Around mile 10 of the Little Rock Marathon, my running partner Ashley and I found ourselves running toward an Episcopal church where the priest was blessing runners as they passed by. Ashley turned to me and asked if I thought it would be sacrilegious to be blessed during the marathon. Of course not! A) the priest is there because he believes it is a service to the runners and B) it’s 36 degrees, raining on and off, and we need all the blessings we can get. About three miles after the blessing, a policeman jumped out his vehicle and started yelling at us that we needed to reroute to the finish line. He said severe weather was coming and the course was closing. Our little group immediately followed the instructions of the officer and we arrived to a finish line where volunteers didn’t even know the course was being closed which made us wonder if we were the very first runners to be pulled from the course. We were the first non-finishers.
The journey of the past sixty-four days has been filled with blessings of all sorts. Sixty-four days ago I began a journey with my friend to get her to Marathon Maniac status by running three marathons before the 90 day time limit was up. The literal blessing at mile 10 of the Little Rock Marathon is only one in a very long list of memories we could call blessings. We have gathered stories, new friends, and stronger friendships with old friends. We’ve enjoyed miles of laughter, a few miles of something closer to tears than laughter, and we’ve shared the encouraging words, and sometimes even hugs, from volunteers and fellow runners.
When the plan does not play out perfectly, we tend to see the dark side of the situation. Admittedly, waiting nearly forty-five minutes in the cold, spitting rain to even get to the starting line on Sunday made me tense. It took at least a half mile after the start for the mass of bodies in our section to spread out enough for us to actually run and it hurt. I love running with Ashley, but we hadn’t put ourselves in the corral we expected to be in and my body felt the long wait and the loss of having more friends to be pain insulators as the temperature dropped, the winds picked up and the rain dribbled and spit at us as if the sky was singing nahneenahneebooboo. With a late December and a February marathon behind us, we had hoped for better weather conditions. Instead, March came in like a lion, fulfilling his destiny and making our quest difficult.
In spite of the weather, there were plenty of smiles and cheers out on the course. Volunteers were out in force, holding cups of water and gatorade, prepared to give high fives and atta boys. I’d like to thank the guys across from the Villa Marre at mile 7.36 or so for the beer. You’re awesome. We had a great time looking for the best costumes. There was a strong contingent of Wonder Women, Batmen and Batgirls, Flashes, Spidermen and some Supermen but my personal favorite was The Tick. A close second was Dr. Charles Xavier of X-Men fame. The running community is incredible. I had such fun talking to or at least waving at friends. We got to meet a couple of ladies who had come from D.C. to run and to visit a friend. Our non-official finish shouldn’t be a big disappointment. Every race has a chance of having some kind of disruption. Races can be dogged by bad weather, or injury, or events in our lives that prevent us from even getting to the starting line.
This particular journey has come to an end for me. I won’t be able to do another marathon within the time limit so my quest to join Ashley in the Marathon Maniacs has ended. But I do have great memories like hearing Ashley’s voice behind me at the starting line of 3Bridges when I hadn’t expected to even see her, seeing Nicholas Norfolk riding a bike during 3Bridges with his dreads flying behind him, singing the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air so badly that other runners were shaking their heads and laughing at us, having fellow blogger Kellee Mayfield make #RunBloggerRun Marinara for our pre Mississippi River Marathon dinner, 67.6 miles of porta potty touring, beer at Two Rivers Park during 3Bridges, beer on Bayou Road during Mississippi River, and beer across from the Villa Marre during Little Rock. I think there is a theme to our running. Sunday March 2nd, 2014 wasn’t the best day ever. It wasn’t the worst day ever. And nothing happened that will keep us from coming back for more.
Much will be discussed about both the race director’s decision to re-route runners and the communication issues that ensued. It must have been a tough call and I expect the logistics were a nightmare for organizers, volunteers and of course the runners. Having been on both sides of the coin, a racer and a race director, I will never question the decisions of a race director. They have a very difficult job. In hindsight could things have been handled better? Sure they could have and I believe that much will be learned by the Little Rock Parks & Recreation Department as they review all the events. I also believe this race will continue to improve over the coming years. I hope to see you out there getting ready for the next one.
Remember, an Epic day rarely goes as planned.
Results are posted on the Little Rock Marathon site.
We have a bunch of photos to share from the Marathon on our Facebook Page (over 600). Feel free to share, tag, comment and download.