IU Mini Marathon 2010

Rainy and hilly. That’s the most succinct statement I can make about Saturday’s IU Mini Marathon.

Save for one nasty hill on Winslow Road on the southern part of the old route, I have found the IU Mini to be an enjoyable race in past years. Affordably priced, appropriately-sized, and well-organized, with a scenic course, it has been a good all-around event. We missed last year’s IU Mini because we were attending the long-anticipated wedding of some good friends of ours, but we returned this year to find some disappointing changes.

I was prepared for a revised course. However, with so many turns, I had no hope of memorizing the route, which was almost exclusively on the campus of Indiana University. The campus is pretty nice, and there is some nice scenery, but the Winslow hill that I did not like had been replaced by seemingly endless ups and downs on twisty campus roads. The entirety of miles 2 and 3 were up one long hill that banked to the right, obscuring the view of the course ahead. I thought several times that surely the summit was approaching, only to disappoint myself. At one point, I spotted a cell tower and thought that would be at the top of the hill, but no, it kept going for another half mile. With the cloudy sky, I became disoriented a number of times, not knowing which direction I was heading. It helps me to have a general idea of where I am, in addition to simply knowing how many miles remain to go. Instead, I just followed the shoes in front of me the whole way and watched the miles tick by slowly on my watch. I was a bit disappointed that the southern, off-campus portion of the course was removed, because it passed a number of nice neighborhoods with friendly people holding their morning coffee mugs, waving at their friends, students, and family. Even on campus, the fraternity and sorority houses were dormant.

Emily and I were both left with the impression that this year’s race was thrown together at the last minute. I did not hear the announcement before the start of the race, because the loudspeakers were not facing the starting corrals, but they warned that due to the Easter weekend, they were short on volunteers, and that some of the water stops might be self-serve. I appreciated the warning, and I can certainly understand that many of the people who would otherwise volunteer would be with family instead. One wonders, then, why they chose to hold the race that weekend. I did not find the shortage of water stop volunteers to be problematic, as I brought my own water bottle, in keeping with my goal of reducing water cup waste. If I remember right, only one water table seemed especially short handed. Fortunately there was adequate course coverage by safety officers.

There were some mixups with registrations and bib numbers at packet pickup, no banners at the start and finish lines, no national anthem sung prior to the start, no medals for 5k finishers, and the goodie bags were empty, save for a white IU Mini t‑shirt. I mention these things not out of indignation, but because they were conspicuously absent this year, where previous years included these niceties. It just seems like there was more of a story behind all this besides a last minute shortage of volunteers.

So, the rain. We had kept an eye on the forecast, and were pretty confident that we would be able to finish before the rain came, and it wouldn’t be a lot of rain, at that. Not so. I do not remember exactly when it started, but probably only 45 minutes had elapsed. It rained progressively harder through the second half of the race. Of course, this was out of everyone’s control, and everyone pressed on. I escaped without any blisters, but one small nick from an adjacent toenail managed to dye my entire left shoe red because the rain helped spread the color. It vividly illustrated how well modern materials disperse moisture away from the skin. Two thorough washings with Simple Green the next day got the new shoes looking new again.

All told, the event was a mixed bag. We enjoyed visiting with friends, being together, and starting our little half marathon season, and we hope that next year’s IU Mini comes together as smoothly as it did for its first three years. Hopefully we will all be healthy enough to enjoy the 500 Festival Training Series 15k on Saturday and a long bike ride on the Cardinal Greenway in Muncie on Sunday. Next month we’ll have the Mini and the Geist Half marathons to look forward to!

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