One of the great things about running is the variety of talents it rewards and venues in which to display them. The differences between a road 5k and a hundred mile trail race (and the athletes who compete at these distances) are so great that it's sometimes hard to lump them together under the same "running" umbrella. Don't agree? Well the range doesn't stop there. After 3 minutes of thorough internet research, the shortest race I came across was this:
Contrast that grueling event with the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race:
But the differences aren't all about distance. Case and point: This weekend I was able to dabble in a couple of fringe running events. The first came Saturday as Brian Rawlings, Peter Maksimow, Justin Ricks, Logan Wealing and I competed as the Werewolves of Manitou in the 18th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races. The event is one of those "can't miss" events as several thousands of people in their Halloween finest show up to celebrate the late Emma Crawford.
The day started with the parade of coffins and was immediately followed by the actual races. Two teams of four racers each squared off and sprinted their "Emma" 195 yards down Manitou Avenue in a rolling coffin. Fifty teams participated this year and though we didn't run fast enough to qualify for the finals, we still had lots of fun. Undoubtedly, our team had the most talented group of runners. But after scoping out the other groups in the race, it appears that our coffin, Lee Ho Fook, was just too much beef chow mein for us to handle. The experience has left us hungry for redemption so be sure to look for us again next year! A huge, sincere THANK YOU to our sponsors PIkes Peak Sports, 2 South, Colorado Running Company, and to our friends who came out to support and encourage our silliness.
Flash forward to the very next day and the 3rd installment of the Fall Series held at Ute Valley Park. This series alone is one of the more unique races in town with a super competitive field and a different flavors of obstacles with each race. My performance wasn't great due to some GI issues and though a part of me wanted to go home and sulk, I returned with one more obligation to fulfill. Micky Simpson, who does a phenomenal job organizing the FREE Kids Races that immediately follow was in need of someone to mid-pack the 4th race and lead 2.5 mile race that followed. That someone was me. Though I'd been warned that these kids are scary fast, I was up to the challenge, wanting to incorporate more speedwork in my training anyway. Really, how fast could prepubescent youngin's run? Well it turns out that they went fast enough to nearly catch Peter in the race preceeding mine!
Peter and I The ravenous horde
[Photo credit: Tim Bergsten and Pikes Peak Sports]
The above picture shows what it looked like. Here's what it felt like:
In any case, make no question about it, these kids were out for blood and would show no mercy. While I typically enjoy hanging back for the first bit of a race and then making a move, here, it was not an option. The job was to stay just ahead of the front runner the whole way. If I did the job right, no one would notice. If I did the job wrong, my reputation as a runner would be ruined! As a safety net, the Batman mask would ensure at least some anonymity should things go wrong. Micky released the hounds, and though I was running scared the entire way, the 30 yard head start I gave myself was just enough to hold off the mob... this time around.
The offseason is certainly a great time for recovery, cross-training, and all that good stuff. But it's also ideal for working in some of those fringe adventures as well. Doing so brings the emphasis back in the direction where it should've been all along, highlighting fun over competition.