|sleepy eyes, ready to go!|
When I arrived, I had just missed the start and the temperature were freezing. (But perfect for running 50k.) I headed to the start line anyways to investigate and figure out my strategy. I was having trouble converting their estimated pace and placement on the course to a time frame, so I just waited at the start for awhile because I didn't want to miss them! When I saw the bright yellow FNRC shirts, I was jumping up and down, knowing it was them. I took some quick photos before hopping in with them.
|Self portrait on the way back to the start.|
After arriving back, I waited in my car and tried to stay warm. There were plenty of port a potties at the start (that were replenished with TP) so that was helpful. I did a quick post to the running group to give everyone an update before heading back out.
When arriving at loop 3, some of the smiles and energy had faded. They had over 20 miles under their belts and they were starting to feel it. I tried to be positive without being too energetic as I headed out with them (into the headwind) of the last loop. I ran with them until the next aid station where I waited for them to come back before running back with them. The excitement was gone and the pace was speeding up. The feeling of just wanting to be done was in the air. They all finished with smiles on their faces and talk of this whole 50k thing being a "one and one" type of thing. I was happy to have gotten the chance to share in such a monumental event for these runners!
The Chicago 50/50 has been going on since 2000. It is obvious that they know what they're doing as the race is pretty well-organized. As the course is looped, there are officials keeping track of everyone's loops as there isn't a timing pad. The aid stations were well stocked with water, Gatorade, and lots of real food (cookies, chips, pretzels, pickles, bananas). Kind of says something about the impact of real food versus the chemicals in the synthetic stuff. (This next training cycle, I plan on giving more real foods a try to help give me energy and settle my stomach.) The only spectators on the course were those folks at the aid stations and fellow runners. There is definitely a huge sense of camaraderie among the ultra distance, and everyone is so cheery, respectful, and friendly towards other runners. It isn't serious and all about the pace, and every person for themselves... it is about completing something that not that many people would attempt to do. I would say that I would run this race, but I don't plan on ever tackling an ultra. I'm happy with the marathon distance and don't have the desire to go beyond... :)
Congrats to my friends that completed their first ultra!
Have you ever completed an ultra distance? Do you know folks that have? Have you ever been to spectate an ultra race? Did you have the same sense about the race?