Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Falmouth Road Race: The Starting Line

The start:
Sometime after arriving at Woods Hole, I heard that the start of the race would be delayed 10 minutes - another first for this road race. Given the shuttle bus fiasco, it made sense to delay the start, but it was still unacceptable to me.

Given the number of runners at the start, it is normally somewhat challenging to find a comfortable spot for runners to rest their legs before finding a place in their designated starting corral. This year, however, I was able to plop down on a wall overlooking some of the docks. I sat and watched the runners pass while a photographer from MarathonFoto snapped pictures.

Falmouth is great in that there is a great variety of runners - from the world class elite professional runners to the weekend warriors. And, although many years removed from the party scene, I could relate to one conversation I overheard at the start: "Ya, my uncle is running the race drunk...he worked last night, starting drinking beers at @2:00 am this morning and switched to the hard stuff around 7:00." They were from Dorchester, Mass - think his uncle is Irish?

Anyway...I'm sitting there people watching and I see this younger guy (college age, maybe) all excited saying "Tedy Bruschi....Tedy Bruschi...I cannot believe it". So, sure enough, I see a group of about 6-7 runners appear, all wearing the same blue-colored singlets. And, sure enough, one of the runners was Tedy Brushi wearing an elite colored bib - #54! I did not approach him, but instead was entertained watching other runners react to seeing him, especially the female runners! Two "girls" were in line for the port-a-potty and they produced beaming smiles at the sight of him. Tedy gave a charming smile back while he got his iPod ready and he and the other Tedy's Team members moved on to their starting corrals. I have a feeling those girls still have those ear-to-ear smiles today!

Before I got on my feet, I was approached by a fellow runner who was also running for the spina bifida association. It was a nice light conversation, but also a good reminder of why I was really running Falmouth this year.

Off to my starting corral I went...

Since I have run Falmouth, the organizers have used a wave start, which is definitely necessary. A wave start in a road race is when start times are in “waves”. Rather than having almost 11,000 runners stampeding each other with the start of the race, runners are grouped according to their expected finishing times. As a major road race, Falmouth has a field of elite (really fast) runners who are placed at the front and begin their run about 10-15 minutes after the wheelchairs. Although this system works well, I have been told the course can still be quite congested for runners in the rear groups. I have been fortunate to be placed in one of the front groups each year so I can usually do my desired pace after getting through the first 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile.

Before getting to my corral, however, I had to get through an extremely congested area where runners were very close to pushing each other. It was ridiculous the way they had the entrances to the front corrals this year. Again, thank you for the change, New Balance.

Despite the frustration, standing elbow to elbow with the 10,000 other runners while our national anthem played and The US Coast Guard did a flyover, is a feeling which is almost indescribable. I was ready to run.

To be continued...the first few miles next post.

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