After two years as an eight-hour event, the 2018 Not the Worst Weekend Fat Ass Run trimmed two hours off the time limit but didn’t cut back on the fun.
The event – the brainchild of Davis Square Runners leader Su Mittra – maintained the components that have made it a popular, laid-back affair on the streets and trails around Somerville and Medford. Those included a “choose your own adventure” format where runners created their own course and tracked mileage with a GPS device, a photo theme contest, and an aid station/lounge in runner Fernando Salcido’s front yard to hang out during breaks or chill after finishing.
For Medford resident Ann Welch, who was running in the event for the third year in a row, it’s this fun atmosphere that keeps her coming back.
“I love DSR and its quirky community of runners,” she said. “It’s an event that combines a bunch of things I love: running around town, hanging out with friends, picnicking, and inappropriate jokes. There’s a lot of laughter and a lot of support for each runner. We give a prize for best photo series on a theme! Who else does that?
“Su does such a good job putting the day together, and it’s really generous of Fernando (and his neighbors) to host us in the front yard. As a race, it’s very well organized and yet feels very relaxed. I imagine a ton more work goes into putting it on than I’m aware of. In sum, it’s like you took your Memorial Day Weekend barbecue, and your favorite (small) road race, and smooshed them into one day-long event.”
While the weather didn’t provide conditions befitting a barbecue, that didn’t stop two-dozen runners from taking on the cool, damp conditions to log some miles in the 40-degree temperatures on Saturday, April 7. Most of the runners started their morning at 8:14 a.m. when Mittra sent them on their way, and they scattered in various directions around town. Some ran solo, while others opted to run in small packs.
The photo contest winners – Katy McKeough, James Fullerton, and Amy Rinaldo – stuck together throughout the day, covering 15.5 miles apiece while visiting an assortment of landmark statues around the area in pursuit of their winning photo theme: Disguised Statue Safari Run.
Others focused on knocking out bigger miles. A prize for running the most miles was at stake – a new Ultimate Direction hydration pack – so there was added incentive to run long. As one of the race’s co-organizers, Salcido wasn’t eligible for the prize, but the other runners were.
Five runners surpassed 20 miles for the day and four went beyond the marathon distance. Salcido, a Somerville resident who has used prior editions of Not the Worst Weekend to train for other ultras – including his first 100-miler last year at Ghost Train – covered the most ground with 33.1 miles. It was his second-biggest mileage output ever at the event; he ran 35.9 miles in 2016 when it was an eight-hour race.
Welch was the women’s mileage winner and second overall. She completed 28.4 miles, followed closely by Jeannette Brown with 28.1 miles and Alexandra Raikhlinda-O’Toole with 26.4 miles.
Antonio Escobar was the men’s runner-up and fifth-place overall finisher with 20.4 miles.
Similar to Salcido’s approach in previous years, Welch used Not the Worst Weekend to prepare for a long, tough day on the trails later this year. She will be running 26 miles at Infinitus in June on the steep, muddy trails of Vermont. Her goal for Saturday was 22 miles, but she surpassed her expectations.
“I like to have a couple goals for any event, so my first goal was to run 22 miles, and my hopeful goal was to win the prize for distance,” Welch said. “At the start of last week, and even the night before the race, this felt like it was a pretty ambitious goal because my hip has been bothering me lately and I’m seeing my PT to fix it. I’d been having a lot of pain and I was really worried about it – I even considered taking the day off. Somehow, Saturday morning I felt pretty good, and after my first 10 miles, I knew I wanted to achieve my hopeful goal of the longest distance award.”
Welch broke up her day into three runs – a 10-miler around the Mystic Lakes, 7 1/2 miles around Somerville, and then a loop around Fresh Pond where she ran out of water. That’s when things got tough.
“I went back to the race headquarters to refill and refuel,” she said. “I had 45 minutes left before the race cutoff, and I hadn’t died, and it was still unclear if I was going to get the distance award, so I went back out. I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied if at the end of the race I felt like I had left anything in the tank, as it were.”
Welch headed for the Alewife Brook Greenway where she battled through three final miles. Her effort paid off in the form of personal satisfaction, as well as a new hydration pack.
“I am insufferably pleased!” Welch noted of her day. “I am so proud of what I accomplished that honestly I don’t know how (my husband) TJ (Poole) is putting up with me. I have to say, though, I couldn’t do – and would have never ever thought about doing – that kind of distance if it weren’t for Su and Davis Square Runners. Having my running tribe makes all the difference. I distinctly remember Su telling me one day during a trail run that if I decided I wanted to run an ultra, I could train for it and do it, and I 100 percent did not believe him.”
Not the Worst Weekend was Welch’s second ultramarathon. Her first came last September at the TARC Fall Classic. Now, as Salcido did in 2017, Welch is entered in Ghost Train for 2018 with bigger mileage goals in mind.
In addition to the five runners who went beyond 20 miles, another 12 recorded double-digit distances while seven had single-digit days. Regardless of the distance covered, it made for a pretty good weekend, indeed.