In the midst of struggling to recover from a nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis and coming to grips with the fact that I am officially in my mid-forties (I am celebrating my 44th birthday today) I had the pleasure of heading up to the Wintergreen Resort this weekend for the UROC 100K Championship. I have to say, as disappointed as I was to not be running, I had a blast.
On Friday afternoon I was able to do some interviews for the race website and that evening I had the chance to moderate the elite athlete panel. Squeezed in between, I enjoyed dinner and a few brews with my good friend Bryon Powell at the Devil's Backbone Brewery and we waxed on for hours about all of our brilliant ideas:) We were staying at the elite athletes house so after Dave, Geoff, Matt, Devon, Dave and the others went to bed we got into the serious business of discussing the current state of ultrarunning with a great group of people including the top brass at Trail Runner Magazine and Geoff Roes' parents. It was a wonderfully refreshing and far reaching conversation and one that reminded me what a truly great sport this can be.
On race day I split time between running around with Bryon doing the irunfar.com race coverage and recording commentary for the video clips the race organizers were producing. Both of those activities gave me a glimpse into running ultras from the spectator's side and it was a new and exciting perspective for me. I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. In particular, spending time with Bryon as he tweeted the race, sent pictures and comments out to the masses, and sought to provide an instant, inside look at the sport while battling spotty cell coverage and tricky travel logistics, was truly eye-opening. The guy is a pro and we should all feel thankful he's committed his life to our sport.
Following the event the usual post-mortem discussions ensued about the course, missed turns and the entire idea of championship ultramarathon running. I, for one, as both a runner and as a fan, was grateful for this wonderful first effort. Frannie and Gill worked tirelessly to create a truly elite event and I know all of the runners felt well taken care of. In addition, throughout the weekend, I felt the inescapable cameraderie of ultramarathoning oozing out of the entire experience. From newcomers to grizzled veterans this was clearly "next step" event. None of us are quite sure how big that step will be nor in what direction it will ultimately take us but the fact that we were moving was good, very good. And, to bring it full circle, it did not go unnoticed that Scott McCoubrey and David Horton were on hand to be part of the festivities. For those of us who've been around for awhile these two guys epitomize the "old school." Yet, there they were, in the midst of the inflatable finish line, the video crews and the prize money to simply be part of the sport they, and I, love so much. Until next time...