* It's still a great read. So was Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, and the last thing I wanted to do after reading that book was to go climb Mount Everest.What was I to do?
When faced with the no-win Kobayashi Maru scenario, cadet James T. Kirk didn’t just accept defeat meekly; he changed the test. Admittedly, I’m no Captain Kirk, and deciding how to race on Halloween morning isn’t the same as dealing with a Starfleet Academy simulation. But I decided to follow his lead and create my own scenario by asking race director Darwin Rasmussen ahead of time if I could have permission to run the 5K for a true time, and then to run it again as Run for Your Bones II.** Darwin was very supportive of the idea.
** I’d like to claim all the credit for originating this idea, but the truth is that I was thinking about a couple of years ago, when Brian Bernier doubled the Zombie Apocalypse Run, first as a survivor, then as a zombie.
Packet pick-up took place on the Thursday before the race at Big Al’s in Beaverton. As I walked into the bowling alley, Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” blared from the speakers.
Besides the racing bib, there were plenty of goodies available, like Food Should Taste Good brand tortilla chips and Meta Health Bars. I walked out with one each of the sweet potato (yum!) and blue corn tortilla chip bags, and a box of the health bars.
Even better, when Uberthons has packet pick-up at Big Al’s, there’s been a free bowling game. Alas, because of family stuff, I wasn’t able to stay to bowl, but I did get a pass for a free game on a future day. (I like Big Al’s – it’s loud but I got a strike when I really needed one last year and won a couple of months of free bowling as a result.)
The morning of the race and the weather forecast
Summer’s definitely over, and we’re into the moist fall season. It rained the night before the race, but the morning forecast suggested that, at most, it would drizzle in the morning, with temperatures around 60 degrees. (The afternoon and evening were a different matter.) I decided to go with a short-sleeve tech shirt and no jacket.*** This calls for some degree of faith in one’s temperature endurance, because it was still dark when I left home around 6:50 a.m.
*** Since I had received an Uberthons team shirt, I felt like I should wear it to the next event, that being this one. Having worn lots of tech shirts from different manufacturers, let me just say that this particular one feels great. The half marathon shirts that Uberthons makes are pretty good, but this one is softer and contains reflective lettering.
I was mildly worried about parking. The event had sold out, and the “last minute news” post strongly suggested arriving before 7 a.m. or else risk being diverted to an overflow lot. That wouldn’t really be a big deal, as the overflow lot – the nearby Regal Theaters – was just a mile away from The Reserve, but it would have created a small logistical problem for me, in that I had brought a mask to wear when running Run for Your Bones II, which I planned on leaving in the car during the first 5K. If I’d be sent to the overflow lot, I didn’t think I’d bother catching the shuttle to come back for the mask.
My fretting was for naught, as there was enough parking for a latecomer like me, arriving just before 7:30. It seemed like it went from dark to fairly light in about five minutes. The skies were covered in clouds but it looked like it would stay dry, or at least dry-ish.
My friend Jim was already there at the starting area. He used to run marathons but had stopped running several years ago, until I kept urging him to return to the sport. This was his introduction to Uberthons, and he absolutely loved the race atmosphere.
Temperature is a strange concept. With the wind acting up and no direct sunlight, it felt chilly enough to make me grateful for the large crowd – wind block and communal body heat and all that. As we neared the start of the race, though, the wind died down, and it became perfect running weather.
Run for Your Bones (the regular 5K)
Regular Uberthons participants are probably familiar with the South course at The Reserve, as it’s been used for past Luckythons and Halloweenathons. It kind of looks like a beaver, or some kind of creature with bat-like wings.
I started in the third wave of runners. When it was my wave’s turn to go, I jumped out to a quick start – maybe too quick, as I took a wrong step, landed on the edge of my right foot, and nearly twisted it. I recovered quickly and soon caught up to some of the runners who’d started in the second wave. Getting past them required skirting around the edge of the paved trail. Although it was dry at that moment, the path showed definite signs of a big rainstorm in the recent past. There were a few lakes waiting to soak shoes and socks, and the grass – if you chose to avoid the water – was squishy and soft.
The obstacle stations were set up, but Darwin had held back the Run for Your Bones II racers until all of the regular racers had gone first. About halfway through the 5K, I was able to see the first obstacle station (back around the 1/2 mile mark) with a long line of runners waiting their turns. It occurred to me that by the time I got around to doing the obstacle challenges, there wouldn’t be a wait at all.
I had felt okay for two miles. The conditions were actually kind of mild, and the course was mostly flat. I had gone out too fast, as I always do, but my second mile was adequate. If I could’ve held my overall pace, I wouldn’t have PR’d, but it would’ve been a best time for the year. But apparently I really slowed down with just over half a mile left in the race. No no no, you’re supposed to speed up near the end!
Well, I did have an okay kick for the last 0.1 miles.
Run for Your Bones II (the obstacles)
After gratefully accepting a bottle of water, as well as the finisher’s medal, I rested for a couple of minutes to catch my breath and then headed back to my vehicle to get the costume mask I’d brought. I have to confess, I am a complete novice when it comes to running in a costume (even one as sparse as a mask). In fact, I don’t even own the mask; it’s my son’s.
I figured it would be possible to run while wearing a mask because I remembered that Joe Dudman had worn a Jason Vorhees mask during the same Zombie Apocalypse Run that Brian Bernier had run the double. Still, just to be sure that I could manage it, I went for a test run on Friday afternoon at the gym. (I picked the gym because if I went outside, it’s hilly, and all I wanted to do was go for an easy run, since it was the day before the race.) I explained to the receptionist that I was testing the feasibility of running while masked, in case any other patrons got freaked out.
Airflow turned out not to be a problem. After about two miles on the treadmill, though, the plastic eyepieces started to fog up. It probably doesn’t cast an intimidating visage to be reaching the mask to wipe the eyepieces off every few moments…. No problem, though, I figured; all I needed to do was to spray some shaving cream on the eyepieces in the morning and wipe it away; the residue would act as an anti-fog coating.
Of course, I forgot to do that.
Too late to do anything about it, I put the mask on, waved bye to Darwin (who was handing out space blankets to race finishers), and set off for my second trip through the course. Just like the 10K runners, except that I would be stopping at the seven obstacle stations.
I was in no condition to go at my 5K pace. I probably could’ve managed my 10K pace, especially since doing the obstacles would also present an opportunity to rest, but my tender Achilles tendon was starting to complain about the day’s activities, so I took it easy, going slower than half marathon pace.
The first obstacle was the pumpkin putting course. As I had expected, there was no one there. I had taken my mask off as I approached the obstacle, but I decided that I should be dignified about it and became Darth Vader again. I asked the race volunteer where most people had set the ball.
“Oh, much closer than where you have it,” he said.
I was not looking for a challenge, so I moved the ball closer. That was still farther than most people had putted from. (Note: this anecdote may give the impression that I think I’m a pretty good mini-golf putter. Don’t be fooled.) He also suggested that putting with the mask on would make it harder. So I took the mask off. Fortunately, the object was to putt it mini-golf style (that is, hit it, then continue from the new spot, and repeat until you succeed). Two shots later, I was back on the race course.
The second obstacle station was also empty – indeed, close to packing up when I arrived. Now, I knew that there would be a “eat a donut hanging from a string” task, but I had expected that the donuts would be the little ones that come 12 in a small rectangular box.
These were pretty close to full-size donuts!
“I have to eat an entire one of those?” I asked.
Only half, I was reassured.
Oh, and of course, this was a “no hands” operation. There were only four or five hanging donuts left. I picked one of the high ones, moved my mouth in place, and took a big bite. To my dismay, this was maybe one-third of what I needed to chow down. I’m actually not a big fan of donuts, either. I’m definitely not after having run a hard 5K and just a third of the way into a second one….
I don’t remember ever stopping for water during a 5K race, but there’s a first time for everything. I stopped at the aid station on the course at the halfway mark to get water to wash down the lingering dryness of the donut.
At the next obstacle station, there was actually a short line. This one involved looking at a bag and submitting a guess as to how many pieces of candy corn were inside. (This was one of the ideas that I contributed for obstacle stations, although I had no inside information as to the candy count.) One running parent behind me was talking to her child about using what he’d learned in school to estimate.
I took the less scientific approach of coming up with a rough guess and then doubling it. “1012,” I said when it was my turn.
(Apparently, I should’ve just gone with my rough guess, as the correct answer was 529.)
By the way, at each of the obstacle stations, when you completed the task, a race volunteer would punch out a spider icon on part of the racing bib. If you got all seven punched out, you could submit that ticket for the random prize drawing. At this station, I noticed that the people behind me had one more punch out than I did. D’oh! I’d missed an earlier obstacle, which turned out to be the third one – finding a hidden pumpkin along the course. Oh well, I wasn’t going to go back to look for it.
At the fifth obstacle station (fourth for me), there were more treats – sugar cookies and different types of frosting.
We were allowed to share a cookie with someone, but I didn’t hear that until I’d already grabbed one (the smallest one I could find) and started eating it. I skipped the frosting, though in retrospect I’m not sure if that made it easier or harder in the end.
Cookie vanquished, I continued on.
This obstacle was a straightforward beanbag toss. Fortunately, it was not set-up like the games at carnivals – ones that look easy but turn out to be near impossible.
None of the obstacles so far was difficult, not even the donut eating one. (I mean, after all, I may not be a big fan of donuts, but I’d much rather eat one than the nasty food challenges on “Survivor.” Yikes!) They were a pleasant diversion during the race, a chance to enjoy the atmosphere and environment, something I tend not to do as much as I should during races.
There was just one more obstacle left: the pumpkin counting one. (This one was also a suggestion that I had submitted, although my idea had been black cats, and I had envisioned all different kinds, from stuffed animals to paper cutouts.) Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it. Basically, there were a bunch of small pumpkins scattered along the grass by the side of the race path. With methodical counting, I came up with the correct answer (22) on the first try.
I kicked it into gear to finish my second 5K of the morning.
About 20 minutes later, the awards ceremony began under the canopy. The overall winners of the 5K, 10K, and 15K races had been announced at the start/finish line, but this is when the age group winners were recognized. As usual, Uberthons awards gold, silver, or bronze pins to the first, second, or third place age group finishers – perfect for pinning on the lanyard of the finisher’s medal. In addition, Darwin Rasmussen conducted the random drawing among Run for Your Bones II finishers for the Big Al’s gift card, the Road Runner Sports free pair of running shoes, the free entries to the Turkeython, and free Uberthons socks. After that was the costume content, judged by Uberthoner Eileen Kuffner. The grand winners were these sisters:
Overall, this was another great event by Uberthons. The addition of the obstacle course was interesting and hopefully something that will remain part of this race in future years. I didn’t have to wait long or at all for the obstacles, though, so perhaps there will be an official option to race Run for Your Bones I and II back-to-back the way I did unofficially – which would also spread obstacle runners farther out.
Running in a costume (such as it was) was … different. I passed one runner dressed as an Ewok a couple of times (passed her, stopped to do an obstacle, and caught up/passed her), prompting me to say, “Aren’t you the enemy?” It got me thinking that I really wished I’d seen a stormtrooper or two, so that I could’ve ordered them to follow me to pursue the Rebels. Maybe next year.
For full results of 5K, 10K, 15K, 15K relay, and kids’ 1 mile race, click here. (Sort by all runners, by gender, by age group, or by age group and gender.)
For hundreds of pictures from the event, click here.