Beardy guys. You know who I’m talking about: those wiry dudes wearing split shorts they bought before you were born. The guys who have been doubling with 8 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening since before the invention of modern running shoes, who will double by doing laps around their basement, but only if it happens to be the storm of the century that day, because you’d better believe it takes a storm of the century to keep them from their training schedule. All other weather leaves them unimpressed. That’s partly what the beard is for: weather protection.
Ok, ok, so these guys are not always bearded. But “beardy guys” is a great catch-all term for wiry old-school dudes with a 19,793-day streak going and shorts as old as your mom. They are hardcore. Don’t you want to be hardcore?
If you want to run like a beardy guy you have to find a beardy guy race, so look for the oldest race around, preferably something where the t-shirt graphic hasn’t changed since 1985. When you arrive, expect a hundred or so runners in the middle of the woods on a barely-marked course, at least half of whom have done this race annually since its inception 37 years ago.
Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, beardy-guy-races only recently and very reluctantly gave up the popsicle-stick timing method in favor of chip timing. Which meant they had to start charging a double-digit number of dollars for the entry fee. Which is still the main topic of conversation at packet pickup, and also the first of our top five ways to tell if you’re running like a beardy guy.
Beardy Guys Don’t Pay Exorbitant Race Fees. That race is how much? Beardy don’t pay that. Beardy guys put on their own races for ten bucks.
Beardy Guys Pee Behind Trees. Don’t expect more than five port-a-potties for a thousand-person race. Five. And that’s if there are port-a-potties.
Beardy Guys Don’t Need (Many) Creature Comforts. Bag check? What for? Beardy guys jog 30k to the start as a warmup; they don’t have time for your bag nonsense. You will catch beardy guys appreciating a good post-race bowl of soup and a beer, but if it makes the race entry fee double digits (see above), they’ll certainly bitch about it.
Beardy Guys Scoff at Your Website. These guys don’t need an FAQ, they just need to know the out and back for the half marathon measures exactly 1.097531455 km. And they need to know exactly how much of a difference there was between the two measuring wheels the certifiers used that one time in 1994. PDFs of all course certification forms and procedures can be downloaded from a beardy guy race website, if the race has a website, but the FAQ section has been under construction since 1997.
Beardy Guys Don’t Do Round Numbers. It may seem counterintuitive given their penchant for exactitude, but beardy-guy races are often distances you don’t see much, or anywhere else ever. One of my favorite races in Berlin is a 13.7-kilometer out and back race. Yes: you run 6.85 kilometers out, do a hairpin turn around a cone, and run back. That’s just how it’s always been. Not 6.84, not 6.86, definitely not 7 or even 7.5 (which would give you a 15k). But the course is measured by the same guy who makes sure the Berlin Marathon is always exactly the right length, so you can be sure it’s 13.7 and not a meter more.
Have you ever run a beardy guy race? Do you love running like a beardy guy?