Sunday, July 5, 2009

Night Racing

Every once in a while you've got to break up the routine with something a little different. For the Czarina and I this 4th of July weekend meant a road trip to Dunedin, Florida, a suburb in the Tampa Bay area. The idea was to run in a midnight race put on by the local Kiwanis Club.

They held three races Friday night beginning with a one mile run at 11 p.m. The race we chose was the 5K which started at 11:25 p.m. Our other choice was the 10K at 12:15 a.m. Now for a few seconds I considered running the 10K then common sense grabbed me. I realized that about the time I hit two miles in a 10K I'd be wishing there was only a mile to go.

This race went out and back on a causeway complete with a drawbridge that spanned the Gulf of Mexico leading out to an island that is a state park. All that open water provided plenty of humidity. Race time the temperature was 86 degrees, the humidity 80 percent, and the dewpoint 75. The best way I can describe it is think about putting a treadmill in a sauna and going for a 3 mile run, it was about that enjoyable.

Normally, Czarina bolts out at the gun and will lead me through the first mile, but not this time. She wisely held back. We both ran slower than molasses, me 24:01, she 25:53, but the Czarina as usual claimed her age group and carted home a nice plaque.

This got me to thinking about other night races I've attempted through the years. There's Night Flight in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a pretty decent race in suburban Kansas City. I ran the inaugural Midnight Madness 5K in Phoenix back in 1990. My buddy Craig Davidson runs dressed up as Father Time and the idea is to beat him and win some prizes.

My favorite evening event is the 10 mile race at Lake Atwood. The oldest road race in Kansas is hosted by the tiny town of Atwood in extreme northwest Kansas. I've run this race a half dozen times or so, both in the evening and morning. They used to start it about an hour before dusk you'd run eight laps around a lake. Sometime in the early 80's the lake dried up and it was overgrown with weeds but the community pitched in and replenished the eyesore.

For a time the race moved to mornings in an effort to beat the heat. The only year I ran it in the morning was 1991 and I remember a dusting of snow on the ground on the drive up from Colby. It was early August and colder than all get out. By the time the race started it was actually great running weather but all the precipitation had flooded the spillway that was normally dry and part of the course. I chose to get wet.

A lot of great runners circled that lake, Ted Crank, Bob Luder, Kent McDonald, George Mason, Tim Tays, Terry Drake, Fred Torneden, Tim Gundy. These names may not be familiar but they were some of the best runners to come out of Kansas during the 70's and 80's. I had the privledge of getting my ass kicked by all of them.

Footnote: I just went to the Lake Atwood website. Much to my surprise I was inducted into the Lake Atwood 10 mile Hall of Fame in 2002. But I don't feel too embarrassed about it because they spelled my name wrong. Who'd a thunk it!

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