19 November 2011. by Viktor Trukov
Mad Marsh 50 km Golf Course Ultra Marathon Run.
Mad Marsh 50 km Ultra Marathon, Marathon and shorter distances on Lady’s Island near Beaufort, South Carolina were advertised on Facebook by East Coast Ultras (Becky Walters) and I initially did not signed up, because it was on the coast of South Carolina, 5 hours drive away and it would require hotel staying overnight, althou the price was low, ~ $20. Later I found out that three of my running partners signed up for 50 km Ultra and were going to carpool and split hotel cost, so I signed up as well. Race Director – Becky Walters, send us email with a course map, directions to the start and info about a race ahead of time.
The course is 7.24 km (4.5 miles) on a former golf course, practically flat with one small heap or mound of grassy earth about 5-6 meters (6-8 yards) high (over which we drove in the truck), that I can’t even make myself to call a hill, after running real hills on trails in the woods, because it’s too small. 🙂
Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina.
Three of us and my mama (staff photographer:) got together in Greenville and drove to Drew, who lives in Greenwood.
From Greenwood we drove to Beaufort, SC talking about different worldviews, running, etc. Despite using GPS and smart phones with navigation we got off course… And you expect these runners not to get lost on trails? 🙂
On arrival to Beaufort, we got the suite in the first hotel we stopped in, for ~$200. with bedding for 5. After unpacking and snacking went to pick up race numbers and shirts and look at the course. Driving along the course on beginning section we were treated with a view of a dozen white tail deer browsing on the golf course, on which we will run tomorrow!
After we passed the deer, we went back to Hotel and relaxed, ate, joked before going to bed. All running gear and supplies were made ready for tomorrow, and I realized that I forgot my running belt for the first time ever… Bottles with juice were there, so just have to carry them in hand, good thing that the loop is not long.
In the morning, after getting ready, eating some food and drinking coffee all of us went to the race start. I lubed my toes and armpits with massage oil to avoid blisters and chafing. Some of us decided to put some supplies in the middle of the course – 4 km (2.5 miles) mark, that proved very helpful during the run. It was still quite dark on arrival, and some runners got their headlamps ready. That’s when we got acquainted with Samantha, British woman, who borrowed headlamp from Drew. All runners grouped together at the start, getting ready to run.
Pre-Race briefing and forced religious proselytizing.
I started to warm up by doing stretches when Race Director Becky Walters began to talk to us, giving us some information about the course and organisation of the run. She mentioned that course was not mowed some time before the Run, and she: “prayed the god” for help and later it was mowed. That was funny! Me and other runners laughed and joked that god (whoever it might be) came down here, sat on lawn mower, got all sweaty and dirty and cut all the grass. 🙂
She told us to get ready for a start in a couple of minutes and then said, that she: “want to pray”. My first thought was – you want to pray? So, pray. Why are you telling us about it? I was not expecting that one of the men from her team would step forward and start saying a prayer aloud, in which he casually mentioned Jesus Christ… That was astonishing! It’s my 11th Marathon/Ultra Marathon event, and they were organized on different levels – from very casual to very official, but never once any RD did try to impose her/his beliefs (acceptance of ideas as true without neither proof, nor evidence) on participating runners!! It’s simply unacceptable in civilized society! You have beliefs? Keep them to yourself! We did not ask you to share them with us, we came for running not for forced proselytizing!
Please realize that this is wrong on many levels:
1. It’s a public event with about 60 participants. Not all of them share your beliefs, Becky! There are people of different sects of your religion, people of different faiths and people without any faith – atheists, like me, my mama and some other runners. On average ~16% of people in USA are unaffiliated with any religion, and among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four (solid quarter – 25%) unaffiliated with any particular religion. It’s impolite, if not rude, to subject ALL participants to your sectarian preaching;
2. In the public event mentioning Jesus Christ during a public prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and unconstitutionally promotes Christianity over other religions. If governmental authorities prohibited from doing this, so should other public events follow the suit! (e.g. Citizens of Forsyth County, North Carolina Win in Lawsuit Challenging Use of Sectarian Prayer to Open County Commissioners’ Meeting in 2009)
It’s not fair, as you use your authority to impose your views and ideas on all participants, whose religion and worldview is different from yours and who are deprived by you of the possibility to express it!.. Many participants are not known by you, so you can NOT honestly expect them all to be from the same religion;
3. Subjecting ALL participants of a public event to forced proselytizing without any warning ahead of time is NOT fair! There were no indication that we, runners, would be subjected to religious proselytizing. In fact there was no single mention of any kind of gods (and there are more than 3000 of them) in preceding correspondence and materials distributed before this Running event!;
4. Even by your christian directives, you should not publicly pray on the street corners, but should do it in the privacy of your home in the closet behind closed doors – “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” – (words of your god Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:5-6, King James Version)
None of us, new runners, who participated in RD Becky Walters event for the first time, expected this sectarian prayer. If you look carefully at the photo you can see that not only me, but some other runners continue doing stretches and many on the background did not bow their heads and just stared ahead. One of the runners at the start already had headphones on and did not even realize that prayer already started, and he began to warn everybody loudly about the hole in the ground right at the start, so people would not trip on it, of which RD did not say a single word, only mentioning after his warnings, that the start is right at that hole. Another runner found the situation funny and laughed thru the whole prayer.
Some of my running friends, who identify as christian, also consider the prayer before public event inappropriate. Our hope is that RD Becky Walters reconsider her public proselytizing and come to proper conclusion. Organizers of public events have tremendous responsibility before participants and must think of their actions very carefully, they must be considerate for ALL runners, and not only those, who belong to the same religious group of the organizer! Our participation in her events will depend on it!
These thoughts, as you clearly see, my own only, not anyone from the party that I was traveling with to this running event! And they are not emotional, instead very carefully considered and represent my civil position.
On the start command we all started to run and I claimed my 15 seconds of fame running in front of everybody till the Middle road crossing! 🙂 Two men passed me right before it and took off to the right, following the road. I yelled at them and they returned on the course. Here the whole group of runners passed me, which was to be expected, as I used my only chance to be ahead! 😉 Saw one runner going by like a sprinter on a 100 meters dash and a little later Joe came along as well.
Our goals were to make PRs (Personal Records) on this flat and “easy” course. Joe was trying to break 5 hours, and some of us would be happy to break 6 – to each its own! 🙂
After a little running it became immediately obvious that Becky’s assertion of her god being involved in cleaning the trail is unsupported by reality, because trail was littered with multiple huge pine cones and some branches as well. It took runners a couple of loops to kick them off the trail. Surely any god itself or thru humans, would not do or direct such a lousy cleaning job like this! 🙂
First loop and most of the second I felt okay, except some stomach issues – felt bloated and seemed that morning food stayed in it the most of the run… The temperature in the morning was about 10 Celsius (50 F), very comfortable to run bare-chested. Bo got to me around the middle of the first loop and we ran together to the end of it in a chase and catch game! The funny thing is that I’d run away from him and he’d get to me at exactly the same spots on every loop! Kate in red/tan shirt passed us on the first loop and Samantha, the British girl, on the second. It was fun trying to chase them.
After a couple of loops I started to feel better in the stomach, but the legs started to get stuffed… Two recent long races – Greenville Spinx Marathon (in 04:14:25) on 29th October and Buncombe 55 km (in 09:32:00 turned to ~64 km = 40 miles) two weeks previously exerted some effects on muscles. I don’t think I’m at the level to run long races almost every weekend (yet;). Nonetheless I ran without pain and generally felt okay! I needed 7 loops to make 50 km, and was sure that if nothing bad would happen I’d do it.
I use autogenic training (similar to meditation and yoga technic) to feel stronger and help conscious thought to help control sub-conscience regulation of somatic and visceral functions. It might sound complicated but actually very simple technic to master! 🙂 First the person needs to learn relaxation and then specific commands in quiet comfortable environment before attempting it during physical activities! Simply telling yourself to run, not feel too tired, have enough power, able to do it, etc. So, the whole organism responds to these conscious commands, making difficult tasks a bit easier by unleashing reserves. I often use it against any pain I have and push it out of me by thinking – I feel better, pain is disappearing, I have enough power, my body is strong, have enough reserves, I need to finish and I can do it, etc. This helps a great deal, sometimes with spectacular effects! Our organisms have plenty of reserves, we just need to learn how to tap into them when we need it! We can get the power from within ourselves!
On the third loop Bo told me that we are going quite ahead of 6 hour schedule, and if we continue this pace we’d brake 6 hr. I told him that I know that I will slow down later in the run, but will try my best to run faster.
I always run without watch and don’t know my splits, never trying to do negative splits, just starting fast and slowing down later. 🙂 On the third loop I finally reached Kate after significant prolonged effort, and would get to briefly see Samantha at the Aid Station (AS), before she’d take off again. Getting some bananas, oranges and drinks at AS gave additional power for running. Surprisingly, despite “Hummer” being an official sponsor, we received only one gel in the packet and none were available at the Aid Station… I used my Drop bag with juice bottles in ice in the middle of the loop to get my drinks and started to drink my mineral water at AS in later loops. Weather was cool with a nice breeze, so I did not need to drink much.
I really don’t remember what loop was it, when Bo took off earlier from an AS, when I joked with volunteers, who were very helpful and cheerful! There were enough of them and some even drove to points on the trail to cheer us there and even calling us by names! Cordial thank you to all of you! We really appreciate your help! It was very helpful that volunteers recorded our loops, as it really becomes difficult for runners to do any mental calculations. I remember running along a row of whitish houses on the loop 5 and thinking in panic that I never saw them before!.. Did I got lost somehow?! After looking more carefully I recalled that I actually have seen them there, and calmed down. 🙂 Brain does not get enough food (glucose) during long runs because muscles use a major bulk of it. It gets harder for me to recalculate miles into kilometers (I live in the metric world:), or think clearly about directions…
Bo ran away from me on either 4th or 5th loop, I just can’t remember. I never saw him again till finish, despite my best effort of running as fast as I could. He finished in 05:41:32, nine minutes ahead of me. Congratulation Bo! Good running!
I also saw Drew, who said he is taking 15 minutes brake, as he developed a problem in distal portion of right quadriceps muscle. That really slowed him down after a great spectacular start…
On the 6th loop, shortly after refueling at the drop bag, Joe reached me and passed quickly, hurrying to get under 5 hrs, which he was able to do, finishing 10th overall in 04:52:10!
Some people looped me twice, a man in red shirt and some others, including young girl Marie-Ange, who finished as 1st female with new course record! Congratulations to all of you faster runners! Keep up good running!
Last two loops were the most difficult for me, because I kept pushing myself to run faster, especially after getting split time of 04:56 from volunteers on 6th loop – Marathon and realized that I’m really on track to break 6 hr if I’ll run it in an hour or less. Samantha again took off a bit earlier than me, and I followed seeing her in front of me, getting closer and falling behind as we ran. It really helped to keep my pace in check! I knew that loop is 7.24 km and I regularly run 10 km in one hour, so I should be able to finish under 6 hrs. When I stopped for a minute to drink ice water and get juice from my drop bag, Samantha disappeared ahead finishing three minutes earlier than me. Congratulation!
My time was 05:50:33! A new Personal Record, an hour better than previous one at FATS 50 km! Just don’t expect me to break it anytime soon, as I doubt that I’ll have a chance to run on the flat course in the near future. Flatness of this very fast runnable course made us run it harder than usual, but many of us were rewarded with PRs! So, it’s fast, but not easy!
All in all the Running Event was organized good: trail was exactly as described, well-marked, volunteers were very helpful and cheerful, food and drinks were plentiful. Unfortunately RD did not listed bib numbers and age in the results, so it’s impossible to connect faces with names and impossible to see our places in age groups… But that can be still easily corrected, I hope!
We are thankful to RD Becky Walters, for organizing this Running Event, that accommodated runners of different abilities. Thank you very much! We wish you well in your good intentioned endeavors! There really was nothing mad about this run, you can count on this as your PR possibility.
The only flaw in organisation of 2011 Mad Marsh Runs was RD’s Becky Walters imposing forced sectarian proselytizing on runners…
I hope that Becky will be more responsible and considering of ALL runners in the future! Please keep your personal beliefs to yourself, Becky! Everybody will be much happier this way!
Official Results of Mad Marsh 50 km, Marathon, etc. Runs -> http://eastcoastultras.blogspot.com/
All pictures of this Trail Ultra Marathon Run you can see at my Picasa Web album:
|Mad Marsh 50 km Run!|
It’s open to public, so you welcome to download, add, upload your photos, tag and comment! No FaceBook account required. Althou, the same album will be on FaceBook.
Congratulations to all 50 km finishers:
Congratulations to all Marathon (42.2 km) finishers:
Congratulations to all finishers of the Mad Marsh Runs!!!
Damage report: 1) Very small chafing areas around arm pits. 2) moderate to slight pain in quadriceps and hamstrings. NO blisters!
Recovery: No pain in thigh and leg flexor muscles on the third day, but unable to run time-wise… Ran 10 km on fourth day with the second best time ever (59:38)! Now you can start laughing. 🙂
Resolutions: 1) Do better training 2) Do more cross and strength training. 3) Keep losing extra weight. 4) Be happy for the improved results and PRs! 🙂
Good exercises for good health everyone!!! Do not overdo, do no harm to yourself!!! Exercise safely!!!
P.s. Please, tell me if you want your name to be partially omitted from post (e.g. last name removed), or on opposite, you realize, I’m describing you (e.g. man in red shirt) and you want me to put your name in post instead. Also, please, let me know of any mistakes I made, English is not my native tongue. And feel free to talk Russian with me any time!
P.p.s. This page edited and a few photos changed, as some people of the party I was in were shocked and embarrassed by my stance against forced religious proselytizing by Race Director. I failed to comprehend why they can feel that way, but made changes for them not to be affiliated with atheist (me). Peace! 🙂