Bib #10 – Green River Half Marathon
When you run enough races, you learn to anticipate the crowd and the atmosphere based on the web sign-up alone. Rotating photo-banners with multiple tabs and pages tend to be large races, with high-quality t-shirts and well-crafted medals where you can expect a post-race smorgasbord and, if you’re really lucky, beer. Less sophisticated sites usually mean less aid, but a often a friendlier, more low key crowd in attendance; people indifferent to the trappings of “big race” flash. The website for the Green River Half Marathon is sparse, to say the least. Some of the links didn’t work. Registering involved sending an email to the Race Director with my name, address and date of birth, and bringing a $20 suggested donation for Northwest Harvest, a local food bank. This wasn’t a race; it was a group run. (Check out my live start line video here!)
In races like this, it’s not uncommon for participants to run in groups of two, three or more, happily acknowledging others they are passing, or who are passing them. If a high school hallway was a blissful, judgment-free utopia, it would be a run like this.
I came up on Tyler around Mile 3. A fellow member of the online running group, Run The Year, he recognized me from posts on the site. Strangers less than an hour before, Tyler and I spent the next 10 miles together, regaling one another with race stories. On April 30, Tyler will run his 100th half marathon in just five years, reminding me there are amazing people achieving amazing goals everywhere.
There were no mylar wraps or tables of bagels and bananas at the finish; just a handful of dedicated volunteers, a jug of Gatorade, and someone blowing a train whistle. And plastic medals, leftover from the Race Director’s signature marathon last June for those who wanted one. “Sure!” I said, happily bending over so the volunteer could place the medal over my head. I don’t need any more medals, but I got a kick out of receiving a 2016 marathon medal for finishing a 2017 half marathon. In fact, the race ribbon says “5k” on it.
There are people for whom this kind of race is not worth getting out of bed. I am not one of those people.