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This past weekend was WRATH VIII, a race with 48-hour and 24-hour options. It’s no coincidence that the race and the race company share a name: the race predates the company by several years. This was the last race to be held on our certified course in Bedford, so it seems fitting to devote this post to the history of this race, not just to this year’s event.
Flashback to early August 2013. I was training for a Quintuple Ironman, which contained a 131 mile run. I was following my usual training schedule where from April to mid-July, I don’t run anything longer than a 5K, not just because of the heat, but also so I can devote my ‘Long Workout’ days to the bike. But it was August, so I posted on Facebook looking for company for a long overnight run. I got a few “yes” answers, among them Jay, a trail-running friend (and WRATHlete of the year 2020!) and Audrey, who I had met while volunteering at Rocky Raccoon 100.
Everybody got to my house around 9 PM and we started running. The course is a roughly 2-mile loop: it heads downhill from my house, then a long flat through a residential neighborhood, and finally loops back uphill through the park. My neighborhood is at the top of the same hill that’s in the park.
Most of my friends hadn’t met, so there was plenty to talk about and the miles were easy. After a few laps, people started leaving, but Audrey and I kept going. She passed her distance PR, which was really exciting to both of us, and together we hatched a plan to get her to her first 50 miles before we stopped. It was 3 in the afternoon and 98* by the time Audrey ran through our improvised Finish Line while I sang the theme from Chariots of Fire. We were both sunburned, exhausted, and elated, and we decided that it was so much fun that we were going to do it again next year, except we’d invite a lot more friends.
For 2014, we had a big invitation list. Audrey invited a bunch of her Rucking friends and I invited distance running friends from all over. We decided to make it a 48-hour event and see how far we could go. Then Audrey started having car problems a few days before the event, so she couldn’t make it. I was a bit panicky – most of the people that accepted were Audrey’s crazy friends, so I would be playing host to a bunch of strangers! But Jay would be there, and my friend Cherie from Austin drove up, so I gritted my teeth, and prepared to get through it. It turned out that her friends were so nice! Some of them still race and volunteer with us today! The weather was perfect – low humidity, light breeze and high temps just over 100*, so Cherie was able to run 100, and I was able to run 131 miles even while race directing and posting updates every 6 hours. It was an AMAZING experience!!
The 2014 event is when I realized that I loved being a race director: I love all the planning that goes into an event, seeing everything come together, meeting new people, and helping them achieve their goals. In the 5 years after that, we’ve had amazing groups of runners each year. The event has remained low key, fat-ass-style, and severely limited in number of participants so I don’t upset the HOA: just friends or friends of friends. People seem to like it and keep coming back: I’ve made great new friends and strengthened existing friendships each year. We’ve also added the Dalmatian Run Fest on the same course in January so we can share the experience with a lot more people.
Which brings me to 2020, the 8th edition of WRATH. The weather was perfect: hot/not humid, breezy, and a full moon for night running. Because of COVID-19, our field was limited to 10 people at a time; Jay was the only one doing the Friday Night 24-hour, and all of the people doing the Saturday night 24-hour were DNS. So this meant that for most of the race, the only ones on the course were the 5 runners doing the 48-hour, one of whom was Audrey.
It’s so fitting that this race report starts and finishes with Audrey. The WRATH race has taken its present shape because of the amazing friends she invited to the 2014 event. WRATH Racing exists because of that 2014 WRATH event. There have been years when Audrey couldn’t make it to WRATH because of her car or injury or illness, but every time she’s run WRATH, she’s shown such grit and determination. The very first WRATH was her very first 50-miler. And this past weekend, at the 8th WRATH, the last WRATH to be held on this course, Audrey ran her very first 100-miler, for the over-all win!
The City of Bedford will be closing the park for a year for a complete overhaul, so WRATH will have a new home starting with the 2021 race. We’re so excited– a new course means we can accommodate a lot more new friends!