Hardrock took a toll on me. For a week afterwards I thought I was fine, but several attempts at big days of running and climbing batted me down, and I was relegated to a week at home on the couch. The rest did me good, and by the time I came up to Salt Lake I was excited to race again, so I decided to sign up for the Wobble.
The Wasatch Wobble, of course, is the premier event at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow held every summer in Salt Lake. Though just a 5k, it features some of the most difficult terrain anywhere. And by ‘anywhere’, I mean in the immediate area. I had a special stake in the Wobble this year, as I was named in the course literature as the official ‘Course Marker’, meaning the quality of the run was up to me. With this weighing on me, I went up to the run area with Montrail athlete guy Byron Pittam the evening before the race to figure out, measure and mark the course. Lacking a GPS or wheel or any other kind of measuring device, we instead used a technique called “estimation”, wherein we winged it and hoped for the best. Two hours and a few dead ends later we had what probably would have been a 1.5 mile course, which we called good and promptly went to dinner. The Wobble was on.
At 5:30 am the next morning I got to the course, ran it to make sure the markers were good and added another mile or so. From the top of the first hill I saw two buses pull up and dump out several thousand people (“estimation”), and this put the terror of disaster into me. Suddenly I had proof that A LOT of people were relying on me for an enjoyable run, and I had made almost no effort to do them justice. All at once I understood every race director I have ever talked to, and the terrible weight of responsibility that sits on their shoulders for months before a race. In that one moment I became an adult.
Fortunately, all the adults who had showed up for the run were doing their best to be children. The theme was “Keep It Wild” and the costumes ranged from Byron’s tarzan suit to a guy in a turkey suit to Max King just wearing his three-year-old son’s halloween costume on his head. I lined up with everyone and when the gun went off I sprinted onto the course. Right off the bat a guy in snowboard boots with way too much chest showing dashed ahead and took the lead. Four kittens locked arms and started throwing elbows. Krissy Moehl had forgotten a costume, but she made up for it by beating people with sticks. Byron wasn’t even running, but kept jumping out of the bushes and biting people anyway. I tried to keep up, but too many underhanded attacks from all sides put me out of competition early. I instead just did my best to get to the finish. And the winner? A cheetah. From the zoo, I believe.
All in all, the Wobble went off splendidly. Nobody died this year, and crowd participation was at an all time high. The awards were handed out by Wilbur the Weptile, and everyone in the crowd was psyched to get shwag from our sponsors, like (plug alert) Drymax socks, Jetboil and Princeton Tec. We were even voted second best “footrace-associated-with-OR”, meaning we should be able to get a little more funding next year for medical purposes. If you’re interested in coming out for the next Wobble, we’ll be holding it in January at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at 1:00 am at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon. See you there!