For the past three years Fullsteam Brewery and Bull City Running put on The Point 262, an event in June billed as an “all-day party with something for everyone”. For me, the event of interest was a 0.262 mile run. Seeing an excuse to visit the brewery and run a non-traditional distance, I signed up.
Tonight, tonight the strip’s just right…
The event features three parts: a very serious run, a very fun run, and impromptu feats of strength. Being a generally serious person, I chose the first option. I did try to get some people at work to go along for the not so serious run, but my suggestion of dressing up as rogue data points and code for an outlier detection program didn’t convince anyone (not even the analysts).
The course is simple. It’s a straight shot down Rigsbee Avenue in Durham that ends at Fullsteam. You run up a small hill, across a flat section, and then down to the finish. It’s an old fashioned street race, the kind I loved as a kid.
Andrea and I piled the kids into the minivan and told them there would be ice cream. None of them really wanted to go, so it didn’t help. We set up at a picnic table outside the brewery. We secured ice cream, and began searching through the board games for something with: a) enough pieces to play, and b) that would be interesting to them. We had minimal success on both fronts. With things as situated as could be, I said good-bye and trotted off to the start.
I wanna blow ‘em off in my first heat…
Once assembled, the runners listened to instructions and then sang the national anthem as a group (the audio of the Whitney Houston version over the mic didn’t work so well). The women took off first, and then while the clock reset the men toed the line. A guy went down the line asking why we were running. “Fun” was a popular choice, until someone admitted it was for the free beer at the end.
I laughed along with the others, but as I thought about it I really wasn’t sure what I hoped to get out of the race. I suppose I was curious as to the pace I could hold over a short distance, but when I signed up I thought I would feel differently about the race. I thought I might find more meaning, though I don’t know in what way.
There wasn’t much time to reflect on this as the start command sounded and we were off. I set a pace I thought I could hold up the hill, focusing on turnover in my legs. In the flat section I continued to hold the pace, despite nearly tripping through a dip in the road. I surged down the hill, passing a number of people at the line. One minute, seven seconds and my race was done. I patted the winner on the back and went to join the family.
We take all the action we can meet…
Andrea told me I did a good job, while the kids provided a general level of disinterest. Monkey was unhappy with his ice cream choice and kept muttering something about being able to beat a kid he saw running. Coach dropped Connect Four pieces through the slots in the picnic table. Cottontail walked around in circles and trying to sneak extra cookies from the generous people sharing the table with us. I can’t blame them; it was hot and there really wasn’t much for them to do.
I got my free beer (on a happy/sad note, this was the first day Fullsteam released their Southern Basil; it was not one of the free beer options, but I still had to partake) and went back to the table with Andrea, who was doing her best to stay in the last sliver of shade by the table. I felt a little empty. Usually after a race I feel some pride about finishing or angst about a bad performance, but I didn’t feel either after this.
Soon it was time for the “not so serious” run, and I took Cottontail and Coach over to see the finish of the race. I didn’t understand this as a runner, but the set-up was great for spectators. You saw nothing, until the runners crested the hill and headed towards the finish. And in this race, it was quite a spectacle.
We saw fairies twirling through the course, a guy pushing a tire, a gorilla carrying a (human) banana, superheroes, people carrying kettlebells, someone in a Baymax costume, witches walking with Wonder Woman, and (my personal favorite) a girl who cartwheeled the whole way. These folks got the biggest cheers, and deservedly so.
We’re gonna ride to the sea…
I signed up for the 0.262 because I wanted the chance to run fast over a short distance, but I think I missed the point (get it? the “point”?). The distance is, of course, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the marathon but is short enough that almost anyone could do it. It invites people who might not normally participate in a race to partake and to do so creatively. They spent time and effort coming up with an idea and putting their outfits together, whereas I would wager the people in the serious run did no special training for the event, and it was so short we didn’t have to gut it out. If you don’t have to work for something, you don’t get as much out of it.
I felt like the joke was on me, but in a good way. I took this too seriously and this is the first race I have run where I will remember more as a spectator than a participant. We had an enjoyable afternoon sitting around as a family and managed to make a few memories; for weeks after, when either Andrea or I returned from a run the first thing Coach asked is if a monkey chased us. I don’t know if I would do this event again, but if I did I think I would focus on preparing to run creatively rather than quickly.