And on that sad note, I will share my thoughts about this otherwise very wonderful event. This was a really fun and beautiful race. But, you may be asking: “what is a Blerch?” Well, it is a fictitious, fat little cherub that encourages a runner to quit, sit down on the couch and eat lots of cake. It came from the imagination of cartoonist Matthew Inman, a.k.a. The Oatmeal. I’ve been a fan of The Oatmeal for some time, and have enjoyed his bits on running, especially this iconic one. The concept of the Blerch has had a cult following among runners with a sense of humor, and The Oatmeal has sold Blerch merchandise for a while. And then, he decided to organize a marathon (with an associated half marathon and a 10K too). The event sold out the day registration opened, so a second event was added. I got in from the waitlist for the Saturday Beat the Blerch Marathon, held 9/20/14.
This was going to be a quick trip to Seattle just for the weekend, and I redeemed frequent flyer miles to get there. I met up with fellow Marathon Maniac Barb and my friend Matt, who was running his first marathon. I got in on Friday night and had little time to eat something, get to the hotel in Bellevue and sleep. Fortunately, the race didn’t start until 9:00 AM the next day, so we all got plenty of sleep. Matt arrived earlier in the day and took care of packet pick-up for the three of us. Apparently there was a long, slow line (took hours to get through) for getting books autographed. Thanks for doing that, Matt.
|Blerch Merch: sticker, magnet, long sleeve quarter zip top, bib and medal for running; squishy Blerch and book were separate purchases|
|Barb and I found Halbert in the parking lot before the start|
|Here's Matt before running (and kicking butt at) his first marathon|
|Getting ready! That's The Oatmeal in the green shirt under the umbrella.|
|Matt passes me on the first out & back|
|We ran over this railroad trestle twice|
|Awesome view of the Cascades|
|I saw Carole and Tom at Jackson Hole Marathon just a few weeks prior, then again at Beat the Blerch|
Part of the fun was the Blerch theme. Two of the aid stations had people dressed up in Blerch suits and couches to sit on. This made for some fun photo ops. And a few of the aid stations offered cake (it was a really good, moist white cake) and Nutella sandwiches. These are things from the original Blerch comic. The volunteers were lots of fun, and so were the other runners, many of whom really got into the spirit of the race by dressing up.
|It's a handmade Blerch!|
|A human Nutella with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo|
|And there were couches at more than one aid station|
|These Blerches tried to talk me into sitting down, but I said NO!|
|With the medical banner and my patched up knee|
At the finish, we were reunited with Matt, who’d been done for a while; he ran a very respectable first marathon in spite of some nagging pains. Things were starting to wrap up as the last finishers were coming in. We stuck around long enough to have the medic clean and bandage up my knee, and then we were off to the drug store for first aid supplies, post-race beer, and some post-race eats at Taco Time. (We followed that up later with a drive-by of the Space Needle and some good pizza downtown at Serious Pie.)
|Kate and Barb just finished and here I come with my banged-up knee, and a Blerch cheering me in|
I’m really glad I chose Beat the Blerch for my Washington state marathon. I know there are lots of other great races in Washington, but this one was so much fun for fans of The Oatmeal. And it was also well-managed. There were plenty of happy volunteers, more than adequate port-o-potties, good support, well thought out logistics, and a healthy dose of fun thrown in. The only things I would change are fairly minor: at the aid stations, place the trash cans farther out from the tables so we can keep moving and discard the cups later; and at the finish, offer a greater variety of post-race food, not just sweet stuff. Otherwise, keep up the good work. There are lots more Blerch fans who will want to run next year. I hope they make this an annual event!