Funny Track Meet Story - Surprise 400

I was going to email this story about last week’s track meet to @adamengst but then I thought others might enjoy hearing about it too.

As I usually do, I entered the 1600 at track meet. I did my warmup, ran the race and then went out for a 2 mile tempo run with @peter.i.frazier. My plan was to then run an easy mile cool down and head home. When I got back to the track and was getting ready to cool down, I saw @heathercobb3 who kindly informed me that my heat of the 400 was next. I think I must have looked at her like she had 3 heads. She pointed out that my name was on the list and then it slowly began dawning on me that I had decided it would be fun to also sign up for the 400 when I registered. I thought to myself, wow, I must have really signed up in advance for this one, seeing as I barely remember deciding to do this. (Fact check: this is not true, I signed up on 6/11 for the 6/27 meet)

Anyhow, I quickly switched back into my racing shoes, pinned my number back on and jumped into the 400. On the plus side, there was no need to think about how to warmup for the race or any other logistics - it was GO time. I ran the race (even going a few seconds faster than I had anticipated) and then proceeded with my intended 1 mile cool down. Anyone else have any funny race stories to share?


This story is a good lesson to me that I shouldn’t assume just because someone who is in an upcoming heat is standing around, that they know/remember they’re signed up. It’s always good to double check.

Can confirm, you looked at me as if I was an alien or not speaking English. Which made me, in turn, second guess if I had the correct Liz Hartman. :joy: I’m glad it was you and not someone I didn’t know.


Back in the early days of facebook I was running a half-marathon with a particularly chatty friend. We fell into step with a woman at mile 9 or so. After we exchanged the usual “good jobs,” my friend started asking her about herself (the usual small talk hobbies, jobs, etc.). The woman looks at my friend and says “you seem really nice, but I’m so out of breath I can’t talk to you right now.” We exchanged “good lucks” as she stopped to walk and my friend and I powered on ahead. At the finish I went off to get food. When I came back to our designated meeting spot, there was my friend talking to our new friend from mile 9. It turns out she was from California and had only been in town for the race. They agreed to friend each other on facebook, and here we are over a decade later and they are still facebook friends!!!


This one has a few threads to it.

Gorges Ithaca 2022. I dropped my wife off at Taughannock for wave 1 and then drove to Ithaca to catch a bus for my wave back up. I sat next to a guy on the bus, and he ended up being really friendly and we chatted the whole way up. The guy looked familiar, but I wasn’t certain why. After comparing races I eventually realized that I remembered seeing his picture on the results of the Keuka Outlet Trail half marathon that I had done the year previous (he is one of the few that has his picture loaded into RunSignup) and that he was one of the top 10 guys.

I ended up at the start line with still about 40 minutes or so until race start. I decided to do my warmup run down Black Diamond just to get a preview of the trail and time it to be about 10 minutes prior to go time. About halfway back I see about see a mass of runners all barreling towards me at full speed! Oh no, I’ve missed the start of the race. So now I start sprinting as fast as I can to try and make it to the start line and salvage the race. When I get there, there are still quite a few runners remaining and I am informed that Ian had just decided to split wave 2 up and send about half the field out a little earlier to make it less congested.

The other side effect of this choice was that you really didn’t know how you were doing in the race. Half the people that would have been in your pace group already had a 10 minutes head start. When I finally looked at the results after the drive home, there was another crazy coincidence. I ended up finishing one place ahead (9 seconds difference) from the guy I sat next to on the bus.

A couple weeks later, I was doing another trail race up in Rochester and I encountered him again. We ended up finishing within two places of each other again. In this case though, there was no split wave so we ended up running close to each other for the bulk of the race. In fact I have run into him at races quite a few times since. He seems to have the same propensity for signing up to too many races that I do.

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Story #2 (less funny and more coincidental)

I was on my second loop of the FL50s 2022 with about 4 miles left before having to decide on a 50k or a 50 miler. I was having severe leg cramps by then (and also was suffering from shin splints, only I didn’t realize it at the time) and had already resigned to 50k so I was just trying to gut out the last few miles. Since I kept having to stop to every few minutes when my legs would lock up, I was getting caught up and passed by quite a few people at this point.

I’m heading down some of the wooden planks they have in the muddy areas and I can sense someone on my tail. So I step to the side and turn around to get a quick glance and the women that was was behind me says “thank you” and proceeds to motor on through. Eventually, I end up right behind her again as she was held up by another runner ahead on another set of planks. So while I am behind her, I asked her if she remembered me. She thought that I meant from several minutes before when she passed me, and probably thought that was an odd question in the moment. Then after she responded and I could tell she didn’t know what I meant, I said. “What has it been like 30 plus years now?”
All of a sudden she stops running and turns around and looks at me more carefully. Then I could see a flicker of recognition in her eyes. “Damian?!” she says.

We sent to school together (elementary and high school). Our class size was around 60-70 kids, so we all knew each other pretty well. I hadn’t seen her since I was like 17 or 18 years old, and here it is that I bump into her in the later stages of an ultramarathon. Not only that, this was her first ever Ultra, so it was uncommon for her to be in one of these to begin with.

So we ended up chatting and catching up for the last few miles until I finally had to stop again to let another wave of cramps subside. I rarely run into old school mates, but based on the percentage of people who run ultramarathon’s, this was definitely pretty low on the likelihood scale.