Scenes From A Marathon: 2007

The 22nd running of the Big Sur Marathon is history, and it was a fantastic morning for everyone involved. We’re leaving it to the legitimate reporters to tell you about the winners, while we’re reporting some “inside stories” from the middle of the pack that otherwise might have fallen through the cracks.

Here are some scenes from the 2007 Big Sur Marathon:

Test that toothpaste!: About 15 minutes before the race start, one of the female elite runners was spotted vigorously brushing her teeth in the bushes on the side of the road – for about 10 minutes. If she had won the race, we would have been suspicious of something besides fluoride on that brush. We’d also be trying the same thing ourselves next year.

We’re all doves: Big Sur has the classiest opening ceremony of any marathon we’ve seen. Between the Marine Corps color guard, the bagpipe player, the benediction, and the National Anthem, it’s a guaranteed goosebump situation.

They also release 26 doves, who take off and circle the canyons of Pfeiffer State Park. When they leave the box, the birds almost seem disoriented, which makes us wonder about what kind of morning they’ve had. Sure, everyone worries about the runners, but those doves also had to get up pretty early, and they too are facing a long journey to get back to their homes.

These are the kind of thoughts runners distract themselves with at the start line, instead of thinking about the 26 miles of road ahead. That is … until the gun goes off.

It’s nice to have big, fast friends: Our friend Andrew McClelland is over 6’ tall, and blazing fast. He decided to take it easy during the first miles of the race, so Donald tucked right behind him and drafted his way to the smoothest, easiest 6-minute miles he’s ever run. Andrew was also wearing an orange shirt – more on this later.

Obvious advice: During mile 5, Donald was in a pack with two other runners – one from Chicago, one from Maine. Neither one had run Big Sur before, which led to this conversation …

Chicago runner: Do either of you guys know about the course?

Maine runner: I think there are some hills. (To Donald) What do you think?

Donald: Um … yeah. It gets harder from here.

Put bib numbers on them!: Near the Point Sur lighthouse, the cattle were restless. More than 100 cattle were running north and south in the large roadside pasture. When Donald came by, the cattle were headed north – at a faster pace than he was. It’s not exactly encouraging to get outrun by a 700-lb heifer.

The new black?: We couldn’t help but notice the large amount of orange clothing this year. The mens’ race shirts are rust orange; the new race uniforms of Monterey’s running club are orange; and we counted a ton of orange jerseys by Asics or Nike. In fact, this was a topic of conversation between us while waiting for the morning bus – Donald hates the new shirts, while Mike likes them. Does the Herald have a fashion columnist? We need a tiebreaking opinion on this one.

Editors are pretty smart: Herald sports editor Dave Kellogg ran last year’s marathon, and did the 10-mile walk this year. When Mike passed him this year, Dave shouted, “The 10-mile is easier!” Observant guy, that Dave.

Convincing evidence that not very many people read our column: On Saturday, we pleaded with spectators to not yell “Almost there!” when runners went by. Sadly, we heard a ton of “Almost there!” cheers throughout the course – even as far south as Point Sur.

On the other hand … : We also suggested that “Nice buns!” would be a great cheer, and each of us heard this several times from race walkers along the course. We may have created a monster with this one.

Take nothing for granted: At about mile 17, Donald ran alongside a friend of his who was working as a bicycle medic. They had the following conversation:

Medic: Are you doing the whole marathon?

Donald: Well … so far I am.

Our favorite signs: At the finish line, Mike’s 3-year-old grandson Jeremy held a sign that said GO on one side, and STOP on the other. He turned it from Go to Stop when Mike crossed the line.

Donald’s father-in-law is a contractor. So when he saw his three kids standing on the Carmel River Bridge holding GO DADDY signs made of reinforced poster board fastened with galvanized nuts, washers, and bolts to a broomstick, with handles made of pipe insulation wrapped in electrical tape, he knew right away who helped the kids make them.

Where’d all these sharks come from?: Last year, Donald ran 3:01 and won an age group award. This year, he ran 2 minutes faster, and finished 7th in the same age group. On Sunday, Mike broke the course record for 60-year-olds, but came in second to his friend Chuck McDonald, another 60-year-old who ran six minutes faster.

The Big Sur Marathon used to be a nice small-pond event for local runners to collect some awards and feel like big fish for a day. Now it’s like there’s a new inlet to our little pond, and a lot of big, fast fish are swimming here from out of town and eating up our shrimp flakes.

Actually, we don’t have any hard feelings about getting beaten at our favorite race – because it doesn’t detract at all from the enjoyment and satisfaction we find on race day.

Congratulations to everybody who completed the marathon on Sunday. You all have reason to be very proud. Let’s do it again next year!


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