hang out friends. And that will continue on Sunday at Hard Climb Hill.

While the race has been canceled, the mascot speculation has not.
So look for a Mascotology post tomorrow!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2015 Umstead Mascotolgy Part 2 - Mascot Race

Mascots from the first eleven Umstead Marathons line up to race
(Note: not an actual photo)

Damn Damp Damper
As I write this, freezing rain is coming down on top of the 6 inches of snow left over from last week, which covered the 3 inches of ice we got days before that. The forecast is for more rain all week.

By Saturday, Umstead will be a giant mud pit, and there is talk of canceling the race. That puts a huge damper on things. Umstead Marathon is our favorite race, anytime, anywhere. I would rather have all the other races this year canceled than miss Umstead. And this year, we have celebrity runners traveling 2620 miles just to run these 26.2.

Let's cross our fingers and hope things work out.

The Great Mascot Race
The critters in Umstead don't mind a little snow, ice, rain, and mud. Well, maybe they do, but they don't require dry parking lots. So their race will go ahead as planned.

In past years, our Mascotology analysis focussed on scientific taxonomy, Park Presence, Running Relevance, Silhouettability, Logotimidation, Inevitability, etc. This year we will look at the mascots ability to run a marathon.

So we are lining up all eleven mascots from the previous years and seeing who comes out on top.
Because of the weather, we will not have aid stations at this race. To compensate, we have extended the cutoff time to 48 hours.

The fish decided not to run. His Achilles Tendonitis has been acting up lately,
and he hasn't been able to get in any decent training.

As expected the rabbit, who always has trouble pacing himself, takes off like... a rabbit.
The fly and the turkey vulture follow close behind. The possum, the horned devil, and the turtle lumber after them.

The bat and the squirrel, who have been up partying all night, fall asleep in the lodge.

Duck and Frog
The duck, who was too nervous to eat breakfast and spent the whole morning in the porto-potty, is really hungry. Before they can even make it out of Camp Lapihio he tries to eat the frog.

An artists rendition of the struggle.
Imagine that's a duck.
Hey! This could be a good motivational poster for a marathon.

The frog had trained really hard for this, and is not about to give up. So he starts choking the duck.
He ends up stuck in the ducks throat, and they are both carted off by the EMTs to be separated.
DNF for both frog and duck.

Shannon was upset that the frog and the duck were fighting.
So I have to add here that the frog and duck end up as best friends and have a book written about them.

Front of the Pack
Disqualified for leaving the course...
and also for murder.

On Reedy Creek around mile 10, the fly is feeling a little hungry. Some poor human just jogging in the park passes in the opposite direction, and she cannot resist making a meal out of him. So she turns around and follows him, joined by hundreds more flies who swarm around him. The poor jogger, screaming and swatting himself in the face and neck, gets halfway to Cary before he drops dead from blood loss. The fly is disqualified.

Jogger in Umstead Park Eaten Alive by Flies

The Turkey Vulture smells the dying runner from miles away. There is the odor of weakness and death, but also just a hint of Fruity Pebbles. The vulture cannot resist and circles back to for a taste .

The turkey vulture drops out to spend the day feasting on a rotting engineer
Back at the first aid station the Horned Devil is pulled from the course and disqualified.
Turns out he was a not an official mascot, and was running with a fake copy of the possum's bib.

Meanwhile back at the cabin, the flying squirrel the wakes up, drinks some coffee and heads out. Leaping from tree to tree, he quickly catches up and passes the turtle, the possum, and Heiko.

Wait! What is Heiko doing here? Well it's not surprising, he's at at every race.
He could have won this thing, but unfortunately he gets distracted by an old hashing trail
and gets lost looking for a beer break.

Poor rabbit has to drop
Rabbit Fever
The rabbit, who is in the lead, starts to feel really ill and drops out at mile 20. He is taken to the hospital where is given a battery of tests.

"Turns out you have tularemia," says the doctor.
"Tularemia? What the hell is that?", asks the rabbit.
"Rabbit Fever.", replies the doctor, "you haven't been bitten by any ticks lately have you?"
"No, I don't think... OH NO"

The tick latches onto the rabbit at the start of the race hoping to ride him to the finish, 
but ends up putting them both in the hospital.

Slow and steady wins the race?
Nope. This is no fable, buddy. 
The turtle does set a PR though, with 34:12:39

Wheels fall off at the bottom of Cedar Ridge.

The flying squirrel is doing really well until he hits Cedar Ridge, where he bonks really bad. He shouldn't feel bad, though, this happens to almost everyone. 
Around mile 22, the possum waddles past the squirrel, "Good job!", she says, feeling a little bad for him, and then powers up the hill.

Her secret?
She had her pouch filled with 8 packs of Espresso Love Gu!

The possum passes the Squirrel on Cedar Ridge

Around 7 pm the bat wakes up, and flies the course in 1:49.
But Umstead is old school, there is no chip timing.
So she comes in 3rd place.

Possum Wins in 11:05:29!
(But are you really surprised?)

2015 Umstead Mascot Race Results*
PlaceYearNameGenderClock Time
22005Flying squirrelM11:34:55
DNF- Mile 202010HareM
DNF- Mile 202011TickF
DNF- Mile 152008Turkey vultureM
DNF- Mile 12012DuckM
DNF- Mile 12009FrogM
DQ - Murder2004Horse FlyF
DQ - Bandit2014Horned DevilF
*All participants were awarded plaques. Except the possum, who got a stuffed animal.

NEXT- Evaluating the picks for the 2015 Mascot
(... and hoping there is a race in 2015)