Running isn’t all about gear and training and race results. Okay, so 99 percent of it is, but there’s also room for the stuff that happens in between. We don’t usually get to brag about those stories in our standard reviews, so here’s our weirdest flexes of 2018. Okay? Okay.
One of the most rewarding moments in running this year was pulling into the Jake Bull aid station at Georgia Death Race, one of Sean Blanton’s (aka the Run Bum’s) races. The station is manned by Ryan Ploeckelman, the host of East Coast Trail and Ultra Podcast and some of his friends from Team Dad Bod. There’s something so magical about sitting down 50 miles into a pretty tough 70+ mile race and having another man change your socks and apply foot powder, while you’re fed brisket and sips of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s basically like going to the spa, but in rural Georgia, plus you may have pooped yourself a little a couple miles back. In any case, that definitely takes the cake. Also, the worst part of the year was the next 10-ish miles grinding up to the Nimblewell Gap aid station, realizing I had forgotten to bring any caffeine. – Matt “Man Massage” Imberman
I’m not a huge segment guy, mainly because my top tens are like “behind homeless camp at night” and “under the bridge that smells like piss,” but there is one segment in Baltimore that I pine for on a regular basis— the “Take Me to Flavortown” segment in front of Guy Fieri’s restaurant at the Horseshoe Casino. It’s a short, straight shot—like a kick of Donkey Sauce on top of a Ringer Burger. I attempted it once at an all-out pace this year in the middle of a long run, with disastrous results. My first mistake was wearing sunglasses on the front of my head. Nevertheless, with visions of hot rod flames trailing off my singlet, I ran it harder than anything in my life, but in a cruel twist of fate, I had forgotten to un-pause my watch. Much like the feeling after a full helping of Trash Can Nachos, I just didn’t have the energy to do it again. So here’s a frosted tip for you— when you come at the king, you best not miss. Lessons learned, and resolutions written for 2019. – Robbe Reddinger, Smashmouth and Chap’s Pit Beef fan
The Race Day VIP experience is worth every penny. I know, giant eye roll, but hear me out. I paid an extra $125 at the Chicago Marathon to have pre and post-race access to a delightfully warm tent with coffee, food, a personal bag check, private restrooms and free massages. It’s an expense, for sure, but when you spend half a year, countless miles, and an irrational amount of time training for a single event, it’s justifiable – if for no other reason than removing the added stress of race morning. Not only did I get an escort to my starting corral (which was insane with 40,000 people), instead of waiting in the cold rain after the race, I was able to sit inside a warm tent and sip coffee while I tracked Thomas. It was a great experience. The Chicago Marathon, in general, is a great experience. Highly recommend. – Meaghan Murray-Neuberger, resident queen bee
I would like to use the open-ended nature of this end of the year question to give a shoutout to the disposable razor industry. Because of the beauty of disposable razors, I was the lucky recipient of a roadside nipple shaving by my wife at approximately mile 50 of the Badwater 135. I have had zero reason or desire to share this fact until now. – Don Reichelt, 3rd place finisher of the Badwater 135
Everyone knows that having a super sick mustache can help you during a trail race. Well, I wanted to look the part for my first 50k this past October, so I worked on my facial hair for weeks. Problem was, I also wanted to propose to my then girlfriend at the finish line. I knew she’d never suspect me to pop the question during MY big day, but I also knew she’d never say yes with that hideous 80’s mustache pasted on my upper lip. The only logical thing to do was to pack my electric razor and have someone meet me half a mile from the finish line. If you’ve never tried shaving during a race, do it. There’s no better time to freshen up. Everyone likes to look good for the camera and hopes for that perfect finisher photo. Who knows, you may even end up engaged! – Jarrett Weisberg, 2019 groom-to-be (and Patapsco Valley 50k finisher)
The worst decision I made this year was to subscribe to the Ultra List. For those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the u-list, it’s basically an ongoing LetsRun thread where people attach their names to their assholery and where the average age of subscribers is likely over 60. So far, I’ve witnessed a group of people tear a photographer to shreds for accidentally uploading race photos into a public instead of a private album (one u-lister was so incensed by this egregious error that he referred to the photog as a “garbage human”), and I saw another u-lister respond to someone’s race report — that someone being the woman who won the Ouray 100 — with “meh.” But the most off-putting posts were the repeated requests by an 80-year-old dude for race travel companions. His most recent email began verbatim: “if you are a very young woman who might enjoy seeing Italy with a very old ultrarunner, I have found that I really enjoy the company of girls as young as 24.” It seems that blatant misogyny is the only thing that gets a pass in the u-list community. – Erin Surette, destroyer of troll trail runners
My biggest take away from running in 2018 has been watching the Faster Bastards grow and seeing the friendships evolve and expand outside of running. I started Faster Bastards as a tongue-in-cheek joke. In the beginning, there was only a handful of us. Three of us showing up for a run was a large turnout. Fast forward to 2018 and the group has grown to over 100 Baltimore runners that meet regularly on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Events when we all race together are extra special. All of us are competitive, but on race day we want the group to win. When one Faster Bastard wins the race, it feels like we all do, and this year we all won a lot. After the podium is where things get even better. The Faster Bastards know how to share the joy and a lengthy bar tab. We may look a little intimidating with our favorite color being black, lots of tattoos, and plenty of mean mug photos on our Instagram account, but in reality, the Faster Bastards are straight up sweethearts. Join us for a run, and you will find out for yourself. Who knows- maybe it will be your highlight in 2019. – Thomas Neuberger, king of the Bastards
I still get excited when I see a new GU flavor on the shelves. Will it be robust or rancid? Tasty or abhorrent? This year, I experimented with French Toast, Birthday Cake, and Campfire S’Mores for hard workouts and long runs. Honestly, I liked all three, but maybe I have a strong stomach too. I also discovered that GU has a Flavor Graveyard for the singles and mashups that failed to garner widespread acclaim among runners. Don’t all runners liked Cucumber Mint in the middle of a marathon? Rest in peace. —Austin Bonds, unofficial gel expert, aka official gel expert
If and when you get to my level of running (expert level, very experienced, very sarcastic), you learn that anything over 10k distance pretty much demands some kind of energy re-charge. Your body just went through a lot, maybe even an hour of physical activity. Basically, you just started a marathon but decided to stop at mile 6-ish, because what’s the point when you’re an elite athlete. So if your head is still in the game, re-charging with ice cream is probably the best decision you could make. My go-to is Oreo and chocolate ice cream, waffle cone, sprinkles if you got ’em. A very expert level, very experienced post-10k move. – Rachael Blanchard, 10k fuel expert