Amateur Hour

For the first time in a number of years I ran a Thanksgiving Day race: the Hingham 5K Turkey Trot. It’s always gratifying to run a few miles before sitting down for the feast and football (well, with a 9:00 am Eucharist in between). It makes even the best yams taste that much better.

It’s also a great intergenerational community event — entire families run it together. Or at least it gives the family cook a few moments of peace while he/she shoves the rest of the family out the door for an hour. Alas, in my case I ran it alone since everyone in my house complained about the 7:30 am start time being too early.

The thing I’d forgotten about these Turkey Trots is that’s it’s amateur hour for runners. Warning: this next part will sound snobby to non-runners or non-experienced racers so you may want to skip over it. It has nothing to do with time — I ran it at a respectable but by no means blazing 8 minute-per-mile pace. Many experienced runners go faster and many go slower. But here are a few ways to tell you’ve got a slew of people not used to race etiquette and protocol:

1. Race numbers worn on the backs of shirts/jackets. At the finish line the lower half of the number gets ripped off by a race organizer in the shoots to determine place. Pinning it the back fouls up the post-race process.

2. People getting way overdressed. Sure it was a chilly 39 degrees yesterday but you don’t need an Eskimo parka. After 10 steps you’ll be overheated.

3. Walkers and slow runners beginning the race near the front of the starting line. These rolling road blocks make the first half-mile quite annoying.

4. People wearing the long sleeve Turkey Trot t-shirt that accompanied the registration. Act like you’ve been there before and never, ever race in cotton.

5. Kids filled with adrenaline racing past you as the gun goes off. It’s a rite of passage, of course, and that’s how they learn the value of pacing. You inevitably pass them as they start walking up the first hill.

6. Runners coming to a dead stop at the water station. Please keep moving or move off the course to enjoy your beverage.

Okay, you can start reading again. Sorry about that — just had to vent. I’m always glad to see so many people out getting some exercise and having fun. Hopefully next year they won’t make the same rookie mistakes. And hopefully I can get my boys to run with me next Thanksgiving.

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