The Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon
It was my first marathon. My brother, Tim, and I arrived a bit late Friday night for the carbo-loading party at the Stonehouse Eatery, in St Joseph, about 70 miles northeast of Minneapolis. Lots of runners still there. We ate pasta and walleye (walleye season opened at midnight) and had a great time. Saturday morning dawned threatening rain, which never came, but the clouds remained throughout the race. 42 degrees at race time with a 10mph crosswind. Pretty comfortable. The start was at Holdingford High School. Tim didn’t run. He helped with medical stuff, and was my personal sports psychologist, “Beeeee the trail……” I was gunning for four hours. Was not even close.
I decided to get in one more bathroom break before the start. To my surprise, I heard the starting gun from the school bathroom. I ran down the hallway and across the parking lot. I was about 30 seconds behind the gun. The Trail is a rails-to-trails, very similar to our Long Leaf Trace, with very little elevation change. This is an L-shaped course, with only one 90-degree turn at mid-race. Lots of pretty Aspen trees and farm land. The water-stop volunteers were wonderful. It was cold out there, but they all stayed. Mile 2: A covered bridge. Mile 6: Art students had cool chalk drawings on the trail. Mile 8: A volunteer biker passed me. Told me there were several of them cruising the trail to help out if runners had any trouble. (Great idea!) Mile 13.1: I actually made my 2-hour split. Mile 15: A kid had a sign, “Congratulations! You just ran 1,000,000 inches!”
Mile 18: I bonked. Had to walk for a couple of minutes. I ran some more, but my speed was gone. I would describe my post-bonk running as the “old-guy-shuffle”. In fact, while I was doing it, a couple of old guys passed me! Mile 21: Another sign, “Congratulations! You just ran 400 football fields.” Mile 22: Bonked again. Walked a bit, but then finished the race running. Mile 23: The goat showed up. Trotted out of the woods and paced along my right side. Garden variety billy-goat. Except for the dew-rag and earring. He briefly explained Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to me, in a way that actually made sense. Oddly, he sounded like Morgan Freeman. Then he said, “Gotta go!”, sprouted wings, took off, banked right, and headed for the trees. I looked up at the clouds and said, “Thank you God.” “You’re welcome!” said the goat. Mile 24:…. I don’t remember mile 24. As I “blazed” across the finish line at 4:18:04, folks kept asking me, “Are you OK?” I apparently looked like I felt, like death-warmed-over, but I recovered quickly. All of us first-timers received roses along with our medals. Nice touch.
There were 145 runners. Joe Buckentine, 46 of St Cloud, was fastest at 2:50:19. Kallie Kristen, 35, was fastest female at 3:17:52. All of the trophies were old classic railroad spikes.
The post-race food was great! Pizza, fruit, bagels and cookies. And I shoveled it in with both hands! Massage tables were set up, too! Kudos to the St Cloud River Runners, and especially Race Director, Sharon Hobbs and her team of volunteers! They made this race a wonderful experience. I’ll be back next year. I’ve just gotta discuss time-travel with that goat…….. Eric Weill