Last weekend, to mark the end of another great year of WOOT bonding and running, we headed north to Okuma to run our very own self-organized half marathon.
On Saturday 29th December, we gathered near the Okuma playground for a short pre-race brief. The weather was amazing, and everyone was in great spirits, all ready and eager to run what we were hoping would turn out to be a beautiful course. Anna gave us a description of the route, and mile markers to look out for, and at approximately 8:30am we started running.
|Making sure everyone had numbers on their arms|
The first three miles were nice and flat, and we reached the first aid station at our first turn, off route 58. The Morales family were enthusiastically waiting with refreshments – I wasn’t thirsty at all but it was too difficult to say no to our sweet little helpers.
|Our little helpers!|
After a quick drink and high fives, it was time to face the first incline. We headed upwards for a half mile or so, but then it was downhill again and a right turn onto flat roads once more. Now we were running in a small rural neighborhood, with just a few homes around and a pleasant quietness. About another mile or so down the road I reached the second aid station.
|Antonia and Ivette – the best volunteers ever! So supportive – and, entertaining!|
Thank goodness for positive and encouraging words from Ivette and Antonia – their aid station marked the beginning of a long and challenging hill climb and motivation was much needed. I thought the hill I had climbed in the Shouhashi half marathon a couple of months ago was a killer hill, but that was nothing compared to the monster that stood facing me.
|Check that out!|
Upwards and onwards, and a winding road that was so steep at times that I’m sure my run could easily have been mistaken for a walk by anyone who might have been watching. I must have looked at my garmin at least a half dozen times, only to be disappointed as I realized with each glance that I had moved forward by maybe only a tenth of a mile. Seeing mine and Ivette’s husbands at the top of the hill was a welcome sight, not just because I was glad to see them, but because their aid station was located at the halfway point and that meant I could turn around and start heading back downhill.
|Kim O’Byrne just a couple of feet away from the turn-around point|
The last three miles, although flat, were by no means easy. This part of the course was back on the 58 headed north towards Okuma, and there was no longer any shade covering from the trees. Going through the gate at Okuma was a bitter-sweet moment; it felt great to almost be done, but painful to have to run one more mile around the resort before reaching the start/finish line. Once I did cross the finish line however, I relished the feeling of having successfully completed one of the most difficult half marathons I’ve ever done.
As all the ladies, one by one, crossed the finished line, it was clear from the looks on their faces that they also were proud of what they had just done. Beyond the feeling of pride however, I suspect that the joy we all felt was mostly due to the camaraderie that was experienced.
|Jennifer Green – happy to see her little guy waiting for her at the finish|
|Valerie Patmore – big smiles as she crosses the finish line|
As difficult as it was to run such a challenging course, the support we all gave each other and the encouraging reassurance provided by our team of volunteers made all the difference. Not a single runner failed to finish the course, and not a single runner left before the last runner finished.
|Nice job Shonna Calisi|
|Some good old WOOT bonding! Anna Boom and Audrey Naini|
|We did it! Congratulations ladies!|
This was our first, and hopefully not last, WOOT half marathon!
Photos by Erik Myers, Jim Blankenmeier, Alexis Knutsen, Monica Galvan, and Ivette Kragel