Monday, August 15, 2011

Moonlight Half Marathon Review 2011

I was excited to run the Mapleton Moonlight Half Marathon because it was so different from any other race I’ve done. There were no watches allowed and the winner was the person who finished closest to midnight. I’ll be honest; when I pulled into Mapleton I was skeptical about promises of a big party at the finish line. I wondered how the dozen residents of Mapleton (okay, maybe a few more than that) could make this into an event.

I was scheduled for the first bus to the starting line leaving at 8:00pm. The bad part about this was more time waiting at the starting line. The good part was absolutely no lines at the port-o-potties. There was a huge field surrounded by beautiful mountains where the runners waited at the starting line. (Yep, bright vests were required.)

It was so strange to not have a starting time for the race! On the arch of the starting line you could see what time it was, and runners could start whenever they wanted. Remember – the race isn’t timed and you want to finish at midnight.

I had a potentially catastrophic wardrobe malfunction: I LEFT MY HEAD LAMP IN MY SUITCASE AT HOME!!!! I am OCD about this kind of stuff. I don’t do dumb things like this! I could have gone Chuck Norris on myself. Thankfully they had free headlamps at the packet pickup. This was my salvation. I restrained my inner Walker, Texas Ranger.

It was so funny to watch runners as they caught the urge and decided to dart past the starting line. Everyone was a little apprehensive, not wanting to start too soon or too late.

I love this picture which I think was so symbolic of the race. At some point you have to leave the light and safety of the starting line and enter the unknown and darkness in front of you. I suppose that’s true for every race, even if it’s not in the dark.

I started the race a little after 9:30pm, planning to take it easy and just have fun. At the first mile marker I heard someone’s watch beep. I considered going Chuck Norris on them with my enormous muscles but restrained myself. It was a unique challenge to take race pictures in the dark. I couldn’t pass up a chance at a sunflower.

For some reason I never quite got into a groove for this race. Maybe it was all the junk food I had eaten earlier in the day. I never felt out of breath and nothing on me was hurting. I just felt like a slug. I felt like I was trying to run a half marathon in a swimming pool. As a wise man once said, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” I felt like my body decided to fold them at about mile two. I did enjoy running under a full moon:

I ran some parts of the race by myself but soon joined a group of runners that looked like a millipede of glow sticks ahead of me. Runners were given lots of glow sticks at the starting line and it was awesome to see colored glow sticks weaving through the dark.

I had no idea how close I was to midnight as I neared the finish line. It was cool that you had to cross under the finish arch and then you could turn around to see what the time was when you finished. This is what I saw!

I couldn’t believe I was so close to midnight! 11:58:50pm. I was only one minute and ten seconds too fast! This is as close as I will ever come to winning a race. And then one minute later midnight arrived. And guess what happened…….FIREWORKS!

When was the last time you finished a race and then had fireworks go off? Never? Yea, me too. I was really impressed. I was also really happy to be done.

I immediately realized that I was wrong about my skepticism about a party at the finish line. There were lots of people hanging out, music playing, and some of the best food I have laid my hands on at a finish line. They had bananas, watermelon, chocolate milk, ice cream sandwiches, pizza, and the most amazing chocolate brownies that have ever entered my mouth. These brownies were seriously insane in the membrane. Forget medals, just give finishers lots of these brownies.

During the race I promised myself that I’d stop and get a Slurpee on the way home if I made it to the finish line. So at 1:30am I pulled into 7-Eleven and there was a guy throwing up all over the sidewalk. He just kept going and going. Previously I would have told you that nothing in this world could make a Slurpee seem less appealing. But I found something that made a Slurpee a little less appealing: walking past a puddle of barf to get your Slurpee.

The Moonlight Half Marathon was a fun experience. My only suggestion for next year would be to make the medal in the shape of a brownie.

“In running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.”
~ Glenn Cunningham


  1. That's a very cool race concept! Good job being so close to midnight. :-)

  2. I was going to suggest the same medal idea!
    What a race concept! Like nothing I've ever seen. Nice job!

  3. So you were that close to midnight, and you weren't the winner? That's pretty amazing to get that close without having a watch on. Nice work. I think a midnight half marathon would be a lot of fun.

    Hey, I've got a picture that you'll love, and I'll post it today on my race report from yesterday.

  4. Sounds like such a fun race. I think I.would have passed on the slurpee though!!

  5. seriously amazing!!!!! i am so sad that I did not run this race after reading your recap...such a different and unique race but all that makes it so fun and exciting. did AWESOME!!!!!! congrats on getting so close to midnight! Second, the medals, the food, that BROWNIE, the fireworks...I just can't get enough of this race!!! wow. okay...i may have to put this one on the calendar for next year ;)

  6. Awww this sounds so fun and I am totally running it next year. I cannot believe you were so close to midnight! Nice work! I am sure I would have been so far off.

    I am glad you got your pizza & brownie, and the slurpee. :)

  7. First of all, that sunflower picture is AMAZING! So beautiful.

    Love this recap...and want that brownie! :)

  8. What an awesome race! Running at night feels like floating (even if you're in a slug-like state).

  9. Yup, those brownies were delicious! What I thought was cool was watching other runners come past you and they looked like they had no heads. Just glowing vests and glow sticks. Very surreal. Thanks for suggesting this race. It was totally different than any race we've done.

  10. What an amazing race--what a cool idea! Congrats on making it so close to midnight. What could be better than finishing a marathon and having fireworks go off a minute later?!

  11. I love the race concept! And any race that gives out iced brownies wins major points in my book!

  12. This race sounds awesome! I love this idea. You were so close to midnight!

  13. WOW! This race looks incredible!!! I would do it just for the after party!! Holy cow...practically all of my favourite foods all at the same time!! Those brownies look heavenly! Perfect side to a slice of pizza :)

    I cannot believe how close you were to midnight! Unreal!

  14. That sounds like the coolest race ever!! My husband would love to do something like that!!! As long as I had someone to run with I would be ok. Congrats on your race!!

  15. Oh Those brownies... I wonder where they got them, I could make the drive there for them.... good job you were way close I finished at 11:54, don't know the seconds...

  16. Happy to report to you that you can get the brownies at any Magleby's restaurant. I believe they call it their "Famous Chocolate Cake". I volunteer for the race and never leave until I've sneaked my own piece.....don't tell. So glad you liked our race!

  17. I loved reading about your comments from the race. I am one of the organizers of the race and the proceeds go towards Mapleton trail system. It is a great fundraiser for the city. We appreciate all those who helped make the run a success! See you next year!

  18. Sheesh, why didn't you slow down when you saw the clock?? Walk backwards or start zig-zagging! :) That race looks really fun...I'd so be all over that race - minus the puke getting a Slurpee at the end!