I feel like I should write a blog post about it, and perhaps an article for my running club's newsletter.
But I really don't how to write about running races.
It's easy to write about my sailing races. Weird stuff always happens. Stuff breaking. Collisions with other sailors and buoys. Bad decisions. (Very occasionally) good decisions. Capsizes. Crazy weather. Crazy waves. Crazy other sailors. It's a laugh a minute.
But in a running race, not much happens. You start. You put one foot in front of the other for a certain distance (4.8 miles today.) You finish. How can you write an interesting article about that?
So I decided to do some research. I looked back through some running blogs and newsletter articles to find out what runners write about, which is presumably the same things that other runners are interested in reading about. And I now present for your education (and as a guide for myself)....
Tillerman's 7 Essential Topics in a Running Race Blog Post
1. Why did you run this race?
Tell us in your opening paragraph why you are running this race. I needed a marathon in Alabama to complete all 50 states. It sounded like a good idea at the time to run an obstacle course. I ran the same course in summer when it was 40 degrees warmer. We were going to run the ABC half-marathon but a tornado destroyed the start pavilion and the race was cancelled but we had a hotel booking so we ran the nearest race we could find.
Whatever. Make it interesting. Spice it up. If in doubt, make it up.
2. The course.
If you want you can describe the magnificent scenery, the amazing views, the historical architecture blah blah blah. But that's optional. What you absolutely must do is describe in excruciating detail the running surfaces - asphalt, concrete, dirt, mud etc. - and the hills or lack of them. Runners really need to know this stuff.
Note: It's perfectly acceptable to exaggerate the hilliness of the course in order to make yourself sound like an even more superfit runner than you really are. Use a thesaurus to find lots of synonyms for words like "mountainous" and "gruelling." If you are lucky, the organizers will use some of your choicest phrases like "gut-busting knee-trembling incredibly steep hills for 15 miles of the course" in their pre-race publicity next year.
3. The weather.
If someone else runs the same race next year the weather will, of course, be totally different. But you were out running in this shit for 5 hours so you have to tell others all about it. Make it sound as extreme as you can.
I like, "And the rain fell, and fell, and fell and fell and fell. And then came the wind," which is from the Rhode Hazard's blog. And I also like, "It was the hottest London marathon ever... 5032 runners were treated by the ambulance service on the course and 73 were taken to hospital," because I wrote it and it is true.
4. The food and the drink.
As Dire Straits sang, "If you wanna run cool, you got to run on heavy, heavy fuel." Food and drink are fuel for runners. Tell your readers in ultimate detail about what the organizers provided in the way of pre-race food and drink, and post-race food and drink, and all the refreshments available at every stop around the course. Focus on major issues like whether the bananas were cut in half or not, and what the temperature of the Gatorade was. (Cold or icy cold?) Feel free to be hyper-critical of the organizers if the food ran out, or if it was not as advertised, or if you just didn't like it. If you don't embarrass them publicly, how will they get any better next year?
5. The trinkets.
It's a well known fact that most runners only run races so they can collect more race T-shirts to add to the 874 they already have in their closet. Or maybe it's because of the coffee cups, bags, tape measures, trivets, casino credit coupons, gus, gels, sun-screen, tubes of nipple lube etc. etc. that are always given away at every major run. Compare the value of goodies amassed to the entry fee. Make a big deal about the medals. Runners love to collect medals.
6. Your injuries.
What's the point of doing a running race if you don't have a few injuries to talk about afterwards? Everyone is always interested to hear about your blisters, chafed ankles, frostbitten nose, sunburn, crotch itch, sore nipples (you didn't use the Nipple Lube that they gave you at the previous race did you?) The more embarrassing the injury the better.
If your injury needs the services of a chiropractor or even better an orthopedic surgeon you have hit the jackpot. And people always love to read about how you threw up at the finish line or had to answer the call of nature at the side of the road. (See section 7.)
7. The Porta-Potties
Last, but definitely not least, you need to report on the Porta-Potty situation. Runners will decide whether or not to run, or not to run, any given race purely on what they have heard about the Porta-Potty situation. How many Porta-Potties were available at the start and around the race course? How long were the lines to use them? How disgusting were they by the time you got to the front of the line? Be scatologically graphic.
OK. That's all I can think of for now. What did I miss?