This year's Umstead was hard fought but we got it done, bringing my total number of Umstead finishes to seven. Spent nearly the entire race with one Bill Gentry from Virginia, himself a 17-time finisher of the race. I've known Bill since about 2010 - He's a regular at The Fair - and he's a well known figure in the area's circle of ultrarunners. I can only hope Gentry enjoyed his time with me as much as I enjoyed mine with him.
|RD and head volunteer rhonda hugging gentry and I at the finish line|
29:33 was the slowest finish for both of us, but neither of us have anything to prove and we're just there for the fun of it. The details of how our race went are not important. If I were to articulate them, they'd attempt to report on my fading memory's account of the highs and lows, perhaps with a preachy overtone, perhaps not. I've read hundreds of race reports like that, and have written dozens myself. I'll probably write a bunch more, but not today.
I have fallen into a pattern where I like to go back to the same races every year, seldom doing something different. All of these are races where my friends go; in fact I made and cultivated these friendships at the races. These races all have that in common, and they're all "parties with my friends."
Umstead however adds something else to this dynamic, and it's somewhat unique among every other race I've ever done. And this has to do with the organization and volunteers that make the race. Umstead literally has more volunteers than it has runners and each and every one of them is .. amazing. And yeah, I know, "all volunteers at every race are great" .. and that's true. But Umstead volunteers are in a class of their own. I've thought a bit about how to characterize it, and the best I can do is this: The volunteers at Umstead uniquely restore my faith in humanity.
And this characteristic rubs off on all of us who are running it. I run 100s for fun. But I'm convinced that Umstead - in addition to being fun - makes me a better person. And it's the race or the effort, but rather being surrounded by hundreds of Umstead volunteers that make it that way.
That's it. That's the post. Hope you all are doing well.
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