Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Road Race to End All Road Races

I participated in the 2011 Whitefish Lake Run and it will unfortunately be my last. Not because my parents are moving to Albuquerque, not because I'll will be done with college running by next spring, but because it was the most unprofessional road race I've ever attended. I came into the race physically bruised and I left the race emotionally broken....

After some gibbosity in my right knee in the week leading up to the race, I was up in the air on my decision to race the night before. I talked in circles with G-unit (my Mom) and she bowed out after two "why don't you's" in. I lined up at the starting line alongside a myriad of road race regulars; there were the "happy and matching t-shirt families", washed-up high school athletes, ultra-marathoners who were using the 5k as their speed workout, and even the Vibram Five Finger "my-form-is-better-than-yours" snobs.

I amassed a considerable lead on 2nd place runner after five minutes. The race was well run up to that point. And showed its true colors.

The water station was a good three feet off the main road, to the point where runners would have to stop to get a cup of water. There were no gorgeous cheerleaders lining the sidewalks and chanting my name. There were arrows sprayed on the roads to guide the runners, but some critical intersections were not stationed by volunteers and so I did not run on the assigned 5k route.

I ran where I thought the route was; no one told me differently and the reality of my perception became clear when I crossed the not-typically-fast race in 14:22.

I wish I could tell you all that I ran a 14:22 that day, but it would be a lie, so I confessed my error and the race official mumbled something about disqualifying my time. My time. I understood this to be a mea culpa of sorts and that I would still be awarded 1st place. When the results were announced, however, I was not mentioned. It was if I had never raced at all.

And so I bid good day to the incompetent staff of the 2011 Whitefish Lake Run. May you find more than 3 volunteers for 2012.

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