As a trail and ultra runner I’ve had my share of unusual experiences, and heard a bunch more, because we love to share our stories. And I suspect that we fall prey to Fisherman Syndrome – the temptation to stretch the story a little each time. The hills keep getting a little higher, the creeks deeper, and the bears bigger.
You think you’re good at discerning truth from fiction? Have a go at the questions below. Which of these things really happened to me, and which did I make up or “exaggerate” a tad? Have fun!
- Complete the sentence I actually overheard: “Never stand between a runner and …”
- His carbs
- The finish line
- An oncoming vehicle
- Which of the following did I experience at the Burning Man 50K? (Hint: there may be more than one correct answer.)
- Sunrise over the playa
- Losing a toenail
- Being offered whiskey by spectators
- Running with a naked woman
- I was looking for my drop bag at an aid station at the Kettle Moraine 100. What was the actual advice a volunteer gave me?
- “We have them sorted by bib number.”
- “Sorry, some of them haven’t arrived yet.”
- “Are you sure you’re at the right event?”
- “Take any one you like, they all got the same shit in ‘em.”
- How many of the following happened to me at the 2014 Green Swamp 50K in Florida?
- Face planted four times on a pancake-flat course
- Stepped on a snake
- Was saved from getting lost by someone who did get lost
- Flew home that afternoon to run a 5K the next day
- Which of the events related to Run Woodstock freaked me out the most?
- My first “natural run”
- Being chased by baby raccoons on a training run
- Headlamp failing in the woods in the middle of the night
- Seeing the following sign at midnight on a high chainlink fence just off the trail:
Ready? Answers below.
Are you sure you’re ready?
Okay, here we go.
Answer to #1: “Never stand between a runner and his carbs.”
It was after a race, and there were slices of cake on the food table. Someone was blocking me from the piece I wanted, and I sort of lunged around him to get it. I apologized, which triggered the remark from a spectator. Note that I think the other three choices are also sound advice.
Answer to #2: All of them.
During the first loop I felt a sharp pain in my left food. At the water stop I took off my shoe and sock. The problem was my big toe. As I peeled off the tape, the toenail came off with it. No big deal. And there was no more pain! And sunrise over the playa was absolutely amazing. Well worth getting up at 5 a.m.
I did run with a naked woman for a while (and she finished ahead of me – oh, the shame). Spectators offered many interesting things to us, including whiskey and mystery liquids. You can read all about it in this previous post.
Answer to #3: Choice (d) – “Take any one you like…”
There were lots of drop bags at this station. My mind keeps stretching the number and the area, but here’s an actual photo of some of them. Fortunately I did find my actual bag without too much trouble. I don’t remember if they were sorted by bib number. It would make sense, come to think of it.
Answer to #4: Choices (c) and (d)
Out in the middle of nowhere, I was happily running along when a woman approached from the opposite direction. “No,” she said, “wrong way. I just found out.” Sure enough, a few hundred yards back was a turn we’d missed. Good thing, or I might still be out there.
And 2014 was the year I’d set a goal to run every race put on by RF Events. Green Swamp was a Saturday in Florida, and Shamrocks & Shenanigans was the following day back in Ann Arbor. So I flew home the same day, and ran Shamrocks the next day. The staff still talks about it.
The other two answers are close. I didn’t step on a snake, but I almost did. And I actually face planted six times on a pancake-flat course. Pesky alligators.
Answer to #5: Choice (b) – yep, the baby raccoons!
I wasn’t afraid so much of them, but of Mama, who must’ve been somewhere nearby. So I booked the hell out of there.
Headlamp failing is certainly cause for concern, but I wasn’t worried. First, an aid station was just up the trail with my drop bag, in which was a spare headlamp. Second, I always carry two light sources at night, so I had a small flashlight as backup. Be smart out there!
As for the zombie warning sign? I wasn’t freaked out at all. I put it there! I set it up around midnight and removed it before sunrise. Only the 100-mile and 100K runners got to “hallucinate” that sign!
And my first “natural run”? It was somewhat uncomfortable at first, but after a few minutes it’s just people with no clothes on. And running, which is always good. You can read about it in this previous post here. And if you infer that by “my first” means I’ve done others since? You infer correctly, dear reader. Try it sometime!
Do you have any funny, strange, or freaky running experiences you’d like to share? Post away!