A week late but here is my post-race report from my trip to Olathe, Kansas for the Garmin Wickedly Fast Half Marathon. I had heard about the race from Team Wil-Sun. A race in Kansas called “Wickedly Fast” and with a Wizard of Oz theme just sounds like fun.
I got to Olathe a couple days before the race so I had time to drive around and more importantly learn how to pronounce Olathe (oh-LAY-thuh), which is a Shawnee Indian word for “beautiful.” Nothing says “visitor” more than butchering the local town’s name.
I cruised by the Garmin headquarters where my running watch, a Forerunner 220, was born. It must be a good watch – the woman who won the Boston Marathon was wearing the same model. The race started and ended at the Garmin headquarters.
I woke up race morning and caught myself humming “Over the Rainbow” in the shower. I never sing or even hum in the shower but I was getting into the mood for a race through Oz. Even the weather was getting in the mood. It was cloudy with high winds and thunderstorms expected later in the morning. I was going to need to run fast to avoid the bad weather.
Although I don’t wear costumes for races, there were plenty of people who did. There were lots of women (and even a man) dressed as Dorothy – complete with ruby red running shoes. It was fun to see groups of runners in costumes – each dressed as a different character – Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch (complete with green face paint). I even saw someone dressed as the yellow brick road – wearing a cape with gold bricks (sorry no photo of that, I only caught the back of her as she headed into a port-a-potty). What I don’t understand is why no one dresses up as Auntie Em. She was an important character in the story too. But I have to admit, if you don’t dress right for that, you could be mistaken for Anthony Perkins dressed as his mother in “Psycho.”
There were several pace groups at the start for both the full and half marathon races. I have never seen the pace group leaders all bunched up like they were. It would be a real shock to think you were with the 2:40 half marathon pace group when it was really the 2:40 marathon pace group.
There wasn’t much in the way of course entertainment but that didn’t really bother me. Garmin had lots of funny signs along the course that kept me amused. I found myself stopping to take pictures of them to share with you. As a result, my time suffered. I probably could have finished 10-15 minutes sooner if I had just focused on running.
Typically in a race, I will pick another runner out of the crowd and gauge how I am doing relative to them. A guy dressed as a scarecrow passed me early in the race. I figured that I would never see him again. Much to my surprise, I caught up to him around Mile 10. It had been raining for a while and the rumbles of thunder had started. He was a pretty soggy scarecrow by then. I was able to keep him in my sights and then passed him around Mile 12. I was satisfied that I wasn’t going to get beat by a scarecrow.
But this scarecrow wasn’t a push over. I was surprised when I looked over my shoulder in the last 0.1 mile to see the scarecrow gaining on me. When he came up along side me, I yelled “I’m not getting beat by a scarecrow!” and then tried to pick up my pace. Unfortunately, the scarecrow heard me; he had more kick left than I did. The announcer at the finish line saw what was happening between me and the scarecrow and commented on the obvious battle for the finish. In the last 10 yards, he blew by me and crossed the finish line. We were both laughing over our competition at the end. The scarecrow gave me a high five and told me that I kicked too early or I would have beaten him. No matter. It was a fun way to end the race.
Between the costumed runners and the weather, it was a pretty authentic Oz experience. The only things that I think they could do to make it better would be if Garmin projected something on their building to make it look like the Emerald City and had a hot air balloon outside. I wouldn’t mind running that race again just to see how fast I could go.
There are many versions of “Over the Rainbow” but my favorites are the ones by Eva Cassidy and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a famous Hawaiian singer also known as Iz. In case you have never heard Iz’s version, watch this video. Iz died at age 38 and at the end of the video are scenes from his traditional Hawaiian funeral.