Monday, November 29, 2010

Hares and Hounds Kick-off

Note: No animals were harmed in the running of this event...mostly because treadmill runner Brad wasn't there ... We'll let you bring your hamster ball next time if you want Brad..

The idea for this (may or may not be original i have no idea, but it was original to me) came out of an email from Craiky. He wanted me to run from the Headwaters to Deep Cove with him ... with "no messing about" in his words. "What? Me mess about?" I wondered incredulously. "When do i ever mess about. I'm not the messing about kind am i ....?" ;-p

...Moving right along.... I knew he meant "run hard with no breaks, no shootin' the proverbial waste products." This is hard for many of us to do, and I wondered if there might be a way to make it a bit more interesting than just going out there, putting your head down and trying to hang on 'til the misery is over.Basically we're trying to re-create the racing effect without the $50 entry fee.

I have no idea how the electrical path was suddenly forged between my contemplation of that current problem, to an experience that occurred 29 years earlier on a snowy country lane on the Yorkshire moors in England. Crouched behind a dry stone wall, my friend and I waited for the sound of a car... any car ... it didn't matter. Darkness was settling across the moors with just a rose coloured strip across the far horizon and the white snowy fields for light. As the car came around the blind corner we stood up and hammered it with dense, heavy snowballs that thudded into the driver's windows. The brake lights lit up and the car came to an abrupt halt. An instant shot of adrenaline had us on our feet, stumbling into a sprint as the angry driver peeled out of his car and raged across the soft, silent fields in pursuit of us. Fear from the chase kept us moving long past the point where we would normally have given in to the protestation of aching legs and lungs. We kept going until we realized we had far out-distanced our pursuer, then collapsed against a wooden gate laughing and gasping for air. It was exhilarating.

"That's what we need to create," I thought! The exhilaration of pursuit by a monster or something. Ok.. maybe not a monster... we don't want people dying of fright. What about those greyhounds that chase the rabbit around the track to try and catch it? (It's a fake rabbit folks .. or at least it is these days). The feeling of being chased would keep people honest .. it would keep them pushing from start to finish.

A little more brain ache and the idea was formed for the Hare and Hounds run. We managed to gather six people for the first test run. The idea is you give an honest appraisal of the time you think you are able to cover the course in. Others can vet your time and harangue you if they think you aren't being realistic. Then you order yourself in reverse order. The slowest time goes first and then the next and so on. The last person to go is the hound ... the chaser. If you are passed by the hound you're "dead" ... or buying coffee or whatever punishment you choose ... UNLESS you can beat your own forecasted time by at least 30 seconds. This part is important because it prevents the "dead" hare from giving up. He/she still has a second chance at "life" but it requires him/her to keep pushing hard to the end.

That's basically it. Our first one seemed to go well and we all enjoyed it. We all experienced a nervousness waiting inside the End of the Line store for our start time. Once on the trail you know when the hound will start, and when you look at your watch and realize he is now coming out of the door and you're only across the bridge, the exhilaration is there... you really feel it! Tom and I ran pretty much the same pace and we were constantly looking back to see if the hound was coming. But we were also looking forward and trying to catch those ahead of us .. not because we could "kill" them but just because it feels good to see people ahead of you and chase them down; and also to put a buffer between you and the hound.

Stefan .. the hound... had given a time estimate 2 minutes faster than mine and tom's so he was the hound. In the end we were 6 or so minutes ahead of the hound and within 1 minute of our time estimate.

Kevin and Linda were also within a minute or two of theirs and the Pink Princess..? ..... well..... let's just say there was some "hare loss" happening that day ... ;)

But the whole thing was a lot of fun. It was fun to feel you were being chased and also to be trying to chase down those in front. Everyone pushed themselves from start to finish and got in a great speed workout. Perhaps just as important was the exercise in getting to know your own pace and estimating how quickly you can cover certain distances.

Thank you to the other 5 runners who agreed to submit themselves to this experiment (Tom, Linda, Kevin, Stefan and the Pink Princess).

Design Modifications:

The first iteration of anything is rarely perfect and this was no exception. It can get better and Craiky and I were already coming up with ideas for round two as we sped through the forest.

1) Money -- people could start off with 5 loonies or something and if you are passed then you hand over one loonie to the person passing you. If you re-pass them you get it back. The idea is to come out with more money than you went in with ... or at least to break even.

2) If you are 10% or more faster than your time estimate then you have to take your original time estimate and figure out if you would have been passed if you had run that time. If so then you hand over the appropriate amount of loonies, coffee, donuts or whatever currency you have decided on for your hare and hounds run. You can modify the percentage to whatever you think is fair for your group. Doing this forces people to (A) be honest with their estimates and/or (B) really start to begin thinking about their pace.

If everyone is quite accurate with their time estimates then all of the passing should only occur in the last kilometre or so of your run course. This keeps it exciting ... keeps everyone pushing to the end.

A group of ten or twenty would make for a lot of fun. So stay tuned for Hare and Hounds #2 and come and join us! Feel free to make any other suggestions for modifications. Happy hunting .... (no guns please).


Tom Craik said...

Love the "Hare Loss" Pun. If I didn't know so, I'd say you planned the entire blog around that one piece of literary genius.

It was a sweet event, Coo. I'm definitely in for the second installment, but first we must Gunner Shaw.

mrC said...

It popped into my head mid paragraph so i had to find a way to use it. you know what they say... "hare today, gone tomorrow".. ;)

Gunner Shaw, coffee and cinnamon buns ... it'll put "hare on your chest..."