- A giant pickle roaming around that may or may not give you a hug:
- Pickles hidden on course (there are road or trail routes) that give you time bonuses, special prizes, and/or more hugs from the chief pickle.
- Hundreds of runners having a great time at a low cost race with solid production values (chip timing, etc).
- Prizes consisting entirely of things found languishing in dark basement corners, and, of course, handmade pickle superstars, such as 2008's Pickle Bandit:
But, on January 16, 2010, I could go! Fantastic!
The weather was super lucky, and hundreds and hundreds of people showed up. I haven't seen a tally yet, but I could believe there were 400 people there; that's as big as the top tier of ECCC races. The start was crazytimes (in a good way), with runners everywhere of all sorts of abilities; it took some definite ducking and diving to get through the crowd! Good showing from the DFTC (Drexel Fat Tire Club---old school Drexel Cycling) as well---seven people from several generations of the team running (plus a friend from work), plus Frank Durso, one of the two Drexel Cycling founders, as the big pickle himself (and co-organizer).
The trail section used this time was great, and a good bit harder than the previous Pickle Run I'd made it to. Fairly tough vertically with a bunch of rollers, and just technical enough, more so than before. Mostly twisty single track, seemed like really good MTB trails. Doug and I definitely dropped a person or two who were not following us technically as quickly but could have held fitness-wise, a good indicator of how interesting the trail was. A few sections actually took real focus, especially a slightly off camber very narrow section along a hillside, and some tight turns with roots on little up and downs. Very doable on sneakers, but actually the first time I've ever found myself wanting dedicated trail running shoes, as I slipped out just ever so slightly on a tight, loose trail kink. Good stuff.
Doug and I in turn also got dusted by a good number of people who straight up outlasted us on the climbs, but otherwise did ok. I think us and my buddy Duc finished right around 30:15 for the (ostensibly) 4.3--4.5 mile course. When we turned into the trail a mile or two in I thought I was *done* as Doug started hotfooting it up the hill in his Vibram 5-Fingers, but fortunately I reeled him right back in over the next section. Confirming Blake's theories though, there was definitely a point near there where I was thinking "Man, maybe I'm running too hard, it would be nice to be able to focus and see the trail better before I fall into this creek..." I also have to say, I was originally going to sandbag and register 36 or 37min as my prediction but then an older gentleman behind me in line said he was putting down 29---game on! Well, game on for maybe 200 meters, before he proceeded to leave my ass behind...
Tim put in a good time in the 5k, coming in around 21min, despite possibly not having run in years... Shrey hung tough on the 4.3m road course for his first running event ever, and seemed stoked even with the pretty mammoth finishing climb---it was big; I was mentally preparing myself in case the trail dumped out at the bottom of it, but it did not (sadly!). Lou, Dom, and Dan also all did well on the trail run, though Lou seemed way more excited by the hot popcorn he got in the finishing chute...
All in all, awesomesauce! There are two more Pickle Runs coming up, in February and March. I'm not sure I'll make them because of ECCC events, but everybody else should be there if not at ECCC shenanigans!
Definite credit to Frank and crew. They've really built up an awesome thing out there. Run the Day's races are some of the most fun sporting events I've ever been to, and I go to an awful lot of really fun events every year (20+ weekends a year). They're exactly how sports should be---totally ridiculous, fun, and hard, with lots of good people.