They swerve all over the place. The old RD was big on packing a bunch of race into a small course.
I was having a lousy night. Trail running on a technical course in the dark isn't as much fun as the brochure would indicate. I should probably get a flashlight. I was toodling (yes, that's a technical trail term) along, looking for ribbons or markers or glowing squirrels or anything that might suggest I was on course. I was running the 10K, the shortest of three options. I am lazy.
The garmin was showing about 13-14 minute pace, which I was OK with. Spooky night through the woods, gazing at the moon and the occasional headlight in the distance. The night went on forever. The Garmin buzzed the 5 mile split. I went around the corner, and there was the finish line.
How could that be? This wasn't one of those goofy fun run courses where the course is measured with a jeep and a prayer. I had watched the RD measuring the course with a wheel early in the afternoon, adding a short out and back to get precisely 10K. And yet, on a 6.2 mile course on which I was averaging 14 minute pace, I had finished in just over an hour. What could have happened?
Oh, well. I was ready for it to end. No harm, no foul.
And then as I crossed the finish line, the worst thing happened. I was third in my age group. I was handed a hand-drawn painting of a bird made into an award. And it was dawning on me that I must have cut the course somehow.
I had cheated.
But then, it was too late. I wandered off, looking at the watch. Could it have been short and I was legit? Was everyone running the same course so it was OK? Was the Blair Witch Project an actual documentary?
In the end, I had two options, one of which would require talking to another human. I was tired. I am a recluse. I went home.
The award bugged me for years. I eventually set it free during one of our moving purges. I never looked to see who should have gotten it.
I've been reading about a woman who appears to have cheated on a series of 100 mile races. One jumps to the conclusion that it's intentional. But I guess I'm slow to jump on the bandwagon. Stuff happens out there on the trail in the dark. Wrong turns. Missed markers that you never even know you missed. You re-join the trail, none the wiser. Squirrels. Witches. Trail running is not for the sane.
Below is my garmin file for the Wild Hare 25K. I ran this race, but I have no idea what distance the Garmin showed. I may or may not have stayed on the course. I never saw s single wild hare.
I cheat. But I'm not a cheater.
I miss those Tejas trails ...
Have you ever accidentally cheated?