Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, March 5, 2017
There are races that stand out in your memory and many others that you can’t even recall. Check your running log back a few years and you’ll scratch your head trying to remember some races
But those PR races. Ah. Yes, you remember them. You also remember the disaster ones; cold, snow, rain, muddy cross country courses, or the ones you almost didn’t finish.
How about the one where you did not start? I’ve got that one.
“Hey, why don’t we find a race to run while we’re out in Vegas,” I said to my race loving companion. We were going to be in Vegas to visit my sister and her husband, but we like to take off and explore while out there. Running in a race would be perfect, especially if it were a distance away so that we could continue to explore the great southwest.
The Lost Dutchman Mine Marathon in Apache Junction Arizona. Perfect. Not the marathon part. No, they run a marathon, a half marathon, a 10K and an 8K trail race. An 8K trail race was the perfect match for us. What could go wrong?
Well, everything. The national news was full of weather reports of rain in California, a dam that might spill its load, and a huge weather front that was going to dump more rain on the waterlogged state. Where would that front go after it left California? You got it – Arizona!
Heavy rains predicted for Apache Junction and surrounding areas. Coming in on Saturday and rain all night and the next day. Race day.
On Saturday we drove over to the park to check out the race trail head. A park ranger just happened to drive in at the same time we did.
“Oh, that trail will be a mess if that rain comes in. The dirt just sticks to your shoe if it’s muddy,” he said, not reassuringly.
Over at the race expo we talked to the race organizers. “If it looks dangerous we will move the trail race over to the 10K road course,” we were assured.
“Yes, but what if we don’t agree? You say it’s OK and we say, no way.”
“You can enter the 10K on race day, if you don’t want to do the trail race.” She says.
By Saturday afternoon the front with its abundant rain had arrived. It was still light out when we drove down the road to a restaurant for a meal and a beer or two. The dirt parking lot was gooey from the rain. Just like the ranger said. It stuck to your shoes.
Leaving the place we tried to take a slightly different route to miss some of the mud. Only the marquee provided any light in the now pitch dark parking lot. One step off the paved apron at the bottom of the steps and my pal jammed his unsuspecting foot in a foot deep puddle and prevented further damage by falling into the car parked in front of the puddle.
The rest of the evening was spent with his leg elevated and an ice pack on the wounded foot.
At dawn any racing was out of the question. The cold relentless rain was no longer an issue. Me? I wasn’t going over there without him.
Oh, while we were non starters we did get our race experience. As course marshals. The hotel was at mile nine of the marathon. We bundled up and donned our rain parkas and offered to help. We weren’t really needed at the water stop so we wandered up to the turn before the water stop and warned the marathoners that the road ahead was underwater. The warning was pointless as their shoes were already soaking wet after nine miles in the rain. It made little difference to have to wade through the unavoidable water in the road.
Did we offer a cheery, “lookin’ good” to the runners? No. They looked miserable Wet, cold and miserable. Nothing was going make them feel dry and warm. It’s one of those races they will never forget. And neither will we.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at firstname.lastname@example.org.