Just for the record … we weren’t actually running WITH any cows, despite the clever title of this half-marathon race. This was not like the running of the bulls, or anything risky like that.
Nevertheless, Running With The Cows earns high marks for marketing creativity, managing to attract thousands of runners to an otherwise nondescript stretch of rural roads for an enjoyable half marathon near Bucyrus, Kan., on May 10 (yes, this race report is over a month late). This was a fun race, mostly because of the before-and-after amenities rather than the course itself.
I arrived at the race expecting to enjoy myself. I figured that the folks who organized such entertaining videos and Twitter posts would likely host a fun event, and I figured right. I wasn’t thrilled to learn that the parking was some distance away, along the side of the street. But I have to admit I was impressed with the fleet of school buses that carried runners to the start. I didn’t have to wait for a bus to arrive, and the bus volunteers – like all of the volunteers at the event – were friendly and helpful.
A group of elementary children singing the national anthem was a nice touch at the starting line.
If you like rural roads that wind through pastures, you’d enjoy this out-and-back course. It wasn’t as flat as I thought it would be. I managed to stay with my 1:35 pace group until we hit an especially long hill near the half-way point. I started to fall behind, and never caught back up.
There were plenty of aid stations … really, more aid stations than needed, but who’s going to complain about that? My only complaint about the race is that it was often difficult to determine whether I was reaching for water or Gatorade at an aid station. At the first few stations, I was looking for Gatorade but could only find water. There was one station located near the turn-around point, which meant that runners were coming from both directions. Volunteers stood on each side of the course to accomodate both streams of runners, but once again, I could only find water on my side of the road. I had to literally cut in front of runners coming from the opposite direction to cross over and find Gatorade.
The finishers medal is colorful and whimsical and stands out from the “herd” hanging on my display rack. It’s one of my favorites. Finishers also received a commemorative cow bell, which was fun, and the most colorful and attractive technical shirt I’ve seen at any race.
After crossing the finish line, there was a massage tent available. Food was laid out in the school’s cafeteria. SO … MUCH … FOOD. Some local restaurants offered their own specialties, along with doughnuts and pizza and sandwiches and pasta and a lot more. Besides the obligatory bottles of water, there was apple cider from Louisburg Cider Mill and coffee to drink. I’ve never seen so much food, and so much variety, at a finish line.
I finished second in my age group (50-54) with a time of 1:38:05, about three minutes short of my goal. But it’s hard to stay disappointed for long, after getting my picture taken with Queenie the Cow and enjoying that stunning spread of food.
Running With The Cows was also the final race in the Heartland 39.3 series of half-marathons (so there was a nice medal for that as well … loved walking around with TWO medals around my neck). I placed #34 out of 343 runners in the men’s division of the series, good enough for second place in my age group. The aptly-named “John Quick” beat me by about one minute at Rock the Parkway and about 90 seconds at Running with the Cows. My only consolation is that I beat him by about 90 seconds at Garmin. Don’t know who this mysterious speedster is … but I have him in my sights. Just wait until next year!