Big Fat Bandit

By the time I finished writing my post from Friday night, I knew exactly what I was going to do in the morning.  As I was writing, I studied the course map and developed a plan that I found morally acceptable.  Was my pseudo-bandit-ing of the Olathe Marathon justified? You can decide for yourself.

The difference between 13.1 and 26.2 on this course is basically a 12-mile loop out and back on the Indian Creek trail, which I know and love.  (Although I’m pretty sure I never want to run it in a race with out-and-back traffic.)  I parked at the elementary school where I have started many a training run recently -which just happened to be the home of the 12/25 mile water station.  I headed out at 6AM, a full hour before race time, essentially running the marathon course backwards.

 I didn’t run the full 12 miles out-and back – I turned around at 5.5 instead of 6.  It turns out, it may have been a bit wiser and more morally acceptable to turn around at 5 miles.  Because while I was off the trails by 7:45, well before the marathers who started at 7AM would reach the 12-mile-mark, there was one course map which I had not studied the night before.

The 5K.  It started at 7:30. 

I shared a few hundred meters of trail with the race leaders.  There were just a few guys running at the front, so it wasn’t crowded, but I felt pretty guilty about it.  I was thrilled when I reached the end of the loop where the 5K continued toward the finish, so I could get the heck off the course. 

I continued running the course backwards, now fully on the half marathon course.  I got to about the 9-mile mark when I saw the leaders coming through.  It was so much fun to cheer for them as I ran in the opposite direction on the sidewalk, and I was amazed at how many of them thanked me.  I love runners.  I was also completely shocked when people recognized me and said hello!  I still feel like I hardly know anyone in the KC running community, but it’s so nice to see familiar faces.

At the 7 mile mark (14 and change for me) I ran out of sidewalk.  It was time to defy my morals and violate the unwritten Runner’s Code… I stopped, took a GU, turned around, and merged onto the course with the runners, squarely in the middle of the pack.

I have mixed feelings about my experience as a bandit.  I felt guilty and paranoid the entire time.  Would an official yell at me for not having a race number?  Did the runners notice as I passed by and resent me for it?  On the other hand, it was getting warmer and warmer, and I was getting more and more exhausted, and it was so nice to run with other people throughout those miles.  I saw a neon green shirt up ahead in the distance – it was Brie, the Fit Bride!  Her bright, bright shirt helped me maintain a pace as I tried to catch her.  Did I feel like a doofus saying hello to someone I’d never met? Umm, yes!  But it’s pretty apparent that I’m a doofus in general, so I guess I was just being myself. 

No one yelled at me, and no one – that I know of, at least – even noticed I wasn’t wearing a race number.  I veered off the course at the 12-mile mark, as the racers headed to the finish.  I had run just over 19 miles, and really needed that number to be over 20 before I could stop.  That last 1.5 mile loop was miserable, hot, and slow.  But I did it. I ran 20.6 miles.  When I stopped, I momentarily coveted the water station’s Gatorade supply before remembering that I was at my car! And because I’m a doofus (see above), I had no less than three bottles of Gatorade in it.   Sweet, sweet relief.

I collapsed stretched in the shade of a nice,big tree.  The water station man actually offered me some of the official racing Gatorade, which I felt way too guilty to accept (so it’s a really good thing I had my own.)  I watched the full marathon winner pass by before heading out.  It was so great to be out there with all the racers today – I saw the winners of all three races! – and I’m seriously proud of all those who ran it.  You have something to legitimately celebrate! 

I’m celebrating too, even though I was a race-faker.  A TDR – Training distance record?  Sure.  And most of all, no more runs of knee-demolishing length until race day!  HOORAY!

So there we have it.  I’m a big fat bandit – sort of. I tried my best to stay out of the way, was adamant about avoiding the benefits (read: hydration) provided to registered runners, cheered and offered encouragement as often as possible, and stayed more than a mile away from the start/finish lines.  Aside from the little 5K debacle, I think I was a pretty friendly bandit.   

But a bandit, nonetheless.  I’m going to be torn about this for awhile.


About stillarunner

I used to run. Some days, I even ran fast. Then I got a job. And met a boy. And bought a house. And rescued a dog. And rescued another dog. And went back to school. And created human life. I might not run every day, or even every week. There’s a good possibility that I will never be fast again. But I’m still a runner.
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3 Responses to Big Fat Bandit

  1. thefitbride says:

    You’re a friendly bandit!

    I saw many, many other people without bibs running in the general vicinity of the race while I was running it. If you were going to run in Olathe on Saturday morning, it was pretty unavoidable, and as long as you weren’t responsible for the first water station being out of water…I think you’re fine.

  2. d.a.r. says:

    Oh whatever 🙂 I seriously wouldn’t feel guilty about that! You didn’t use their resources, you stayed out of the way…were you supposed to lock yourself inside or drive to a different zip code to get your run in? 🙂

    Tee-hee. Apparently my Catholic guilt isn’t as oppressive as I once thought!

  3. bobbie says:

    It was a great surprise to see you on the course 🙂

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