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(Windblown) Six in the (Rain)

August 2, 2009

The Chicago Ultrarunners Group (CHUG) continues to make great strides, and today was an excellent example.  Brian G. had taken it upon himself to create a “Fat Ass” type event out in Bartlett, Illinois (western suburbs), and went all out in the organization.  “Fat Ass” events are low key ultras that originated (supposedly) from ultrarunners returning to form after winter hibernation, and the key theme is that they are “no entry fee” events.  Although late in the year, Brian wanted to follow the “Fat Ass” style, so the event was totally free.

The event, at Phil “Pate” state park near Bartlett, was simple:  Have 50 runners show up and run a 2.28 mile loop for six hours (and a 0.5 mile shorter loop late in the run).  No one pays, everyone just runs.  However, Brian went way beyond what a normal Fat Ass would do, including “live” results, a webcam, and some great organization.  He called it the “Sunburn Six in the Stix”, since it’s August and it would surely be a scorcher; we’ll be running for six hours; and the Stix because, well, Bartlett is pretty far west. It’s farther west than I live, and I live pretty far west. As fate would have it, though, he could have called it the Windblown Six in the Rain.

Chicago has gone through the mildest July in, well, ever, and I don’t think it hit 90 the entire month of July.  So the weather looked good going in – a warm but manageable day to run six hours – like 80 or so, mostly sunny, going by early and mid-week forecasts.  So it did look to be sunny, and I put on my sunscreen when getting up at five thirty this morning.  I figured it would be a day of staying properly hydrated, cool, and not over-exerting myself.

The non-overexertion is key, as I have a similar race next weekend downstate, only this is an eight hour run. I figured I’d take it easy today and see what happens, planning on getting in ten loops of the 2.28 course, and getting to 12 loops for 27 miles or so if possible.

Traffic is light as I drive to the park and, even though I follow someone who looks like our fearless CHUG leader Torey and get taken off course getting to the park, I arrive in plenty of time and smallchat with a lot of new runners. The regular CHUG folks are there, as are a lot of people I hadn’t met before.   Brian does a final race briefing, then has us mill around as we wait for the start, which goes with an unceremonious “OK, go.”

Fat Ass runs are great for this reason – it’s very relaxed.

I settle into an easy pace with about eight other runners on the first loop – two runners sprint ahead, but I’m with the main chase pack.  OK, I had planned on taking it easy, but kinda fun to be up at the front.  The group chitchats as we pound the crushed limestone path underneath pleasant, 70ish or so overcast skies.  The loop passes quickly, with my favorite part being the thundering hooves of our nine or ten man group thundering over the lone bridge on the course.

As we get back to the start, several folks peel off to get stuff in the starting pavilion, so the pack thins out.  The next couple of laps I run with Deeana, Bret and Jim, and we exchange all manner of ultra stories. It’s always fun to talk with longtime ultrarunners and triathletes, as you always learn new stuff and get a feel for the folks you’re running with.  (Deena, salt of the earth; Jim, a bit of a character but fun to be around; and Bret also a character but with a nice playful side.  We keep the pace up, checking in every other lap to the scorer’s table (a nice big spreadsheet Brian printed out where we just X however many laps we’ve run, totally on the honor system).   After the fourth lap, I wind up sharing the trail with triathlete and ultrarunner Deeana.   After the sixth lap, Deanna’s about done for the day (what with doing a friggin’ 90 mile bike ride tomorrow!) so I grab one of my iPod shuffles and settle into my 2 song run/1 song walk pace.  This passes the next two laps easily, during which the rain begins in earnest.

Yes, the sunburn six in the stix had rain – and actually, a fair amount.  The first couple of loops were pretty windy, but the last couple were windy with a fair amount of sprinkles.  Not enough to really soak you at any time, but definitely enough to A) keep you cool, B) wet the trail and C) keep the temperature down to boot.  It’s really quite pleasant, though after the eighth lap I realize I’m way ahead of where I wanted to be.  I run/walk the 9th and 10th lap at run 1 song/walk 1 song, and finish the 10th lap in just under four hours for 22.8 miles.   I’m feeling tired and a bit spent but far from exhausted – I decide during the 9th lap to quit after ten if I make it under four hours – should give me a bit of an idea what I can do next weekend in eight (goal is 40 miles in 8 hours – which I think is manageable with a bit more of a taper).

I change into dry clothes and spend the last two hours chatting with other CHUGs and helping a bit with scoring. The pavilion is a nice refuge from the rain, and it allows me to rehydrate and get some food while cheering others on, including seeing CHUG Sarah get her first ultra distance, and Kelly turning in one heckuva performance that I don’t think she had really planned on. It also allowed me to see Matt complete something like 43.89 miles – a very solid runner with a very nice wife helping out in the pavilion.

Post the race, a large group of us CHUGs surprised a local restaurant which Brian and Kelly frequent with a fairly large group of stinky runners – very good food and a nice staff. Overall, a very nice running day!

Thanks and grats to:

Brian, for organizing all of this

Torey, as always, for getting this ball rolling

Deeana, for putting up with me for six loops

Senator Bret, for running up from Indiana to join us crazy folks, and for the webcam closeup of your junk (inadvertent)

Jim, for the very entertaining distractions (running with a tent for no real reason?  Running with a boombox?)

Connie, for the stretchability!

Ian, for his impeccable music tastes

Paige, for the very interesting stretching in front of the live webcam. And for believing me when I said, “I’m running most of the time, honest!”

Leslie, for the history lessons

Sarah, for her first ultra finish

Bill, for running great even with a bum hamstring

Tony, for the incredibly strong run!  (and apologies for trying to get you lost on the way to the restaurant)

Adrian, for all the stories from Badwater – damn, man.

Jerret, for not having cause to call me out for a no show. 😉  And for some shared pics posted to the site

David, for hitting your goal

Paul, for some history lessons on Palos Hills runs – see you next weekend!

Kelly, for a strong run

And my mom, for watching the live webcast and seeing me once but generally just seeing a bunch of “legs and stuff” 🙂

Heading out for another loop.

Heading out for another loop.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2009 2:31 pm

    So nice finally meeting you at S6S, Jason.

    What a nice report you have written; you leave no one out and mention something nice about everyone. You’re a sportsman on the “field” and off. 🙂

    Looking forward to sharing more events with you,

    Connie 🙂

  2. August 3, 2009 4:27 pm

    Nice to see you again, Jason! Thanks for writing a stellar report of the fun day we all had. Best of luck to you at Howl next weekend! 🙂

  3. matt condron permalink
    August 10, 2009 2:56 pm

    Jason, enjoyed reading your Howl and Sunburn race reports.
    not sure we were “sprinting”
    and yes, my wife is awesome.

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