This was the third weekend in a row that my family has come together to cheer on people in running races. Three weeks ago, we headed down to Louisville to cheer on my brother and sister in the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini and Full Marathon. Last weekend, was, of course, me, Babyface and my sister running the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. And this weekend, my ridiculously crazy brother ran the Dances with Dirt 50 miler.
No. That wasn’t a typo.
And of course, it wasn’t just a piddly ole 50 mile road race. No, no, no! It was a 50 mile trail run through some of the hilliest and roughest terrain Southern Indiana can offer. To get a small example, Babyface and I did a 4 mile hike through the same park my brother is running through. And we were exhausted!
The race start time was early, early, early. So I planned to meet up with my family at mile marker 21, which was one of the first places we could see him. Because, you know, the woods and stuff.
Packed up and ate my breakfast on the road.
Dear Honda, why oh why did you make your cup holders just a 1/4″ too small to fit a Mason jar? They are pretty much all I drink out of.
20 minutes later, I arrived at Brown County State Park and mile marker 21. We parked ourselves next to an aid station and waited. We knew he was in 3rd place at mile marker 9. But we had also heard that the leg between 9 and 21 was incredibly hilly, super muddy and not really much of a trail at all.
Check out all the crazy stuff at the aid stations. Lots of candy, soft drinks, Oreos, boiled potatoes with salt, bananas, oranges, plus the classic Gu and other runner’s things. Averaging a 11 minute mile (what my brother was trying to do), you are running for over 9 hours! You definitely need more than just chemical electrolytes. Other aid stations had whole PB&J sandwiches, too.
While waiting for my brother, we had a few interesting dramatic moments. One guy running the 50 miler came up, found his wife/girlfriend and said to her, “I’ve just been running 20 miles without any fuel. I’m going to have to drop down to the 50K, there is no way I can do 50 miles.” and she just said, “Well, what do you want me to do? My alarm didn’t go off.” YEEESSH! I can’t imagine training for a 50 mile run and then having to scrap it because someone I counted on didn’t make it there to give me the fuel I needed. Granted, the aid stations were (obviously) stocked, so he could have picked up something. But if he had trained with something specific, I can understand why he wouldn’t want to try something new.
There was also a girl coming through running the 50K and she left her timing chip on the table! She was wear Vibrams, and with no laces, meant she had no place to put the chip, so she was carrying it. Stopped at the aid table, put her chip down and left without it. By the time they realized, she was long gone. There were lots of plans to try to get it back to her, but finally we all realized, she came back by this aid station again at 45K. Hopefully she got her chip back! I can’t imagine running that far and it not “counting.”
Drama aside, we finally saw Drew!
He was looking good! He was in 10th place and totally rockin’ it. He stopped and filled up his water bottles and then headed over to the car to change his shoes. They were completely soaked with mud. I guess when you are running a 50 miler on the trail, you bring lots of changes of shoes and clothes.
Drew went back into the woods and we drove down to the next spot we could see him, mile 26. We had just under an hour before he made it there, so we relaxed and chatted a little bit. Vibrams represent!
My niece Maddy practiced her sign-holding. Yes, she calls Uncle Drew “Fancy Pants”.
And then we saw a blue spec! Which we hoped was Drew…
Because if it wasn’t, we would have looked pretty stupid cheering our heads off for some stranger. Identification success! He was up to 7th place at this point.
Apparently you also master the art of triple-fisting when you do a 50 miler.
He drank some water, did one heavy sigh, and then said, “Alright, I’m going back in,” and bolted off back into the woods for the next loop like he was off to go slay dragons in the forest. We headed back to our original location to meet him again at his mile 29.
To pass the time, there was a bit of rolling in the grass (as one does).
And some sign contemplating. Certainly hope that this is a figurative “dead” and not literal. I’m assuming these are the bags of the people who dropped out or changed races.
Once we saw Drew, we all charged him with “The Turkey Dance” a moderately ridiculous dance that involves shaking your tailfeathers, gobbling like a turkey and wiggling your fingers like you have a waddle. Have I mentioned we are a 100% abnormal family?
I hope it made him smile a little bit. Because I can only imagine closing in on 30 miles is not a happy place to be. You’ve come so far, yet you have so much to still go.
He seemed to be in good spirits! He said it was getting dark in the woods. The clouds had rolled in and I can only imagine the shadows and dark ground made it hard to keep your footing. His entire back was covered in mud like he had fallen. But he was still rockin and rollin.
Unfortunately, I had to leave at that point and come home to take care of the Puppyface, but I’ve been kept up with Drew’s progress with texts from my sister. He just passed mile 41 at around 3pm. So that makes him to have a finish time of a little before 5pm. To give you an idea of how long he has been running, here is what I have done in the time he has been running:
- He started running an hour and a half before I even woke up.
- Checked my email, Facebook and Twitter.
- Made breakfast.
- Got dressed.
- Brushed my teeth
- Walked Puppyface.
- Went to the bank.
- Stopped at the grocery store.
- Drove 30 minutes to the park.
- Hung out and cheered on Drew for 4 hours.
- Ate lunch.
- Drove home.
- Walked Puppyface again.
- Edited these photos.
- Researched this relay.
- Wrote this blog post.
- Packed my overnight bag for tonight.
- Texted my sister about a million times.
And he still isn’t done running. What he is doing is so incredible I can’t even wrap my brain around it. I am so proud of him. Keep checking on Twitter and I’ll be sure to post when he is finished!