It was a sweltering, humid night in South Hamilton at the start of the annual Wiener Run 10K. It was decidedly not a night for a PR, but to hopefully find a tolerable pace one could sustain while trying to breathe in the still and heavy air. Nonetheless, all were in jovial good spirits as Race Director Roger Perham’s camera shutter signaled the start of the race for the 30-something runners. The small pack spread out as we ran a short loop through Asbury Park, so we were single file as we turned out onto Highland Ave and headed toward Bradley-Palmer State Park. As we ran through the park, the sky darkened and took on a gray-green hue, and I said a little prayer to the sky for some cooling rain. Exiting the park, we started a long climb up Asbury St. The hill would’ve been memorable without the brutal weather, but in the heat felt absolutely Sisyphean. As I at last reached the top, my prayer for relief from the heat was answered – with gusto! The thunder boomed, lightening flashed, and the rain came down so hard that visibility decreased to about 10 yards. I’ll admit to having some fleeting fears of a tornado when a chilly wind whipped up, but more real was the fear that cars would certainly have a hard time seeing my fellow runners and I, splashing through the ankle-deep puddles that had quickly formed on the narrow shoulder. I crossed back and forth across the road around corners, trying to stay as conspicuous as possible (forget about “running the tangents”!), and strained to keep an eye on Linda Fitzpatrick up ahead of me, herself barely visible in a dark blue singlet against the stormy sky. Who would’ve thought we’d need neon reflective gear on a hot summer afternoon?
Perilous though it may have been, the storm was truly exhilarating. The roar of the downpour muffled my “Whoop!” of thanks, but I felt renewed energy as I started the final miles toward the finish line, alternately peering anxiously over my shoulder for cars and grinning like a fool – as we all surely appeared to the drivers passing. At the finish line was a joyous reunion of participants and volunteers on the porch of the Community Hall. Runners high-fived each other to celebrate having merely survived (and I suspect also feeling the enhanced runner’s high that comes with running in a summer rainstorm). The best part of the race was still to come though, as we gathered in the hall for a dinner of burgers and dogs, beans and chips, laughing and recounting our experiences in the storm. Some runners even reported being pelted with hail! Then it was root beers all around as not just the winners, but every runner was acknowledged and applauded. It was the best little race I’ve ever run. I already can’t wait for next year – though I’m afraid to think about the ways the weather could top this year’s.
Congrats to all of the hardy, brave souls who came out to attempt this race. Check out the photos in the photo gallery, and the updated NSS Grand Prix results here, and as always, please let me know if you suspect any errors in the scoring.