I had 16 miles on my schedule for Sunday and made plans to join my friend Ty for 12 of those miles. I knew that once Ty was done running, I would also want to stop running, so I headed to the park early to get a few miles done before she got there.
I managed to squeeze in about 2.5 miles on my own and then it was time to start a huge 12 mile loop around town that Ty had created. I have been running all of my long runs alone and had forgotten how quickly the miles pass with good company.
We were about 5 miles into our route when we noticed something strange. There was a bike with some flashing lights just sitting in the middle of the trail (paved multi-use trail) and a few feet behind the bike was a hoard of people. What is going on, we wondered. And then it dawned on us, there was a race starting and they were about to start running towards us!
We kind of laughed about it and hopped off the trail into the grass so the racers could pass unimpeded. I recognized Cam, from the Donut Dash wall of fame, and offered some encouragement as he sprinted by. It was a fairly small race so once all the runners had passed we got back on the trail and kept running.
Except the trail was still filled with bib-wearing runners who instead of running toward us, were now running with us! Apparently the race offered two distances that started in the same spot, but left in opposite directions. Had we known this in advance, we would have chosen a different route, but alas here we were in the thick of a race.
Fortunately it was a small race and when the opportunity to leave the course appeared we took it. I thought that would be the end of it, but our route and their course ended up overlapping a few more times before separating completely. We did our best to stay out of way of other runners and did not take advantage of any of the aid stations or closed roads (we stayed on the sidewalk). We even told the race photographer she didn’t need to photograph us.
And that is the story of how I accidentally bandit-ed a race. I guess I need to start checking for events when mapping out runs. Has anyone else ever accidentally found themselves in the middle of a race?