There are few weather conditions that can turn a run miserable in a matter of miles, cold rain is tops on that list and that’s what the MRC Sunday Long Runners got handed today. With temps hovering around 40 and drizzle falling a group of 17 runners, 5 drivers, and 2 water stop assistants hit the highway for Hopkinton, pulling onto Marathon Way just after 8AM to start a momentous long run. Three runners met us there for a total of 20, plus another member of the support crew. A picture in front of the Dough Boy statue (check us out) and a bit of traffic stopping lining up along the starting line and they were off!
The first leg of the run stretched out along the country roads of Hopkinton and Ashland. Joe, Judi, Katie, and ErinW took the lead and were the first to be waved into the water stop by LizzieC. BarryC and ErinL quickly jotted down names on plastic cups and ensured each runner was fed and hydrated before sending them back out onto the road. As this group hit the road again the next wave came in, BrianG, Ed, and Carol surged in with Walt and Demi right behind. Then another wave of Ginny, Christina, DaveH, Lauren, Lois, Jose and his friend, Peter, Suzanne, Nancy and Matt. Nick Lamberti drove along the route ensuring there was no runner left behind.
During the second leg a hard, steady, cold rain soaked the runners. The rain was so drenching that the laundry detergent that didn’t fully rinse off runner’s pants began frothing on their knees. First it started on Lois’ bubbly knees, then later in the run on Ginny’s. By the end of the run there were several sudsy kneed runners along the course.
Just before the second water stop there was a unique Sunday Long Run photo op. It’s well documented here that Snickers are the official snack of Sunday Long run, and this week there was a discussion about the math involved in planning out the candy needed for 6 water stops along 22 miles for 20+ runners. Hovering over Framingham was a Snickers billboard stating “Get a Degree in Snackonomics”… who knew?! The second water stop were manned by snackonomists SueC, her daughter Danielle, and Liz, each handing out Gu and Gatorade as quick as possible to minimize the runners idle time.
The next stretch began a plague that would hit every runner along the route today: frozen Fingers. While BarryC and ErinL utilized the famous alphabeticÂ papercup clothesline approach instituted by Rick weeks prior, we processed runners water stops extremely efficiently at the Natick Center stop. Runners took the time to search for methods to warm their hands though. ErinW borrowed a pair of mittens to help her through the damp cold air. Behind her Joe borrowed gloves to cover his frozen fingers. Later Demi would ask for assistance putting on a tight pair of gloves that just didn’t seem to fit in a scene that resembled the OJ Simpson trial… f the glove don’t fit, you must acquit. Borrowing a pair of Tall Dave’s gloves allowed her to carry on out of Natick back into the cold harsh headwind.
The day was not done with Demi there though. Now that her hands were covered her feet fell victim to an assault. Somewhere along the way she picked up a nail in her shoe. At the next water stop she showed the bottom of her shoe with a head of a nail poking out of it. This was obviously not her day, which became more evident as the cold wet wind and pelting rain wore her down and 16 miles into the run she made the smart decision (with some convincing from the water stop crew) to wrap her self in a blanket and sip on some Starbucks coffee and fill her body with warmth that was robbed of her throughout the run. Wise choice Demi, you live to run another day!
As Demi warmed up, Erin and Barry opened gu, unwrapped Snickers, and poured Gatorade for the runners while Suzanne’s husband and five kids (all of whom seemed to be about 4 years old) served up drinks and orange slices, feeding our runners well before sending them on their way across Hells Alley, the stretch of cement that crosses over route 128 and into Newton. If all that wasn’t enough, Jose broke into his bag of rice, and a somewhat unorthodox move he tested the effect of a bowl of rice midway through a marathon… I would have never thought of that.
The final water stop was located right after the Johnny Kelley statue. With the silhoute of two runners holding hands raised stood behind our fearless friends, they strode up the middle of the Newton Hills, some smiling, some grimacing, some ordering alcoholic drinks at the water stop… each gearing up for one last test of will. The downpours subsided and the drizzle that had started our day returned to usher our runners up Heartbreak Hill.
The finish of the run was much different than last year. Where we stood in sunshine lounging on the grass at St Ignacius Church on the campus of Boston College in 2008, runners wandered around looking for dry clothes and warm blankets, teeth chattering, bodies shivering, hands clenching hot Dunkin Donuts coffees. With a major test of fortitude behind them they piled into the first warm car they could find and headed straight home to Melrose, to warm baths to sooth their frozen bones and cold beers to celebrate surviving a brutal test. The worst is behind you, the best is coming soon!