Here's a twist you won't often see in the ultra world: A new event comes onto the schedule, promoted by...the Knights of Columbus?
Yes indeed, and it was a friendly group of cronies who organized and hosted this event. It was actually fun and refreshing. The race was organized to raise funds for KOC charities and few can argue with that. Coming into race registration felt more like being at a brat fry than an ultra, but aren't most of us looking for a new twist to our experiences?
The race was held on a section of the Charlotte greenway system. Course started on dirt, transitioned to asphalt in 1.2 miles. We went about 2.5 miles out, headed back, then took a short spur out and back each lap. 10K in all, five times. The course is flat and fast and didn't provide much excuse for walking.
First time event, drew a bit over 50 runners for the 50K and something less than that for an associated 10K.
It rained most of the day but temps were in the 50's, so we were wet, not cold. I came upon the simplest yet most practical solution yet: A $6 WalMart emergency poncho. This little throw away unit comes in a tiny pack, yet folds out to full size with hood and arm holes. I believe it works better than most expensive rain jackets in that it is totally waterproof, yet fits very loose so that air can blow up underneath it. Stops sweat from getting captured inside.
My old compatriot in the sport, Rob Apple, made the drive over from Tennessee. We fell into our usual MO, chatting about countless subjects and running side-by-side. Multiple loop courses can sometimes lead to brain mush, so it's better to enjoy conversation and stay engaged in something other than the repetitive loops.
Despite wet conditions, aid station crews were friendly and helpful. This promoting crew put a lot of workers on the course and it was evident they wanted to make a good impression. Thanks to all who gave up a day on the weekend to care for sopping wet characters like us.
We came around the last turn and the conversation ended at the finish line, 5:26 of pure entertainment. That's a lot of speed for a couple of old ultra vets like us and I can feel the torque in my body - especially my screwed up right shoulder.
As always, it's time to thank the Lord when I return home safe from yet another ultra finish. I'm 55 and master competitors cannot take the ultra gift for granted. Each run may be the last...but that's up to God to decide. On this day, God dropped yet another gem into my pocket.