Tag Archives: Wicked Halloween run

Joy and Subterfuge: Wicked Halloween Run Recap

I WAS SURROUNDED BY SUPERHEROES, monsters, and even a refrigerator, but what impressed me most was a nine-year-old girl.

Pacing assignments at 7:00 a.m.

Pacing assignments at 7:00 a.m.

Last Sunday I paced the Wicked Halloween 10K, one of the races put on by the Kona Running Company. I enjoy pacing their events for many reasons – the large turnout, the cool shirts, a great location (downtown Plymouth, MI) and the energy of all involved. They are also unusual in providing pacers for 5K and 10K distances, something normally reserved for the half marathon and longer. But I hear compliments for the pacers at every event, so they’re onto something.

They also make a special effort to recognize first-time racers. I normally run the 52-minute pace, but they needed someone for the “1st Time 10K” so I took the sign. The pace would be easy; the tough part was finding first-timers, despite over 1,600 runners lined up behind the starting gate. There are plenty of first-time 5K runners at Kona races, but most 10Kers have already run some before. (Which leads me to wonder: where do people run their first 10K?)

Never mind "first time" - how does anyone run *at all* in those things?

Never mind “first time” – how does anyone run *at all* in those things?

Eventually I found a few near the back, and after congratulations and photos, off we went. But I got distracted looking at the costumes and lost them at some point. After futile attempts to find more first-timers, I declared a few people to be “Honorary 1st Time 10K” and ran behind them holding the sign. They didn’t seem to mind. Heck, they got some extra kudos from the spectators.

Wicked Halloween Run - Bearded Couple

One of the many cheering sections along the way - another nice touch.

One of the many cheering sections along the way – another nice touch.

At the water stop at the halfway mark, I tried again to locate some genuine first-timers. Finally, I found someone. Yes! My life had meaning again! Then I found a couple more – even a dog. And then I came across this young lady.

Wicked Halloween Run - Joyful Running

Kaney was running her first-ever 10K, but watching her I wouldn’t have guessed. Her pace was steady and her form was excellent. And she was obviously really enjoying herself . “This is what running is all about!” I wanted to say to the adults with her. “Having a good time!” And I did say it, actually.

Wicked Halloween Run - Finish.jpgI stayed with them the rest of the way, and got this photo at the finish. Another good event on another beautiful day. And downtown Plymouth is a fun place to wander around afterward, with small-town charm and at least two excellent non-chain coffee shops – the Coffee Bean and Espresso Elevado – easy walking distance from the park.

Looking forward to pacing The Chocolate Run in a few weeks!

Oh, yes, and here’s the refrigerator. This lady is known for her elaborate costumes!

Wicked Halloween Run - Refrigerator Costume

Would You Run a Litter-Free Race?

This morning I ran the Wicked Halloween 10K in Plymouth, one of the Kona series of races that I volunteer for as a pacer. It’s a nice change to enjoy being part of a race without busting a$$ trying for a PR. And at the end you’re encouraging people to pass you. How fun is that?

Wicked pacers.

Wicked pacers.

Despite a chilly start, I enjoyed the event. My regular pace partner, Mike, and I breezed through our 52-minute assignment, and everyone there seemed to have a good time. A typical well-run local race, and I wouldn’t have anything to contribute by way of improvement – except for the cups scattered along the roadside at the water stations.

Races generate large amount of trash from cups and disposable water bottles. Most is handled through numerous trash cans and boxes throughout the area, and runners by and large are good at putting trash where it belongs, with one exception.

On the race course itself, runners typically grab offered cups of water and Gatorade without stopping, gulp them down on the run, and then throw the cups on the road, or off to the side. This is standard behavior, and if not ideal, is accepted and is dealt with through lots of volunteers. During the Chicago Marathon I even saw people standing at the aid stations with brooms, sweeping the trash off the road whenever they could. But I still had to step carefully at many stations to avoid slipping on cups, sponges, and other debris that 35,000 runners discard over the course of 26.2 miles.

Water stop at the Berlin Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Water stop at the Berlin Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Two recent experiences changed my perspective. At Run Woodstock, some runners left cups and other trash by the flags on the trails, where there were no volunteers to see it and pick it up. Then a recent post of the French Word-a-Day blog covered the subject. Kristin Espinasse, the author, writes about her experiences as an American married to a Frenchman and raising a family in France. Her husband recently completed his first triathlon, and look what happened: (excerpt edited)

Nearing [the finish line], Jean-Marc needed to dispose of one of those energy gel packs. Approaching one of the race volunteers, he flashed a winning smile and pitched the plastic tube to the side of the road. [A] race official, standing nearby and seeing the tail end of the exchange, held out a yellow card. Jean-Marc was sanctioned for littering!

(Read the entire article here to see the outcome.)

This is the first time I’ve heard about penalizing runners for littering during a race. But a little online research turned up a few efforts to minimize and/or eliminate race litter. For example, check out this article from the Mother Nature Network that describes what some marathons are doing to address the amount of waste associated with their events. And here is a video of a zero-trash water station at the Circular Logic Marathon, where every runner uses a refillable water bottle.

Circular Logic Marathon video

Have any readers been part of a “no-littering” race? What do you think of the idea? Would you support it? Please try the poll below, and/or comment – I’d like to know your thoughts.


P.S. The next race in the Kona series is the Chocolate Run on November 17. Hot chocolate, scones, chocolate chip cookies and premium Chocolate Fountain Fondues along with music in historic downtown Plymouth!

P.P.S. In addition to her posts, Kristin takes amazing photographs of French life and the other places in Europe she visits. Consider signing up for her email newsletter.

Running for Art, Running Like Hell, Setting the Pace

IT WAS QUITE A WEEKEND FOR RUNNING, with three different kinds of events and another personal record (PR) mixed in. I could enthrall you with my sublime and transcendent prose, but I’ll be doing enough of that in November with my novel for NaNoWriMo. So I’ll let the photos do (most of) the talking here.

Thursday – Run for Public Art Awareness – Ann Arbor

“B4Art” is the slogan for supporting Proposal B, a teeny-weeny millage (about $12 per year) to fund public art in the city of Ann Arbor. If you live in Ann Arbor, I hope you’ll vote Yes; if not, consider donating to the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (AAPAC). Public art doesn’t only spruce up the area; Los Angeles has found it increases property values and boosts revenue. Many more photos of local public art on the AAPAC website and Facebook page.

We all B4Art! (Be sure to pronounce it slowly.)

A “Tree Form” in West Park.

This is public art too, albeit un-commissioned and unfunded.

 Saturday night – Headless Horseman 5K, Howell

The Headless Horseman races capped off a Halloween festival in downtown Howell. The route wound through neighborhoods and a park along the river, lit in part by luminaries and path lights; I managed a few appreciative thoughts in between desperate gasps for air. But the temporary suffering paid off with a new personal record 20:15, winning my age group and placing 19th overall!

The HH himself strikes a pose before the race. He also led the pace, although for some reason he switched to a bicycle.

Yes, she really ran the race in that outfit. She said it was a bit bulky, but not uncomfortable.

Two cool cats at a cool coffee shop (Uptown Coffeehouse in downtown Howell).

Celebrating my new 5K PR: age group award in my right hand, and Michigan’s best cappuccino in my left. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Sunday morning – Wicked Halloween 10K, Plymouth

How did I follow up the Saturday night race? By racing again Sunday morning, of course, this time as an official pacer. I and some other PR Fitness runners had volunteered in various capacities for the Wicked Halloween 10K in Plymouth. I joined two other “pacing rookies” for the 52:00 pace group. We did just fine, hitting our mile marks on schedule and crossing the finish line within five seconds of our assigned time.

Chilly volunteers – PR Fitness runners and friends.

The 52-minute group – three newbie pacers. (I’m dressed up like a runner who knows what he’s doing.)

Monster Mashing prior to the 10K start.

We round the final turn of the 10K – on pace!

The 5K gets ready to start. (My money’s on Captain America.)

A hot homemade crepe at the Coffee Bean warms me up after the race.

So that was my event-filled weekend. The only downside – due to the music they played at both events (Halloween and running-related, naturally) I’ve had “Witchy Woman” running through my head all day. Oh well, the turkey trots begin soon.