So with a few beautiful but challenging trail races to finish off my summer, it was time to switch gears for a couple completely ridiculous events. The first of which being, Beat the Blerch!
You may or may not already know about The Oatmeal, aka Matt Inman, and his incredibly popular comics and books. Obviously the work that most captures my heart are his comics relating to his own experiences as an ultra runner. And the little Blerch that tells him to slow down, be lazy, lay on the couch and eat delicious foods instead of run. Chances are, you’ve seen the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distance or some of his others…
Anyhow, one day Matt decided to organize and host a run celebrating all things Blerch and it was so incredibly popular that it sold out in record time so they added a second day and a virtual race option. Crazy stuff. We were originally registered for the half marathon on Sunday but due to schedules and injuries in our group, ended up dropping down to the 10k on Saturday.
With all of the crazy things planned for this event, we knew we just had to dress up. I volunteered to be the unofficial Costume Coordinator for our group and worked all week throwing together these four beauties…
Myself and three other good friends headed down to Seattle on Friday night so that we could pick up our packages and hang out the night before the race. One of my favourite parts of destination races is the time spent away with good friends and with everything going on in my life lately, a little bit of time away was much needed.
We were staying in Bellevue which was not too far from where the race was being held in Carnation, Washington. It made for a fairly relaxed morning so we grabbed some breakfast from the hotel’s cafe and jumped in the car to head out. Although we had directions, we happened to come upon another car of runners so we decided to just follow them and found ourselves at the beautiful Tolt McDonald Park before we knew it.
As would be expected, our ridiculous costumes drew a bit of attention as we hung around the race start area. Thankfully people seemed to be pretty entertained and we ended up being asked to pose for the odd photo or two.
After using the facilities we decided that a jumpshot was in order and considering all the crazy garb, I think it turned out pretty good!
Anyhow, the looks, laughs and photos were fun. After all, when you dress up as fries, birthday cake, a cupcake and a bag of Oreos what else can you expect? Going out and having fun was really the point of this event for us anyway and it seemed like the day was getting off to a good start.
Since we had a couple injuries in our group and none of us really had any time goals anyway, we set off to just run at whatever pace felt good and enjoy ourselves along the way. The course was to be an out and back along a flat, gravel trail so we knew it would be easy going. I was relieved to see that our costumes stayed together for the most part even after we started running.
The trail was lovely and we ran across bridges, alongside farmer’s fields and mainly along a tree-shaded pathway. It was easy to find a comfortable pace and chatting with fellow runners as they laughed at our get-ups made the time pass very quickly.
We had grabbed a couple bags of Oreo cookies to carry with us and had fun offering them to other runners. This one guy in particular took cookies from us several times, eventually exclaiming that we must be his ‘spirit animals’ because he was loving the cookies so much.
Now a big part of the Blerch story is that he is always there on your shoulder encouraging you stop running and just lay down and take a nap.
And then, just to make the whole lore of the Blerch really come to life at this event, they even had couches placed along the course!
And since the Blerch likes you to eat cake and Nutella and drink grape drink instead of gels, chews and Gatorade, that’s exactly what they had on course! The aid station was a bevy of moist, delicious cake, Nutella sandwiches and grape flavoured sports drink!
They also had serious things too like shot blocks or something but I wasn’t really paying attention to those, all I wanted was cake! And boy, oh boy, it was some of the most delicious cake I think I’ve ever had. Or maybe I was just tired and in need of fuel.
Our run up until this point had been pretty good. Solana and Candice are both much faster runners than I am but we all kind of kept pace with each other and goofed our way along. When we reached the aid station, we similarly kept pace with each other and sat around eating cake without feeling any urgency to get up and keep running.
When we finally got moving again we decided to pick up the pace just a little as we headed back along the out-and-back course to the finish. We ended up finishing the race in 1:09:36 which is no speed record but considering how much time we spent farting around on course and at the aid station couches, I think we did pretty darn good!
After we caught our final friend cross the line we checked out the post-race eats and were delighted to find more of that delicious cake and also potato chips, bananas, fruit, granola bars and a few other treats. A really huge line had formed to have Matt Inmann sign copies of his book so we decided to forgo that. We did however, try to take a selfie-bomb in front of his table and he noticed us and offered to get up for a pic.
We felt pretty bad to pull him a way from his table but were thankful to get such a rad picture with the Oatmeal himself. After all, it’s only fair to meet the guy who inspired us to dress like complete fools, right?
We decided to stick around and cheer for more finishers but eventually made our way back to the car. Everyone else was pretty eager to change into normal clothes but I couldn’t help but ask the girls if they minded stopping at a McDonald’s while I was still dressed up. I thought it might be kinda funny to stop in and see if anyone got a kick out of it.
Needless to say I felt like a complete fool dressed as I was, standing in line at McDonald’s. I heard a few people snicker but sadly, the employee helping me didn’t seem to think it was as funny as I did. Solana even asked him what he thought of my outfit and he mildly looked up and said, “Oh, it’s nice.” It wasn’t quite the hilarity I thought I might get but that’s okay, I ordered my fries and chocolate milk and went to get changed.
The rest of our day was spent shopping, lunching and just hanging out. In the end, I’m really glad we dropped down to the 10k because I don’t think my heart would have been in running a half marathon. Everything with the costumes and being silly turned out to be so much fun and it was the perfect event at the perfect time.
It sounds like Beat the Blerch is coming to a whole bunch of cities next year so I highly recommend that if you get the chance, you register and try to Beat the Blerch too!