The Race Is Run; the Shopping's Done

By Longernecker, Bill | The Florida Times Union, March 25, 1998 | Go to article overview

The Race Is Run; the Shopping's Done


Longernecker, Bill, The Florida Times Union


My pre-dawn sport sunscreen coating was absolutely unnecessary.

My visor limited only the rain dropage onto my glasses.

Throughout the race, my lungs felt like those of an asthmatic

with pneumonia. (One probably should seek medical advice before

running like that.)

At 21, the Gate River Run is old enough to vote. It has a fully

developed personality and is a well-run organism with over

10,000 living cellpeople. Those cell-people include aid station

volunteers, start/finish line set-up staff, race directors,

event sponsors, 15k racers, runners, and walkers, fun runners,

spectators, and police and rescue workers.

I have even found two fine "secret" pre-race restrooms which

will only be shared in person. The new stadium, built with tax

payer money, was not open for restroom use like the Gator Bowl

was.

A pair of V.I.P. wrist bands arrived for me at Shorelines

before the race. They would give me entrance to the private Gate

reception area. Long tables with bagels, Power Bars, coffee,

tea, hot chocolate, fruit, sub sandwiches, and other tempting

stuff were set for pre and post race sessions.

A narrow side hall contained many national class runners. They

lounged on tables, leaning against the wall. Talking to them was

simply too intimidating that day. They have a right to privacy

before such an effort, and since I did not recognize anyone, I

felt quite awkward. It was easy to tell they were the elite,

however.

A slow run to the starting line stretched me out and readied

the 40 ounces of prerace fluid for release at my new secret

restroom. The mood of the assembled masses was incredibly

festive. Smiling faces filled the entire area. A trace of chill

thanks to humidity kept me in a light jacket until just before

the gun.

A smiling 11-year-old Fallon Heffernan greeted me in the

runners' area. I had subbed in her history class several times.

She would go on to win her age group and be the 56th woman over

all with a great time of 66:29.

Fletcher teacher and 20 time River Runner Rich Silvius smiled

his greeting. …

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