I figured I’d had my fill of races this year, so when last Sunday’s Ashokan Run came around, I volunteered to look after baby Noel and let my wife Posie do the 5 miler unencumbered. Not that this meant I wouldn’t take part, simply that I’d have to push Noel in the jogging stroller if I did. No problem. I set off with the laziest intentions, at the very rear of the crowd (so as not to trip people up with the stroller) and for the first half mile was happy to jog alongside the wife as we navigated the trail’s initially unsteady surface of rocks and streams.
But damn me and my competitive spirit. As the course opened into flat woodland, I couldn’t help but break loose. Like the charity runners from the NYFD and PD at the NYC Marathons who also set out from the back, I figured it would fun to see how many people I could pass en route.
Despite stopping a couple of times to take photos of the beautiful course – the vast Ashokan Reservoir is in a valley surrounded by the majestic Catskill Mountains – I overtook almost precisely half the 150 runners, finishing in 42:30. This felt like a good time considering that the stroller was weighed down with various juices, bagels and biscuits – all for a baby who instead slept through the entire run without a care in the world, including the rocky uphill trail and splash through the stream at the end! Three hours later, I was fast asleep too: after the excesses of my visit to NYC this week, not to mention the previous Sunday’s 20k mountain race, I had pushed myself (while pushing Noel) to the limit.
Out there in nap land, I got to thinking: wouldn’t it be fun if there were races specifically for people with jogging strollers? They could be held on Sports Day at school: the course would start at the gates with the dropping off of an older sibling, then race down to the local High Street, through the supermarket aisles, round the Drive-In Bank, include a couple of laps of the local park (with a brief water stop at the toddlers’ playground) and back to the school gates in time to pick up that older sibling. Don’t think twice: it’s a winner. Now who wants to get it going?