Race Date: 14 Nov 2015
Go on, sit and relax…
The Terrible and Wonderful reasons why I run long distances is one of my favorite books/comics. The Oatmeal is a humorous writer, and his work with the Tesla museum is outstanding.
When I first heard about the inaugural Seattle Blerch race, I was enthralled with the idea. Sadly, we could not make it in 2014, but were quite pleased to see the race series branch out across the country for 2015.
Olivia, however, presented a hurdle. Around the time of signup, the webpage had some text that stated the race was not stroller friendly. I told my wife I would sit this one out, and let her have her cake and eat it too.
Literally…there was going to be cake at the aid stations.
With that…I am going to the fridge, grab a nice cold beer, and surrender the keyboard over to Mrs. W. L.
Sacramento Beat the Blerch 2015 Race Report
By Mrs Winged Ling (aka almostwonderwoman)
I was thrilled to be running the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon. I read the comics, got a costume, talked people from work into running it. In the interest of journalistic integrity I would have to admit to being a Blerch fangirl.
As many fangirls and boys have found out, sometimes you should never meet your heroes.
The Blerch registration site was sparse, with a small paragraph for each of the three cities and the virtual race. The following highlights were given:
- Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal, will be running and attending each race.
- Every participant gets a “I Beat The Blerch in 2015” tech shirt and medal. Please note that Sacramento 5k runners get no medal.
- There will be large quantities of cupcakes at every aid station, in addition to Nutella and magical grape beverages.
- Race photos are FREE.
- Ridiculously awesome goodie bag stuffed with Blerch surprises.
- A portion of the proceeds go to charity.
- There will be actual Blerchs in fat-suits chasing you throughout the race.
Packet pickup was less than perfect. Only one night, for a few hours cramming thousands of people through the isles of the Sacramento REI and funneling them into a 20′ x 30′ room with only one entry/exit. Half of the room was taken by tables and staff while trying to encourage people to stay and shop. It was managed about as well as it could be, but not something I wish to do again. Hopefully next year is in a bigger, more accommodating venue.
At this point I was more than willing to overlook these initial shortcomings as: #1 this is the first year of the race here in Sacramento ,and #2 the goody bags were the best I have ever seen: 3 different blerch tattoos, a refrigerator magnet, stickers, a novelty blerch sweatband and the COOLEST and most flattering long sleeve technical shirt I have ever had the honor of receiving for a race.
The Much Anticipated Race Day
There are very few things in life that I enjoy more than a good race day morning. The excitement, the coffee, the announcer, and the jovial community spirit that envelops the runners at the start of a big race.
We arrived at Raley Field, coffee in hand and brimming with excitement in my brand new Wonder Woman costume, to a lack luster announcer counting off one, two, three go for each wave and one lone blerch giving out marshmallows. However, I was not to be deterred, convinced as I was that things would be much more exciting on the course. So giving The Winged Ling a quick race kiss and our baby Olive a wee squeeze, I was off to the races… so to speak.
Within the first half mile I saw a second blerch panting on the side of the course. I almost had to stop and check on him until he straightened up, not exactly the cheery hordes of blerches encouraging participants to sit and eat as I was led to believe. Kudos to that guy though, for running in the suit.
Onward I trotted, clipping along at a respectable pace I came across the first aid station, two tables squeezed together leaving enough room for exactly one runner between them and volunteers holding out little rectangles of Walmart sheet cake on a stick.
No cupcakes, no marshmallows, and no magical grape beverage as was advertised on the website.
There was the sheet cake,a few depressing nutella sandwiches, watered down grape Gatorade, and sadness. I understand that making that many cupcakes would be a tall order to fill for the area supermarkets, but the overall discord between the promised event and the actual event was showing.
The sole couch on the course was at about mile seven and was packed with bored volunteers, leaving little room for the runners themselves to take the obligatory #selfie.
A note on the volunteers: Now, I love volunteers, they donate their time and energy into helping the runners. It is a selfless act that we should all participate in. However, there should be a certain amount of organization and preparation that should be provided. It would seem, that these volunteers did not receive that support.
There was no mile 12. The course was a mile short.
It seems the marathon set had a similar set of problems on their course. Short, one blerch, and poor aid.
The After Party
The race finished on the Rivercats ballpark field. It was very festive to be able to run into ‘Home’ and finish the race in an exciting fashion.
The ending refreshments were almost all out by the time I got there, with nary a cupcake to be seen – not even the uber-cheap sheet cake. No beer, limited food, and zero entertainment to be had. The throngs of people were channeled up into the area above the ballpark seats under a roof that created a corridor of cramped noise. There was no reason to stick around except to snap a family selfie on a couch.
What was promised to be a fun and exciting event, was more of an expensive disappointment. Hopefully they will hammer out the issues and make improvements for 2016. Next year I may try the virtual race, you still get the nifty goody bag, and none of the hassle.
As far as race day goes, I had a great time. It is not often we get to sleep in till 7 am, before waking up for coffee and the drive to the starting line. Once there we saw a few strollers and lots of happy people. I was actually greatly disappointed to see the amount of strollers running. The website had specifically said no strollers, and as such I was halfway tempted to run the course for giggles and grins. I decided against it, and instead ran around Sacramento pushing Olivia and cheering my Wonder Woman and random strangers on as we bounced around
I stopped by the Farmer’s Market and picked up some amazing grapes, pluots, and a parsimmon – which I ate while happily running down the street, stroller in hand.
Olivia and I had a great day. We got over 10 solid miles in, enjoyed some delicious fresh, local fruits, great weather, and good company. I wish the event participants could have had as much fun as we did!
It was fantastic.
Recovery beers at LowBrau. Great selection and delectable eats!
– The Winged Ling