Despite the dark skies last evening and pouring rain, we were hopeful. Even though the thunder boomed throughout the night, we stayed positive. Driving to the start in rain and moderate thunder, we still planned to race. We knew we were going to get wet – really wet – that was a given. But still we were excited. This was Katie’s first half-marathon and we planned to run together for that distance, then I’d continue for the full marathon.
We had a trusty support crew to cheer us on. My son Erik (Katie is his girlfriend), and Katie’s mom had devised a plan to cover the Minneapolis Marathon course with their two cars. If the rain cleared, Rich planned to follow us on his bike. We were all set to go.
Our first inkling that things were not going well was the 1-hour delay. Fortunately, we were able to wait it out in our cars and stay dry. We sat and watched as the parking lot filled up with cars, but the eerie thing was that no one got out of them. Not a runner headed for the start line as we awaited the next update on the race.
When the 7:00am update didn’t come, and time grew closer to the new 7:30 start time, we had little option but to don our garbage bags and head for the start. There were plenty of other racers doing the same by then, and the rain even let up for us. The starting chute seemed to be sparsely populated, and it lacked the excitement and energy that usually builds prior to the race. The atmosphere was shrouded in uncertainty instead. But we still clung to the belief that soon we would be running down the road, with many miles to cover.
7:30 came and went, and still the same somber crowd waited. By 7:40 we really began to wonder. About five minutes later, we saw streams of runners walking back the other way from the start. Word spread quickly that the race was cancelled, but there was no official announcement – nothing to tell us that this big race was not going to happen. It was such a non-event that we wondered if it was real. But soon we had to face the inevitable, and accept that it had indeed been cancelled. The crowd was surprisingly quiet as we made our way back to the parking lot.
With plenty of pent up energy, Katie and I decided we would run home. Sprinting away from the race venue it felt good to be pounding the pavement and doing something after all the time we’d spent waiting. We pressed our speed, going faster than either of us has run all spring, pouring a marathon’s worth of miles into a shorter, faster distance. Erik proved to be a trusty cheerleader, meeting us at points along the way with offers of water and Clifbloks for our “race!” And we crossed the finish line at home, breaking the tape he’d constructed at the end of the driveway.
Word came only after the fact that race officials and police were concerned about recurring thunderstorms and flash flooding, and made the decision for the safety of the runners. I’m sure it’s a very tough call to make, and I support their decision to weigh in on the side of public safety. I have to say, though, that it’s been hard to see the weather stay on the clear side for the remainder of the day. Just being honest. I’m sure the marathon folks are equally frustrated. Better luck next time.