Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon... (first annual?)

Well it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of November skies
Van Morrison
Like the Van says, it's a marvellous night for a moondance. If you haven't danced along a dark, winding, single track river trail with the stars up above in your eyes, well then friends, you just haven't danced. From the explosive start of the fireworks to the post run beers at Finn McCues this race is sublime.  Thank you Rheal Poirrier for organizing this marvellous moondance.

Thirty-six runners of all sizes and shapes trickled to the start line at the foot of Esplanade Riel for a 7:30 PM start. Our dance cue was the opening blast of the Santa Claus Parade fireworks (silly kids, they thought the fireworks were for them!).  KABOOM... on cue, we're off.

The Pre-start
photo credit Nicole Nicol
The KABOOM Start
photo credit Nicole Nicol
Well, most of us were off on cue.  I was just getting out of my car at the other end of the park when I heard the blast.  I sprinted to the bridge, dodging thousands of families with eyes on the skies.  I had to be watchful of the little ones underfoot.  I crossed the line several minutes behind the others.  With heart pounding I dived hard on to the trail, anxiousness set in, twisting my ankle on a dip, I stopped, frozen...remember to breathe, find your stride, work out the pain, you'll be fine, you know this trail, you've run it hundreds of times... but never in the dark.  I set off again, much slower this time and with calmer breath, settled mind, even heart, pain leaving my ankle.  The familiar sound of crunching gravel underfoot calmed me.

In time I saw headlamps shining like summer fireflies as the runners bopped along the trail well ahead (it's hard to measure distance in the dark). I followed these lights and slowly, like ships passing, I slid by a dozen or so runners. Not recognizing anyone, I found my pace and settled in for a zen inducing solo-waltz.

Fireflies lighting the trail
photo credit Curt Gui
My head lamp was useless and provided no light at all.  I fiddled with the lamp. The beam was strong but it didn't light the trail.  I adjusted straps and buckles to no avail. It only lit the trail if I ran with my head facing towards my knees.  "This is ridiculous" I thought, "I can't run 13 miles in this position!". It was then that the light bulb in my brain switched on. I had the damn lamp upside down! This would explain the aircraft circling overhead. The lamp worked fine... it was the owner that was a little dim.

Running along the Seine River in complete darkness save the headlamp, I became lost in that muted, fuzzy thought that happens as one enters a comfortable space of white noise. This state happens on trails and is heightened under the moonlight.

I found some familiar faces at mile 10. The comfortable chit-chat took the chill out of the air.  We talked about how fine that beer would taste and sped up a bit. We crossed the line with cheers and high-fives. All winners.  All realizing that we had participated in something special, something very special.  The magic of the trail under a moonlit sky.

The Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Trail Half Marathon (whew, I get tuckered just typing that name) is the brainchild of Rheal Poirrer of the Manitoba Trail Runners. The name is a compilation of several suggestions that were tossed about in the early planning stage.  Rheal just put them all together and thus we have The FAFBMTHM. Will there be another? Only Rheal knows for sure.

Oh, and the best part of FAFBMTHM  It's free!

Rheal hints that there might be a full-moon, full-marathon trail run coming soon.. a full-full, a runners double-double if you will.  Rheal,  on behalf of the 36 runners that participated in this spectacular run I thank you for the time and effort. It was a marvellous night for a moondance.

It's a good day to be alive .... running under a big ole full moon or not, running on a trail or not... running on a pavement or not.... it's just a good day.. eh?


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