Distance runners are often advised to ‘expect the unexpected’ when toeing the line on race day. We’re told to not take anything for granted in training and to be cognizant to the possibility our bodies may not react according to plan. However, in some cases it’s not our muscles and joints that can throw us a curve ball mid-race, but other not previously forecasted factors which have the ability to discombobulate any runner. Enter enough road races and you’re bound to encounter something you probably did not predict prior to the race. Personally, I’ve got more than a few tales of mishap from road races, some of which I’ll share below.
Kinesio Tape Detachment
On a chilly day in October 2008, I stood ready to tackle the popular ‘Rattle Me Bones’ 5k road race in Ottawa, ON. Tightness in my lower left side prior to the race lead me to wrap some athletic tape around my upper left thigh to help stabilize the area. The wrap had not been secured properly enough and somewhere around kilometer two it literally began to unravel. Mid-race I had made several attempts times to completely unwind the tape from my leg. However, it had been wrapped in such a fashion where it could only come halfway undone without stopping to investigate further. So here I am with over 2.5k to go running full boar holding a foot and a half of athletic tape hanging between my hand and my leg. Luckily the tape didn’t unravel any further and I was able to run the last half comfortably looking like I was crazy. The proof is in the pictures. http://www.zoomphoto.ca/eventgallerysearch/10634/678/1/
Wrong Race and Frozen Feet
With temperatures colder than -30 Celsius, the Richmond Road Race in January 2011 was a day I’ll never forget. I arrived more than an hour before the gun was set to go off and thought I was well prepared to race and possibly win. Questionable decision number one came when I made the choice to go with a very thin pair of racing flats along with technical socks. Even doing my strides before the race I could tell my feet might become very uncomfortable throughout. Runners began to gather around the start line and I was scouting out familiar faces I could form a pack with. The race started and I could immediately tell I may have started with the 10k and not the 5k I had signed up for. I realized my fears had become reality after running a full kilometer at race pace only to see the 5km field getting ready to start. I decided to stop and race the 5k regardless. By this point, my toes were becoming numb and I knew in the back of my mind I was making a mistake, but not racing wasn’t an option. The race did not go very well; I fizzled out fairly early due to my accidental first kilometer and my feet weren’t responding properly from the cold. By the time I crossed the finish line – my feet and toes were completely numb. It didn’t take very long to realize I had frostbite. The next time I even felt my toes was over two months later.
Other Road Race Mishaps
Hintonburg Centennial 5K
-I was amongst the leaders and we were all led the wrong direction by a course marshall. Our group of three or four ended up at the finish line with the clock reading approximately “13:40” for 5k. It was either we all took a wrong turn or completely obliterated the course record.
National Capital 5K
-Coming around a blind corner I ran head on into a cyclist out for a gingerly ride. I fell down, had some choice words, and continued on my way.
The Kenya Run 5K
-The first year I ran this race I was forced to stop for traffic due to an incompetent course marshall, but was able to take the win regardless. The following year I was robbed of a victory due to a photo finish situation. I ended up finding out the guy who ‘beat me’ had signed up for the 10k but decided at the 5K turn-around he had gone out too fast.
Let Runner’s Feed know about YOUR craziest racing moments by chiming in on our Facebook page!
About the Author: Brett Bonisteel resides in Ottawa, Canada and trains with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club. Brett is a passionate fan of the sport of distance running and enjoys writing about the sport’s elites. He comes from a family of distance athletes and when they aren’t competing out on the roads, winning a fierce game of Jeopardy holds equal bragging rights.