Thursday, April 21, 2011

Elite Fluid

Geoffrey Mutai set a new course record (and will possibly be recognized for a new World Record) on the Boston Marathon course Monday. And I had his water bottle at 10K. I think I deserve some credit for his win.

OK, ok, he didn't actually take the water bottle from my table. A lot of runners decide not to take their designated bottles, be it, they just don't want a drink, or they are on the far side of the pack from the fluid.

Here's how it works. Every 5K there's an elite fluid stop. Each athlete provides their own bottle of whatever they want to drink in advance of the race. For most of them it's just a few ounces. There are ten tables each with 4 bottles. As an athlete approaches the stop, they know their bottle will be on the 2nd table in the 3rd spot (for example).

Each bottle is different. Some people decorate their bottles so they're easy to spot:

Ryan Hall signs each of his bottles and tosses them to the crowd as a souvenir when he's done.

After the elites have passed through we broke down the tables and signs. By the time the amateur runners start coming through, there's no sign that we were even there. As we were packing up, we realized that the leftover elite bottles (the ones that weren't collected by their athletes) were just going to get tossed, so we did a taste test. They broke down something like this: water, gatoradey and, wait for it, salty. The worst tasted like a cherry-flavored ocean. Blech. (I didn't take note of what Mutai had, he hadn't won the race by this point).

All in all, a spectacular experience. Amazing to be so close to the elites as they sprint by and great to be in a spot to cheer on the amateurs where every one is still just rapt to be there.


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