Monday, November 17, 2008
A great marathon in Sacramento (in spite of road-rage incidents)
Well, I finished the marathon. In fact, I ran the entire thing non-stop, and finished a lot more quickly than I expected. The route, along the American River, from Folsom to Sacramento, was quite beautiful. I've run two other marathons but have never seen deer charge across the route, or Canada geese flying overhead while honking their heads off. If you've never seen this part of California, you really ought to check it out. In fact, this marathon was so enjoyable that at one point, I even thought to myself, "What a great time. I don't want this to end.'' The only bummer was the road-rage incidents that started coming up about ten miles into the course. Often, when there's a marathon, the organizers arrange to close off the course. For this reason, veteran runners get into the habit of spreading out and using the entire road. In this case, the marathon course was open to other use during the race,. Bicyclists love this pathway, and justifiably so; it's a smooth, scenic ride all the way from Folsom to Sacramento. The vast majority of the riders were just out there having a good time. Most were incredibly supportive and kind. But things got sketchy when a few rogue elephants on wheels decided to take out their aggression on the runners. After seeing another runner get screamed at for straying too far towards the right lane, I obeyed the rules and stuck very closely to the left shoulder of the road. The trouble is, aggro bicyclists started buzzing into the left side of the road, too. One of them shouted "WAKE UP!!!'' at me and some other runners -- right while we were hitting the wall at mile 24 or so, making it rather hard to "wake up.'' I also overheard two bicyclists screaming obscenities at other runners -- some who had strayed into the wrong lane, others who were running squarely on the left side of the road. I didn't feel like having an altercation in the middle of a marathon, so at one point I moved off the paved area and stuck to the dirt path to the left of the route --- only to get scolded by a man pushing a baby stroller and telling me to stick to the "bike path.'' This was quite confusing -- considering that the bike path was the appointed, official route of an inaugural marathon! I would guess (very strongly) that there is a rather intense, pre-existing 'use conflict' situation on that bike path that precedes the marathon. Anyhow, I managed to finish the race and had a great time anyhow. I just hope that runners and bicyclists can share roads in the future. There is enough division in this world without recreational sports enthusiasts bagging on each other.