SOMERVILLE, Mass. – The Davis Square Runners have logged thousands of miles and entered teams in numerous races since their founding in 2011, but one thing they hadn’t done was conduct their own race.
That changed on Saturday, April 30, when the group played host to the “Not the Worst Weekend” Fat Ass 8-Hour Race. In keeping with the ”fat ass” format of some of ultrarunning’s traditional, grassroots events, “Not the Worst Weekend” had no entry fee, no frills, and gave runners the opportunity to take on as many miles as they desired during the time limit, regardless of distance preferences or ability levels.
“Since we have always been an inclusive group, any event we put together had to work for all,” said Mittra, a self-described mid-pack or back-of-the-pack runner who participates in short distances and ultras. “So if you were really slow, but a runner that likes to plug away, then you could run. Same goes for those folks who want to cover as much distance as possible.”
Although the race included many of the hallmarks of typical “fat ass” events, “Not the Worst Weekend” featured a unique twist by having no official course. Other than starting and finishing at race headquarters in runner Fernando Salcido’s front yard in Somerville, runners were free to craft their own routes.
The race began with runners scattering in opposite directions along Powder House Blvd., some in small packs and others running solo. Their destinations—and ultimately the distances they would run—were of their own choosing, typically some combination of the streets of Somerville, Medford, Cambridge, Arlington and Boston, as well as the trails of the nearby Middlesex Fells Reservation. Some planned to only run for an hour or two, maybe knock out a 10K, 10 miles or a half-marathon, and then settle in for an afternoon in the sun, chowing on aid station food and burgers, and sipping on cold beverages. Others sought to find out how many miles they could cover.
Alex Brinkert, 29, of Medford, previously had done a timed event on a loop course in Rhode Island. She enjoyed the freestyle format of “Not the Worst Weekend” and the flexibility it provided in terms of what route to run.
“I thought it was going to be hard (not having a pre-determined course), but it wasn’t,” she said. “I had actually made up possible routes before the race, but I didn’t end up doing any of those. I think it would have been difficult had it not been in an area I knew well, but it really highlighted the element of just going out there and exploring and running with friends.”
Brinkert and Salcido ran most of the day together – a plan that was hatched on a whim the morning of the race. Their route took them throughout multiple cities, as well as on trails in the woods, and they ultimately ran more miles than intended.
“I certainly did not plan to run over 30 miles,” Salcido said. “I got lucky to have run with an experienced runner who helped get the best out of me.”
By the end of the day, four runners ran more than a marathon.
Brinkert logged the most miles of any runner. She spent the morning running the streets of Somerville, Cambridge and Arlington with Salcido before they headed to the Fells for afternoon trail time. Minus a few breaks at the aid station, Brinkert ran for the full eight hours and tallied 42.4 miles.
Salcido—who has been training for the Catamount 50K in Vermont and planned to make the June race his first ultramarathon—officially became an ultrarunner early as he logged 35.9 miles. Saldico, 44, spent most of his day running with friends – Brinkert for more than 30 miles, and Medford resident Joshua Gannon, 34, for about 13 miles – and closed out his ultra by finishing in his front yard being cheered by more than a dozen friends.
“Having the start/finish aid station at the door of my place was not only very convenient, but also provided peace of mind that I am sure helped me achieve the 36 miles I ran,” he said. “Having running fellows and friends at the end of my run cheering and happy for me made my good run feel like a group goal, and I think we all runners feel like that. Running is a group effort, even though sometimes you run by yourself, you are never alone.”
Danny Zeng joined Salcido in becoming a new ultrarunner. Zeng, 24, of Cambridge, entered the day having never run a marathon. That changed Saturday. His route of choice was to dash to the nearby Tufts University track and run well more than 100 laps around it en route to running 32.4 miles.
In addition, Tom Dmukauskas, 40, of Somerville, ran 26.5 miles before calling it a day. Dmukauskas placed sixth overall at the Goat Hill 50K a week earlier in Uxbridge, Mass.
In total, 26 runners took part. All ran at least five miles, and the group collectively covered 420.3 miles.
For Mittra, the strong turnout was fulfilling.
“Seeing the number of people who came out on race day was the best!” Mittra said. “Sometimes it’s hard to gauge how many people will actually show up to an event, regardless of how many signed up. I was also very happy to see that no one really had complaints about the day.”
Brinkert agreed. She met Mittra when she joined the Davis Square Runners in 2012, and the two forged a fast friendship. She’s known of his interest in conducting a race for the past few years, and was glad to see the plan come to fruition.
“I’m very proud of him because he came up with a race that ended up highlighting why he loves running and what his style of running a race is, which is to just go out there and keep going and going,” she said. “He did it in an unconventional way, but I didn’t see a single person out there that didn’t have fun.”
“Not the Worst Weekend” Fat Ass 8-Hour
1 Alexandra Brinkert, 42.4
2 Fernando Salcido, 35.9
3 Danny Zeng, 32.4
4 Tom Dmukauskas, 26.5
5 Bethany Crowe, 20.9
6 Anthony Romeo, 19.5
7 Joshua Gannon, 18.6
8 Lauren Rand, 18.4
9 James Jones, 17
10 Greg Martin, 15.3
11 Anna Kramer, 14.1
12 Adrian Cove, 14
13 Jan Kansky, 13.3
14 Michael Betten, 12.4
14 Betsy Johnson, 12.4
16 Derek Edwards, 12.3
16 Scott Humbarger, 12.3
18 Ann Welch, 11.2
19 Branden Kornell, 11.1
20 Katy McKeough, 11
21 Sheri Marcotti, 10.5
22 TJ Poole, 10.1
23 Amy Rinaldo, 9.5
24 John Doiron, 9.2
25 Jonathan Hindmarsh, 5
25 Simon X, 5