After weeks, nay months, of anticipation, it was finally time for the Perth World Record Kilt Run. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun in my short life as a runner as I had last weekend.
The three of us, Kalin, our friend Signi, and myself, headed down to Perth early Saturday afternoon, which put us there around 2-ish. We immediately went to registration to get our race kits and kilts. This year’s kilt was in the Wallace tartan. Registration, chip activation kept us busy until about 3. We milled about the downtown for a bit before grabbing some ice cream and heading to the park to hang out in the shade.
While we were enjoying our time in the shade, we came upon a wedding in the park. My mind immediately went to 2004 my cousin’s wedding in Kananaskis, Alberta. It was a glorious outdoor ceremony on an lookout over the golf course with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. It was so beautiful that a group of Japanese tourists crashed it. I would later learn from the New York Times that western-style weddings were the new fad in Japan. They were a rather aggressive bunch and my uncle quietly deputized me to coral the additional guests behind the wedding photographer.
This wedding, too, would be crashed. Not by us or the seniors that moved to a park bench precariously close to the ceremony, but by a dog that came off its leash and tore through the ceremony. Seemed like everyone got a laugh out of it and the ceremony continued. Apparently, the part of the ceremony where someone can object to a marriage only applies to humans. We would actually see the bride and groom at the end of our run as they walked along the canal with the ring bearer and flower girl in the evening.
As it got closer to race time, we found a spot to change into our gear. I also picked up a tam from the merchandise table. One of the signs that this was going to be largely a fun run was the sight of many fellow runners noshing on hotdogs, hamburgers, even pizza. Not exactly pre-race nutrition. We saw one kid make a beeline for the canal just before race time to woof his cookies. As previous entries of this blog have shown, it’s not the first time I’ve seen pukers on race day, though they usually make it to the start line first. We met up with Signi’s friends from Gannanoque and waited for the pipers to call us to the start line.
Yes, we were piped to the start line in parade. All 1900+ of us.
The start/finish line was shaped like a castle. It made think of the Culloden episode of Battlefield Britain and the Scottish war strategy of the Highland Charge. It’s exactly what it sounds like and looked like in Braveheart. Taunt the enemy and then charge at them like madmen. Yes, it lost its effectiveness when the musket became standard issue in the British army. The castle shape of the start/finish made it easy to get into character for that final charge toward the finish line. I just had to imagine a garrison of red coats on the other side who an urgent need to meet my broadsword.
The cannon went off and we ran (skip to 1:26 for Kalin and I, 1:52 for Signi and the Gannanoque crew). Here’s the tale of the tape. It’s a great course that snaked through the downtown and about half of it was along the cart paths of the golf course. Perth’s golf course is apparently the oldest in Canada. It’s very nice, but that trail through the woods would have been nicer (sorry, Perth, a beautiful golf course is still a walk in the woods ruined). Nice rolling hills provided a great challenge on a relatively short course.
I really loved how the whole town came out for this event. Although, I’m not sure they had much of a choice. With large swaths of the downtown and the roads to and from the golf course closed for the race, the town pretty much shut down for the event. While a surbanite in Ottawa might not notice race weekend if they were staying put in Orleans or Kanata, Perth doesn’t seem large enough that one could get away with not being jammed up by the event.
Regardless of whether they were there by choice or simply consigned to their fate for the evening, they came out in droves and cheered us with enthusiasm. Probably the only exceptions were large portions of the golf course between water stations. Like the stretch of race weekend’s half marathon along the parkway, the crowd was only thin where no one actually lived. Although I’m sure there’s a few country club rats who object to the notion no one lives at the course 😉
As per the theme, most of the official cheer stations were highland dancers of one sort or another. Every mile maker had a bagpiper. If you ran fast enough, by the time you lost the sound of the pipes at the last mile marker, you could begin to make out the sound at the next marker. There were plenty of water stations and several sprinklers to cool us off. The fire department set their hoses upon us from atop the ladder trucks, giving us a welcome soaking around the 2k mark. I even got a splash under the kilt when running through one coming off the golf course.
Kalin and I managed to run together for the first couple of kilometres. The heat and dust would cause her to fall back a bit and take more walk breaks, but she soldiered on like the champ she is and finished with a 54:07 chip time.
As I made the final turn and headed on that final charge to the finish line, I could hear a familiar voice shout words of encouragement. Laurence, the assistant manager of the Slater St. Running Room, was cheering from the sidelines. Having already finished his race, 32nd overall, he made it though the post-race gauntlet to cheer on his friends.
As I came closer to the finish line on my final charge, another voice boomed through, this time through the PA system, “Keep that kilt down, Michael!” (skip to 41:31). I guess I was kicking up a storm on that last charge. Blame Redcoats in need of meeting my sword. You be the judge:
As I crossed the finish line, I looked up at the LCD clock to see the gun time only to instead see my name and chip time: 48:07.
I made it through the post-finish line gauntlet to collect my finisher’s bling:
And as important, finisher’s beer!
What a fun event. My immediate impression of the organization behind this event is that this a group that their event seriously, but they also don’t take themselves too seriously. I imagine there’s quite a few hoops they have to go through to get everything certified for the Guinness Book of World Records (btw, did you know that Guinness, the brewery, created the book as a catalogue of records to settle arguments in pubs). At the same time, fun was the order of the day. With the need for longer registration time to make sure everyone signed in, there was plenty of entertainment to keep people occupied. There was a haggis toss, canoe tours, and live music to keep waiting runners occupied. The race announcer wore a shirt that read “Lord of the Idiots”. Since everyone is running the same distance, there was no hierarchy of runners between the shorter and longer distances. There was a warrior class, but their numbers were rather limited. This review shows what they had to go through. I might do that next year, if only to have my photos with a wooden claymore and shield.
Unfortunately, Signi was off to Panama in the morning, so staying any later than we did was really a non-option. It meant dinner that night was a quick sausage from one of the vendors and then we hit the road. We were so tired getting back that Kalin and I indulged in some shwarma from a restaurant near my place. Well, you may be saying to yourself, the Avengers did it. I may be awesome, but I’m not a superhero. It was a welcome, but entirely preventable, late night indulgence.
Lesson #1 – plan accordingly. If we day trip it again, we should bring more food. We brought some snacks for the drive down, which we managed to stretch into drive home snacks, but I think the consensus was we should have brought ourselves something more substantial for pre-race goodies that would have been closer to a proper meal, sandwiches, salad, etc.
Lesson #2 – Carry cash. Living in downtown Ottawa, I rarely carry more cash than I can buy a cup of coffee with. That may make sense when every store you may enter has a debit machine (even some of the chip trucks have mobile debit). When you’re at a community event in a park, that might not be the case. I’m sure there was an ATM around, but I really didn’t have time to look. I knew, worst case, there was an RBC I could have gone to up on the main road nearby, but if you want to succumb to that temptation purchase of the tam at the merch table (or just want some beer tickets), you better have your money with you.
Lesson #3 – Make a weekend out of it, or at least stay the night. Since the run doesn’t start until 6:30 pm, the likely earliest you’re hitting the road for home is probably 8-8:30. Since it’s usually held near the longest day of the year, there’s plenty of daylight left of the drive. That written, do you really want to drive for a little over an hour after running 5 miles? Perth is lovely and there are a lot of great places to hang out on a Saturday night. There were actually some Groupons and Dealfinds for some local inns we could have taken advantage of if we thought this through.
Big thanks to Signi for offering to drive. We’ll get you back when you get home from your business trip.
Bigger thanks to Perth’s Running Goats club for organizing such a fun event. The bottom-line verdict on this event is: see you next year 🙂
It was a pretty hot week here in Ottawa. We had a heat wave set in on Tuesday and it’s been in the mid-40s, post-humidex, most of the week. I started writing this on Thursday. When I woke up at 6:30 am to go to the gym, the Weather Network was reporting that it was already feeling like 30 degrees. I didn’t feel like working up a sweat before I worked up a sweat, so I went down to the pool instead. I’ve actually made a few trips to the pool this week… a few trips a day.
We did find a great new place to cool off in the Market. Spoon Yogurt Lounge. It’s a pay-by-weight (55 cents/oz) self-serve frozen yogurt place on Clarence St. It just opened last week. They have about a eight flavours available at any one time, but have 25 flavours they cycle through daily. I got their cappuccino flavour and topped it with some berries. It was delicious. They have some really funky decor and great, friendly staff. If you’re interested in trying it, they’re having 15% off this weekend. We’ll be back. Often.
The weather made for some interesting running. Since there was a bit of a storefront moving in on Tuesday night, there was a bit of a breeze along the canal for our 3K. We had no such breeze on Wednesday for our 4K, or should I write 4K with 1K walk because I forgot to stop my Garmin. With the high heat and humidity, I talked Kalin out of running that night. Between her lungs and nagging injuries from the accident, I was worried running Wednesday but conk her out for running in the Perth Kilt Run on Saturday. Thankfully, there was no fight and she agreed. She could feel her ankle flare up during Tuesday’s run and figured she would be in for more of the same or even worse. The humidity also wreaks havoc on her lungs. Better to save up the energy for race day Saturday.
I still went to lead my pace group. Since I don’t have a back-up pacer, the only way I could ensure there would be someone in the group that would be able to help if someone had to drop out due to heat exhaustion was to show up myself. I know from my St. John Ambulance days in New Brunswick heat exhaustion can set in fairly rapidly. If you aren’t hydrated properly, your body can’t regulate temperature properly and you’ll your body will burn more energy getting it back to normal. You’ll also sweat more from this additional expenditure and potentially dehydrate. A runner, even an elite runner, can go from pooped, to puke, to passed out in nothing flat. I learned this the hard way during my first 5k race a year ago. Thankfully, it didn’t affect me. I did, however, have to dodge people doubling over and puking as I was racing to my first finish. I departed from the usual practice of leaving my phone behind and even packed it into my water belt in case I needed to call an ambulance for an exhausted runner.
I did have a couple runners drop out and start walking on me. They problem is, no one told me until we were almost done. When we reached 4k, I sent my runners back to the store and I went back for my drop outs. It turned out that most of them were repeating the clinic from the previous one. I knew them and when they started walking, I was comfortable they knew what they were doing. I just wish someone told me that.
Still working on communication issues with the new group. My Sunday 2 hour pace group is huge. I have a couple of runners who like to run ahead of me. It’s not that they want a faster run, they just want to be up front. They’re experienced and also friends, so I’m not insulted, but it does create a problem. There’s a “follow the rabbit” mentality of runners that they’ll just keep up with whoever is in front. This wouldn’t be a problem if they knew the route. If the person in the lead takes a wrong turn and takes a third of the pace group with them, that’s a problem. Since it’s my group, it’s my problem. At the same time, letting them make a mistake to show them who’s the alpha dog can be helpful, too.
One thing the heat couldn’t keep me from on Wednesday was the first night of Ribfest. It’s one of the few destination events on the Sparks St. pedestrian mall. For five days, there will be a half dozen grillers competing for best ribs, chicken and sauce. Some also serve pulled pork, brisket and beef ribs. The festival has evolved quite a bit over the years. It used to be sandwiched in the two blocks between Elgin and Bank. It now goes the full length of the mall. The restaurants on Sparks St. will let you use their patios to eat your ribs if you buy a drink. This is a big change from a few years ago. When it started, most of the restaurants and pubs weren’t even allowed to have patios (something to do with a provincial or city ordinance at the time which has either been eliminated or interpreted more generously). As people just used any available space to sit and the garbage cans were quickly overwhelmed, the BIA established a beer garden so people could buy a drink, sit down, and more importantly have people to take away the mountains of cartons generated by the customers.
It was at the beer garden stage that I first visited the festival of carnivorosity. It was my second summer back from grad school when Christian suggested we go. It was the end of a week of similar humidity to this one and I was looking for an excuse to get out of my temporary quarters at the University of Ottawa.
One thing I learned the hard way that afternoon, eating lots of food fast, drinking too little, combined with humidity (I had been having seeming weather-related digestive problems earlier in the week) meant that I didn’t keep it down long. We made it to the other side of the War Memorial when I found a garbage can to unload into. Coincidentally, it was next to a hot dog vendor. The sight of me may have driven some customers away from the processed junk to Ribfest.
I mention this less than awesome moment of my gloriously ignorant fat days because if I don’t Christian probably will. It’s not the kind of story you can let a best friend get away with. I know if the situation was reversed, I would.
No such problems this year. My weight loss solved almost all my digestive problems. I also ate less. Sure we got this from folks at Camp 31:
This year, though, the emphasis is on we. Kalin and I shared it. There is enough meat in that carton for two. We did supplement the meal with some fries, also split, to fill us up. I had a couple of beers, but was still well hydrated despite having just had my hottest run ever due to the several litres of water consumed the afternoon prior.
The only thing missing was the activists from PETA to repeat my 2010 encounter. You know PETA. They’re the people that have propaganda campaigns that liken chicken processors to Nazi Holocaust death camps. They trivialized sexual assault earlier this year when they launched an advertisement promoting veganism. They do some good, like providing us with posters of naked supermodels who attest to their desire to be naked than wear fur. Of course, those campaigns only work so long as it’s Olivia Munn or Joanna Krupa saying they’d rather be naked. If it was me, you be throwing animal pelts at me and telling me to get dressed. These guys have mastered the activist pander so masterfully I’m surprised they’re not trying to convince creationists that dinosaurs are extinct because of cavemen over-hunting. If the Flintstones taught us anything it’s that dinosaurs are good eating.
Shit. I just gave them an idea, didn’t I?
Anyhow, I’ve been saving zingers for two years now since one of their number shoved a poster of a pig’s head dangling on a meat hook and asked if my meal had a face.
My response: “Yes, and it was delicious!”
I then started my Anthony Hopkins/Hannibal Lecter impression: “Do you hear their screams?”
At first he thought I was talking about our friend, Piglet. Before he could answer, I continued, “Do you them, activist? Do you hear the screams of the broccoli as you cut it at its ankles? Do you hear the cries of the carrots as you pull them from the ground … by their hair? ”
I then led the patio of the Cock and Lion in a rousing chorus of this Arrogant Worms classic:
Well just the chorus. That’s all I could remember. Insults were being generated in my head faster than my mouth could utter them.
Apparently, they don’t teach about the dangers of keeping fat people from their ribs in activist school. The trolls were stunned that someone was not cowed by their antics (pun intended). They I just finished with “This is the part where you fuck off, go home, and question what your life choices.”
They sauntered off, crestfallen. What in their mind should have been a quick, self-congratulatory trolling of a patio in the dying throes of a genocidal orgy, became a moment of ritual humiliation by solitary fat man, who then was the size of the average animal they were trying to save. He all of people should understand.
Unfortunately for them, he was me and I’m kind of an asshole when I want to be.
Some friends probably read that and thought “There’s times he’s not one?”
My little show did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. A few fellow patrons laughed at my display. One couple came over and told me it was the third time they had swung by the patio since they had arrived an hour earlier. When I asked my waitress for my bill for the two pints of Beau’s that I drank, she simply waved me off and said, “Spillage.” I left the equivalent of my first drink as a tip.
I’m looking forward to a repeat visit to Ribfest before it closes on Sunday. See ya there, jackasses.