SWFTR SHIRT TALES
Beginning with the premise that there's a story behind every race t-shirt,
hence, every runner has a story regarding
every race they've run, this feature attempts to share a few of
these unique experiences with the reader.
Back to SWFTR LIT. SECTION
MIDNIGHT SUN MARATHON
My third marathon was not a large
marathon; only about 250 people in 1986, although it is kind of
famous. The Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska is
unusual in many ways. The night before the marathon, June 20th
when I finally went to sleep at around 2 AM, it was bright and sunny.
I'm not used to that. It felt like a Sunday afternoon nap more
than a night's sleep.
The morning of the run, I left my
eight year old son Greg in the motel room by himself and took a taxi to the
start. True it was Alaska, and true there was a huge glacier within
sight but it was beautiful t-shirt and shorts weather. Mt.
McKinley off in the distance made Pikes Peak look like a wimpy foothill.
Soon the instructions were given and the gun was fired. We ran
through the outskirts of town and onto some Army tank trails up through
the edges of the mountains. The problem was, some portions of the
trail were eroded away. The minor inconvenience of traversing drop-offs
was solved by placing 2X12 planks across the missing parts. There was
some slippery mud also. Finally we exited the mountains and made
our way back into town.
At one point, running on a trail through
a grove of trees a swarm of mosquitoes became interested in me and I
couldn't shake them. If you've never been to Alaska you may not
realize the inconvenience of being probed by multiple large blood sucking
parasites. They followed two miles before they decided to return
to their territory. I had little raised welts all over my exposed
skin, and itched like a dog with fleas for the rest of the day.
I was so tired by 25 miles that I could hardly keep on my feet.
Then, up ahead was a wall of dirt. Was I lost? Where did the
course go? Then I noticed two men on top of the 12 foot dike.
One yelled at me "road construction, you'll have to climb." It
was with great effort that I made the climb and got to the finish line.
I treasure the memories and the t-shirt. It is in the box of
select shirts I'm saving to be made into a quilt some day.
-- Roger Unruh
[Editor's note: The mosquitos
in Alaska are enough to send herds of caribou neck deep into the water to
escape them, or so I've heard.]