Dead Runners society race report
DRSWCIV, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 29 August - 2nd September 1996
So over the pond for Dead Runners Society World Conference IV in Cleveland, Ohio, USA and a chance to meet some deads for real.
DAY ONE - thursday 29th August
The alarm woke me up at 5.00am, it was cold, dark and raining outside and I had to get in a run before leaving for the airport. So I got on the treadmill and ran 3 miles :-) Shelley drove me into Cambridge in the pouring rain and I got on the airport bus for Heathrow, did all the check in things and after all the hanging around that is done at airports and got on a big plane for Washington. Queued up at the US customs and then waited for a tiny little plane to take me to Cleveland, it was late afternoon when I arrived in Cleveland and it was a lot warmer than home. Got a taxi to the hotel and in the evening met up with Irish dead Lisa Beame, she too had crossed the pond today, she'd travelled even further than me as she had to fly east from Ireland to England before flying to the USA. The first of many great encounters on my trip.
DAY TWO - friday 30th August
I woke up very early, my body clock was still on English time and I ran 3 miles easy round the car parks of the hotels and office blocks near my hotel, the roads looked far too busy to run on even at 7.30am. After breakfast up the hill to the Hilton hotel, headquarters for Dead Runners Society World Conference IV, this was it. I found our room and there was chief DRSWCIV person Bob "NEODED" Hart, Marlene Cimons and children were there as was Lisa, Jane Colman and Don Watson from California turned up and all of a sudden I was surrounded by people who used to just be "virtual" and now became "real" :-) :-) :-)
In the afternoon off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum by the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland with local dead Rita "coffee addict" Cognion, as this museum is so popular you are advised to pre-book by dialling a 1-800 number but I couldn't do this from England so Rita kindly booked a ticket for me in advance. The R & R HoF was really good, I'm not a great R & R fan but I was really impressed with all the stuff they had in there, as well as stuff like props and costumes and posters they had some more personal stuff like school report cards and original lyrics scribbled on bits of paper. There was also a section where you could listen to various hit records from different eras, I got to hear some good old 70s and early 80s stuff (oh my lost youth :-))
In the evening Rita took me, Lisa, Jane and
Don (after a coffee stop for Rita :-)) to
Thwing Hall at Case Western Reserve University where Rita is an "ageing graduate student" just like me.
Thwing was where we had the welcoming
pasta party, the food and company were wonderful and I met loads of deads, far too many to mention but I met DRS
legends Mary Fuka, Mike Biondo, Jason
"Ironman" Mayfield and the lovely Stephanie Byram in person, wow! I also renewed my acquaintance with Josh Knight,
Doug Dodds (from Cambridge!) and Susan
Woods who I had met in Boston last year (did I mention I qualified for the 1995 Boston Marathon :-)
After all the fun and
games at the pasta party back to the conference HQ where I met the famous Annie Wynn who I first met at a DRS encounter back home in 1993. What a great day :-)
DAY THREE - saturday 31st August
Up early again, still not on Cleveland time
yet. Racing today, got all my racing gear
together and Bob's NEODED machine drove me off to Westlake (posh suburb of Cleveland) for the "Celebrate
Westlake" 5 mile race. Registered for the
race and got a rather garish and multicoloured race
shirt covered in adverts, they put me down as a 53 year old which could have got me an agegroup prize but I got them to change it to 33. It was a nice sunny morning, reasonably cool at the early hour (race start 9.00am), chatted with some deads before stretching and did 1.25 miles to warm up, left hamstring a bit sore. We all lined up, Bill Rodgers had been paid/invited to run, he had number 1, after an interminable delay we were off.
I decided to have a go at racing this one,
after the initial scramble I started to
work my way through, I passed Hong Kong/Canadian dead Ralph Lindzon and ran with DRS staff person Linda Wack for a
while before getting ahead. 1st mile in
5.59, too fast but I was going for it. Kept
working my way through, 2 miles in 12.15, by halfway no-one was coming towards me and I could footsteps behind me. At 3 miles (18.44) we came off the road for a bit of gentle trail running and Linda came past telling me to keep going but I couldn't hang on for very long :-( Lost a couple more places on the trail, feeling pretty tired by now. At 4 miles (25.18) back on the road, my racing surface! Picked up the pace a bit and hung on for a long time to a runner in yellow shorts, it was a long way in along the finish straight, feeling very tired but I hung on to YS until about 200m
to go when he sprinted away, lost another couple of places at the end but managed to hold off Benny Yih on the line. 31.33 finish time, not too bad in the conditions but it was a bit warm at the end for my liking, also I went out too fast :-(
The post race stuff was amazing, very american! Loads of drinks at the end, I got my sore hamstring massaged but the real highlight were GOOMIES! Not many races have post-race food at home, this race had bagels, fruit, cookies, pizza! (I like pizza but not at 10.00am) and more bagels as well as loads more drinks, more food than even I could possibly eat! Presumably all the adverts on the race shirt paid for all this. America at its best and worst at one event, very well organised event with a lot going on and loads of goodies but IMHO very over the top, mind you I wasn't complaining about all the bagels :-) Linda Wack and Laura Keneally both picked up prizes, did anyone see full results for this race?
In the afternoon Lisa, Tom Lechner and I went to NASA Lewis research centre (where Rita works) to see the NASA exhibition centre. Not too bad although it was a bit out of date and could have been better presented, we did get in for free. Then back to HQ where I renewed my acquaintance with the one and only Scott "Spiderman" Larcher before we all went off to the Great Lakes Brewery restaurant for more fun, food and frivolity with the deads, I understand that some beer was drunk by one or two of the deads.
DAY FOUR - sunday 1st september
Finally woke up at the proper time, I didn't bother with the 400m events, trying to race 400m for me would be rather embarrassing. It was another warm sunny day, it was on with the sunscreen and the sunglasses and off to the DRSWCIV trail run and picnic :-)
We all arrived at the picnic area which was
on the "Buckeye Trail" which goes all the
way round the state of Ohio, we could run as far as we liked on the trail although I don't think anyone all the way
round. Eventually all the trail runners
got ready and off we set, I didn't have a clue what
I was letting myself in for, a big pack of us set off into the woods and onto a very narrow path up and down steep hills with lots of tree roots and branches to negotiate as well as a few streams to cross. After a mile of steep climbs and descents I thought "beam me up Scotty" but I eventually got into the swing of things and realised I could walk when I wanted to, the pack broke up and I was running along with Linda and spiderman. They thought coming from England, land of hilly, muddy XC and fell running this would be pretty easy for me but I don't do fell running and our equivalent trails have wider paths and much less steep slopes. We the 5 mile drinks stop in 43 mins and stopped and chatted with the deads there as we drank, it was very warm. Eventually we decided to run back, some brave dead runners decided to go further along the trail but we headed back. Bob Haas ran back with our little group, we only got lost once by the rusty old car (how did that get there?), I managed not to fall over and after lots of ups and downs we eventually made it back to the picnic area in 1 hour 43 mins. What an experience, it was fun in strange sort of way but how anyone can race on something like this is beyond me and yet Joe Jurzyck races 50 km on this trail every year, the mind boggles.
More fun followed as we started the picnic,
loads of food and drink, I think that one
or two deads managed to have some beer for a change. Lots of photos were taken and I helped out in Rita's
postcard writing team, I signed ultra
Tracey's conference shirt. The "official" conference group
photo was taken as well as lots of unofficial ones. More food, more drink and more chatting with the deads. Some of the more energetic deads even played with a frisbee but I was a bit too tired for that, anyway I had a race in the morning. Eventually after a fun filled picnic we returned to
HQ for more fun and games. I think we broke the world record for pizza demolition, 7 full sized Pizza-Hut pizzas were inhaled by the mass of deads there. Josh Knight showed me Jupiter and the Galilean satellites through his telescope, very impressive. What a day, reluctantly off to bed to get some sleep before the race in the morning.
DAY FIVE - monday 2nd september - Labour Day
And so to the last day of the conference, to
celebrate the working man and women all
the workers get the day off (illogical Captain). Off in the Bob Hart "NEODED" machine to downtown Cleveland for the
"Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" 5km which
started and finished near the museum I went to on friday. I signed up and got a considerably less garish race
shirt, only about 6
adverts on this one, the old legs were a bit sore from yesterday so I did 1.25 miles to loosen up. I lined up near the front but behind Karl, Benny, Troy and Pat who were all going to go off at 5.45 pace, not for me, I was going to work my way through. The race director made an effort to tell
children and "joggers" at the front to get to the back so they didn't get run down. Bang and everyone set off at ludicrous speed past the museum, gradually worked my through from 1/2 mile. I passed DRS runner Linda Helenek just before a mile, 1 mile in 6.30, speed up Tony! Kept going hard
and working my way through, at 1.75 miles there was a very steep hill, the wheelchair competitors had to go up backwards it was so steep! Pretty tired at the top but going well, 2 miles in 12.36, 6.06 for an uphill mile? I could see Benny Yih ahead but he wasn't coming back very fast. Kept going hard downhill back to the museum, lost a couple of places on the way downhill but I had a lot left in the finish straight, finished in 19.15. Pretty good run on this course, rather tired at the end, I got a drink and then jogged 1/2 mile down the course to where the presentation was to be held for the post-race GOOMIES. Compared to Westlake this was a bit disappointing but compared to home it was still pretty good. We all got 3 pieces of fruit and loads of sports drink. There were lots of spot prizes and I won a Runner's World calendar :-) There were trophies for the first 25 men and 25 women, the first man broke 15 mins and the first lady did 16.xx, the announcer said she was an olympian, $500 first prize. Karl, Troy, Benny, Pat all won trophies for finishing in the top 25 men, 25th man did 19.04, 11 seconds faster than me!!! If I'd known I was on for hardware I'm sure I could have found 11 seconds, back home I don't even get close to hardware in races. Linda, Susan and Rita won trophies in the ladies race, all the deads got lots of support from the DRS cheering section as they went up for their prizes :-)
And that was the end of the conference, we all said our goodbyes, lots of hugs and handshakes. See you all at the next one.
ageing chemistry student and marathoner
department of chemistry
university of cambridge
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