Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free State Trail Run

Drive into the parking lot at the Free State Trail runs and on first glance it looks like a Memorial Day picnic. But make no mistake, this event is run by professionals. Since you never know about the weather, the Trail Nerds make sure they take care of any other variables. Seasoned and informed volunteers, clearly marked course, good food and the kind of attention from the race directors that can only come from one thing. A goal of excellence. The Free State Trail 40 mile, 100k and marathon at Clinton State Park in Lawrence was no ad-hoc event.

Again, we had weather challenges. A full day of rain 2 days before the race, and threatening skys and a storm during the race. The course conditions were very muddy. It brought out the best in some and the Whiner in others.

The crazy mud seemed to put last year’s 40 mile winner David Wakefield at ease. He went out just to have fun and cruised in for the winning 40 mile time this year with a 20 minute negative split. An excellent race.

Then came the whiners….

Trail Nerds jokingly say “whiners will be buried in shallow unmarked graves.” Since I didn’t bring my shovel, the whiners had to settle for a verbal shove.
“ I have a friend who’s little boy is only 5, his name is Braden, and he’s dying. Would you please go out and run 20 more miles for him.”

The week before Free State Ben and I race directed a charity race for a 5 year old named Braden Hofen. He’s fighting neuroblastoma, a battle his father compares to an endurance race, and may not be with us much longer. We were exhausted again, and I for one was not putting up with any whiners. Braden Hofen laughs and smiles through adversity, you people can get out and run another 20 muddy miles.

There were several I shovelled out for another loop (with the help of Braden) , but my favorite whiner was Tim Smith, from Iowa. Here’s a snippet of Tim’s humorous (if redundant) post to the ultra list of the mud covered course and race: “mud, hill, rocks, roots, roots, rocks, mud, hill. SMELL OF BURGERS AND BRATS MMMMMMMMMMMM, COERCED BY PONY-TAIL GIRL INTO DOING ANOTHER LAP.”
The lap I sent Tim out onto, ultimately earned him a 100k buckle. In his blog he writes that Braden helped him through the last excruciating lap. An excellent effort from Mr. Smith, near the end of a day filled with excellence. How do we know? We got no suggestions, and few complaints.