The Mountain Goat has never been an easy race. But in the eight or so years I have been running it--sometimes fast, sometimes not--it's been gratifying to watch it evolve into a real community event. I didn't run the Goat in 2011 (too soon after surgery on the right foot), so I can only compare the support I enjoyed this year to the race in 2010.
With my well-chronicled recovery from left-foot surgery I just
wanted to run this year. I didn't care about my time (though I did set a goal, that
I missed); I put one foot ahead of the other and kept moving.
On May 6, 2012, I have never seen so much crowd support and so many bands along the 10-mile length of the course. Race organizers who placed Letizia and her band, along with about a half-dozen more drummers at the toughest part of the toughest hill on the course--Colvin Street--really hit on a stroke of genius. Knowing the Syracuse University Sour Sitrus Society awaits us as we turn from the top of Colvin to Comstock always gives me something to look forward, but having rhythm-plus pushing us up between miles 6 and 7 made a world of difference.
Oh, and the Blacklites entertaining in the post-race party in Clinton Square? Another stroke of genius.
The Kirk Park Colts Pop Warner football team (along with parental and coach help) is always a highlight for me--those kids wear a smile as they hand out water, Gu packs, Powerade and overall encouragement. They are at mile 5, and an annual treat for me, providing motivation enough for the second half of the race.
I saw more crowd support along the Thornden Park hill than ever before. That's not an easy spot for spectators to get to (not to mention runners)--for me it's the hardest hill in the race. So to see the cheering (majority) women shaking makeshift noisemakers of soda bottles with coins inside really lifted my spirits (even as, I admit, I walked up that hill).
There have been years that after the climb up Thornden Park I have just wanted this race to be over; enough already, as we all make our way out the park and, with a new route, straight onto Madison Street. I really appreciate this change to course, as the previous downhill on Harrison has always been the toughest for me--you see, I'd rather climb a hill than descend one. With my foot not 100%, I fully expected to walk down that bear of a beast of a you-know-what. But I didn't have to!
The gradual descent into downtown was a gift I savored, along with the gummy bears a family handed out just beyond the hill in Thornden. The unfortunate landscape change along East Genesee Street (near Syracuse Stage) foretold Connective Corridor work for the summer and it added a negative aesthetic to the psychological triumph of mile 9. Here's hoping it's all pretty in time for next year's race.
Because it was a perfect weather day, it seems everyone had a smile on their face. Now, perhaps that's always the way it's been, but in years past, when I have been determined to compete in this race, I was so focused on running that I missed the good will.
Speaking of missing things--once again, I did not see the real-live goats along Stolp Avenue. Every year, post-race, I see photos, but never the real actual creatures. Gives me something to aim for in 2013.