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Sep 29 / Jane

Half-Wit Half Marathon 2014

A $34 trail half marathon in the middle-of-nowhere, PA with a hilarious description on a warm August weekend. What’s not to like? Did I mention it was only $34?? Their website describes the race as follows: “The Half Wit Half is perhaps Pretzel City’s tuffest race. Type A’s love it because finishing it is quite an accomplishment. Others not as competitive love it because finishing it ALIVE is quite an accomplishment (versus on the back of a horse drawn cart with us yelling “bring out the dead”).” Seriously, read the rest here.

Before race day, I was able to convince Gwen to run it with me. Yay, someone to help me navigate the “smorgasbord of rocks and roots, single, double and triple track trails, uphills that are bad and downhills that are worse, fallen limbs from both trees & those ahead of you, and even urban decay such as the legendary “120 Steps from Hell”.” I couldn’t wait, especially after my friend Brad’s ringing endorsement: hardest half ever. Issy and Dan had also previously run it and vowed never again. Well, at least it would be good training for the Spartan Trifecta, right?

Right! Gwen and I arrived early enough for a prime parking space. She finished her coffee and I stocked my CamelBak with Shot Bloks and a Chia Bar. I visited the bathroom twice, once waiting behind a very familiar talkative face… (more on that later). Then we walked down the road to the start where we recited the “Half Wit Oath” prior to the gun.

We’d planned to just take it easy, enjoy this as a fun run and have a beer at the finish! Well, it turns out, technical trail races with 2000+ ft elevation change really aren’t that fun. It was hot, and while the trails were shaded, it was a very demanding run. We took a lot of walking breaks, making up some time on the downhills. Thankfully, the race directors figured we may be doing this and provided some entertainment en route. Twice I saw “Poetry for Half Wits” on separate signs up steeper inclines. The following is one of the poems:

Roses are Red
…Roses are Red.
You could have stayed in Bed
You must have been dropped on your Head
Because you’re Here instead.
What were you thinking?

Yup. Then we came to a stop at approximately 10 miles, and in addition to a water station, there was a beer station. I had a sip of water then headed around on the loop, destined to be back at this same station at mile 12. I ran ahead of Gwen, thinking I’d have a beer and wait for her there. I had two beers and discovered that familiar face in the bathroom earlier was a teammate from my college cross country team! Sad to say it’d been that long, I didn’t recognize her right away. We chatted and she drank. There was a competition at this beer station. Volunteers were keeping track of how many cups of beer (Yuengling) each participant drank and the 1st and 2nd male and female who finish the race in under 3 hours would win a prize (provided they can walk to the podium to claim their prize…).

Gwen had a sip of my beer then we continued on the final mile to the finish. It was an uphill climb, we hopped a guardrail, then finished on the grassy lawn outside the beer garden. My finish was 3:02:12. Slowest. Half. Ever.

All smiles now that it's over!

All smiles now that it’s over! (Yes, I know my hair is sticking up.)

We gorged on post-race snacks, watched the awards, and exhausted, made our way home. I think both of us were a little shocked by our performance in the woods. I had an idea what I was getting myself into, but it was hard. Very hard. I’m not sure trail running is for me. I suppose I should take that half-wit oath seriously next time. 😉

Post race entertainment... Unfortunately not as good as Uber Hans.

Post race entertainment… Unfortunately not as good as Jack Nicholason Uber Hans.

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