Runners spend 12 hours at What is it?
While many people celebrated Independence Day with a cookout, a trip to the beach, or by going to a movie, a handful of men chose to run. And run. And run.
The five participated in the “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” 12-hour run, completing a 1.03-mile circuit around Hampton Park over and over from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This is the fourth — or maybe the eighth — year the event has taken place, said race coordinator Alex Morton of Brevard, N.C., who organizes the event with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
The name of the race is French for “What is it?”, but Morton said some have speculated it refers to the Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” or was chosen because it rhymes with “50K.”
“When the editor of Ultrarunning suggested I have 20 runners if they were going to keep publishing race results, I started limiting my races to 19,” said Morton, who also organizes the “Qu’est-ce que c’est? Aux Montagnes!” run each year in Brevard. “I’m trying to get it down as small as possible so you just have serious, cool people participating.”
Participants paid a $10 entry fee because Morton said that makes them feel like they have to show up.
“If you make it free, people are really suspect,” he said. “Since I don’t have any sponsors, I can pretty much do what I want. It’s all a money-losing venture.”
Morton said he also has some “really ridiculous” requirements for participants, who to gain entry some years have had to write essays or haikus about running or draw a picture.
The run, which started as a 50K, takes as little organization as possible, he said.
“One of the things that I get people to do is to mark their own laps so I don’t have to do it for them,” he said, pointing to a white board where runners were encouraged to record their laps. “It can be a real time consuming thing if I have to do it.”
Noah Moore of Mount Pleasant, who two years ago during the event ran more than 50 miles, entered Wednesday’s run with a goal of 62 miles in mind.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this hot, though,” he said.
During the day, he ran a couple of laps with his son Peyton, 8, and at times was accompanied by other friends.
“There were eight or nine people out here to support Noah,” said Greg Shore, his running coach. “It does a guy a lot of good to see his friends come out and support him, especially because ultrarunning is generally by yourself.”
Other participants were Robert Barland of Harper’s Ferry, Va.; John Kraus of Devon, Pa.; and Robert Crosby of Summerville, who stopped after six hours and 22 miles.
“I made them all run the first lap with me,” Morton said. “I can throw them out of the race if they don’t do what I tell them.”
Other offenses that can get someone ejected are complaining or using a cellphone.
“Then again, they can run for 12 hours or they can leave and go to a movie,” he said. “I don’t care.”
But there is an incentive to complete the event: Runners who do receive a personalized handmade wooden plaque decorated with items Morton finds along the trail, which on Wednesday included a spring, a small wad of duct tape and a rusty metal “s” shaped hook.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.