Race Reports Doug Theis on 08 Dec 2010 08:39 am
Dino Series‘ Tecumseh Trail Marathon is a tough race. 26.2 miles of trails through the hills of South Central Indiana. December weather. Frequently changing conditions. Team Ragged Glory members Steve Kincade, Nancy Gawrys and I (Doug Theis) made the decision to run it together and give it our best. We even laughed about bringing our on-foot towing system that we use in adventure races so we could have a little fun with some of the other racers.
In the days leading up to the 2010 Tecumseh, Nancy had to bow out because of a scheduling problem. And the weather forecast became threatening. The temperatures looked like they would hold steady at around 30 degrees. The weatherman called for 2-4″ of snow and sleet starting at 8am, 2 hours before race time.
Steve and I talked the night before the race about what we should do. We decided to make the decision the morning of the race. Neither one of us was thrilled with the weather forecast. I was especially worried about getting cold and wet. Since the race is a point-to-point, there isn’t much chance to bail out if you get in trouble.
On Saturday morning at 5am, the sleet/snow combination was falling steadily. The radar looked like it would be a full day of precipitation. If Steve wasn’t running, it would have been over right then for me. The bed was nice and warm. We could stay in Indy and run with Nancy early, then help her with her move. I was assembling a sophisticated list of reasons to skip the race.
But I called Steve, and he was willing to do it, and guilt is a powerful thing. So Steve picked me up and we drove down to the finish line at Yellowwood Lake to check in and board the buses for the start line. The roads were slick but passable. The snow and sleet were steady, and as always, looked a lot worse from the inside of a warm vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour.
We got to Yellowwood and checked in. Brian Holzhausen of Dino announced that the roads were too treacherous for the buses. This development transformed the race into an out-and-back on the south half of the course. This is the hillier half of the Tecumseh trail. I got a little comfort from the idea of being able to bail out or turn back early, once again planning how I could quit. I decided to carry a pack and take extra clothing to better protect against the cold.
We saw many adventure racing buddies at the start line: Eric Henricks, fellow TRG member, many of his Team Tenacious partners, Phil and Kim McNealy, and Angelia Kniesly were all there. The gun sounded and were were off.
The sleet had fallen for a couple of hours before the race. It caused the snow to stick to the trees. The course looked like something from a story book. The first section was narrow single track, so we were able to run with our faster friends until the trail opened up. the pine forest at the north end of the trail was looked like a painting in a museum.
The course was soft and surprisingly dry. Aid stations seemed plentiful and a few had hot drinks. Fig newtons and Cheezits tasted like steak and lobster. And although it was a little dicey when the leaders turned around and created two-way traffic, the decision to make the course an out-and-back was the right call. The turnaround seemed to come quickly. Halfway done, we headed south to complete the course.
Steve and I finished in 6 hours 15 minutes. I would guess we walked about 55-60% of the course, including most of the uphill and much of the last four miles. Crossing the finish line with Steve was awesome. I’m proud to have completed it. This was my second longest on-foot event ever, and the experience was beautiful and amazing.
Afterward, I told Steve that I would’ve never showed up if he wasn’t there. He said likewise. The power of a team is that 1 plus 1 equals more than 2. A person could have no finer teammate and friend that Steve Kincade.
I wasted a ton of worry on this race. It reminds me of Mark Twain’s quote: “There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened.”
I carried a pack with extra clothes that I never used. I would do it again. The extra weight was worth the peace of mind that I was prepared if conditions changed or if one of us got in trouble.
I can do nearly anything when I’m on a team.