And then something wonderful happened. I saw a runner ahead of me, and he was doing the marathon shuffle in between walking breaks. I could catch him!
This was the sixth edition of the Landis Loonies Marathon, and I'd run the first one in 2011. The uncle/nephew team of Kevin and Keith Landis do a wonderful job of putting this thing on in the north central town of New London Ohio. It takes place on New Years Day each year, and it's pretty typical to have only a small number of finishers. This year there had been 12 starters.
I knew Kevin, Keith and Michael Kazar, but none of the other guys. I went in thinking there was an ever so slight possibility that I might even win the thing. Those thoughts went into the toilet 30 seconds after the start, as just about everyone took off faster than I could manage, and we had 26 miles to go!
|The starters Keith Landis Photo|
The course is four 6.5 mile loops around New London. The seasonably cool temperature was not a problem. The strong southwest wind was. Oh, and then there was the New Years Day morning thing. I'd been out the night before, and although it wasn't overly late, I still ate much too late for me, and of course too much as well. Pit stops were just another problem to deal with during the run.
My secondary goal (assuming that someone faster than me actually showed up, which of course they did) was to finish under four hours. That should be easy: just keep the mile splits around nine minutes, and run each loop in an hour or less. Yeah, easy.
Scratch goal number two as well. The loops were nearly all just over an hour, and I'd started the last one at something like 3:07 - for the first 19.7 miles. Blame it on the wind and the pit stops. And old age, and being fat, bald and ugly.
I caught up with Frank Cepero with about a mile to go. We introduced ourselves and talked a bit, including the concept of being (tied for, now) in last place. We did indeed tie, coming back into the Gas Depot finish line in 4:08. There was a huge throng of spectators: Kevin, Keith and Joshua Rakosky, who had won.
Turned out that everyone else had dropped; it was only the three of us. So yes, I was tied for last (there;s a first for everything). But I was also tied for second. Gotta love these small races.