The Martian Invasion of Races: The Martian Marathon, Dearborn, MichiganÛÓItÛªs another lousy forecast here in New England, but thatÛªs OK, The AmigoÛªs are headed to the Motor City for the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. This will be a quick trip. Out on Friday and back on Sunday. Sweet, just a two-hour direct shot from Boston. WeÛªll be there just in time for happy hour.
Our flight is 15 minutes early but our rental car is way off-site and that requires a shuttle. This is always a source of stress on the return trip. On the plus side, our hotel is only 15 minutes from the airport. One of the Amigos has a navigation system and itÛªs the best idea of the weekend. People think driving around Boston is crazy. Driving around the Detroit area makes Boston look like northern Maine!
Alright, a quick trip to the hotel, a quick check-inÛ_wrong, we have at least 60 people in front of us. It turns out that not only is the Martian Invasion of Races this weekend, but also the invasion of the Adeline Singers Competition and the invasion of the Michigan Dance Challenge. There are people running and singing and dancing all over the place.
We opt out of the pasta dinner tomorrow night at Pizza Papalis. Instead, we purchase standing room only tickets for the Tigers game.
However, The Amigos always help support those who support us so weÛªre off to Pizza Papalis for dinner. Again, we are thankful for our Navigation System, which we have nicknamed Betty. Betty always talks to us in a nice voice, even when we make a wrong turn. The only parking at the restaurant is metered. Friday night must be family night; there are kids running and screaming everywhere.
We decide to stick it out. A round of beers, a long, long wait and our meals finally arrive. No worries, weÛªre on vacation. The food is terrible, from the freezer to the oven. We walk out to discover a cop writing us up for a meter violation. HeÛªs very apologetic and weÛªre just thrilled we arenÛªt doing our traditional shots of Jack and local brews. ItÛªs back to the hotel for one last round. Tomorrow, itÛªs the expo and the ballgame.
After a night of being serenaded by the Adeline Singers with young dancers running up and down the halls, we are up for another day in Dearborn. First, itÛªs off to the expo to pick up our numbers and goodie bags. The race shirt is the most unique weÛªve ever received, made of a new high tech material with a design that resembles a MartianÛªs flight jacket. It is different to say the least. We canÛªt see ever wearing it on a run, but maybe for a bike ride. The expo has everything the big marathons have but with less crowds.
From the expo weÛªre off to the Henry Ford Museum: ÛÏAmerica’s Greatest History Attraction.Û While most museums specialize in history or art, The Ford specializes in the ideas and ingenuity that have helped change the worldÛ_and we thought we were going to see a bunch of old cars. There is so much more. You could actually spend three days here.
In addition to locomotives and airplanes, the museum houses all the presidential limos, including the one that John Kennedy was assassinated in back in 1963. Û÷FordÛª also has the original bus that Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up on, back on December 1, 1955. It was acquired via the highest bid on E-Bay: $245,000.
I think the most identifiable icon we spot is the 1952 Wienermobile. Hey, that was very ingenious marketing back in the day. We have been hooked on Oscar Mayer wieners ever since. Henry would have been proud. This is a great museum and we will definitely be back some day to spend the right amount of time here. We have to head back to the expo to hook up with a couple of old Amigos whoÛªve driven up from Cincinnati, Ohio and Erlanger, Kentucky. The last time we hooked up was back in 2006 at the New Mexico Marathon. We all went home with hardware from that race. We hope we can do the same here in Michigan, although itÛªs unlikely.
After our friends get squared away we are off to downtown Detroit and Comerica Park to catch the Tigers and the White Sox. We wonder how smart we are wearing our Red Sox garb? We are very thankful to Betty for getting us here. The Tigers are 0-4 so far in the season; unfortunately for them, this would be loss No. 5. We decide that a cool trip might be to go to Milwaukee to see the Brewers and the Red Sox. Is there a marathon there? What, the Brewers arenÛªt in the American League anymore? When did that happen? The next thing theyÛªll be telling us is that the Boston Marathon doesnÛªt go off at noon anymore.
After a few beers and a few dogs itÛªs back to the hotel to hang out. Yes, we do have a marathon tomorrow. At our last marathon outside of Vegas we had to catch a 4:00 am bus. We have an 8:30 am start this morning. The start and finish is less than a mile from our hotel. We plan to head over about 8:15. Yes, sometimes itÛªs just the little things in life that make it so good. We finish our coffee and bagels on the way over.
ItÛªs a perfect day for a marathon. The temperature is in the high 40Ûªs and expected to be around 52 at the finish. WeÛªll have a tail wind for the first half of our out-and-back. The race starts right on time. The first mile or so we wind around a few buildings and weÛªre able to stash our extra layers and gloves in a spot where we can find them later.
It is so nice to be running in shorts and singlets. ItÛªs been a long winter. A flat and fast course is advertised and other than a few bumps here and there itÛªs an apt description. There are about 300 marathoners and about 1500 halfers. ItÛªs going to be pretty lonely after the Û÷halfersÛª turn back at mile-7. The mile markers seem pretty accurate and consist of an inflatable Martian. The aid stations are every two miles and right on the money. The volunteers are great and double as the only spectators on the course; thatÛªs OK, we don’t need cheerleaders.
The course runs through some kind of park, which is closed to traffic. This is always nice. We own the roads! This is one of the best-managed marathons the Amigos have run, with attention paid to every detail. There are even bathrooms every five miles although you only need one when they arenÛªt there.
At mile 12 we hook up with a local runner from Wyandotte. HeÛªs a Doctor of Chemistry and teaches at a local University. This is his first marathon, not including the marathon portion of the Wisconsin Ironman he did back in September. He fills us in on some of the local dirt. The marathon used to be just a 20 miler and was considered a training run for Boston.
You can still sign up to do just 20 miles if you want. The entry fee is $20 compared to the $45 for the marathon. We hang out together until he runs away from us at about mile 23. OK, just a crappy little 5K to go. The tailwind heading out is definitely wearing on us coming back.
After a few more zigs and zags around a parking lot we can finally see the finish line. Our next stop is the pizza line. ItÛªs amazing how a 26.2 mile run can make the pizza we disliked the other night taste like a gourmet meal. A check of the results and sure enough, one of the Amigos is going home with some hardware, first place in her age group, awesome. Another great adventure for the Amigos at a very top notch marathon; hence, an Amigo endorsement! Would we go back? Yes, we canÛªt wait.