Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reports, of one kind or another

First of all, please allow my to apologize for my absence.  I know that both of my readers are simply starving from lack of semi-interesting pontifications in the form of blog posts.  I've had more than a few things to take care of recently and time simply became a valued resource.  Judgments were made.  Carpets were shampooed.  Episodes of Mad Men were viewed.  Final projects for school were accomplished.

As a result, we now have a very clean carpet, I totally dislike Betty Draper, and I got an "A" on my math project.  Winner winner chicken dinner I say, despite the lack of attention paid to the blogo-tubes.

I did however manage to run a 5k on September 11, which is another report worth sharing.

Now, let me first say this.  Obviously for anyone in the military, September 11th has a great deal of meaning on a number of levels.  It's shaped my life in ways that I would never have imagined on September 10th of that year.  Furthermore, any charity that chooses to support a cause benefitting our military has an immediate "in" as far as I'm concerned.  I've got no issue with forking over money when asked to do so.

So when the opportunity to participate in the 9-11 Heroes Run 5k here in Monterey, Ca came along, I jumped at the chance.  To be honest though, it was my wife that suggested it.  This only cemented the idea in my mind.  My wife doesn't really enjoy running in the same way that I do, but she does enjoy a challenge and she was looking forward to the opportunity to run another 5k with me.  Sold.  Let's do this.

So we signed up, and dropped our 25 bucks a piece for the race.

Now, before I start complaining, let me throw out a few caveats.

I know this isn't the Marine Corps Marathon and they're running on fumes as far as volunteers are concerned.

I know that races are hard to organize and execute; I've had to do it before.

I know that "fires happen" and "things burn" and sometimes you can't do anything to prevent that.

So when criticize here, I'm saying two things: 1) I would have just given them my 50 bucks without a race in the picture and 2) I know the challenges one faces when planning these sorts of things.

The morning began with "on-site" race pickup right before the race began.  This obviously isn't the preferred method but perhaps unavoidable given the amount of volunteers they had.  Either way, it might not have been so bad if it wasn't for the fact that the race site itself was kind of difficult to find and well, not exactly in the prettiest of locations.

What used to be Fort Ord (closed in the 90's due to the Base Realignment and Closure process) is now a hodge podge of either really nice areas such as some new housing and Cal State Monterey Bay, or really crappy areas such as old run down barracks buildings that I'm almost positive my grandfather lived in.  And I'm not being facetious here, he was actually stationed there before being shipped off to Alaska to fight.

I'll give you one guess which part of Ord they held this race in.  There were old couches in the parking lot, busted out windows everywhere and I generally felt as though I was on a post-apocalyptic movie set.  Yuck.

Once we did find the location, at the end of a dead-end street, I stood in line and when I got our bags, we were presented with two XL t-shirts.  Uh, okay.  "This is all we have left." I was told.  I wasn't thrilled, but there didn't seem to be much that could be done and I wasn't really willing to downgrade my wife's morale at this point.  After all, she was a bit nervous already.  While 5k isn't much to me, it sure as hell is for her and I was going to do everything I could to help her finish.  Griping wasn't going to help.

So off we went, pinning our numbers on and then realizing, much to our collective disappointment, that there were no port-a-lets.  ( I found out later that there was in fact ONE, that was hiding behind the firetruck)  With over 200 people here, this seemed to be a problem.  For me, I needed only to find a reasonably high bush but obviously for the ladies here, this was going to be an issue.

At the sound of the gun, we took off.  The course itself was pretty isolated, which made spectating impossible and our kids who came to support us just went back to the car.  The course was an "out and back" and pretty damn hilly to say the least.  This isn't a complaint per se, but throwing a basic map up on the website might have been helpful.  It was right up there with some of the most difficult non-trail 5ks I've seen and people deserve to know what they are getting into.

Wifey did fantastic.  She really gutted out this run on a course that was easily 4 times as difficult as her previous race.  She PR'ed and was really looking forward to the "bling" at the end.  For this race, the finisher's medal is a dog-tag.  A fitting symbol for the race and a great reward for a job well done.

Unfortunately, they ran out.  Ouch.

I stood with my wife (who had worked pretty damn hard over the last 30 minutes or so) while we were told "Sorry, we had same day registration, so we ran out."  Awesome.  He didn't really have a solution either, which didn't exactly illicit hope that we'd ever see one.  Pretty disappointing.

So listen, I get it.  It's a great cause and I'm happy they got my money.  But honestly, if you are going to commit to doing something, such as putting on a race, then one has to do their best to take care of people. Being a great cause doesn't provide one carte blanche to be sloppy.

So unfortunately, I can't recommend this race unless they make some serious improvements.  I love the organization they support and I believe in its mission, but the race itself left much to be desired.

I say all this not out of frustration or disappointment, but out of a genuine desire to see this race improve and frankly, make some money for the charity.  I'm afraid though, that won't be happening unless they want to make this a race to be remembered, for all the RIGHT reasons.

By Marcus with 3 comments


Sorry to hear that the race turned out to be a pain, but I'm glad your wife had such a kick-ass improvement in her run.

Sniffs of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-am Fun Run Race For The Cure! If not a fan of The Office, you'll miss the reference, but I encourage you to watch that episode if you haven't seen it!

@Wander, you got that right. We should have stopped at the yard sale along the route . . .

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