Now this is how to run a race?

An email from one of my runners this morning got me to thinking. Sometimes we get caught up with timing chips, wave starts, age group placing, water stops every couple miles and huge post-race buffets. For those of you who have joined the running-racing world in the past 20 years you don’t know any other way for the most part. There was a time that road races were formally- informal. There were no post-race buffets and not runners expos and heck, there weren’t even numbers given to runners. It was show-up and run. The course was the course. It wasn’t manufactured into a 10K or half-marathon. If the road circled and ended to make a 5.7 mile course then the race was a 5.7 mile race. And they took your five-dollar bill in cash – on race morning – to enter the race – no need for online credit card payments and second-mortgages to afford to race.

What happened to the days of lining up to run and see how fast you can get to another pre-determined point with a bunch of people just to test yourself? Well, they aren’t dead!

I share this because of a wonderful experience one of my runners had recently at the Dizzy Daze 50K/100K in the Seattle area. It is billed as “This race gives you all the pain and suffering of any ultramarathon except you don’t have to deal with the annoying change of beautiful scenery.” Just do more loops.

Here are his comments overheard at the race.

“If you are running the marathon, do 8 laps and then run to where you see that chain link fence end. Just turn around there and that is pretty much 26 miles……….”

“We will only count the 100k’rs laps after they have gotten to a point where they don’t remember ANYTHING…….and can’t think for themselves.”

At the finish line the guy said, “OK, good job. What was your time, we don’t have a clock”

When asked about PBJ sandwiches they said, “We have lots of them, you just have to make your own, there is PB jar and knife right over there.”

“Most of the people at this race didn’t want shirts so we only have medium.”

“For the 50k just run 10 laps……..It is a little longer but we think you are more cool for running 32 something and only counting it as 31.”

“For those of you doing the half-marathon, please proceed beyond 13.1 miles because your shirt says 25k on it. Anyways, you can do it and it won’t hurt that much more”

Hugs were given to the race director by many people as we took off at the start.

At the finish I told the guy 6hrs flat, a lady next to me got mad because she said her time was like 6:00.11 and finished before me. The guy said, “Is it OK if you did the 50k a half second slower per mile. I will put 6:00.20 if that is OK with you.”

“it’s an open course and you will be running with everyone else who lives around here, watch out for cars”

“It really is too bad it is not rain/snow mix and 34 degrees like last year, it’s not going to be as much fun this year sorry. No money back.” (It was sunny and 40’s.)

“Go ahead and do more loops than you intended race, we won’t be counting anyway but will think you are cool if you do”

So that is a list of some of the funny things I heard at the race. just wanted you to know because I loved it – Jason

So, low-keyed, no stress, running and racing for the point of just doing it exists. I’m sure there are many more out there. These are wonderful experiences and a nice variation from the rigid world of mega races and chip timing. I think we need more of these races. By the way did I mention it was a $35 entry fee instead of $100 plus for the mega-RocknRoll; Chicago; Boston marathons.

I’d love to hear from anyone with similar experiences. Tell me about some races in your neck of the woods. You never know… I might show up just for the fun of it all.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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3 Responses to Now this is how to run a race?

  1. Hey Dean!

    You might want to check out Bataan Death March 102 in the Philippines. It’s a point to point ultra spanning 102K following the route of the infamous Death March. It’s organized by the Bald Runner. Runners provide their own nutrition/ hydration throughout the race. The strictest rule that we follow is no cheating. It’s running at it’s purest sense I think.

  2. David says:

    Nursing a hip injury this winter, I entered a couple of trail runs put on by gracious hosts that were as informal as a game of checkers . After one of the trail races, a running buddy described a style of racing called “Fat Ass.” Googling, I found this description: “No crowd support. No mile markers or big, yellow raceclocks. Not even an official “Go!” to start to the race. Just a map, a few thousand acres of passably-marked woods, and 400 other crazies, each with his or her own reason for showing up to run in subfreezing temperatures on a perfectly good Saturday.

    “Welcome to the world of ultrarunning, Fat Ass style.

    “This was the scene last Saturday when I ran my first ultramarathon, a 50K trail race in northeast Maryland. Among the other conspicuous absences: sponsorships, race t-shirts, photographers, medals, medics, and that little comfort I’ve come to appreciate called “certainty you’re running in the right direction.” And, oh yeah, an entry fee.”

    To read more, go to

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