I ran the Jailbreak Marathon on Saturday in Wautoma, WI. As of Friday night going to bed, I still wasn't sure if I was going to run. The weather was an issue. Here is the report:
I woke up very early on Saturday to make the 2 1/4 hour drive to Wautoma from my home. When I left, it was dark and raining . . .hard. It continued to rain most of the way up and even caused the car to slightly hydroplane on the freeway a few times. No problems though except for me wondering what I was in for. Before I left, the radar showed lots of showers all over Wisconsin and radar blobs popping up all over. The forecast was for rain showers and 16 or 18 MPH wind and upper 40's in temps. Who would want to run in that crap? Apparently me as I could have just rolled over and gone back to sleep since I have not signed up yet.
As I got close, the rain slowed to a drizzle and I signed up about 1 hour before the 8:00 start. The registration fee was very reasonable, only $55 but then again, this was a small town marathon. For my $55, I got a long sleeve technical shirt, a water bottle, and a post race meal along with race entry and a fairly nice race.
About 10 minuted before the start, I decided to run with the Garmin. It is not fully waterproof anymore so when it rains, I get a wet spot under the display that takes months to go away and I did not want that, but it had stopped. 2 minutes later the rain started so I turned off the Garmin and went with just the Ironman watch. I figured I could attempt the math as the miles passed.
The National Anthem was sung under a tent and the rain began to come down at almost a pouring rate. All 36 people signed up for the Full Marathon went out and stood in the rain for a few minutes for the start. Jokingly I said I finally made it to the 1st corral. It drew a few laughs. The race started and off we went. The half marathoners and 5K'ers were still under the tent keeping dry so not much in the way of cheering to start. They all started later. Since I was only running this as a training run and not for a fast time, I took it easy and made sure I had fun out there.
The first mile was in the rain but then it went away for the rest of the race. We lucked out a lot. The course was also protected often by trees so the wind wasn't much of an issue either, not until a bit in the last few miles. Miles 1 & 2 were right at 9:00 which was a bit faster than I wanted to go but I did not have the Garmin to slow me down.
The course was nice for a rural marathon. There were a few small hills but nothing at all to complain about. We ran on county roads mostly which had very, very little traffic. The scenery wasn't awesome vista views of the country side but rather farm fields and forest areas. No complaints about the course from me except one small area. At just past mile 25, we had to turn up a road and run about 200 feet, then turn around and go back. I spoke to the race director about this and he said they had the course all set up but to certify it, they needed to add this distance. The problem here was that they only had a painted spot on the road and a sign art the side of the road saying to turn around. There was no one there to say turn here and go back, no cone to run around. At 25 miles, my brain isn't as sharp as the start so confusion set in. For mile markers, they had hay bails with a sign on a post. For most of the turns, they had the same hay bails with an arrow on the sign, no people. This wasn't an issue at all until he final 2 miles or so. I did come upon 3 turns where the sign was not there and didn't have any clue which way to go until I saw a sheriff in his car to direct me. Sheriffs were on the course helping out but they were sitting in their cars so no direction until I held up my both arms pointing in both directions in an inquisitive motion (is there such a thing?). The race supported the local Crime Stoppers so I suppose that is why there were quite a few sheriff deputies along the course.
Since there was only 36 runners in the full, it could have gotten quite lonely on the course so it was nice for me to meet a few runners going my pace at close to mile 5. We chatted about which marathons we have run and which ones we likes and disliked. Turns out I was able to run with Miguel, Jake, Kimberly, and Mark for quite a few miles. We passed the half in 2:00:43, faster than I really wanted but still feeling good. At about mile 14, Kimberly backed off and Mark went ahead. Miguel was running his first marathon and Jake ran a few and we were all taking walk breaks at the water stops. So when we saw Mark ahead of us taking a break, I knew he had an issue. Unfortunately, he fell back, I assume he had cramping issues but never got to ask him.
The water stops were further apart than I liked. For the most part, they were 3 to 3 1/2 miles apart which is too long for a marathon. But then again, this was a very small marathon so what should I expect. Miguel, Jake, and I kept together through 18 until they pulled slightly ahead of me. A bit later I reeled them in and we did this a few more times. At just past mile 22, we hit a hill that I took it easy up and then suddenly at about 22 1/2, I found some energy. I was able to pick it up and run fairly fast again. Miguel and Jake trailed but I just wanted to finish.
The last 3 miles went very well and again no crash and burn. In fact, mile 26 was my fastest mile at 8:45. I finished in 2:06:13. Since this was a training run, I was very happy with that time. I ended up in 24th place overall which is the highest place I ever had in a marathon (to be fair, it was the smallest field and all I needed to do was finish to get that). I was 5th in my age group which sounds great but there was only 5 in my age group. I thought it sounded better to say 5th place than last place in my age group.
After the race, they had a nice hot turkey or hot beef sandwich as well as potatoes and corn. I also asked for some water and they gave me a huge water bottle with COLD water. I love it. Since the run was over, the cold set into the bones but they had the shelter heated really nice so it was comfortable. And since it was a race for Crime Stopper, they also had 2 of the K9 Unit dogs there. One didn't want any attention, but the other seemed to like the salt from the sweat on my legs.
About 1 hour after I finished, I began my ride home just in time for the rain to start again. It rained quite a bit on the way home so we hit an almost perfect window of no rain (except for the first mile) for the race.
If you want to run this race, here is a quick review: $55 entry was very good. The course was nice but needed a few more directional signs, especially since the next runner in front of you could be up to 5 minutes ahead and way out of view. The medal is nice and the shirt if good. If you like cheering fans, there are none. the only people cheering were water stops volunteers and the friends of the guys I was running with. The after race meal was a very nice touch and tasted wonderful. Oh yeah, there were absolutely no criminals on the course, at least none that I noticed. Would I recommend this race to others? Depends on what you are looking for. A PR? Then No. A race where you are surrounded by lots of other runners and cheering fans? No again. A nice rural course with a friendly staff and low key yet fun? Then yes. Will I run this one again? Not sure. It filled its purpose for me which was for a training run and to add one more marathon to my list. If I need that again at this time of year, then I will do it again.
Now I am going to not run quite as long training runs as I prepare for the Fargo Marathon in 4 weeks. I am pretty sure I will be going up there with Mike.