I am not a big fan of running in the rain. I know many runners who think running in the rain is wonderful. Not me. After running in the cold rain along the coast of New Hampshire in the Smuttynose Half, I had my fill of wet races. But fate had other plans for me when I traveled to Newport, Rhode Island for a race two weeks ago.
The day I arrived the sun was out and the temperatures were in the 60s. Really pleasant fall weather. I wandered around town, looking at the unique architecture of the late 1700s buildings. I peaked inside the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I stumbled upon an Italian Festival and enjoyed some home-made baked goods. Newport was going to be a lovely place to run a race.
The beautiful weather disappeared the night before the race when it started to rain. I came prepared for any weather but this wasn’t just a little drizzle. It was a downpour. I wore my garbage-bag coat in a vain attempt to stay warm and dry while I waited for the race start. Another runner mentioned to me she picked this race instead of the Smuttynose Half because it always rains for the Smuttynose race. Looking at the downpour outside the shelter where we were huddled, she laughed. I don’t think it is easy to avoid rain in New England in October.
Across from me I noticed a guy who had plastic grocery bags on his feet. That was a trick I had never seen before. He explained the bags were tied and secured at the ankles with rubber bands. At the start of the race, he planned to take the bags off so he could start the race with dry feet. It was a good idea. But with the heavy rains and ponding on the roads, it wasn’t going to take long for his feet to be as wet as mine.
The Newport Half Marathon might have been one of the most beautiful race courses I have seen. I say “might have been” because I didn’t get to enjoy the scenery. I was more focused on avoiding the puddles, some that covered the entire road. The stormy weather didn’t give us good views of the ocean either. The wind picked up as we ran along the coast, turning merely wet runners into cold wet runners. And there is plenty of wind in Newport – great if you are a sailor, not so great for runners.
The course took us past stunning mansions built in the 19th century for rich industrialists. We could catch glimpses of them behind the iron gates and high walls that surrounded them. On a sunny day it would have been breathtaking to stop and take pictures as we ran by. I was more focused on finishing the race and getting into a hot shower. Lest you think I am a whiner, let me quantify how much rain there was – over an inch of rain fell during the race alone, and in the entire 24-hour period, they had 2 inches.
I would love to go back to Newport. There are plenty of sights I didn’t have time to visit. As I ran, I saw scenery that I would have loved to photograph but I was trying to keep my cellphone dry and in my pocket. When I plan my next visit, I will check the weather forecast before I go.