Sunday, April 12, 2015

Race Report: Circular Logic Marathon 2015


The 2015 Circular Logic Marathon on March 28 came off the best of the four we've done.  The timing system worked flawlessly and runner satisfaction was high, despite the 18F temperatures on race morning.  Our Wabash River Runners Club volunteers pitched in and did magnificently.

Though our marathon participation was down slightly from 2014, our relay teams were up substantially.   We left Cumberland Park truly litter free, as if nothing had happened...that's a tribute to all our runners.

It was a good race, thanks to all our runners and volunteers.

Race Details:

Why on earth would any sane person decide to become a Race Director?  I asked myself that question regularly in the run-up to this year's event...I'll answer later.  Suffice it to say, though, it's fascinating as a marathon runner to actually organize a marathon.

Here's the story of the day.  I thank Scott Fultz, a member of WRRC and a fine photographer for virtually all these photos.  We made all our race pictures this year free to anyone for download, a cool addition to this year's race.  If you are truly interested or have insomnia, you can also read my reports for the first three CLMs in 2014, 2013 and the inaugural CLM on 2012.

The one thing you can never guarantee is the weather on race day.  You set a date and hope for the best.  Weather was decent in our first two years, considering it's late March in Indiana.  In 2014, we had snow on race morning.  This year, it was bone-chilling cold!  Sunny, clear and a mere 14F when I arrived at the race site at 5:30am race day.

Illustrating this point, take a look at how I dressed as I made a very few pre-race announcements.  A hoodie and stocking cap, four layers on my torso, running tights, blue jeans and Carhart bibs on my legs, boots plus toe warmers was it cold!!

We were fortunate to have very little wind and a cloudless blue sky, which was at least visually attractive if not effective in its warmth.  My uber race assistant and Head Race Day Enthusiast Mike Taylor met me in the dark at 5:30am and we got the water tables, the packets set up for race day arrivals and marked the course on our one mile loop course.  We also saw a guy with a headlamp doing laps already...why??  Our timing crew arrived just after we did and we scurried to be ready for our 7am early starters.  

Runners started showing up by 6am and, by 7am, we were set to send off 24 marathoners and one relay team early starters to blaze the trail.  We then  got set for our second wave of early starters at 8am, who arrived in time, with 5 teams and 9 marathoners joining the 25 folks already on the course, going round and round.  

Our main race began at 9am, this being the only section for which we give awards.  While about a fourth of our field picked up their packets the night before, we welcomed the rest of the crew between 8 and 8:45.  Folks dropped off their water bottles, got their bibs, chips and t shirts and many scurried back to their car to stay as warm as they could for as long as possible.  

We were able to continue our tradition of having a race participant lead us in the National Anthem.  This year, Emily Ohland, a member of a relay team and a local school music director, did an awesome job!  

No one was interested in any long-winded speeches and we started promptly at 9:00am.  95 marathoners and 27 teams got rolling, making our race day 128 folks running the individual marathon and 35 relay teams sharing the load for their 26.2.

It was a great size field on our one-mile loop, though the addition of the 31 no-shows would have worked too.  We've figured out about how to size this race and these numbers seem to work well.  

So, let me take you around our one mile course using Scott's excellent pictures to tell the story of the day.  

Just past our start/finish line, runners head north and soon encounter our Litter Free Water Stop.  This is a unique feature of our event, made possible by our loop course.

It's a hoot to see the menagerie of water bottles people bring each year. We label a spot for each runner, by bib number and it magically takes shape as the start time approaches.

Every size, shape and type of water bottle showed up and this makes it looks like home every mile for every runner.  

Runners grab their own water bottle when they choose, take a swig while running or walking, then toss their water bottle in a laundry basket placed down the course a ways.  Our intrepid water stop volunteers then spent the day retrieving the basket, returning each bottle, bib number written on it, to its appointed spot.

Our water stop team not only handed out fluids but became cheerleaders, friends and even counselors as the day went on.  Here you see help extended to a runner with a detailed request.

SaRah Hill is our water stop coordinator...bundled up and serving wonderfully!   Thumbs up, even with mittens on in the cold!!  SaRah has already agreed to head up the water stop again in 2016...she's awesome!  

Just past the water stop, a right turn heads runners straight east.  You can see almost this entire stretch in these two photos.  

Several of our relay teams included full families. Here you can see one of our youngest participants making her way around the loop!  

At the end of this section is gentle zig-zag through the chicane cones which make our course exactly 1.000 miles in length, as certified by USA Track and Field.  Runners then make a very gentle right hand turn onto the third-mile "backstretch" of our course.  

This is the narrowest part of the loop, on a concrete sidewalk.  We appreciated runners trying hard to run single file here, allowing the passing which happens a lot on a loop course.

At about this point, you can see a runner correctly looks behind to see eventual race winner Jake Gillette, in the blue singlet, passing him, something Jake did all day.  A bonus when you run as fast as Jake:  you can wear a singlet on a freezing day and live to tell about it :-)  

This same photo shows part of our entire loop.  Across the open field, you can see the start/finish line and many team tents set up in the background. 

The astute reader may have already noted one addition for this year's race...all our race-day volunteers donned these yellow vests.  It seemed to help all of us know who was a runner and who was helping out on a cold race day.  Simple and effective, the way we like it. 

After the long run southward, we have a hairpin right turn around a boulder which is the hardest part of the course.  From there, runners follow a winding path and head back towards the start/finish line, along woods still asleep in late winter.  

And, once past the woods, it's back to the start/finish line.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  26 times...that's how our race works.  Thus, our motto "Together We Run".  

The race is really about people though.  Our marathon relay teams have become a big part of CLM.  Kids, families, and adults all formed teams.  New runners get to run alongside experienced marathoners.  It is cool to watch happen on race day.  Green bibs identify the's fun.  

A local middle school put three teams together and they were great, as were their parents keeping them organized all day.

We had three teams of kids from a local middle school.  Kudos to those kids, plus their parents for helping out all day.

We had lots of adult teams too...some with quite creative names, such as "Harvey Rose and the Baby Stealers"....don't ask me, I have no idea...but I was assured it was harmless!!

And, overall, it was all about our runners, of every age and skill.  

And, since we run in a loop, we are together all day, not spread out as in a typical marathon.  The fast runners appreciate all of us in the back of the pack, while we are able to admire their stamina and speed.  

And Jon, like most, enjoyed the day, especially after running a few miles to get warm. 

Shoot, one of us even ran barefoot!!  We had it all!!

And when you finish a marathon, it's like few other things.  A few high points at the finish line.

Jake Gillette won his third consecutive CLM, this time in 2:38:05, a PR for Jake.  And he was thrilled. 

Matt Holle had a real race for second place and was so happy to get under 3 hours, in 2:58:23. 

Laura Gillette won the women's division, also for the third consecutive year, in 3:07:21.  She and Jake are wonderful runners and fine people.  You see them here, post-race, with WRRC President Cyndi Meacham.  On behalf of all of us at CLM, I would also like to thank Laura's mother as well for taking care of their two kids on race day!!!  

Kay Evans was thrilled and moved to place second.  

And every marathoner has a story.  Here I am with Hilary Cooke, finishing her second marathon, having persevered well all day long.  Hillary is an Episcopal priest and a friend of our family.  Running is one part of our lives...there's a lot more to each of us, as Hillary illustrates.  

Mark and Becky Groshans planned well for CLM, as it was the first marathon for both of them.  They ran together all day, working through all the ups and downs which makes the marathon the compelling challenge it is.   And marathoners they are now.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, this is Jen Savage who was one of seven people who have now finished all four CLM's.  This was also Jen's 118th lifetime marathon.  She's a pal who truly knows how to persevere.  

Nancy was beaming...she was the third woman and happy to have a plaque!

James was justifiably thrilled with his finish.

Jen is stylish and appreciated her medal a lot!!  

Finishing a marathon never gets old for me, even after 54 of them...I'm grateful it was a thrill for all our runners as well.  

On a personal note, the officers of our running club, the Wabash River Runners Club, surprised me right before the race with a wonderful treat.   

Right after the National Anthem  (note: I removed my many hats!!!), the WRRC officers presented me this plaque, made by club member Brian Raub, a local concrete artist.  

Brian was the first registrant for the first CLM we ever had.  I've always been grateful for that and it was great he could finish his fourth race this year.  Thanks to WRRC leaders  Cyndi, Brian, Susan, Mark, Nancy, Barb, Bill...that was so special and I'm deeply appreciative.  I was and continue to be moved by their thoughtfulness.  

So why does a sane person become a race director??  I love to run races and every single race happens only because some person, somewhere, decided to put forth the effort to make it happen.  It's a lot of work.  Yet, where would our sport be if not for such efforts??   Thus, I keep doing this.  And I felt rewarded in the end.  

Race day was very gratifying for me this year, despite the brutal cold.  Our new timing company, Flashpoint Race Timing, did a terrific job and we had zero errors in counting laps...a necessary element for a loop race like CLM.  I thank them for suggesting the more sophisticated "triathlon" reusable ankle strap chips, which did the trick.  Our runners did a great job self-selecting into the early starts, so we had a very even flow of finishers and wrapped up just after our hoped-for 3pm finish time.  The water stop just's amazing to me and quite satisfying.  

And that guy with a headlamp at 5am?  He ran the marathon but added laps before and afterwards to run 50 miles on the day...actually, 50.2 miles.  He got done just before 3pm...that was truly amazing.  

Thus, it's the satisfaction of having a race work well that keeps me going.  There are a few things we'll simplify for next year's event which will help.  

Ya gotta give back.  Ya gotta persevere.  And it often works out.