A perfect day, low lying mist, trees in blazing color, deer everywhere and a 26.2 mile course should have provided the setting for a perfect marathon. And personally, it was a great experience. Running 26.2 miles anywhere, anytime provides a high for me that most people simply do not understand.
However, every detail which the race officials were responsible proved less than perfect. The registration was chaotic and disorganized, the race started 15 minutes late, mile 2,3,23 & 24 was a combination of mud, broken pavement and uneven ground. The course markings were confusing and at times I had to pause to see which way to proceed, the water stops were few and far between, especially from mile 18 to the end when those breaks are vital.
And if that weren't enough, as I approached the finish line, I realized no one was there, only five or six volunteers and my family gathered around the finish line while everyone else was at a field nearby hawking for door prizes. I had to search for water and after three failed attempts at unmarked tents finally found a much needed drink. Speaking of no one at the finish line, there simply were NO spectators during the entire marathon. It was almost eerie, the dearth of spectators somehow permeated the runners and it was as if I was running the marathon alone. No one would talk.
I do not plan to run the Chickamauga Battlefield marathon again.
Despite all the challenges, I decided to breath in the perfect weather, the stunning setting and the ability to run one mile, much less 26.2 of them. I missed my goal by only seven minutes and did not push myself excessively, rather enjoy the run and the stunning day. The minutes immediately after the marathon always prove surreal because it is almost impossible to believe that you just completed this amazing feat. I always tear up as I approach the end and always whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for the health to complete another marathon. Eighteen marathons...do I hear nineteen in Napa Valley in March?