Monday, 22 July 2013

My Top 2 Race Day Peeves

Running a road race alongside hundreds, sometimes thousands of fellow runners, can be a wonderful experience: The camaraderie, the excitement, the adrenaline...  What's not to love, right?  Ha, actually quite a few things, as I've discovered though the years... 

1.  Splattering

Standing at the starting line of the Paris Marathon in 2011, I was overcome with emotion: I was finally running my first marathon!  And I was doing it in France, of all places - my first ever trip to Europe.  Everything was beautiful and overwhelming at the same time and I was totally lost in the experience - trying to soak up every single second.  We were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, ready for the starting gun to fire, when suddenly I felt (yes, felt!!) an ominous splattering against my legs.  I looked down, startled, to find the elderly gentleman next to me urinating onto the ground, right there, mere centimeters away from me and at least ten others, with only seconds to go before the race start.  I tried jumping out of the way, only half successful in a crowd of thousands, and much to my dismay had nothing to wipe my legs down with.  The culprit was, of course, staring into oblivion and pretending as if nothing was happening, half hiding his crown jewels behind a bundled-up t-shirt.  I was appalled and couldn't help but shake my head at the thought that this Third World girl had to travel all the way to cultivated France to experience such behavior - what on earth?!  I properly hosed myself down at the first water station, but believe me, those first few kilometers were awful.  Yuck!!   

Not much room to avoid splattering...  [Source.]

2.  The Camel

Camels spit.  And so does The Camel.  Except The Camel feels the need to do it at a rate of at least one spit per minute.  Like clockwork.  That's a whole fifty-something spits during a 10 k race.  Urgh.  

The Camel... [Source.]

When still living in Kimberley, I found myself in the unfortunate position of having a 10 k race pace identical to that of The Camel.  No matter where in the pack I started a race (Kimberley's races are usually quite small, with only 30 to 50 runners per race), I would eventually end up right behind The Camel.  And be stuck there listening to the snorting, grunting and array of other sound-effects associated with his spitting habit for the best part of an hour.  Aijaijai!  Passing The Camel was, of course, a risky operation that had to be timed to precision: One had to get dangerously close, hover there until a spit was spat, and then motor like a machine to pass in a wide enough radius to avoid the line of fire.  Just to ignite The Camel's competitive juices and have him surge past you again.  Sigh.

Crossing paths with The Camel actually served me quite well in the end: Determined to up my 10 k race pace in order to leave The Camel behind for good, I discovered a newfound love for speedwork and improved my 10 k PR by miles.  So thanks for that, Mr Camel, but please, for your fellow runners' sanity's sake, stop spitting!

What are your top racing day peeves?  Any stories to share :)?


  1. Never came across anyone 'splattering' in the line-up to a race, but people who spit while running are fairly common - and not all of them men. One guy's spit landed on my foot while I was passing a bit too close to him. "Thankyou very much" I said. He did apologize.

    1. Ha! Next time I'll thank the culprit for the splattering - maybe I'll get an apology too ;) !

  2. My long experience as "real" runner (since 1985 till my first incident in 2007) brought me to see many situation: runners in line before the start pissing everywhere but the worst was during a half, when a runner made his "hard things" while running without stopping his race; you cannot imagine the "show" and the smell!!!!

    1. Good grief, that is terrible! Fingers crossed that I'll never come across something like that!


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