The Siberian Express

I ran the Siberian Express on Saturday. It is a winter trail race over near Danville put on by neighboring running club Kennekuk Road Runners. I ran this race twice during high school, and once again about six years ago. In all three previous attempts at this race I underperformed (i.e. didn’t have a great race).

Usually this race is held on a 7.6 mile trail at Kickapoo state park, but with the park closing scare by the recently-arrested-for-massive-corruption governor, the venue was changed to a 7.1 mile trail at nearby Kennekuk county park. Good. Perhaps a different trail (which I’ve run more recently) will get me out of my Siberian funk.

Siberian Express map

The first mile is relatively wide, then the trail gets very narrow. I knew I would have to run the first mile fast in order to be well placed when we hit the narrow section, because it would be very difficult to pass people later on. This strategy worked well enough for me at Tecumseh.

Unfortunately for me, this race has a lot of very good competition, and everyone else seemed to have the same strategy. We started fast. Really fast. Super fast. At the one mile mark my watch read 5:52. This is almost as fast as I would run in a flat road 5K. This race was on a hilly rugged trail which was more than twice that distance. I was in about 15th place when the trail narrowed. I slowed significantly after the first mile… and so did everyone else.

Siberian Express race bib

The rest of the race was just a really long struggle. I used up all my energy and I had nothing left just a few miles in. I watched the runners in front of me. They were going so slow, but I just couldn’t catch up to them. I did pass a couple of other fast starters early on, but as the race went on a dozen or so runners passed me. Here’s a photo.

I finished 25th place out of over 400. This was my best finishing place in a Siberian Express, so it wasn’t a total loss… but I was not at all happy with how I got there. My streak of underperforming at this race continues for at least another year.

Siberian Express award

I hobbled over to the car and grabbed my camera. I didn’t have a great run, but maybe I’d be able to get some photos of friends finishing the race. After seeing a few come in and taking several pictures, I looked at my camera to review them only to see the words “NO CARD” displayed on the camera’s screen. Crap. I had taken the card out to transfer Friday’s photos to the computer and I forgot to put it back in. As soon as I got home I put a spare memory card in the car so that hopefully never happens again.

The Write-In

In early 2004 my state senator, Dan Rutherford, sent me (and presumably most/all other voters in my district) a questionnaire asking our opinions on various issues. Nice. As I read through the questions I became a little suspicious. I’m really good at taking multiple choice tests. These questions were leading to one specific right answer, which often was not the answer I would have chosen had the question been worded more neutrally. In many cases I chose the wrong answer. I included my email address in the provided space and I mailed it in.

He was kind enough to send me an email wishing me a happy birthday, but he also sent emails asking to help campaign for George W. Bush and various local Republicans. I don’t think I signed up for that.

When I received the 2004 election guide I was slightly disappointed to see that he was running unopposed, so my only option was to not vote in that race.

Instead, on a whim, I decided to run as a write-in candidate. It turns out this was more complicated than one would imagine. Write-ins have to actually register with the county clerk in order for the votes to get counted. Apparently when I did this the information somehow made its way to the local newspaper, who mentioned it. Additionally, since this race was larger than one county I would have had to register in other counties as well. That was more effort that I really wanted to devote to this endeavor, so I didn’t bother. I didn’t really know anyone in other counties in the district and I had no intention of campaigning. I was only doing this to give myself a choice (albeit and extremely unlikely one).

Now, who would vote for me? The biggest problem here was that I lived right on the edge of town, and the few blocks around me were in a different state senate district that the rest of town where all my friends lived. I sent email to a few people I knew informing them they could write my name if they wanted to. We voted. I didn’t ask anyone if they voted for me, but a few people told me they did. I did. Melissa did. One of Melissa’s professors did. A friend from the running club did. Well, that’s something.

The results came in. I officially received one vote.




So 25% (or possibly fewer) of my votes were counted? Yikes! Needless to say, I did not win the election.