“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” –Alberto Salazar
Imagine the start line is 13,500 feet above the ground. Maybe capitalize the ‘c’ in Cowards? This is not a hypothetical question I’m asking. There’s a race that kicks off in the sky so that your first two miles or so are straight down, as you skydive to the path where you start running. Seriously, the race begins with a skydive. The race tagline? “The fastest first two miles of any race – guaranteed.”
You get to determine how far you’ll run, too. Anything from a 150 miler to a 10K. There’s a path that circles the landing field so you run as many 7-some mile loops up to the distance of your choice. And it’s only about two (2!) hours from my house. Check out the details here: Sky Dive Run
This is the third year of the event. No idea why I am only just learning about it. When I first saw a reference to it, from a friend who has signed up for the 100 miler, I thought the race part was strictly an ultra. And I am far too sane to do ultras. Having run one 50K, I can say that was the exception to the rule. (At least until I retire.)
But skydiving and then running a marathon? O yeah. Yes yes yes! I am totally smitten. Not quite obsessed, but thinking about this a lot. As you can see by the date in the lower right corner of the picture, I don’t have a lot of time to weigh the pros and cons. It’s also pricier than your average marathon, so there’s that concern, too.
As the Race Director warns, “if patience isn’t one of your strong points, this probably isn’t the race for you.” The plane loads are organized by race event distance grouping, with the longest distance runners going out first. So if you and a friend are doing the 10K and the marathon, you won’t be jumping together. Various considerations, including weather, wind, final jumper counts and clouds all factor into when your group will actually jump.
Past participant Tim Schaum, who set the 100-mile course record last year (20:45:37), was interviewed for the February, 2015 edition of Runner’s World about the effect [side bar: first word choice here was impact, which I edited out for ‘effect’] of starting a race with a jump. Of thousands of feet.
“I concentrated for my first 5-10 miles and got my heart rate down back to where it should be,” he admitted.
By now, either you’re with me and are eyeing the registration fees, or wondering; “Why?” Is it something you can explain? The idea of combining a once-in-a-lifetime experience with running, something about which I am passionate, intrigues me. I’m sure my heart rate, like Tim’s, will be right up there.
And what better way to grab onto the feeling of grateful you are to be alive and able to do this? My dilemma now is only whether to go for it this year, or opt for the painful/delicious year of anticipation if I delay until 2017.