Bastille and Lake View

Bastille and Lake View

Bastille and Lake View

As 2009 approached, I eagerly anticipated its arrival. I was entering a new age-group (Karen just shakes her head. “Runners are the only people I know who look forward to getting older.”). I decided to set some racing goals. I was aiming to run more races, too.

Due to family, travel, coaching, work, cancellations, and other interference, I haven’t done all I set out to do back in January. No complaints, though. Running is an important part of my life, but not the only one.

Although I haven’t raced as often as I’d planned, recently I found a couple of new races—one on a recommendation and one by happenstance—that I really enjoyed. They deserve mention.

In June, Julie Bedford recommended the Bastille Day 15K in Fenton. “It’s a great race, really challenging,” she told me. It happened to fall on a weekend Karen and I were in town and not tied up. I considered several racing options that day, finally settling on the Bastille Day. It proved to be a good choice.

“Really challenging?” Well, Julie, that was a bit of an understatement. It seemed the entire course was either uphill or downhill, nothing flat. The ups speak for themselves. But many nonrunners don’t realize that downs can be tough, too. My quads, during and after the race, certainly felt the effects of the downhill pounding.

As if an exclamation point, “Denton Hill,” began at mile seven, testing runners for a long, almost agonizing mile. Afterward, Bedford admitted, “Denton Hill is my hill.” Denton Hill repeats, she explained, was how she trained for the Pike’s Peak Marathon. I fully understand.

Scott Hubbard, who frequently bikes the roads that make up the course, rode along side of me for a while early in the race. As he described the course, all I remember hearing was “hills.” Later, he offered the Bastille Day course as one of the toughest road races (not trails) in the state, ranking behind maybe only the Pictured Rocks in Munising, with its hills, sand, etc. From my more limited experiences, I agree.

Some of the times were really impressive. (You can check them at RMDC, “Results,” July 18.) One that stood out was Jim Carlton’s 1:04:31—he’s 66 years old! That age-grades to 50:11, on a course I think is more difficult than Hell or the Crim.

The accompanying atmosphere made the morning fun, too. Of course, Bastille Day celebrates the spiritual beginning of the French Revolution of 1789 (“Storming the Bastille,” a Paris castle used as a jail for political prisoners, on July 14). A young racer in the post-race refreshment line expressed curiosity at the French motif—music, flags, etc. Doug Kurtis even sported a fancy beret! She politely listened while I quickly summarized Bastille Day’s historical significance, complete with gory details. I suspected, though, that she patiently stayed in line more for the French baguettes than my historical presentation.

The challenge, to me, was daunting, but I relished it. I really enjoyed the entire race, before, during, and after. I liked the test it provided, the old friends I met, and the atmosphere of the festivities. Almost immediately, the Bastille Day went on my list of races to run again.

Thanks to Julie’s recommendation, I found a great way to spend a July morning.

The second race I found came by chance. Karen and I (and our grandkids) planned to visit my favorite aunt and uncle near Buffalo, NY in early August. I thought running a race there would be fun as well as helping toward my 2009 goals. And, a couple of times before, while visiting, I had raced there and enjoyed it. I went to and located a Saturday morning 5K that coordinated with the Lake View Field Day.

Lake View is a small community, about 20 miles south of Buffalo and just ten minutes from my aunt’s and uncle’s house. I decided to enter and, making it more special, also entered Matt, my son who was flying in from Las Vegas for the visit, too. So, we ran together.

Befitting the small community, it was a small race. I think we counted between 70 and 80 participants, some of them walkers. No timing chips or strips, the race was hand-timed. As runners crossed the finish line, their race tags were pulled from their bibs and volunteers scribbled the shouted times on them. Tags and times were then pinned to a cork board so runners could see the results.

The course was a good one, with enough upgrades to make it challenging. The morning was ideal for running, low 50s, sunny, no wind, and little humidity (unlike the next day, when sauna-like conditions prevailed—ugh!). And there were some serious competitors, especially among the masters.

Every Buffalo race I’ve run has had a post-race surprise. One had a gym full of tables with goodies of pies, cakes, cookies, and breads baked by the school’s mothers’ club. Another served grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, for racers and spectators!

The Lake View 5K didn’t disappoint. A post-race raffle included an I-pod and maybe two dozen local gift certificates of up to $25. It seemed as if every other person at the awards presentation won something. Being from out of town, Matt and I gave our coupons to a local youngster; I hope enjoyed his free pizzas. And, pulling up next to the water, bagels, doughnuts, and bananas was a golf cart—with a keg of beer in the back! Many of the runners self-hydrated at the tap as they talked over the race with the two out-of-towners.

It, too, was a good way to spend a Saturday morning, one worth repeating.

Although the number of races I’ve run in 2009 hasn’t matched my original plans, the quality of those I have run has been great. The Bastille Day and Lake View events added to that quality.