Thursday, June 11, 2009

Part 3 - You Can't Start Here

I knew it didn’t matter when we start. There are so many runners at B2B that they had to use a corral system. When you register you have to indicate your running pace. They put you into corrals based on how fast you will be running. They start the fastest corrals first, then the next fastest and so on.

We were in the next to the slowest corral. We would not be starting for well after the start time. Even when your corral is opened, it takes several minutes for everyone in the corral to work their way to the start line. That’s why they need the chips. I checked my watch when I crossed the start line and it was 8:38. Everyone had a 38 minute head start on me.

So to make it fair, they lay special mats across the road that you have to cross to get on the course. When you step on the mat, it senses your chip. So the race’s computer knows when you officially enter the course. At the finish line there is another set of mats which tells the computer when you officially complete the course. So everyone’s time is tracked from the time they reach the start line to the finish. So the computer can tell who ran the fastest etc.

Of course, when you register you put in info like your name age city, state etc. So all that information is associated with your chip. So the race organizers can rank you by age, gender and so on. Pretty neat.

While we were waiting for the last two people show up a homeless man walked up to our group and just stood there. I think it was Kevin who said, “Hi. You running today?” Just to be friendly.

The guy said, “Yeah.”

So he just hung out with us. He fit the stereotype of a homeless person. He was dirty with long greasy hair. He wore a long tattered coat that was too hot for the current weather and he had old 1970s style tennis shoes with no strings and the shoe tongues were flipped out over the toes of his shoes. I thought, “He’d kill his feet if he tried to run in those shoes!”

People were making small talk with him and he was pleasant. He hung out with us for a long time. We finally decided to give up on the last two and take a pre-run team picture. As we started all moving into position the homeless guy started to line up with us. Someone kindly explained the picture was for ‘official’ team members only. He was cool with it.

We snapped a couple shots for the Organic Athletes website and we started walking toward our corral. Each runners bib was color coded to match which corral they were assigned to. We were assigned to the green corral which we thought was very appropriate. J

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