Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How the Race Was Born

Early in my blogging (October 2007), I mentioned some of the key people involved with the race and the trail. I thought a trip down memory lane might be in order. So how did this race get started? "Injury Prone" buffalo Pat showed us the trail for the first time way back on May 27, 2001. I fell in love with it from that first run. Even with the summer briars, poison ivy, and bugs. Afterwards, we washed off in the river and had breakfast. I wanted a race from that day forward. First just joking with friends, "How about an ultra on THAT trail?" (After the laughter subsided, a few runners would admit that it would be pretty cool.) Then later to Second Wind Running Club when I was on the board and later president of the club. (Reaction from the club would generally be "Who will run 30 miles on trails in central Illinois--we'll just lose money.") No one seemed to be biting.

After I retired as the club president, I brought up the option again and they were in support of the race! Things didn't quite work out and the race planning was dropped for over a year (Race Trivia: the original race name was S&M and the Fat Kid's Excellent Adventure followed by Buffalo Brother's Excellent Adventure). Spencer, aka "The Fat Kid" and my co-RD for the first failed attempt, kept saying "Let's just do the race...with or without the club!" During that time I had almost weekly queries from local runners about "When is that trail ultra going to happen at Clinton?" Jeff and Gregg, local Mahomet trail runners, kept encouraging me to get the race planning going again. Mike from DNR was consistently supportive...and he was going to retire in 2007. Hmmm...time to get going! With renewed enthusiasm on my part, and renewed interest from the running club, race planning was back on track in 2006. Race directing is hard, but STARTING a race is even harder. Permits were filed, permissions were granted, sponsors recruited, insurance secured, and the web site and registration forms created. As each hurdle was cleared, the inaugural race day was within sight (April 1, 2007). Application forms were unveiled in September 2006 and the race was full by December 2006. The original race limit was 75, we ended up with 82 signed-up, and 70 hearty souls toed the starting line on April 1, 2007. Only 52 finished (74% finish rate). We have 128 signed-up this year.

The club, DNR, sponsors, and all the volunteers make this race possible. But without Pat, Spencer, Mike, Gregg, and Jeff it wouldn't have even started. Thanks guys!

Current weather forecast for the race:
LOW: 31
HIGH: 56
PRECIP: Rain Thursday. Partly sunny Saturday.*
WINDS: Breezy with gusts around 36 mph!
* Less mud?

3 comments:

Tom said...

Have a great race Saturday, Christopher. I wish I could be there to help.

Chris said...

Hopefully you'll be at McNaughton when I'll also need your help--to finish the darn 100 miles! You can pace me for 10 miles.

Ian said...

Nice history Chris. Thanks for putting on this event and being a great RD. Roll on Saturday.