The Springfield, Missouri Bass Pro Marathon was a welcome race after not running one since Houston last January. Plans for the Fargo Half-Marathon in May and Bighorn Mountains Ultra-Marathon Trail Run in June were derailed by the pandemic express.
Most 2020 events went virtual, logging the miles on home routes or anywhere. I tried to put excitement into virtual races by running 100 miles in a week and “Running the Rivers" with marathon distances along the Ottertail, Red, Bois de Sioux and Wild Rice Rivers. We are lucky to have local waterway trails!
Addictions are tough. Wife Joan is likely suspicious when I sneak out of the house at 4 a.m. (but has no ambition to follow), quietly go out the door for an hour and a half late at night and announce I need treatment with family time in Missouri in November (same weekend as a marathon). There are worse things than an addictive running habit!
There is carbohydrate loading during the week with leftover pancakes from the youth hunts for breakfast and a few pasta dishes for dinners and suppers.
Runners check weather regularly before a race for planning. It was going to be a fantastic North Dakota day – temperatures in the 40s with strong northwest winds blowing in your face. Plenty warm for a short sleeve T-shirt and shorts! Temps under 55 are good!
The race starts at 6:45 a.m. and I am in Corral 2 of 4. I enjoy listening to nervous pre-race chatter but it is hard to hear when everybody is six feet apart with face masks. We can take the mask off when we cross the start line. A Christian band plays near the starting line. There is no other music throughout the race.
The course was marked by white fish painted on the streets. They are bass, of course and I thought some should have whiskers to keep catfish lovers happy! I ran at an 8:30 pace and stayed with the 3:45 pace group for three miles. I haven’t had any injuries for a couple years and felt good so I slowly passed them.
I stayed between three hour elite runners and four hour recreation runners. Sometimes there were a few blocks between myself and any other runners.
We are near the Ozarks and there is beautiful fall foliage with red, orange and yellow leaved trees adorning long, rolling hills. Black gum, bittersweet and hickory trees enhance familiar maple, ash and oak forests. Larch needles are dropping with evergreen fragrances filling the air.
Race numbers were kept intentionally low – about 250. Aid stations every two miles set small water and Gatorade cups on tables instead of the traditional hand-offs. The walk-run routine is a good idea for elderly runners and I slow to a walk when drinking Gatorade to quench thirst, provide salts and not spill.
A neighborhood contest is judged by runners. One funny sign read "Run Your Bass Off."
Daughter Britt and son-in-law John cheered for me at the 13.1 halfway mark and gave me a banana. I never turn down treats like gummy bears and orange slices along the route.
I cross the finish line with a 3:37 time. My "A" goal is 3:34, the New York City Marathon qualifying time for ages 60-64 runners. Guess I will need to wait for the 3:45 qualifying time for ages 65-69. 3:50 is a BQ qualifying time so I give myself a "B." "C" would be under four hours, "D" would be finishing and "F" would be not finishing.
The post-run area is set up to keep you moving and exit quickly. After grabbing a medal on a table, I cannot resist an "Andy’s Custard" bowl, Gatorade, banana and chocolate milk. After leaving about 3800 calories on Springfield streets, it is OK to replenish a depleted body. The goal is always to leave nothing on the course.
A nice picture with Britt in front of a fish sculpture fountain caps a fantastic day. We celebrate today; tomorrow it’s time to plan a practice schedule for a March marathon in Texas!