Random browsing on Facebook made me stumble upon this interesting event which was called the Zombie Halloween run hosted by Coastal trail runs.  It was apparently an event where one was supposed to wear Halloween costumes and run in the scenic Hellyer part at San Jose, a place which was less than an hour away from Stanford.  Runners are known to be a crazy lot and it was this little eccentric nature that takes us to the finish line even under the most trying circumstances. Wearing a costume only added to the fun element as my mind started racing through the several possibilities of what I could wear.

Fortunately, in the USA where Halloween was a big thing, I was spoilt for choices.  After a lot of deliberation, I decided upon the costume of the mad hatter-the character from Alice in wonderland.  I was somehow fascinated with most of the characters of this classic as they were a little weird and exhibited their tinge of madness that often evoked a smile. So here I was wearing a black and white outfit, matched with white gloves, a stick, a hat with rabbit ears which gave it an interesting tinge of the March hare, a horrendous long blond wig added and a walking stick.  Since the race began only at 9:15 am, my husband and daughter decided to accompany me to the event.

Reaching the venue, I was dismayed to see the other runners dressed in their ‘normal’ attire. Was I the only one to be dressed in this manner? What if I stuck out like a sore thumb? “Let’s go back” I told my hubby. “I am not getting out of the car like this.” “Oh, come on Swe, this is not India but USA. People just won’t care. Just come out and collect your bib. You have worn costumes run with our Mumbai road runners gang. What’s the issue?”  Reluctantly I stepped out and walked towards the start point where the bibs were being given. It was a beautiful park with a pond in the middle and ducks floating on it gaily.  It appeared to be a popular spot for running considering the number of runners doing their rounds and they hadn’t necessarily registered for this particular event.

I was greeted with smiles and comments like “great costume” as I collected my bib. I let out a sigh of relief as my daughter, myself and my husband basked in the beauty of the surroundings. We watched the runners come in and some of them had dressed up as bees and super heroes. It was gratifying to see children dressed up as little princes and princesses as they geared up for the 5k run. There was a full marathon, half marathon and a 10k run as well and I was participating in the latter. Running a half marathon in that fanciful costume seemed too daunting a task to complete.

At 9:15, we set off after the race director gave his go. It was a 1.5 km around the lake before we dashed off into the woods.  The course was a little muddy with a good number of inclines. I passed some shrubs and trees on the way, taking over a group of women dressed as nurses.  The course soon gave way to a trail with blades of grass as we approached the aid station serving energy drinks and water.  We had to go up that one more hill before we took a u-turn at a point.  So up I went and took a u turn and came gliding down the trail.  I passed some morning walkers with their dogs and was half afraid that my costume would agitate their pets. It didn’t thankfully and instead I was met with wide grins and compliments. The sun was up and about and I was more than halfway through the run.

The trail reminded me of the one that Alice runs through in the story while searching for the rabbit. She stumbles upon this tea party hosted by the march hare and the mad hatter which was me in this case. I looked around and chuckled at the thought of having a tea party in the middle of a trail and dismissed this thought away, focusing on reaching the finish line.  The muddy pathway soon gave way to the tufts of green grass towards the big arch where our medals were waiting for us. Crossing the finish line in 60 minutes, I was surprised both at the timing and for having finished 5th in my age category.

Considering that I wasn’t even in a proper running attire, I was quite pleased with the outcome. With my hubby and daughter, who had a ball watching the ducks, I sat down and took in the breakfast spread of bananas, bagels and cookies. We were told that the best costume prize would be announced and soon the race director asked us all to line up in one row. I was thrilled to be one of the prize winners and got to choose a gift which was a purple color water bottle-something that is always handy for runners during their long mileages.

Thanking the race director for the prize and a well-organized run, I went home happy, elated and a little mad -traits that personified the mad hatter.

 

I was a little wistful about having to miss the Halloween run of the Mumbai road runners this year, being in the USA. However this run more than made up for it as I proudly dedicate it to my family of runners back at home in India-the ever’green’ Mumbai Road runners! (pun intended)