Endless Summer 6-Hour Run - Sorta

This past weekend marked the Endless Summer 6-Hour Run in Annapolis. Scot was registered for this event, and I tagged along to do a self-supported training run. My training plan had me running 12 miles this weekend, but my training group was only up to 10 miles. With the Endless Summer loop being just over 4 miles, I could do three loops and that would be my training run. My running buddy Rebecca met me there to do her 10 miles (she was to turn around one mile into the third loop).

Scot and I were up early to make the drive (a little less than an hour) and get decent parking before his race started. I packed a bunch of drinks and snacks, and juice pops to keep in the cooler. I would set up some folding chairs and make our "camp". Our timing was just about right. Scot had enough time to pick up his packet and make a bathroom stop before the start. We found some Marathon Maniacs and got a group pic.


Maniacs at Endless Summer; I took the pic since I wasn't a registered participant

If you're not familiar with timed races (this was a 6-hour, but it's also common to find 8-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour races), here's how they work. The course is often in a park, and is either a loop or an out & back course. You can run as many laps as you want until the time ends. Your laps are counted either by volunteers or by a chip, as you pass the same starting mat each loop. The event is scored by distance completed, not by time. In each award category, the runner who runs the farthest wins. Of course, the faster you are, the farther you can run in the allotted time. This particular race also had a relay. Relay teams of three people could take turns completing their laps.

Rebecca and I waited until the registered participants set out, and then we started our loop. Quiet Waters Park was very pretty, and we ran mostly on paved trails through the woods. There were some rolling hills, and one big hill that was very steep and uncomfortable to run down, as well as impossible (for me) to run up. On each loop we had to run down it, then a little while later, back up it.  From the trail we could catch a glimpse of the water, we ran by a dog park, a reflecting pool and some gardens. The trail also had a loop that took us past a demonstration of different composting techniques. This part of the trail was not on the race course, but Rebecca and I missed the sharp turn taking us away from the compost loop, so on our first lap we added about a half mile of distance. I wish I had taken photos along the course, but it was hot and I was focused on running.

We ran mostly on the light gray line indicating the bike trail

This was a beautiful summer day, but a bit hot to be running comfortably. We were happy that we could stop at our little camp to refuel and get some cold water from the cooler. After each loop I stopped the time on my Garmin and we sat down for a short breather. When it was time for Rebecca to turn around on our third loop, I was on my own to finish. It was getting hotter and I walked more. My goal was to put in 12 miles, so I wasn't too concerned with pace. Due to the loop being 4.1 miles and our detour to the composting area, the final distance on my Garmin was 12.86 miles. Goal = exceeded!

It was nice to sit down and drink a cold protein shake and eat a snack after I finished. My spot was just after the timing mats, so I saw friends (shout-outs especially to Kristen, Karen, Drew, Paul and Alan) come by at the end of each of their laps. It was nice to talk to folks and to hand out the juice pops, which were much appreciated on this hot day. I heard from several people that they were going much slower than normal due to the heat. Scot was affected by the heat as well, and I became his crew each time he came in for another lap. I also got to meet Jeremy at this race; he is one of the admins in my MCM Facebook group, and he was running the relay.

This race gives credit for a partial lap when the runners don't have enough time left on the clock to complete a full lap. As each runner headed out on what they figured would be their last lap, they picked up a small stake with a flag printed with their bib number. At the end of 6 hours, bullhorns would sound all around the course, and the runners would stake their flag in the ground where they finished. There were measurement flags at regular intervals to indicate the fractional mileage that each runner had run. The race crew would come through later logging the final lap distance for each runner's flag. Then, the runners had to walk back to the start/finish area, which could be up to a two mile walk, depending on where they finished in the loop.

Drew and I agreed to disagree

Scot had a two mile walk back. I started to pack up and load the car. We found each other on the road as I was moving the car closer to the finish to pick up the second load of gear. We went to the finish party, which had pretty good food, including veggie burgers (one of the race officials invited me to eat, even though I wasn't registered). There were also two huge sheet cakes to mark the 5th year of the race. The awards were hand-made ceramic bowls.

This was an interesting day. I'm glad I went along to do my training run. It was nice to run in this beautiful park, even if the weather was hot. It was great to see several Maniac friends, and to meet some new ones. It was good to run with Rebecca, as I would have otherwise been running alone. Finally, it was nice to finish my run and still have time to spectate and support the runners. I would consider doing this race as a registered participant in the future, as it was a well-organzed event put on by Annapolis Striders.

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