Summary: 26.2 miles, 7:32:27...my slowest marathon ever. Weather: sunny, 95F, humidity 84%, brutal. 65th of 94 men.
I managed to run the full marathon distance on Saturday in just plain brutal heat and humidity. It baked and was muggy and awful. Thus, the race was not about “racing” but rather “how long can you survive and keep moving.” And so I got 26.2 miles done and also logged the slowest marathon of the now 93 marathons/ultras I’ve finished.
The event went from 10am to 6pm...the person covering the most miles wins. I’ve run it the past four years and learned the key to success in the event is staying out on the course and moving, rather than sitting and recovering. Knowing that and doing that are two different things, however, which was painfully obvious on Saturday.
The course had two options from the same starting point...a long loop of 5K and a short loop of 1.89 miles. Timing mats automatically counted which loop you ran and there are differing strategies based on shade, hills and temperament. That’s if you want to win.
A brutal, single track trail included on both loops ...super steep, in the woods with little air.
For me, it was just about staying out on the course. Here's a more typical portion:
And regularly, just couldn’t. I had to stop and rest, get the HR down, reload fluids and ice. My running buddy Jon and I went together and set up our base camp underneath a shade tree just past the start/finish line
Our set up
My ice chest. The Mountain Dew 2L bottle was just a container for electrolyte drink, not The Dew. Before you ask...
So I landed back in my chair after each of my laps...even though previous experience told me I needed to just keep moving...I just couldn’t. It wasn’t smart. So, the 8 hours progressed like that...do a lap, sit and recover, go do it again. I used a run/walk from the start...a 2/1 early and then a 1/1 for quite a while and then mostly walk for the final lap that got me to 26.2. Not much to write about, in reality...it was just a grind and I managed to grind out a marathon distance.
We did get some rewards...all who covered a full marathon got was was touted as a “Trucker’s Hat”. When I got mine, I wasn’t quite sure what made this generic-looking head covering a “Trucker’s Hat” but, hey, that’s what they called it.
The belt-buckle was nice though, big and with excellent detail. If you look closely, our base camp was underneath the tree in the foreground of the buckle. My problem now is I have way more belt buckles than I do belts.
While I struggled mightily, others did not. The overall race winner was a 19 year-old female who covered 47.3 miles. She beat the men’s winner by a mile and a half. And the second place man was a 50 year old guy who had his base camp right next to ours. I saw him blow through regularly while I was recovering. And Jon did well...he has been fighting injuries for about two years and managed 20 full miles, a massive step forward for him. We had a good trip home.
There you have it. If I wasn’t so stubborn and didn’t like running so much, I would not have done such a crazy thing. But I did. And I was still sincerely smiling after it all with the Butler University Mascot:
Thanks for reading. And stay cool as you persevere.