Quarantine Backyard Ultra (2020)

Distance
Race Status
When
1 month 2 weeks ago

April 6, 2020

Post-Race

I woke up at about 530am to get myself prepped.

To be very, very clear: After watching the race live feed for the better part of the weekend, and as I write this 48+ hours later the live feed is STILL going and 3 people are STILL racing, my two laps and 13.5 klicks seems pathetically inadequate. The runners are approaching 330 klicks and 49 hours and three people are still racing.

So, I participated.

I ran two laps. The snow and ice and chilly wind were pain-inducing factors in my decision not to go for three laps (a thought that I had seriously contemplated, aiming for roughly a half marathon out of this virtual "ultra").

They let us into the video stream with fifteen minutes to the first bell, reminded everyone NOT to play music in their video window as that would screw up the live stream on YouTube and oh, very important, don't do anything that will make you a burden to the health care system.

2400ish runners from 60ish countries. The organizers noted that they had not anticipated becoming international race directors when they started planning a fun little virtual race a couple weeks ago.

My first lap was dead quiet. I encountered three other runners, but I couldn't have told you if they were racing with me or just out for a Saturday morning run. I fancied that maybe they were, but I saw none of the same people on my second lap.

First lap was strong. I got back to my house, swapped for some dry, warm shirts and a new jacket, and had about ten minutes to spare for the second bell.

The second lap it was warmer. I brought along my GoPro for some pictures, but (a) my big warm mitten got into the frame of most of them and (b) solo running photos are either pictures of the empty neighbourhood or terrible, unflattering selfies with no context.

The wind was chilly, and it had snowed a bit of a dusting overnight so the sidewalks were iced with a layer of snow hiding the ice. It was slippy and cold and I had done my part by the end of the second lap... and my daughter was cooking pancakes and bacon as I walked in the door after lap two.

I thousand kuddos to those who persevered for hours (and days) beyond my participation badge. Hopefully a second edition on a warmer weekend will inspire me to three or four laps. I don't know if I'll be running any in person races in 2020, despite my awesome registrations, but I'll settle for a few more virtual runs.

April 3, 2020

Virtual Package Pickup

I renamed myself #2295 - Brad as I entered the Zoom video chat with about 400 other racers, my chat avatar a single, small static tile among a grid of little video windows. A briefing ensued. This is how a virtual ultra works.

At 645am tomorrow morning I need to be ready to run and in my corral. In my case, my corral is the entry of my home with my iPad logged into the Zoom video chat, muted, and video displaying me and my homemade bib -- number 2295 -- visible in frame. Failure to be in frame means I get kicked out of the chat. Kicked out of the chat means DNS.

At 7am they sound the bell. And we run our first lap. 6.71ish klicks or something thereabouts.

At the end of my first lap, I return to my corral (my house entry) with my iPad still logged into the Zoom video chat, muted, and video displaying me and my homemade bib -- number 2295 -- visible in frame. Failure to be in frame means I get kicked out of the chat. Kicked out of the chat means DNF.

At 8am they sound the next bell. And we run our next lap. 6.71ish klicks or something thereabouts.

At the end of my next lap, I return to my corral (my house entry) with my iPad still logged into the Zoom video chat... and on and on and on until there is one person left in the video chat. That person is the winner.

To be fair, even the local field is going to outrun me so I'm aiming for a shiny participation badge on this one, and some fresh air. Yet, somehow, even just a virtual run from my own front door has me a little nervous. I guess that means this is a real race.

March 30, 2020

Well... Why the hell not?

Unless of course I get called into work this weekend (which is a real possibility) I clicked that link that Leon texted me yesterday and signed up for the quarantine virtual ultra marathon on this coming Saturday:

Almost every runner out there has had races that were canceled and have been left without goal races in the near future. We do not know when this situation is going to end, and this is a fun way to bring a whole bunch of people together to be able to test their fitness, join a community, and do something together when many people cannot leave their homes.

As I understand (and I hope I do because there won't be anyone nearby to explain what I'm doing wrong!) we meet en masse on video chat at 645am ready to run. At 7am they "ring the bell" and we do our first 6.706km/4.167mile lap. Back at our own bases, houses, backyards, or wherever, you check in, prove you ran, and then rest... until the next bell rings and you repeat.

I'm aiming for 3 laps, which would be a half marathon (ish) and certainly not the full day of crazy that most of these guys are like-as-not to have planned out. Worst case (besides getting called in to work, of course) is that I do a couple laps and call it quits and say I ran SOMETHING after everything else this spring has been cancelled. Best case, I have something to look forward to for the rest of the week.

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