If you’re a fan of the online comic The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman, then you probably know what the Blerch is. For those who aren’t, let me explain: The Blerch is the embodiment of that little voice inside you that says, “You don’t need to go for a run today! Sit on the couch and have some chips instead.” Bascially, a self-sabotaging Jiminy Cricket. It’s explained in a comic at the Oatmeal that’s funny, touching, and a little sad.
Like all good marketers eventually do, Inman brought this idea to life with a Full/Half/10k run based on the concept of The Blerch where you can indulge in Oatmeal inside jokes, and feed your inner Blerch along the course with aid stations that include cake, candy and couches. It’s the perfect race for people who hate running, but love how it makes them feel.
Things to Know
This Race Fills up Fast!
I worked as a course monitor with a gal from Nevada who ended up as a volunteer because her friends all entered in time and she put it off until the last minute. By then the race was full. The Oatmeal has a pretty broad fan base, thanks to Inman’s blog, books, and popular card games, Exploding Kittens and Bears Vs. Babies. If you’re thinking about running this, register early. The Saturday event (there are races on Saturday and Sunday) tends to fill up first.
This is Not Your Typical Race
But, you probably figured that out when you saw them grilling burrito donuts before the start. Because Inman comes from a place of “I may not be great at this, but I’m doing it!” the race has a fun, relaxed vibe, but runners who want to hit a specific time goal may find this laid-back approach frustrating. Many folks dress in costume—we even saw a caveman and cavewoman who both ran barefoot! This is probably not a race where you’re going to PR, but you’ll have a ton of fun.
The aid stations were well stocked and none of them ran out, and as I mentioned, they were a bit unconventional with cake, candy and couches. A Blerch also threw gummies and other candy into the crowd before the start. At the finish, runners could take their pick of Nutella sandwiches, chips, and cake, or you could hit that burrito donut bar one more time before you headed home.
This race is not in Seattle.
Although the website banner head claims Seattle as the home to this event, it’s actually about 30 minutes east in the tiny town of Carnation, Washington. The location of the race was Tolt McDonald State Park, which meant that parking was easy, and there was a playground on site, which for me made this a super family-friendly race. The weather was great for a half—mid-50s and only got rained on once. However, options for staying nearby were limited.
Things that Make You Go…Hmmm
As a volunteer for this race, there were a few things that made me wonder about the event organization. For one, my fellow volunteer and I did not get a course map, contact information for on-site EMS/medic, or even told where the porta pottys along the course were. (We got shirts and a high-quality Liberty water bottle for volunteering.) Many runners wanted to know where the next cake and potty stop were, and we had no idea!
For the participants, one of the race perks were free race photos, but as it turns out the company hired to take the photos just…didn’t show up? So no photos. The money budgeted for photos was donated to a local charity, however, so that was nice to hear, but still disappointing for runners.
The start began in waves with no corrals, since this was run on state park trails. This race was an out-and-back course, so once the 10k began, it got quite crowded on the trail with everyone going both directions. I saw several faster runners having to zig-zag to miss runners going the opposite way and walkers from distances that started earlier. One situation that was a little alarming was a pack of cyclists attempting to go through the two lanes of runners at a high rate of speed for how crowded the trail was.
I absolutely loved this race medal! Despite the fact that this would not be a race I would probably train super hard for, I’m considering running next year just for the medal. The shirt was also worth it, a turquoise tech tee that features the Blerch on the front and “More Cake” on the back. The race bag also had actual swag, with a full size Blerch bumper sticker, neon sunglasses, gummy candies, and a Blerch stress ball that my kids fought over.
Tolt McDonald was a great location, with stuff for the kids and plenty of parking. Falls City is pretty close by, and had a gas station, some coffee shops, and cute restaurants that would be great for getting an old-fashioned breakfast when you’re done with the race.
All in all, the race needs a touch more organization, but it was a fun time for those who like getting medals and eating post-race snacks but hate running–just a little bit.
Erin Burt is a Boston Qualifier and freelance writer who lives in Albany, Oregon.