A month or so ago, I saw that U.S. Road Running was offering medals for virtual races to celebrate national Talk Like A Pirate day which is tomorrow, September 19th. I got to thinking and it hit me; the Bolingbrook Fun Run Club would probably like a pirate themed event. I tentatively asked “who would do this if I set it up?” and a bunch of folks showed interest. The BFRC Run Like A Pirate 5K was launched.
After taking a look at the calendar, I chose to schedule the run on Wednesday, September 17th because I figured most people would not want to run on Friday night. And, because we were running, the event became Run Like A Pirate. If people wanted a medal, they could order one from US Road Runners and use our event to do their virtual race.
This is my race report from the “race director’s” perspective.
First, this wasn’t really a race. Sure some people are fast and someone came in first but the idea was to have fun. BFRC uses Meetup.com to announce our events to our members and as soon as I posted it, people started to RSVP “yes” and before I knew it, there were something like 35 people signed up bringing an additional 8 guests. Seriously? I thought five or six people would show up and we would have a nice little jaunt on the trail. This was turning into an event.
One afternoon, I happened to be out near the mall that has a Gordman’s in it. I had never been in the store and in fact, thought it was a furniture store. No, it is kind of a low end department store and had lots of interesting junk. To my surprise, I found two pirate nightlights and bought them to be costume prizes for Run Like A Pirate. So, I started advertising that we would have costume prizes. More people signed up.
Now, I am not a costume person. In fact, I think the last time I wore a Halloween costume was probably ten years ago. But, since I was setting this event up, I figured I had to at least make an attempt. This past Tuesday night, I was heading out to dinner with a friend and stopped at Party City. Luckily, since Halloween isn’t far off, the store was full of costume stuff. I didn’t want to spend much so I bought a cheap hat, bad teeth and an eye patch. My costume was born. Black tights, a white shirt, a bandana, a sash and an earring and I was set. I definitely looked like a second rate pirate but it was good enough.
What a glorious day yesterday turned out to be! The weather has been up and down the last couple of weeks but yesterday was perfect, not too hot, not too cold and beautifully clear. As I set off in my costume to plant the turn-around sign at the half way point, I couldn’t help but smile at our luck. And as people started to show up in their pirate costumes, I thought this is going to be fun.
Linda & Gladys Manning the Ship
Gladys, the club leader and Linda had volunteered to help me out and we quickly set up a table, started handing out bibs, collecting raffle tickets for later and socializing. The park we started from was pretty busy but we managed to have our little party in a fairly quiet corner. Adults were wandering around in pirate costumes and running clothes, sometimes both, children were brandishing homemade swords and teenagers were pretending not to have fun. Another club member, a professional photographer, was there to take pictures and people were hamming it up.
The funniest thing of the evening was when the Naperville Park District police showed up on a four wheeler and asked “do you have real swords?” We were like “what?” In fact, he had to ask a few times before we understood what he was asking. Uh, no…. we have little kids with sticks. Seriously? He didn’t even ask if a group of 42 people had any alcohol. We did not. But, that would have seemed more likely than real swords.
One thing I had not taken into account is that it is September and the sun is starting to set earlier and earlier. I was getting worried as 6:30 approached that the trail might get too dark. So right at 6:30 we called everyone to the starting line, gave a few words of wisdom like “stay to the right or you’re going to get hit by a bike”, “turn around at the turn around sign” and “have fun” and they were off! It was great to see the fast runners take off, the middle and the back of the pack continue to socialize as they ran and children running with their parents and grandparents. Many of us think of BFRC as family and this event felt like a family picnic on steroids.
While they were running, we discussed that since there were so many kids, we wouldn’t choose best costumes but just raffle off the two night lights, a water bottle, a Brooks water bottle, a Brooks toiletry set, Road ID certificates, a session with our photographer and a few other items. Then we waited for them to come in!
Our two fastest runners came in neck and neck in the 25 minute range. One of them managed to make that time while taking videos out on the trail, amazing! It’s always fun to watch the fast people do it. What they do doesn’t look like what I call running (get it?!)
After everyone was in, we had the raffle and sure enough one of the youngest kids quickly won one of the pirate night lights. He was excited and adorable carrying it around. I asked his mom if his sister was upset that she didn’t win anything and she said that his sister was more interested in the Pirate’s Booty. She was just happy eating that. Oh, to be little again. At the end of the night there was about a quarter of a bag left and after asking her mom, gave it to the little one. She was very pleased!
We also had a few new people attend last night. I hope we were welcoming. I know we tried to be.
As the evening ended and we packed up my car and Glady’s car, I think we could say well done. It’s funny how some events appeal to people and other events don’t. Who knew everyone wanted to run like a pirate?