Sometime in January or February, I got an email from one of my favorite events, Zooma, was not coming back to the Annapolis area this year. Instead, a new race would be coming to the area presented by Pacers Running – the Wayfarer’s Annapolis Half Marathon and 10k was born.
I read over the information and then clicked out of the email. My initial thought was to not participate as I mourned the loss of my favorite event. Also, my running plan for this year didn’t really allow for a 10k in June. I wanted to “come back” the right way – ease into the workouts, build slowly, etc. But, within 24 hours, I was registered for the 10k…I have no willpower obviously.
One of the things I really liked about the event was they stressed the journey over the destination. To help you focus on the journey, they had “events” along the way. For each “event” you participated in, you would earn a memento (I love swag!). By registering in February, you earned a “Founders Pin” (inaugural year of the race, first registrants helped “establish” the event if you will); in March, they encouraged runners to volunteer within their communities and earn a “community” patch. In April and May, Pacers hosted actual events – runners could mingle with each other and talk about/do what they enjoy most – running. April’s event was a book club session. Runners could participate in person OR through Facebook Live (which didn’t work). The event was in Virginia on a worknight so I opted for Facebook Live but ended up watching the podcast in order to earn my “book club” pin. May’s event was styled a “Downward Plog”. It consisted of a 3-5 mile fun run with a twist – you collect trash along the way – followed by a yoga session (it was my first time doing yoga with an instructor and I loved it!). Dinner and ice cream followed yoga. Participants earned a “community” patch at this event.
Packet pickup also started in May. Runners had a whole month to pick up their race day goodies. Packet consisted of a Vooray backpack, bib number, and whatever mementos you earned up to that point. This was a really nice way to do packet pickup since pick up locations were in Annapolis, DC and Northern Virginia.
We’ve had some crazy weather lately. On Friday, after some prodding from participants on the weather policy, Pacers finally announced (and I say finally because their biggest competition in Maryland had notified their runners a full 24 hours earlier) the game plan for Saturday. They decided to cancel the half. Everyone would run the 10k. Lightning/thunder would delay the start.
This was a smart decision on their part. The back half of the half marathon course is in wooded neighborhoods. Running back there is no fun and I can’t imagine being stuck out there during weather with no where to go. As it turned out, the weather was super humid but no rain on Saturday (of course!).
Race started promptly at 7am. I’ve run this course many times so I knew what I was getting into. I also knew it wouldn’t be a good run for me – I hadn’t slept well the night before and I do not do well in very humid conditions.
I stuck with my intervals for about 2 miles before I decided to just walk the rest. I was getting uncomfortable and really just wanted to finish. By this time, my rabbit and I had started talking. The humidity was getting to her too but she was determined to finish since she was running for a charity. I understand that feeling all too well and I told her I would get her to the finish one way or the other.
It was around this time we realized we were being followed. The race had barely started (and all signage said the race went to 10:30am) and we already had the escort of shame behind us.
We realized a little later that we weren’t last but we were clearly going to be the last supported runners on the course. This still stings but it lessens the pain (a bit).
I will give kudos to the escort of shame. No one who followed us was negative (at least not out loud so I can only hope they weren’t in their heads). Event management along the course continued to be supportive as we moved through. Both of us needed some time of assistance in the last mile – I needed water since I was starting to feel nauseous and she needed help because she was starting to cramp – and the escort was able to provide water (for me) and made sure traffic didn’t speed around her (as she slowly worked through the cramping as we crossed to a sidewalk).
I could have easily just focused on myself and walked away and left her. But I didn’t. I slowed my pace down more to make sure I stayed with her – if we were truly the last supported runners, I didn’t know where help would be if something happened to her. I wasn’t going to leave her just so I could finish. Before we both had issues, I would guess we would have finished around 1:40 – we actually finished at 1:56 – and that’s ok. Runners help each other. Would that 1:40 been nice? Yes! I haven’t had a 1:40 in a long time. It would have been a shot of confidence.
Anywho, we finished. We congratulated each other. Grabbed water and electrolyte supplements. We picked up our finisher awards. As this point, a friend of mine met us and told us we were not last. Apparently there was a whole gaggle of runners behind us and the escort of shame that we couldn’t see.
Unique swag with opportunity to earn mementos, free race day pics, different events/activities leading up to race day, event day staff organized and personable, beautiful course, month-long packet pickup
Not friendly to slower runners, photographers did not stay on course (no pics for slow runners), event staff at non-race day events was unprofessional and not very organized , post-race party isn’t a party (so no reason to really stay post race), slow to communicate