…Continued from the previous post.
Granted, the people in this final wave were running the half-marathon distance of 13.2 miles, instead of the 26.2 mile course laid out for the marathoners. But most of them were “first-timers”, taking part in their maiden distance-running event. To do it in just 45 minutes!? This is historic!!
No…hang on…wait a sec…OK, this is a little embarrassing. A closer read of my scribbling seems to indicate that it took 45 minutes to get every last athlete across the starting line. My bad.
See, everything gets all out of proportion when you’re talking about the kinds of numbers that the producers of the LBM dealt with. Once you stop and consider that almost 17,000 runners took part in this race, 45 minutes to get everybody off and running is a comparative heartbeat. And I can’t even fathom how long it would have taken to simply start the race if it hadn’t been run like a top.
Most of my time at sporting events is spent solidly underground. I go incognito, posing as a simple-minded sports fan – which come to think of it, hasn’t been too hard to get into character for. Recently though, I chose to blow my cover and accept an invitation to go behind the scenes and into the domain of the athletes.
When Steve Mackel, the co-founder of SOLE Runners, an L.A.-based running club, offered me the opportunity to observe his group as they prepared for and took part in the Long Beach Marathon, I was intrigued. When I received the special wristband that got me into the private Runners Club area of the event’s sprawling build-out, I was pleased. And when I found out that there would be a generous post-race spread of free food…need I go on?
SOLE stands for Seeking Out Life Experiences, and this particular running club focuses a good deal of its energy on introducing beginners to both the physical and psychic benefits of long-distance running. Steve and fellow coaching guru Gary Smith conduct step-by-step training programs designed to gradually prepare even the most novice of runners for conquering marathons and half-marathons.