“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
So said the Tom Hanks character to the Geena Davis one in A League of Their Own as a player wanted to quit the game.
Was this year’s edition of Paine to Pain hard with the 200% humidity? Well I didn’t run it this year, I watched you.
But 2x Badwater champ Pam Reed came up to me after the race. “That was hard.”
It made me smile. We didn’t call this the Buttercup Classic, after all.
But the question is why? Why would we race through the woods to the point of exhaustion, and perhaps beyond? Isn’t sitting on the couch with a beer and chips quite a bit easier?
Is it the little kid in all of us that wants to run with abandon through the forests?
Or is it because running is an exceptionally primal activity, particularly in the woods? Is this, perhaps, a couple million years of evolution at work? Sleep, make babies and run through the woods to catch our food? Are we seeing a little bit of that whole Born to Run thing in action?
And it makes us feel alive. Invigorated. With a pounding heart, screaming legs and sweat pouring off the body. Part of the living breathing world. Very much a counterpoint to the day-to-day, artificial air environment in which so many of us work and live.
I waited at the finish line for you after sending you up Broadview on your journey. The Rock Club tent was chock full of climbing gear and fun. Massage therapists (Thanks Tony!), local restaurants, Hudson Milk, New Rochelle Chevy, REI…waiting…waiting…waiting. We watched the young ‘uns come tearing into the track from their one-miler, led by a crew of kid pacers from the Tailwind Track Club, to finish in the same place you would. I got continued updates about where you were from our WECA ham operators out on the course.
And then we heard the roar of the cheerleaders! Our winner, Bobby Asher, flew from the woods into the home stretch, made the turn into the stadium, swooped through the final turn and took top podium honors. He was followed closely by Miguel Cuaya and Luis Francisco taking second and third respectively. (All results)
Incredibly, despite the warm temps and soupy humidity, Francisco set a new course record in the exceptionally deep men’s 40-49 group with his 1:24:18, besting his own prior record by over two minutes. And Kevin Shelton-Smith seemed to scalp 8 seconds off the course record for men’s 50-59 set in our first year — though it was actually more impressive than that since the course that first year was a few hundreds yards too short and was subsequently lengthened.
Trail newbie Hope Sanders took top prize for the women, with strides that looked effortless. Easy. Though we knew otherwise. She was followed to the Fin-ish line banner by Bethany Brown and Clare Marsigliano. And we saw a new course record for the women’s 50-59 group, with Jennifer Darnell besting the old course record by over five minutes.
And then I watched you all chow down on gazpacho from Roasted Peppers, fresh baked bread from AJ’s Burgers, pasta from Modern, sandwiches from Cafe Mozart, and fruit from Stop & Shop. And maybe the water from DeCicco’s and soda from Zevia went down a little bit quicker yesterday than usual?
Sanders and Asher both get, in addition to their engraved tankards, and some incoming top-end hydration vests from Salomon Sports, a free ticket to Paine to Pain for as long as I am Race Director. All others that were awarded tankards — either overall or in age groups — should keep an eye on their mail in the coming weeks for a package from Salomon.
It started with Jillian Perrius turning a cartwheel down the home stretch in 2010. In 2011 Kristin Iversen Koch flashed me a big smile over bloody knees when I saw her in the finish area. In 2012, it went to Todd Esposito who flew in from Ukraine for this race. And in 2013 to Erica Weisberg who gave up 15 minutes of her time mid-race to help another runner who’d become injured.
While it’s tempting to give a couple of unnamed runners the award for their fashionable bloody-nipple addition to their race shirts, those efforts were merely second best to this year’s winner, Michelle Robotham. But you won’t find Michelle, a veteran P2Per, as a registrant this year due to a knee injury. She volunteered, but then came through in a most unexpected way.
It seems traffic had not been blocked on one of the local streets leading to the home stretch, and cars were pouring through onto the course. Knowing the neighborhood well, Michelle just took charge, blocked traffic with her body, and stared down some pissed off drivers while directing them to use an alternative side street until a properly appointed blue uniform with badge and actual authority came to take control.
I love the unexpected. And I love to see the injured get back on their feet and out on the trails again. If her doctor gives her the A-OK next year, Michelle comes back as our guest.
And if you’d like to see what others have written about the race, see this page of collected reviews and comments.