Sometimes the weather is just not fair. It is ridiculous that it can be in the 70s two days before a big race, and then mega-nasty on the Saturday of the race. Such was the case with the Snake Run this past weekend. Friday while Brian and I set up the tents at the aid stations and did a little trail grooming, it was a nice balmy morning on the way to a sunny breezy partly cloudy spring-like afternoon, on the last day of an Oklahoma winter. The first day of spring aka race day, it was raining a cold rain, that turned to sleet, and then to snow. Global warming is a farce.Brian worked a lot more on this race this year than I did....I have been tied to my job a lot more of late, which is a good thing for the bank account but is destroying my fitness level, such at it is. Brian loaded and unloaded all the race stuff, he and Kathy bought 90% of the aid station stuff, Brian marked all of the main part of the race, set up the start/finish area and aid station with only a little help from me. I felt bad that he was the mule that did most of the hauling and he deserves the credit for this race going off like it did.
Brian and I also had help from Kirk, a dude from the RunnersWorld training group. Kirk helped us set up aid station tents, and also came early Saturday morning and helped out a little here and there before running for 6 hours. Thanks a million, Kirk!!
The Six Hour Snake Run is actually a fairly easy race to put on. It is a 2 mile out and back on very easy trails, so for an event that is an ultra for a lot of faster runners, it only involves flagging 2 miles of trail, and setting up one aid station and the start/finish area. But still, packing the tents and tables in is a chore. We love volunteers! (hint hint)Race Day morning, Brian was setting things up at 4:00 am. I got there at 5:30 and kicked into gear. Food was packed out to the turnaround aid station, Dana's chili was delivered and put into a crock pot, another crock pot of chicken soup was put on, a grill was hooked up, beer was iced down (this was one time that a cold beer did not seem like a good idea to me), cookies, chips, candy, pretzels were set out, Gatorade mixed, cups were readied for filling. And everything was done just barely in time. Meanwhile, runners were shedding layers or putting on more layers. Many were unsure what or how much to wear.And despite 32 degrees (fully 40 degrees colder that the day before) and stinging sleet and near frozen mud, most of the 130 runners who braved the morning were in a festive mode.
The race started precisely at 9:00 am. This year, we had a 3 hour event and the usual 6 hour event. This was to allow folks who liked trail running but who were not ultra-type runners to have a chance to compete for awards. This seemed to bring in a lot more runners, and some of the cross-country types. The top 3 men all ran more than 20 miles in the horrid weather conditions--a pace that rivaled the course record pace set by the only previous winner Mike Adams who in the first 2 years of this event won it by covering 41 and 41.5 miles respectively.
I did not have my trusty Olympus camera. As of this writing, I still do not know where it is. I took several pics with my iPhone, and swiped a few from the TATUR website. I am thinking credit needs to go to Brian, and to Susan for capturing some good shots along the route.The aid station on the course is passed at about 1 mile in, and then again at the turnaround at mile 2, and then on the way back at about mile 3. My awesome good friend Sandra maned the aid station by herself for most of the morning. I hear she could have a good career waitressing should her doctorate fall through. Thank you so much, Dr. Sandra. I owe you 3 ounces of grilled chicken and a salad. And many more thanks.
More thanks is due to Mitch, in the center, who timed the race. Timing a race is no easy thing. This one was even tougher because you had to really stay on your toes all day long to count laps, note their numbers and times, and this in frigid conditions. Several times I saw Mitch shivering almost uncontrollably, yet he stayed the course and did an awesome job. To the left, Scott helped Mitch out for most of the day. Scott actually rode his bicycle up to the race, but wisely had his wife come and pick him up as the roads were getting sketchy in the mid afternoon. Scott--another life saver. An act of appreciation is due.
Since this was a 3 or 6 hour event, and since the loops (actually out-and-backs) were 4 miles, we devised a half mile finishing loop for runners who did not have time to go 4 miles but who wanted to ad to their total. I tallied these laps for the 3 hour event. At this time, it was snowing hard, and the wind was howling. Writing numbers on a paper--a wet paper with frozen ink pens, was difficult to say the least. I had around 25 runners doing loops and I just prayed I would no screw it up. This is my finished page of tallied laps--wet paper and smeared ink.I got way too cold, but had to stay with it right up until 12:00 noon. I got into Mitch's Jeep and he fired the heater up, while we went over the numbers.
A group of crazies from Arkansas came over and gave us a clinic on running trails. Wearing t-shirts and rocket powered shoes, three Arkansas men swept the trophies.Mike Rush, Dave Wilgus, and Ryan Holler ran 21.5, 21, and 20 miles within the allotted 3 hours. Congratulations, guys.
The women's awards went to Elaine Palmquist 16 miles, Sarah James 15.5 miles, and Jody Lingbeck for 15 miles. They wisely had left for warmer places by the time we had the results figured, and therefore I had no pix of them. :-(
After I warmed up a little, I decided to run a lap myself with some of the friends from my RunnersWorld Marathon Training Group.I had warmed up a little and I needed to run a little to finishing warming my core. So away we went. The continual stomping on the trails had really turned them into muck. At times, in the middle of a long muddy section, there would be deep holes in the mud deep enough to go shin deep. I know a lot of non runners find this hard to believe, but even in the winter with wet feet and wet legs, and even in the rain and snow, if you have the right kind of tech clothing on, and if you keep your core warm, things are fine. Oh, your face might get cold and maybe your hands, but for the most part, it sounds much worse than it really is. I got a phone call about mid way out and was told that channel 8 was coming out to do a story about the event, so I headed back and did not finish the lap. However, they never showed. I had time to eat another hotdog.
The snow kept coming down. We ended up with maybe inches, although if the ground had not been so warm, we could have had it a lot worse. Fortunately, most of the precip was snow or sleet. It did tend to cake up in your hair........or on your eyebrows and eyelids........or on your dog....It was comical and unforgettable.... When Arena and DeDe came back from their 4th loop (16 miles) I thought they surely were done. I teasingly asked them if they were ready for their finishing loops. I got a glare, but they agreed to give it a go....just one lap (1/2 mile).
And then with 16.5 miles, I told them they surely would want to run another to make it an even 17....and they bought it! I'm such a salesman!They were good sports, and ran a steady pace, and even seemed to like it! And here's the kicker: I went out for one more, thinking surely they were done. It was about 2:45, and there was warm soup and chili and burgers inside of a warm tent, but those two followed me around the loop for one more half mile.
With about 5 minutes to go, I stopped to visit with Lisa who was doing the lap tally for the 6-milers. Brian handed me the gun to shoot the runners who were over the cut-of----NO, to signal that the race was over!! A couple of speedsters were trying to squeak in one more 1/2 miler, but did not quite make it in. One runner who barely did make it in was Larry Macon from San Antonio. Larry got 26.5 miles and notched another marathon distance to his belt. Larry has ran 100s of marathons, having ran 105 last year alone!!! It was an honor to have him at our race. He had a plane to catch to New Mexico where he was doing the Bataan Memorial march the next day, and got away before I could get pictures. But I am sure we'll see him again.
Awards for the 6 hour event went as follows: Another Arkansas dude took 1st place. Drew Conner ran 36.5 miles. garret Blattner from Lawrence KS took 2nd with 34.5 miles. Stormy Phillips from Glenpool took rd with 34 miles.Congratulations, guys!!
Caroline Glenn, a Tatur and good friend won the ladies 6 mile event, running 21.5 miles, Another Tatur and super friend, Vicky Arterburn took 2nd, stopping aat 20 miles. Then 2 ladies from my RunnersWorld training group, Arena and DeDe tied for 3rd place, running 17.5 miles. WOW WOW WOW!!! I am so proud of all four of you ladies!!! Congrats!!!!!
We worked til about 5:00 picking up everything. Brian was pooped. I was beat. Mitch was still shivering. I got to pull Mitch's jeep out of a muddy quagmire with my Jeep. (FUN FUN FUN!) The only thing left to do it pull some course markings ie. pink ribbons and yellow caution tape. I was not too motivated to do it today, but I may do it tomorrow. Anyone wanna get muddy one more time??
Thanks again to all who helped, Dana my DW for cooking and staying at the S/F all day serving food, my nephew John for skipping an opportunity to run and helping out all day, Sandra also for skipping her run and doing the work of 3 people at her aid station, Brian and Kathy again (Kathy was out there at 4:00, and then had to lead the RW group for their Saturday group run, and then work the store all afternoon. She did come out around 4:00 and helped tear down the aid stations. Thanks again to Mitch for such an awesome job of timing and tallying results, to Scott for pitching in and helping, to Lisa for helping with the lap counting....I am sure I am missing someone. And thanks to all the runners who came out when sleeping in sounded like such a good idea. Next year will have better weather, or at least different weather. See most of you at Lake McMurtry in 2 weeks!!!!