|It was a bit windy.|
|Photo courtesy of Doug Bond at mile 51.|
After my fellow Bend resident (where I lived at the time) and ultra running superstar, Kami Semick, raised money for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation for last year's Comrades marathon, I was inspired to help her and the charity out this year. They support children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Southern Africa and have projects in the KwaZulu Natal Province where Comrades is set.
Given the extremely high rates of infection in South Africa and the many orphans resulting from this, I thought it'd be a great idea to help out. Therefore I've set up a justgiving site for UK residents who wish to donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/sharmanian/ as well as a donation website for anyone wanting to donate in dollars at: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/comradesTNF/comradesmarathon. Both these links also have more information about the work the charity does.
So rather than just dedicating my Comrades run to fundraising, I thought that all my big races this year could be used to raise awareness. And the traditional way to do this in the UK, particularly at the world's biggest fundraising event, the London marathon, is to run in a costume. I've already run the Napa Valley marathon this year dressed as Spiderman (see posting here) but I've never run an ultra in a restrictive costume. I didn't want to announce it too far in advance in case the unpredictable Bay Area weather was too nasty, but I did run yesterday's Miwok 100k (with 10,000ft of climbing) dressed as Elvis. This seemed like a good idea at the time, although it was actually a lot more annoying to run like that than I'd expected. Previously I've used the costume for marathons (see here), but the prospect of nine hours or more in the sun and hills was a completely different endeavor.
In short, the race was as fun and competitive as ever and I think I got a lot of unexpected smiles from runners and spectators alike who enjoyed my costume more than I did. It was meant to be more relaxed than a full race effort but running that far on that terrain will always take a toll and it was still a hard day's work. The costume was hot, caused some chaffing and the wig kept getting in my eyes, especially with the really strong winds on some of the higher points. But I had a great day out with old and new friends and had one of the best conversation starters possible for meeting new people.
Oh, and I heard the best line anyone's ever shouted out at me while in a costume. Seven miles into the race, back at the start area of Rodeo Beach was a guy dressed as a pirate. He said, "I may be the captain, but you're the KING!" Couldn't help but laugh at that one.
|The Golden Gate Bridge soon after sunrise.|
Full results are here and I managed a respectable 10th place while avoiding the hard running at the front. There's also a great video following the leaders here and it also includes a few seconds of interviewing me mid-run right at the end of the footage.
If this story entertained you or maybe even just made you think a bit about the effects of AIDS in a much poorer country, then please donate something. Every little helps. This year's Comrades will have a strong North Face (and other sponsors) team again from the US and UK and the others are also behind the charity. Also, please let me know your thoughts and comments.