Running Douchebag

Yesterday I ran the Utica Boilermaker 15k. Decent weather (for July in upstate NY) and 13,000 runners. Not my best effort but I did manage a mid 57 and an age group medal so I can’t complain. About that. What I can complain about is dumb, clueless people.

Right after mile 8, a fellow a bit in front of me decides to do a cartwheel on purpose. I find that a little odd, but he was over to the left side and we were making a right hand turn, and besides, it wasn’t extremely crowded. Runners all around yes, but not like the shoulder to shoulder traffic a couple miles behind us. Anyway, he received a lot of hoots and hollers for this from the spectators, including some banter from a DJ who was set up at that corner.

A few hundred yards later he is directly in front of me and to the side of two or three women who are clearly racing seriously. We come up to a band and Mr. Cartwheel begins dancing and gyrating madly all over the place, apparently looking for more crowd reaction. In the process he nearly took out at least one of these women.  Fortunately, a little quick side stepping on their part got them out of harm’s way. It turns out that they were running in about 10th-12th place, the Boilermaker offering money 10 places deep plus 5 deep in the masters ranks. So they all were racing for a potential payout (at least one of them did get masters money, I don’t know about the others).

Needless to say, this could have been a disaster. He could’ve ruined the races of 2 or 3 potential money winners, and had they gone down, I most likely would’ve tripped over the lot. I don’t need that either. Anyway, we all got around Mr. Douchebag in short order. I mean, if you want to goof around in a race and play to the gallery, that’s fine, but do it where you’re not going to screw with someone who’s there to actually race.


Author: jim

Jim is a college professor with a fondness for running shoes and drumsticks.

9 thoughts on “Running Douchebag”

  1. This is the drawback of signature events like the Boilermaker, Lilac Bloomsday, Bay to Breakers, Bolder Boulder, etc. Because of their high profile, these races inevitably feature numerous ill-positioned douchebags who are, vexingly, far enough up in the field to cause real problems. With something like B2B you at least know you’re in for a freak show and unless you’re running <5:30 pace you might as well not even "race" because you'll have at least one 13-person centipede in front of you, not to mention all manner of other bullshit.

    I know you of all people don't seek out "biggie" events on purpose, but if I lived in Utica I would be unable to ignore something as grand and storied as the 15K and would run it more often than not. Hell, it has outlasted a bunch of 15K money races that were prominent when I was getting going as a teenager in the 80s — Cascade Run-Off in Portland (tits up), Gasparilla in Tampa (still exists, but diddly by comparison), Gate River Run (OK, still top-notch). There's something perversely alluring about a race in the middle of fucking July that takes most people well over an hour to finish. And hilly.

  2. Perversely alluring indeed. I certainly wouldn’t expect a 15k PR. Compared to other races (using Jack Daniels’ VDOT equivalents) I have always underperformed there. For example, a few years back at age 47 I ran a 1:16:11 half and a 16:39 5k. These equate to 52:57 and 53:02 respectively for a15k. My Boilermaker that year was only 54:24. And it wasn’t a season issue as I ran the half, then the B’maker, then the 5k.

  3. The Boilermaker is hilly, and if I read it right (I have not run the race) it’s also a mind-fuck because the early elevation gain slows splits and, well…OK, maybe I just need to suck it up. Anyway, that 1:16 at 47 I would have given a token nod to years ago. Then I got old and realized how fast 5:50 pace is.

  4. You’re not old …. yet.

    The B’maker is a very challenging course. There is no single mile that is flat. There are three separate miles that you might think are flat but two of them are net uphill (mile 2 has about 75 feet gain, mile 6 has about 60 feet of drop, and mile 9 has maybe 50 feet gain). Miles 2 and 6 appear board flat if you ride them in a car because it’s a very consistent, gradual slope. Very deceptive. In contrast, all of the other miles are hills. The first mile is rolling with a net rise of maybe 60-70 feet. The third mile is flat then a nice slap-in-the-face short hill for a similar net rise. Mile 4 has a serious climb at the end reaching the highest point in the race. Lovely views of the valley but no time to look around because now you have a steep descent of maybe 180 feet, with most of it covered in the first half. Mile 7 is another uphill but longer and not quite as steep. This is followed immediately by another downhill mile and again, not as steep but pretty much a constant downhill for a mile.

    BTW, that 1:16, when age graded, works out to a 48 flat 15k. I think age grading is a little “soft” because the pool of talent keeps getting smaller, but it’s fun to use. If I ever become an RD I will definitely have an AG winners award.

    1. Kevin – Boilermaker and Boston have a lot in common. The infamous uphills scare people when the downs are really the killer, people focus on Valley View when Burstone Road is a bigger obstacle (eeriely similar to the hill by Newton-Wellsley Hospital) and running too hard early will do a number on your quads, but the amount of downhill over the last 4k can make the difference between a good and an awful day.

      Of course, over 15k you can afford to take risks you can’t in a marathon. Nevertheless, having run this fucking race 20 times I’ve been in shape to run it hard maybe… 5 times. And out of those 5, I only *didn’t* embarrass myself twice.

      Jim – It’s troubling to know douchebaggery exists that far up front. But not at all surprising. I was near a girl with a white number on. (Local high school or college by the looks of it) She was clearly running easy and crossed the line doing the airplane and almost hit 3 or 4 people. Considering this was barely in the top 1000, not a huge deal but still. Kinda….clueless.

  5. Hey, I went through 15K in a 10-mile race (one of my best road performances ever) in 47:57, so that makes us equals!

    I actually was surprised when I consulted the WAVA charts for the first time lately (for obvious reasons, it’s become a more pressing issue). Says a 16-flat 5K at age 41 is equivalent to a 15:16, which happens to be my road PR. But I don’t believe for a second that 16-even at my age is equal to a time 44 secs faster when I was an open runner (especially because I was 34, making it not *that* long ago). Like you allude to, those charts are based on participation stats, not physiology, and since so many people — especially faster runners — scale back their training or quit altogether as they age, the times drop off more than they should. It’s no secret that most of the better masters never really had open careers.

  6. “It’s troubling to know douchebaggery exists that far up front.”

    Ever heard of Teddy Mitchell? Regina Jacobs? Also, runners who beat other runners thanks to an EPO boost can be considered douchebags at some level, even if they are perfectly genial.

    When I was in Atlanta for most of 1994, the guy who won most of the local road events was an Ethiopian expatriate named Arega Abraha. He was a fuckhead on the course, but “douchebag” probably fails to adequately describe him since he ultimately went to prison for chopping up a female cousin with an axe.

  7. Well the WAVA thing is kind of funny in several ways. For example, I ran a 16:39 5k at age 48 which worked out to something like a 14:55. I had two different people, both masters who had run competitively in their 20s (one with a mid 14 PR and the other a high 13), tell me on separate occasions that, knowing me now, they thought I would’ve run high 14s if I had run competitively in my 20s. Neither knew about my WAVA equivalent but they did understand the toll of time.

    In one respect I understand that the pool of talent is smaller and consequently the records should be soft, but on the other hand I understand better WHY that pool is smaller, and it ain’t just because people got bored.

    I will admit that it does become difficult mid race to “put the screws to it” when you realize that you’re a minute and a half off of a 5k PR from a half dozen years before. And I guess that’s a valid part of the equation. I also imagine that it would be even tougher if I really did run 14:55 in my 20s. And yeah, I think that helps the situation of the master who doesn’t have records from their 20s and 30s.

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