I had hoped to compete in this marathon, but I have yet to master the art of wearing spikes on my shoes and stomping through snow banks. Instead, I was a grateful spectator. How could I not be? The Start and Finish were insanely close, and my apartment is on Mile 16 of the course! With all this in mind, my plan was simple. Walk on down to the Starting Line, take some photos and vids, then saunter back home to wait for the marathoners to arrive. We had camp chairs, coffee (at first) and beer. Also, Cara was planning to bake. Oh yeah, this was going to be a good day.
Things went pretty well for the morning, as you can see from my Flickr and YouTube content. I wandered through the crowd, found a good spot where the sun wouldn’t blast out my iPhone camera, and waited for things to start. It was almost as wonderful to witness as it is to participate in. Seemingly endless crowds of people flowed past me, rank by rank, row by row. I noted the passing of the pacers, and wondered when I would see them again. After that… well, I sauntered on home to my coffee and eventual beer.
Our friend Chris joined us at about 9am, and we set up our camp chairs while Cara finished baking some incredible gluten free doughnuts and scones. Before she came out, we saw the first hand cyclist. Then we waited for quite a while before the next one arrived.
At first it was just the faster cyclists and the normal traffic of the day. (Apparently they couldn’t close down our street completely, so the lane in front of us was open to cars and bicycles.) But soon the runners arrived, and people started to gather on both sides of the street. Even at Mile 16, it’s still in the middle of town, and we’re not the only people who live on the course.
A Sad, Horrible Goof
I forgot to charge my iPhone the night before, so I risked charging it after the cyclists. I had intended to get photos of the first men and women to pass our apartment. I even had my backup camera in case something happened. But when the first guy showed up, I did something stupid. I went for my iPhone instead of just using the backup. My desire to tweet the photo cost me the opportunity. I even missed the second guy. It was a bummer of a mistake that I won’t repeat. I did get the third man, though, and the first three women.
A Sign of Encouragement
With the first few marathoners come and gone, the pressure was off. I settled in and got comfortable. It was too warm for coffee, so Chris and I started on the beer. I had a whiteboard with me so I could make an encouraging sign like the ones I’ve been inspired by in my own races. After I started my first beer, however… well, I changed the sign.
The next few hours were nothing but fun. We cheered and saluted runners, spoke with the other spectators, gave directions to whoever needed them, and I took more photos than Cara could believe. Oh, and we drank plenty of beer. We didn’t get sloppy, though. It was a slow, steady thing. We stayed mildly toasty while we were more literally toasted by the sun. (Next time, sunblock before beer.) Then, something exceptional happened.
This is Wayne. He ran up and said that we didn’t need to drink for him, asking if we had beer to spare. I grinned and said “Seriously?” He nodded, so I beered him. While he drank, he gave us reason to love and hate him. We love him because he’s doing all 50 States. Vermont is his 23rd, I think. And we hate him because he’s doing the Cork Marathon in Ireland next week.
That’s right. In Ireland. Without us.
But all wasn’t lost. We still had a great day, all the way to the moment when the final pickup truck came to pick up the traffic cones. After Chris left, Cara and I walked downtown for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream with her parent. Then some grocery shopping, and then we basically shut down for the evening. And of course, when things settled down we realized how burned we were. Cara was burned all over, and I was burned primarily on the top of my gradually enlarging scalp. I had to drive over to the Rite-Aid for some aloe.
So that’s it. If you’re local to the Burlington area, I hope you enjoyed Race Day. And if you were in the race itself, I hope you achieved your goals.
Most of all, I hope you remembered sunblock!