Sunday, October 2, 2011

Race Report - Jennipede World Record

Let me start by saying it was a true pleasure and honor to run for a woman who has meant so much to the running community, not only in Milwaukee, but all over the country. Jenny Crain is a true inspiration more now than ever. She fights harder now more than when she was a World Class Runner. I am going to use this race report to explain what happened all day not only from me, but from the Jennipede Team, at least from what I could see from 57 runner back in line.

I also want to say Thank you to all my teammates on Team Jennipede for such a wonderful, life changing, never forgetting day. You guys all Rock! I may not have gotten a chance to meet all of you, but we are all family now and we made history together. 62 of us ran the entire marathon linked together, so cool.

Team Jennipede was created to raise funds for Jenny's rehabilitation which cost close to $85,000 per year. I am proud to say that Team Jennipede raised close to $110,000 toward that amount.

The day started a little before 4:00AM as I picked up my friend Chris at 4:45AM for the ride to downtown Milwaukee so we could hop on a bus and ride 26 miles north to Grafton, WI for the start. I was able to easily find Team Jennipede as we prepared ourselves for our world record quest. We made sure our race belts were zip tied closed to there was no chance of them popping open, a requirement from the people at Guinness for the world record. About a half hour before the start, we all headed outside to line up, take last minute restroom breaks, and sign a sheet recording that we started the race in order. We secured out carabiners as well so they would not open right after we lined up, but not before the "Running Reverend" led us all in a quick prayer and a pep talk from our leader (our caboose) Robin.

The "Running Reverend" leads us all in prayer before we head out on our 26.2 mile run. You can see the cool shirts we all got to wear.

Right ahead of me in line were the last 3 ladies in the group. I couldn't have asked for for a better group of ladies to follow for 26.2 miles. Tammy, right in front of me, is an alum of my college 1 year ahead of me. We wonder if we took any classes together as we graduated with the same degree. Jess was 2 ahead of me and is a very dedicated and fast marathoner. She ran the Green Bay Marathon earlier this year in super windy conditions in about 3:35. Amy is almost my neighbor. While we have never met in person before, knew of each other from a joint blog friend. She lives only about a mile from me in my hometown and runs about the same pace I do for a half marathon/marathon. We are planning on scheduling some runs together sometime in the future.

Jess, Amy, Tammy and I right before we head to the start line. You can see that we are already roped in.

It was a cool morning in Grafton, maybe upper 30's in the shade behind the school. Once we headed to the start line, we got the sun and it warmed a bit but still cool. Great temperatures for running, at least at 7:30 in the morning. The temps rose all day and peaked near the finish in the lower 60's.

As we headed to the start line, we got our first taste of major cheering as the crowd cheered loud as we walked to the start line. Everyone in the race knew about our quest as it was not only on the local news, it was also listed in the race brochure every runner received. It felt so cool for people to cheer us on not only at the start, but the entire course long.

Lined up at the start (the arch in the distance), we are all ready to go and ready to warm up too!

The race officials have a little humor at the start line. In the picture above, you can see signs telling runners where to line up. The last sign said "Same Day". We were even behind that line. The other sign I saw that was just funny was the sign right in front of the 3 hour sign, it said "Under 2:02:00". Was there someone in race that wanted to crush the World Record Marathon time?!?!?

Under 2:02:00? I think the winner was 2:22, not quite fast enough.

We started cheering loudly and made sure we crossed the timing mats in single file as required for the world record. Then we were off at about 11:30 pace toward Milwaukee. The group was lively and festive, at least the people in the back were. I can't answer for the people in front as they were a good 50 to 100 feet ahead of me. We stuck to the plan of taking a 1 minute break at every mile. We did have quite a few first time marathoners on the team and runners of all abilities. It was going to be a long day and we were prepared.

By close to mile 2, Dan (#61) started a great and long Army Style Marching chant. There weren't too many runners around us as we started at the back of the pack, but the ones around us either thought we were nuts, or just had fun along with us. This was a ton of fun. All of us in the back had no problem with the pace so talking, chanting, and just good goofing off was all fun for the day.

At about mile 7, we hit Concordia College and our first major restroom break. The rules of the Record Breaking attempt are that you have to stay in the same order and you cannot detach from the line for ANY REASON. This makes the restroom breaks a challenge. This stop did not have any tree or bush coverage so guys had to use the portolets as well. Slack in the rope was given so whomever was in the portolet would still be attached and hopefully not yanked out. We wasted a lot of time at this stop and you can imagine it took a long time for most of the 62 runners used the 8 portolets.

We must have been there for close to 15 minutes before starting again so sore muscles from too long of a break were there when we started. Not long after Concordia College, we had our first of 3 almost major catastrophes. Luai was 4 runners ahead of me and didn't see a pot hole in the road and turned his ankle while tumbling to the pavement. He was hurting for a bit but was a real trooper and after some quick stretching, was able to continue with the aid of some Ibuprofen. Even through the tumble, the rope stayed put and we stayed within the rules. The Ibu took awhile to kick in but after awhile, Luai was back to a good gait and kept going. I hope it is not a major issue for him as he plans on running the Chicago Marathon next weekend.

It wasn't but a couple miles later when a lady up near the front of the group took a tumble on a high drop off to the gravel shoulder. She seemed to be good. And then a few miles after that, my running mate next to me, Tammy, did her best Chellsie Memmel keeping her balance as she tripped over a traffic cone. It was quite a site to see her do it.

If you ask me, this course needs some help as there were WAY too many pot holes or missing pavement along the course. It would be easier not being roped in as your line of site is less, but still a few too many potential problems. I wonder if other runners had any issues.

He is the Jennipede past the halfway point. We are still feeling good at this point.

At about mile 16 or 17, Team Jennipede had our first major problem that would affect us the rest of the race. One of our members suddenly had major cramping in his legs. He was way ahead of my position so I didn't even know who it was. They worked on his leg and gave him salt/electrolytes, but I think once it was cramped, it wasn't going to be the same. We began running for 2 minutes then walking 2 minutes and after mile 17, it turned into a power walk. Let me tell you, 9 miles of power walking is really hard to do. The pace was too fast for me to walk but too slow to run. We would end up walking a bit and then jogging back to close up the slack. We kept trying to send up positive MoJo in hopes we could run again soon.

It was also getting warm out as the sun was beating down on us. The crowds were small but many people waiting for the Jennipede to show us were not disappointed when we passed by. I even found a few videos posted on YouTube already. Here are 4 links to videos I found so far: Jennipede Video #1, Jennipede Video #2, Jennipede Video #3, Jennipede Video #4.

As we closed in on the finish line, the excitement grew more and more. We were able to break into a run for the last 1/4 mile as we passed mile 26 and entered the finishing chute. For a good 100 metres on both sides, the chute was lined with people cheering very loudly holding up there hands for high fives. Kids and adults a like! It was awesome to run through this but better yet, we met up with Jenny who did the last 200 meters with us. Bart Yasso from Runner's World Magazine was there pushing Jenny in her wheel chair as we all passed her until she was with Robin at the end of the rope for the finish line. She held each of our hands as we passed her and we gave her our love as we passed.

Passing Mile 26, we are ALMOST there!

Once we crossed the finish line, we were not done. As required, we had to stay tethered until we signed the same sheet of paper we signed before the race began. We had members of the team being congratulated by family and friends and the post race refreshment tent even sent over some food and water for us since we couldn't get over there. Some of the runners were even interviewed by the local media. Once the Guinness World Record was officially declared, we could finally cut the rope. Some of us cut off pieces of the rope for a souvenir. I took a longer piece and used it as a second lanyard for my Lakefront Marathon Medal.

Here I am with the "Back of the Pack Guys". Next to me is Craig (#58), Jim (#59), Our helper (Sorry, I forgot your name, forgive me please), Chad (#60) and Dan (#61) and also known as our Chant Leader! Last, and #62, Robin was being interviewed at this time. We are still roped in.

Honorary Team Captain was Bart Yasso from Runner's World. He did not run the marathon but did help Jenny cross the finish line with us.

Here I am with Bart Yasso from Runner's World.

After all of Team Jennipede broke free, we headed over for a group photo and the reading of some proclamations. I wish I had a picture of the entire team, but it was too crowded to get that. It was officially "Jenny Crain Day" in Milwaukee as declared by the mayor as well as "Jenny Crain Day" all over Milwaukee County as well. Bart Yasso even declared it "Jenny Crain Day" for the entire running community over the entire world. I hope you celebrated!

Jenny Crain Day in Milwaukee and the entire Running World!

After all the proclamations have been read, Jenny was presented with a check for $100,000 for the Make It Happen Fund. Then a nice banner marking our new World Record was presented as well.

After all this, Peter Crain (Jenny's Brother) stepped forward and gave the team a very heartfelt Thank You from himself and his whole family. I can't even imagine what it must have felt like for him at that time. He was also a part of the team and finished his very first marathon. I was able to meet him afterwards and have a brief conversation with him. I also was able to talk with Jenny's Mother, Donna, for a bit. She was able to bring Jenny to the Kids Marathon I organize a month ago so I wanted to catch up with her.

After this, Robin got up and as our official team captain, gave a talk thanking us for our efforts. He then pulled out a very cool surprise. Every member of the team was presented with a second personalized medal proclaiming our new Guinness Book of World Records accomplishment. This was so cool. He called up each member of the team and put the medal of each of our necks personally.

Here is the medal we all got from Robin for our New World Record.

This was no ordinary marathon, it was an adventure. 62 runners from all around the area and some close states met up without even knowing each other with one common goal, raise a few bucks for someone in need. We wanted to give a little hope to a person who gave us all hope for years. We were not fast, we finished in a time of 6:18:32, but what we lacked in speed, we overcame in spirit and enthusiasm. We had our problems on the course, we had our tumbles, trips and cramps, nothing I have not experienced in the past, but nothing dampened our spirits and NOTHING was going to stop us.

Thank You Team Jennipede and Thank You Jenny Crain.

Keep on Running!!!


misszippy said...

YOU ARE AWESOME! I just posted on jennipede and had no idea you were part of this. What a fantastic thing you did--and not easy, either! Love it.

Running Diva Mom said...

What an amazing experience, Bill! WOW! And you always write the best race reports. Wish I could've raced this one again this year ... with you and Amy! Would've been a blast. Congrats to you on all of your efforts with this awesome race experience. Can't wait to see you a Haunted Hustle in a few short weeks! This one LITERALLY goes down in the record books...congrats.

Aleigh said...

I am Jess' sister and know Tammy very well too. This was an amazing blog post to read through. I wished I could've been there for the marathon and to see you guys cross the finish line. I'm sure it was exhilarating! I loved reading this post. thank you for sharing your amazing experience with us!

Anonymous said...

It was awesome to read your account of the marathon. I am friends with Jess and Tammy and was very excited to hearhow it went. Brought tears to my eyes. You guys are amazing!

Brandi said...


Loved your race-report!! Maybe I'll have to return to the bloggy-world write one of my own! :)

But - first I'd need to obtain your permission to steal a couple of your photos! ;)

Thanks for the great recap!

Brandi (Jennipede Link #10)