Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monumentally Cold

Saturday morning I went downtown to assist as a volunteer for the 4th Annual Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. The finish line was set up in the shadow of the Indiana State Capitol Building. I reported to the coordinator then was assigned to unpack, unwrap and hang the participants' medals on racks for distribution later. There were about a dozen of us working to prepare the medals for the half-marathon (13.1 miles), which seemed to have the most entrants. The medals for that race were red, for the Marathon (26.2 miles) blue, while the ones for the 5K participants were black. All together, there were about 10,000 entrants.

The morning was cold, in the 30s, and when I looked up at the dark sky I could still see stars twinkling; it would be a while before the sun rose and drove them into hiding, warming up the day. As we unwrapped the medals, our fingers got a bit stiff with cold and I wondered how it would be for the runners. While many were dressed for the weather, still others actually only wore singlets and shorts.

When we'd completed our tasks with the medals, I was sent farther down the line where I was assigned to clip and collect the timing chips from the runners' shoes after they had crossed the finish line. While there were points during the morning I barely looked up from thousands of shoes needing to have the chip removed, they were all attached to lovely, considerate people who came in all sizes, shapes and ages. I was very happy to note the number of middle-aged and older women who'd completed the marathon; not only were they pleased with their own achievements, but they enjoyed the success and camaraderie of their friends, as well. 

A lot of people after completing their race had to really concentrate to lift their foot so I could clip the plastic string. I believe the youngest participant I met was a five-year-old girl who ran the 5K race with her dad while the oldest may have been a man around eighty. 

The first finishers across the line this morning were the participants in the one-third mile Kids' Fun Run. Two of the proud contestants are shown - a young man posing for his mom as she took his picture with his medal, and the pretty girl below, on her way to collect her medal, accompanied by her father. 

The finishers below show the extremes in the participants' wardrobe choices for the race. Temperatures started off in the thirties and capped off in the fifties, feeling much warmer in the sun than not. 

The blue mats behind the runner contain sensors which recorded each participant's finishing time. Another set of mats at the start had earlier recorded their start times, picking up a signal from the chips attached to the runners' shoes. 

The runner below has made a lifetime commitment to his sport. Earlier, I saw a young man who had a drawing of a winged running shoe tattooed on his calf, also including flames. While I am not a tattoo "person," for some reason I found both attractive. Hmm. Maybe it was the lean young men who bore them. 


dive said...

Wow, what a magical day! Yay you for giving your time to help out such a fantastic event. Ten thousand shoe tags to unclip must have been murder on the backs and knees of you volunteers. I hope all those lean young men appreciated your efforts.

Meghan said...

How interesting about the time chips. Everything is so high tech nowadays.

Speedway said...

Hi, Dive! I was looking for something to do which was different. It was fun and I met an awful lot of nice people including, and especially, the runners. Of course, being nasty takes a whole lot more energy than being nice, so maybe everyone was trying to conserve what little they had left! :-)

Hello, Meghan! Thank you for stopping by at SDP. The chips are recyclable, so the organizers tried to get as many back as possible. Some races charge for non-returned chips, but not this one. I found out different kinds of chips are available - some can be programmed for split times, with timing sensors laid out at various timepoints along the course, while others even have GPS. Years ago, when I ran my first half-marathon, my race time was actually 8 mins. faster then what I was credited with because I'd crossed the start line 8 mins after the gun went off. As slow as I was, it wasn't a big difference to me, but would be of importance to those people who're trying to better their personal times or who hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon and need an "official time" to get in.

Anonymous said...

The half marathon is, of course 13.1 miles. Because the Monumental Marathon counts gun time instead of real time (i.e. chip time) from start line to finish line, we do not participate in it.

Speedway said...

Hi, Alison. Ooops! Fat finger syndrome sneaking in. Fixed it. Having done 2 or 3 of the Minis, you'da thought I'd have noticed the error. Thanks. How're you?