On Sunday, Brenda and I generally head to Clark Hill Lake and visit her dad. This Sunday was a little different. There was also a race on this morning. Most of the races I run are on Saturday. This race was on Sunday. Brenda questioned the timing.
“It’s only a 5K. It starts at 08:30. The drive is 28 minutes, I’ll be home by 09:30, ” I promised. “Okay, but we need to leave by 10:00,” I was warned. No problem.
I promised, I’d run, cross the finish line, keep running to my truck, hop in and drive directly home. It didn’t matter where I’d finish, top 3 or not, I’d skip a possible award. I just wanted to run a closed course, on trails, against other runners and hard.
The next few sentences in quotations are directly from the race information page:
“5K: Starts at 8:30AM
Shirts and Goodies: Shirts are guaranteed to those who register by 4/6/19. Those who register after that date and on race day are not guaranteed a shirt or size. There will be plenty of refreshments. Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers. “
I made plans to arrive at the race by 08:00AM, be parked, have my race packet in hand, warmed-up, and on the race start line by 08:25AM. At 08:25AM I was exactly where I’d planned to be and standing near dozens of other runners.
The race, advertised to start at 08:30AM was initially a little late. At 08:30AM the race’s master of ceremony began her speech. There’s always a speech. When she’d finished talking the crowd gathered for the run would get to hear another speech. The time was now 08:38AM. The clock was ticking – still no problem getting home by 09:30AM.
Runners were starting to squeeze toward the start tape. Some were beginning to bounce in place. I was eyeing a lane along the right of the crowd and beginning my inching forward. Minutes to go and we’d be off.
The next speaker was a local hero and executive with some organization. I know he was an important local hero because the informed the crowd of his unparalleled greatness. When he finished speaking he returned the microphone to the MC. She puffed up a bit more, not to be outdone by the guy who’d orated to his captive audience the magnitude of his position and sacrifice. When she paused for a breath it was 08:50AM. I was thinking, if the race started right now I could still be on the road to the lake by 10:00AM.
The standing herd of human would be runners had been held in place behind the 5K start line now for 20 minutes. For many of the standers it had been longer. Quite a few standers began standing behind the 5K start line before 08:30AM, in fact, I believe 100% of them where behind the start line before 08:30AM. The standers mostly had supposed they’d turn into runners at 08:30AM. So, far no one was running. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
The MC then shared sad news. There was a major set-back, the Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers were AWOL. Certainly, everyone was assured, the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers’ would arrive soon. Once they reached the start line the Zumba Crunch Fitness Trainers would lead the runners in a 10-minute warm-up. Afterwards the race would be off. (She, the MC, gave the crowd a “WooWhoo!” of encouragement. No one was smiling. There were no echoed “WooWhos”) I began an internal debate associated with timing.
In England, near Hertfordshire, I ran a 10K. The race was scheduled to begin at 09:00AM. There was a warm-up. The formal group warm-up started at 08:30AM in order to have the race start time of 09:00AM strictly obeyed. Before that warm-up time, at 08:28AM, the woman in charge called over the loudspeaker to the milling about crowd, “Okay, Sarah (I don’t actually recall her name) is going to begin our warm up, everyone form UP.” The word UP being issued as a command.
The crowd of around 200 Brits created a military formation, squared, and stood at parade rest in less than 2 minutes. It appeared the locals had trained for the maneuver. It would have made any “Tommy” proud.
The British are the World’s masters of the queue. I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing an English crowd queue more than once. It is truly impressive. The warm up formation was even more complicated than a simple queue yet handled with ease and confidence. Such order will never be duplicated by us American cousins. This is the home of the free and unruly – at least by standards of the Crown.
At 08:30AM, in England, the warm-up began. By 09:00AM the 10K was underway. Note: I was the one with the funny accent. Back in America, Southern accents and sweet tea are more common.
On this deadline crunched Sunday in Georgia there remained a notable absence of the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers.’ I hate standing around waiting, especially when I have other plans and the wait is unwarranted. I, for one, could care less about the marketing of some Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers’ organization. I promise I’ll not be joining.
At 08:55AM my plan was to have completed the 5K and be sitting in my truck preparing to put the key in the ignition. Instead, I was at the race registration desk. My internal debate finished I knew the 10:00AM departure from home to the Lake would be missed should I wait for the Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers.
I returned my race number and let the race’s official girls at the desk I was leaving because I could wait any longer. Perhaps, it is more correct to call the desk officials young ladies. For certain, they were young and female.
To them, those desk barricaded officials wearing matching t-shirts, having iPhone focus, with their air of authority and youth, I explained I understood the race, the 5K, “Starts at 8:30AM”. That the race had yet to begin and I needed to leave. I was returning my race number in the event post-race officials tallied numbers and might find one missing. I didn’t want anyone to fear a runner was lost or worse on the course.
One official young lady at the desk looked at me, alarmed from her iPhone by the interruption. Once again, I explained my need to withdraw from the 08:30AM race while pointing toward potential runners corralled at the start line. Gaining her connection with a live speaking person, gathering her thoughts, she told me, “No, it is going to start at 09:00AM, after the warm-up.” It was minutes before 09:00AM and the ” Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers” remained a broken promise. It was time for me to depart before my thoughts began their exit from my mouth.
As I was driving my pick-up truck away from the race I looked over my shoulder toward the start line. There an eager race crowd waited for Zumba.
Before writing this I triple checked the race time. The official publication for the event reads, “5K: Starts at 8:30AM.” I lifted the “5K: Starts at 8:30AM” directly from the official race registration form.
The race two weeks ago, another 5K, was cancelled. I learned of that cancelation the morning of the race. The race before that one, two weeks in advance of the cancelled event, did start nearly on time.
The entry fee for these events isn’t too costly, around $25.00 each. The money often goes to some charity. I know because there’s always someone bragging about his or her involvement in the charity and how important it is for everyone running be aware of race’s cause.
I suppose I’ve heard enough. See, I no longer care about your cause, mission, crusade, or passion as associated with a race. I just want to fork over my $25.00 and enjoy a run. I’m glad the entry fee helps you and your soul’s work. I’ll gladly pay the fee to run. I don’t want to hear your mission statement or your testimonial. But, most of all I want to the race to start on time. Oh, and if you cancel your event, I want my money back. There’s another charity and self-important MC all too happy to accept it.