04 October 2008


In 24 hours and 15 minutes the gun will sound and we’ll start our Wineglass odyssey from Bath to Corning NY. I’m hoping it will be just a few degrees warmer than it is at the moment. I’m camped at my sister’s place nearby, and dawn broke with frost and 33 tiny little degrees, maybe fewer. If not for the cozy hoodie, the warm laptop on my legs at the moment (a real incentive to blog at a time like this) and the purring cat beside me, it might be downright unpleasant.

I spent last evening pouring over course maps – both the published one and, heres a hint, the one posted on the USATF web site for certification purposes. If you don’t know a course and it is USATF certified, I recommend this little extra effort (use this link to find a USATF certified course). In some cases, and this is one of them, you can get a lot of insight into little details through this not-well-known alternate source.

When I get up the gumption, I’ll venture out for my last 3-4 mile shakedown. No, I didn’t think to pack the tights or a decent hat. That first mile will be a… you know. Then it’s off to the expo and to go scout the course, with the expertise of my native guides sis and her companion Phil.

To be continued, later today…

Later Today…

Those were indeed **** cold miles. But after 10 minutes, the heater started working, and by the time I was done I was warmer than I’d been since emerging from under the cat (and the covers).

When the sun was high, we trundled off to downtown Corning for packet pickup and the expo. And the sun was high, the day gorgeous, a perfect blue sky speckled with perfect puffy clouds, virtually no wind. The folks running the outdoor expo – really just one vendor – certainly appreciated it. I made my move to clear out the $5 rack.

Inside, at the packet distribution, the promised split of wine (this is after all, the Wineglass Marathon) looked a little less than appealing, but only a crank of the screw cap will tell. Unique to this race are bibs with the timing chip built in. It’s nice that you don’t have to tie anything to (and later remove from) your shoe, but it makes the bibs a bit stiff. Could make for some sore…you know. Sadly, no Wineglass stuff sized for the kids back home…*snif*

Then off to Bath via the freeway, to the starting line, and the start of our course scoping odyssey. Bath is a fine small town, wide avenues, stately homes, and of course it all looks grand on a sunny day, which tomorrow promises also to be once the icicles clear from our eyebrows.

Emerging from Bath there’s actually a bit of an upgrade, not that you’ll care at the scale involved or the location in the course. Then, basically nothing for several miles, which could prove a bit tedious, but again, early on we’ll probably be bunched a bit and hopefully have some goof chat going on. Through Savona the course turns off the main drag and becomes delightfully rural to and past the halfway point in Campbell (pronounced CAMPbell, not CAM-bell, I’m told by my native guide Phil!). One small rise past Campbell and a few railroad crossing “insult humps” comprise most of the elevation change, save one odd steep drop into a park later on, just past 21.

A brutal stretch paralleling the interstate leads into the populated zone, bringing some needed distraction as the miles grow long. A few pleasant neighborhoods where hopefully the locals will be aware of the event and provide some support, a mile on a rail trail with a somewhat unique and odd bridge tunnel combination under the freeway, and rapidly the final miles approach. The course needs a few odd winds and turns to gain the distance, then the final turn onto Centerway in Corning.

Every course has its signature moment, and for this one, it’s the finish, crossing the Chemung River, famed for wiping this town out in 1972 courtesy of Hurricane Agnes (I lived in upstate NY then, I recall it well). A new bridge was built around 1980, and the original now serves as a broad pedestrian promenade, and probably a home-stretch cheering zone. A slight rise leading onto the bridge could provide an opportunity for a last minute challenge – if I’m of that mindset by that time – then it’s all out to the end off the bridge, where Riverfront Centennial Park and hopefully a cold beer awaits.

Piece of cake. So long as I wake up on time, of course!

Well, it is a very flat course in my New England tainted view, but like any marathon, you just never know till the gun goes off. If I have a good day, I’ll shoot for a 2:anything. If I have an average day, 3:oh-anything (which is pretty amusing since one year ago today my PR was 3:14…). And if I just have a day, well, we’ll go for a nice run on a nice day, hopefully finish in one piece – always a goal of any marathon – and say we had a nice time. In the end, while it’s nice to turn in a solid time, or even have that golden day and burn a PR, the joy of the day is the adventure, the gorgeous fall tour through a beautiful valley in my old home turf, and just plain having a nice run.

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