How Tough is a Gurl? - Seneca Greenway Trail Marathon

By John A. Dodds

[Editor's Note: The pictures of Monika Bracken and Mike Broderick below were taken by Bob Fabia and are used with his permission and that of the Montgomery County Road Runners Club Web site where they appear in their original form. I took the picture of Dodds, but he spent heaven knows how much time trying to make himself look cool with that Ace of Spades deal. I used it to humor him. --AD]

John DoddsI know what you're all thinking: why do we need another race report given that Linda Wack has already written one? Big deal. Just because it was well written and organized (I bet she prepared an outline beforehand), used complete sentences (except for one or two places), and was entertaining doesn't mean someone else can't have their say. And since it was written by the MCRRC "web guy" (every running club has to have a "web guy"), there is that natural tendency to hold back somewhat. Not so for me. After reading this report, some of you might wonder whether Linda and I are talking about the same event. But before I begin, let me say that I will not, unlike Linda, use the word "slog." I've noticed that this word seems to predominate in the vocabularies of people from Maryland.

Joyce and the bus. There's no better way to start a trail run than by being bussed to the start. Joyce Fendley seemed to be getting a little queasy during the ride. I tried to comfort her by saying the bus ride is about 3 times longer at Laurel Highlands. I still can't figure out why this comment didn't help.

Post-race food. Most race reports would devote an inordinate amount of time describing the course, who ran what time, etc. I thought I'd skip that part and go to the post-race festivities. There's no doubt that Ed took his responsibilities as RD very seriously. For example, he lured Brian McNeill into cooking at the end. Before I could wash my legs with the hose at the covered area, Brian was there to greet me with a bowl of mashed potatoes and haggis. Our conversation went something like this (Mike Bur: the "B" refers to Brian, and the "J" refers to me):

B: Here, John, try this.
J: What is it?
B: It's haggis, the national dish of Scotland.
J: What's in it?
B: You don't want to know.
J: No, really, tell me.
B: Do you really want to know?
J: Is it the parts that are left over after making scrapple?
B: Worse.
J: What then?
B: Well, it usually includes the kidney, liver and heart.
J: [I had already eaten it by this time and was starting to feel a little queasy] Did you really have to tell me that?
B: You asked.
J: I wasn't serious.

As it turns out, Brian had it almost right. Here's the complete description:

Haggis is made from sheep's offal (or pluck). The windpipe, lungs, heart and liver of the sheep are boiled and then minced. This is mixed with beef suet and lightly toasted oatmeal. This mixture is placed inside the sheep's stomach, which is sewn closed. The resulting haggis is traditionally cooked by further boiling (for up to three hours) although the part-cooked haggis can be cooked in the oven which prevents the risk of bursting and spoiling.

Sounds scrumptious, doesn't it? It's just what you need after a hard trail run. I know Brian won't be able to make this for everybody, but there is a company in the UK (Charles McSween and Son) that will export. But it won't help you; here's why: "Their haggis is widely available in the U.K. and they will happily ship it overseas, although note that the strict agriculture regulations preclude importing haggis into the U.S." Gee, I wonder why.

Mike wears sandals. I've reported before (can't remember exactly where) that women seemed to be wearing stylish Teva sandals after a race. Seems to be catching on - among the men as well. Mike Priddy said he would never wear sandals until he saw a pair like Michele had. So there Mike was - walking around in a new pair of sandals after the race. I'm sure he will be a trend setter among the men. As for you guys that already wear those black, gray or brown sandals (with socks or not) - that's not what were talking about here. We're talking about sandals with a flair. I can tell you right now this is going to be a hard sell for Tom Corris.

Confident woman. Caroline recently wrote to the list: "And we all know that all men take a back seat to a confident woman such as Joan Benoit, Kerri Owens, Bethany Hunter, Deena Drossin, etc., etc." Just to let you know the male perspective: when you use the terms "confident woman" and "backseat" in the same sentence, that conjures up a different image than what was intended. The movie "No Way Out" is but one example. OK, back to the race.

Monika Bracken -- Photo by Bob Fabia Monika and the bridge. As you all know from Linda's report, the course was wet and muddy in many places. The wooden bridges were slick as well and tricky, especially when the trail comes into the bridge at an angle, even if only a slight angle. For a good part of the race, a number of us were running in a pack with Monika in the lead. The photo shows several of us drafting behind her (I'm right behind her). When we came to one small bridge (no real water under this bridge), Monika slipped as soon as her foot hit the bridge. She did a full body slam on the bridge. She was carrying a water bottle, and it came out of her hand and was just off to the side of the bridge. She quickly inched forward on the bridge on her stomach, reached out to get the bottle, and then got up and started running again. I asked her if she wanted to stop and check for bruises. Nope. And we were all off again. Mike Broderick said he was abut 30-40 yards back at the time and heard her fall. Not bad for a gurl. What would a guy have done? Let's take the said Mike Broderick, for example (see photo). Mike Broderick -- Photo by Bob Fabia As it turns out, I had gone on a training run several weeks before on the Greenway trail with Mike and others. During that run, he stumbled over a root (or rock) and had fallen just in front of me (I'm not sure why people keep falling in front of me). He got up slowly, started limping, and said he'd have to walk it off. A couple of us hung back to make sure he was ok. Finally, he was able to start running again. You know, Caroline might be right after all. Mike, consider yourself in the back seat (the gurls will let you know when you can come out).

The spoiler. I was running by myself toward the end of the race and spotted a runner ahead of me. I was on an overtaking pace, so I didn't speed up. I caught up to him as we reached the last aid station at Beri Beri Road (or something like that) together. It was Ron Ely. He left the aid just in front of me. We both went through the creek and then walked up the short hill right after that. I figured that I would just run the pace I had been running and would pass him in a little bit. When I got to the top of the hill, he was nowhere to be seen. It seems that he was having no part of my strategy and wasn't about to let me pass him. Ahead of him, as I later learned, was Nick Satriano, Stuart Kern and Mike Bur. I believe they were all going to finish relatively close together until Ron showed up in their collective rearview mirror. Then they took off. Which accounts for their differing finishing times. And all because of me. As we were standing around the finish line, Mike asked me what my time was. I told him I wasn't sure (I didn't write it down on the card they handed you at the end), but I thought it was about 4:33. Since they all finished under 4:30, he told me that there wasn't much point in running this race if you couldn't finish under 4:30. I was much relieved to find out later that my time was actually 4:29:51. So, the day wasn't a total waste.

Stuart stole my award. Monika was listed as one of the sponsors of the race, and while we were running, I asked her why. She said she had made pottery awards for overall male and female finishers and for the masters male and female winners. When I finished the race, I thought I was the first male masters. When Ed was announcing the winner, I was about to take a step forward to accept the award (I thought it would be neat to have a home-made pottery award by Monika), when Ed called out Stuart's name. What? Little did I know that the masters category started at age 40; I thought it was 45. Stuart must have sensed my disappointment because he later came over and apologized for winning the award. But you know what? Ed didn't plan on having awards; it just happened. And if Stuart still wants to keep an award just because he's 12 years younger than me and barely qualifies to be a "master," then that's ok with me. No sour grapes.

Did Michele really win Mike in a raffle? After the race, Michele was telling me a story about how she was drawing bib numbers for a lottery last year at Highland Sky and picked out Mike's bib number. Since the prize was something like a two-week trip to Tahiti (or something like that), she told Mike that he had to take the raffle-drawer with him. When I looked at Mike, he said there was "some history" before then. OK, I have to admit I might not have this story quite right because as they were talking I was trying to concentrate on eating my chili dog, cut-up mango, and two pieces of Ed's birthday cake (the haggis didn't fill me up, and I didn't really want seconds - I figured we needed to save some for later runners). If you want to know the whole story, you'll have to ask Vicki.

Well, there you have it: the unofficial account of the SGT Marathon. A great event - all the kudos go to Ed and the volunteers.