After a week of unintentional tapering where I managed only one run (plus a fairly gnarly 3.5 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1400 feet and a rowing session on a Concept2 at a hotel that didn’t have a single treadmill!), I was eager to tackle the Uberthons Summer Quarter Marathon. I hadn’t checked the weather forecast but assumed it would be mild at the 7:30 a.m.* start time and then warm up.
* 7:30 was the start time for the quarter and half marathons. The full marathon started at 7 with a special early-bird 6 a.m. start.
I went to bed earlier than usual the night before and got up at 6:10 the morning of the race. After washing up at a leisurely pace, I left the house just past 6:30 and arrived in Banks a little later than Google Maps had predicted. I try to run fast but I’m something of a slow driver. Volunteers directed me to parking at the elementary school. Considering that it was past 7:15, I was surprised that there were plenty of available spaces. (In retrospect, this was the best parking location for the end of the race but it worked well for the beginning only of the quarter marathon, as the half and full marathoners probably wanted to park between the middle school and high school, where the shuttle buses were lined up to take them to the start of their races.)
After jogging around aimlessly for a few minutes because I forgot where the quarter marathon was to start, I finally made my way to the staging area in the middle of Greenville City Park. There was no designated bib pickup but the announcer was able to direct me to a volunteer, who handed me bib #334. (Packet pickup had been available the two days before, but I was out of town so I missed both opportunities.)
With the race having sold out, I was expecting a larger crowd than the three dozen or so of us who gathered at the starting line, but the sell-out must have applied to the combination of all three race distances in total. Anyway, we loosely sorted ourselves according to the Uberthons’ mantra of “fast people in front, good-looking people in back,” and then we were sent off.
Brendan Adkins (#301) took the early lead with a strong sub-8:00 pace, taking us along NW Trellis Way for a short stretch quarter mile until it joined NW Main Street in a T-intersection, where the volunteer waved us right (north). Main Street is indeed the main street of Banks – over the next three quarters of a mile, we ran past the elementary school, the middle school, the high school, the fire department, City Hall, and more.
Soon after turning on Main Street, I had caught up to Brendan and found myself as the front runner. Needless to say, this was an unusual feeling. At NW Banks Road, another volunteer directed us right (east) for a brief segment before we turned left on to the Banks-Vernonia trail. I ran this route back in 2013 during the first Uberthons half marathon, and vague recollections were coming back to me. Of course, back then, I was covering this part of the trail at the tail part of the 13.1 mile race, whereas this was the first half still of a much shorter distance.
The entire trail was paved and flat, and the later part of it was shaded. It was warm but not uncomfortably so, and I had settled into a cruising pace. It was slower than my 10K pace, but without anyone ahead of me to chase and without anyone right on my heels, I guess I found it hard to push myself harder. (That and the fact that this was going to be an auto-PR, since I hadn’t raced a quarter marathon before.)
I reached the turnaround and started heading back. Soon I saw Brendan Adkins and William Woerner (#333), and more runners. The 36 other runners (besides me) were stretched over a mile and a half, give or take, so I saw lots of fellow runners from the midpoint of the race to about mile 4.5. I noticed that Uberthons had put up mile markers for each race distance, so the sequence went quarter marathon mileage marker (meaning N.55 miles left), and then a third of a mile later, the marathon mileage marker (meaning N.2 miles left), and then a short distance after that, the half marathon mileage marker (meaning N.1 miles left).
It occurred to me that while that unshaded portion of the trail was still in the realm of pleasant right now, the sun was going to be higher and that spot was going to be hotter when the marathoners would be coming through…. (I was quite happy when I hit the turnaround to be running the quarter marathon!)
Then I was back on to Main Street, and then back into the park, where I finally finished first overall in a race! I’ve been the #1 masters runner, the #1 male, the #1 adult, but I’ve never been the overall #1 in a full-scale race before. It certainly helped that the “glamour” distances (half and full marathon) attracted over 500 runners between them, but I’m not going to complain.
Volunteers handed me the finisher’s medal and a bottle of water, and I sat down. Soon after, I saw Brendan and William in a tight footrace to the finish line. It looked like Brendan crossed first by a bare margin, but William had the chip-timing edge and took #2 overall. More quarter marathoners were coming in, including Christy Westover (#335), who was the #1 female. (And how is this for a weird coincidence: bib numbers 333-335 were all worn by 49-year-olds, and we took #1/2 male and #1 female…?)
Shortly before 8:50 a.m., the first half marathoners started showing up(!). Alejandro Fallas (#13) finished in 1:14:54, followed by Jeffrey Alberghini (#971). Fionna Fallon (#14) was the top female half marathoner, at 1:20:23.
At this point, the food station under the gazebo in the park was ready to feed rungry runners. I normally wouldn’t eat burgers in the morning (it wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet!), but whatever…. There were hot dogs, veggie burgers, and hamburgers, plus potato salad, macaroni salad, and a variety of fruits. And lemonade! And ice cream!
After chowing down, I made myself useful to the Uberthons crew. Eileen Kuffner, the usual dispenser of age/gender group award pins, was not there, so I took on the task (having done so with Margo Glass at the Spring event). Let’s just say that Eileen won’t be getting Wally Pipped….
I stuck around long enough to see plenty of marathoners finish, and to help Darwin Rasmussen hand out the awards for top three overall, 45+, and 65+ finishers. Not surprisingly, Paul Rottich (#256) won the marathon in 2:33:41, setting the Uberthons record. Kelly Cole (#168) was the top female marathoner finisher. In recognition of Paul’s accomplishment, race director Darwin Rasmussen announced that Uberthons will be sending Paul to Boston next year for that city’s eponymous marathon. Besides Paul, 24 other racers qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon.
I imagine it was a warm finish for many of the marathoners, but I stuck around until close to 11 a.m., and people seemed to be in good spirits. I did some people staggering around stiffly, which reminded me of this old Lauren Fleshman column, in which the now-retired pro runner extolled the virtues of the 5K, including “You can race one every weekend and still be able to walk normally.” So true, and not just the 5K, but the 10K and quarter marathon too!
With that, another successful Uberthons seasonal event was in the books. Next up is the Fall Half/Quarter Marathon/5K at St. Josef’s Winery!
Results: For complete results of the full, half, and quarter marathon, click here.