It’s a Saturday morning in early August, shortly before 6:00 AM and I am turning onto I-96 headed out to Kensington Metro Park to connect with 30 or more runners all of whom will be running 10 miles or more. I am not thinking about my run this morning but rather a special run just weeks from today, The Crim in Flint Michigan is perhaps the premier 10 Mile road race in the world. There may be a few folks in Washington DC who may argue the Cherry Blossom, or Marine Corp 10 Mile races are the best but in reality each of these races are a distant second to the Crim, for they lack the soul of the local community that the people of Flint provide.
The sky is a beautiful mix of dark to light as the sun begins to reveal this day and I am thinking in a few weeks I will have just arrived in my secret parking area downtown Flint at this time in three short weeks, except the sun will be about 30 minutes behind me.
Well that was a very quick three weeks ago already, how did August fly by so fast? It’s here, Crim week, the week that ends the 4th Saturday of every August. After months of enjoying many beautiful Michigan early morning sunrises during my morning runs I realize that the morning runs have morphed into pre-dawn runs, thus marking my calendar as “Crim Week”. While I miss the early morning sunshine I welcome the relief from our high temperatures and humidity. Another sign that the big race is just ahead. Nearly 16,000 runners are also praying our current break from the summer heat will continue, at least through Saturday morning.
Unlike the recent few years, I am running less this week as I taper my training in order to be well rested and hopefully race strong Saturday. For many of the past several years I was always training for another targeted race such marathons in Detroit , New York, Raleigh, or Chicago and the Crim represented a tough training run for those marathons. This year is different, not because I am not running a marathon this fall but rather because of an email I received from the Crim organizers nearly 11 months ago. I was notified that the 2016 Crim would be my 30th running of the Crim! Surely I thought they had made a mistake for I had figured I would not be able to join the 30 Year Club until 2017 at the earliest. I dug up all of my running logs (yes I have records of every training run and race I have done since 1984!) and I realized that I failed to count my very first Crim in 1984, so in fact yes this will be my 30th Crim!
With so many Crim races in the past, there are so many personal routines that have evolved into traditions. Visiting the race expo on Friday, driving home (1hr each way) only to rise early the next morning to return to Flint before sunrise, my pre-race breakfast, my secret parking area, adding to my collection of Crim memorabilia (especially coffee mugs), driving through nearby Grand Blanc where I grew up, enjoying a post race Popsicle, and downing a beer and pizza in the parking lot along Harrison Ave. and many more.
Yet each year there is something new to add. In recent years I have competed in the USATF US National Championship 1 Mile event on Friday, organized teams to compete in the team event, annually update my “Touring The Crim Course” a guide to how to race the course, and generally been a self appointed ambassador for the event by encouraging those new to running to race the Crim.
This year is very special for there will never be another initiation opportunity for me to join the 30 year club. Imagine, gaining entry to a club that has a 30 year waiting list! I plan to take full advantage of this special moment and I look forward to my special induction ceremony along with another 18 other runners this Thursday evening in Flint, and my special 15 minute head start in front of 16,000 +/- other runners including many world class elites from all over the world. For a few miles I will be racing in front of this incredible pack of runners, then of course reality will quite literally catch up to me.
I have prepared well this year, ran many hills, many early morning sessions on the local
track, attempted to eat properly, and generally maintain a positive attitude. Nothing within my control will cause me to not enjoy the balance of this week, race morning, and the post race celebration.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this post. I promise to report back soon.
I also need to recognize that there are 19 other runners who have competed in every single Crim since the first race in 1977. They too will receive special recognition this week as a new club is formed, The 40 year Club! Congrats to all 🙂