Why I will never again run the 13.1 “Marathon” Series – Atlanta

Thank goodness I wasn’t trying for a PR yesterday at the half marathon put on by 13.1 “Marathon” Series. It was quite possibly the worst race I’ve ever run. Not in the “oh man my legs just didn’t work today” way, but in the “holy crap I want my money back” way.

I knew it wasn’t going to be my best race, since I’d spent the weekend before partying hanging out in South Beach for the K-State – Miami football game (EMAW!), but I was determined to finish it, no matter how slowly. After all, exactly 4 weeks after this race, I’d be toeing up on the line for the Marine Corps Marathon, my first ever full marathon. I needed to get the miles under me.

As a way to share with you the spectacularly annoying qualities of this race, I’ll follow the lead of my favorite Houston Texans blogger, Matt of the Two-Day Hangover 1 . Let’s run the numbers:

10 : 2,652
Number of Port-a-Potties at the start/finish line versus number of runners that ran the the half marathon (2,488) and 5k (164). Yeah. That’s 1 restroom for every 265.2 runners. That doesn’t include the supporters and the ridiculous over-abundance of volunteers (most of whom didn’t seem to have any thing to do). I guess the race organizers have never run a race before. That’s the only thing I can assume, because even my mother, who has only seen one race in her life, knows that every runner wants to use the restroom in the 30 or so minutes before the race. And no, it didn’t seem to be a funding issue. They had three more port-a-johns at every one of the eight water stops. Race directors: how about having just one port-a-john at each water stop, where each person will spend less than 30 seconds, and having more at the start/finish, where we’re all standing for an hour or two before and after the race? Then we could have had 26 port-a-johns at the start/finish and one port-a-john every mile and a half along the course. Same amount of money, fewer angry runners.

Number of people I personally had to pass on narrow roads in the first 0.6 mile because they were walking. I thought I was being clever when I lined up at the back of the corral that was marked a 2:10:00 half marathon, because I wanted to run the first 6 miles fairly fast and then I’d take it easy on the remaining 6.1. I also figured a not-insignificant proportion of the half marathoners looked like fat lazy people novices and would overestimate their abilities. The fact that there were people that lined up in corrals that were faster than 2:10:00 and they were walking across the friggin starting line? I maintain that these people should be barred from running organized races for at least one year 2 . Or at least I should be able to get a restraining order on all of them. Lawyers, want to help me out on this one?

Times random groups of volunteers/cheerleaders bottle-necked the runners along the course. The cheering was a nice touch, guys, but maybe don’t stand on the course, taking up 33% to 50% of the width of the course so you can cheer for us. To the volunteer/cheerleader I accidentally shoulder-checked, I apologize. But I chose to shoulder check you rather than the girl running next to me. Stay on the sidewalk next time.

Approximate number of runners I wanted to personally strangle at water stops after they grabbed a cup at a water stop and immediately fully stopped to drink it. Either that or they would spread 3 or 4 across, slowly walking or fully stopped, blocking the road, so even if you wanted to completely skip that water stop, you were forced to either stop and say ‘excuse me’ or barrel through them. This happened at every single water stop.

Number of women in a group that I barreled through the middle of as they were walking incredibly slowly just before mile 2. To my credit, they we’re almost completely blocking the narrow road, and there were a few hundred people behind them also trying to get through. Also to my credit I did cheerfully say “coming through! pardon me!” before I shoved nudged my way through. Not to my credit, I mumbled something like “you idiots” after I’d made it a few steps ahead of them.

Times I got nearly smacked in the face as the walk-jogger in front of me decided to ‘signal’ that she was moving around the person in front of her 3 . I was, chugging along, coming up behind another little group of people and was about to pass them all on the right, where there was plenty of room.  A large-ish woman at the back of the pack, just ahead of me to my left, had apparently decided she was going to run faster than the 6-foot tall incredibly fit man ahead of her. Without looking, she militantly flailed her arm out to the right about an inch in front of my face. I was of course, startled, and exclaimed “Jesus!”. She then glared at me for somehow being in the way of her arm.

Times I got spit on. Guy in front of me looked to the side, noticed me, snorted, and hocked a lugie. Yeah maybe that should be “Times I got intentionally spit on.”

And now, something nonsensically ridiculous that isn’t related to anything else 4 :

And now, something semantically irritating that is actually related to this post:
For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter or know me in real life, I get irrationally irritated when people use incorrect grammar or use words contradictory to their meaning. An example? I know a lot of people who use the word ‘belligerent’ to mean ‘drunk’. Telling me a story about how Joe was so belligerent last weekend means something very different than telling me a story about how Joe was so drunk last weekend. It’s not just wrong, it has completely different implications.  If you don’t mind profanity and poop jokes, you can hear the great comedian David Cross rant about people misusing the word ‘literally’ here.

My "13.1 Marathon" medal for completing a half marathon.

The race, which offers a 5k distance race (the Karhu 5k) and a half-marathon distance race, calls itself part of the “13.1 Marathon Series” which is just wrong. A marathon is 26.2 miles. A half marathon is 13.1 miles. There is no such thing as a ‘13.1 marathon’, unless of course you’re running 13.1 marathons, but I have no desire to run 343.22 consecutive miles. Completing a marathon is amazing, yes, but so is completing a half marathon. We don’t say “Oh look at that horrible Usain Bolt. He only runs 100 meters. That’s not an accomplishment. He should try a real distance like a marathon.” Every race is a wonderful accomplishment on their own. Call it the 13.1 Series, or offer a marathon length race too. Just don’t call it the “13.1 Marathon”. That’s just wrong.

In related news:
27 days until the Marine Corps Marathon. That is really not that many days. It’s even fewer days when you consider that my peroneal tendonitis is acting up something awful. I’m kinda hobbled on my left foot. Honestly, I’m a bit worried! Suze is finally running again, albeit not 100% yet, but she’ll get there for MCM. Fingers crossed we both get to that starting line on October 30!

1 Seriously, if you have any interest at all in NFL football, you’ll enjoy his blog. It’s equal parts hard stats, strange comparisons, and sheer non-nonsensical ridiculousness.

2 I’m not saying I have a problem with walkers – hell covering 13.1 at any speed is a significant achievement for anyone. I’m just saying if you know you’re going to walk most of the race, including the effing start of the race, maybe line up at the very back so that those of us who want to run can actually run.

3 I think she was trying to signal she was coming over. Either that or she has some weird form of Tourette’s or other neurological disorder, for which I then apologize for my comments. (Then again, if that ‘neurological disorder’ is ‘stupidity’ I should get a gold star for being so nice).

4 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On from Dean Fleischer-Camp.

This entry was posted in Health, Places, Races, Running, Training, US Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why I will never again run the 13.1 “Marathon” Series – Atlanta

  1. julie vernon says:

    You are funny!
    Julie x

  2. Laura says:

    This cracked up me! Sorry about the poorly run race. I hate it when people line up in front and are walking. There is nothing wrong with walking, but you need to line up in the correct place. Same thing with jogging strollers. Ugh. I’m running MCM too. Good luck!

  3. Eww you got spit on? Luckily that hasn’t happened to me…yet. Now I probably just jinxed it.
    I love the Usain Bolt analogy. Too funny. But yes, walkers should line up appropriately. I’d be aggrieved too!
    Good luck with MCM! I’m debating the National Half (or now the National Rock and Roll Half). Check out my blog about running, fitness and fun! http://livebreathehuzzah.com

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