Antietam is the site of the bloodiest single day battle of the American Civil War. Over 23,000 men, including six generals, between the Confederate and Union forces, were killed in a 12 hour period. As we pulled into the National Park, their sacrifice was palpable.
This was the friendliest race I had ever been to! There were about 450 registrants total, including the 10k and 5k. Local volunteers greeted us warmly when we picked up our packets and directed me to the (clean and toilet paper-filled!) port-a-Johns. Yep, I was prepared this time. Volunteers and racers were still cheering every participant from the earlier 5k as they came across the finish line. Before our race, a high school junior sang the National Anthem. She blew Deborah Cox out of the water. (Deborah sang the National Anthem at the ING Marathon in Miami earlier this year for 25,000 people.) This girl's powerful voice cut straight across the National Park and directly into my heart; my hairs bristled. We stood in a moment of silence for all soldiers, past and present. I felt a lump forming in my throat. To stand in silence over a battlefield was pretty damn powerful for a bleak, Sunday morning. Then the starting gun screamed... and we were off!
There were big hills, there was lots of uneven pavement and the air was muggy and thick. But I could hardly keep my eyes off of the beautiful countryside. Alejandro ran with me for the first 3.5 miles then took off when I slowed, as symptoms of a hangover and sleep deprivation crept in hard.
|Award Ceremony at the Finish|
PS - My three idiosyncracies are:
1. Lucky pink underwear reserved only for race days
2. Never, ever walk
3. Always sprint over the finish line
We finished in under an hour, sprinting over the finish line. I said goodbye to him and was suddenly flooded with nausea. I proceeded to sprint down to the port-a-Johns and yak my brains out. I instantly felt better and we had a lovely morning driving the 8 mile loop and touring the battlefields. I highly recommend a visit to this historic site during the summer months; its an amazing story. Oh, and while you're there, why don't you go for a little jog? :)
Gallery photos of Antietam National Park; taken on days a little brighter than mine!