by Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton
Tomorrow morning, while many are still sleeping off the previous night’s entertainment, a group of intrepid runners (and a few walkers) will take to the roads of Pennsic in the fifth annual Unofficial Pennsic Half Marathon. Last year, Queen Thora Heri of Atlantia led the racers in the roughly 13.1 miles around the Pennsic campground. This year, her twin sister Queen Signy reigns in Atlantia and will take the same role. Countess Thora, although she has been injured, is planning to be there as well, and both have been instrumental in pre-race planning.
Last year, about 40 participants started the race, with between 20-25 finishing. Runners are encouraged to participate in period clothing, although it is not required, and when it comes to footwear, all are expected to use whatever keeps their feet happy. No official times are kept, and the race is open to all, both walkers and runners. even if participants do not complete the full distance of three loops around the entire campground and one smaller loop around the top of the Serengeti. Those taking part are asked to sign in at Chirurgeon’s Point before the 8 am start, where Morwenna Trevethan will be keeping a log of all participants, and to sign off at the end.
Anyone who’s run or walked in any long-distance race knows how important support staff are to a successful event. As it has grown from its word-of-mouth status over the last couple of years, the Pennsic Half Marathon has begun to develop a support apparatus. This year, for the first time the route will be marked with race signage, painted by Queen Signy, which will be put up (and taken down) from the course by Countess Thora and Baron William de Montegilt. The signs feature a running hare, although an occasional tortoise has been included as well, “to be placed at the bottom of a hill,” said Queen Signy.
Participants have been encouraged to bring their own water and to refill at Chirurgeon’s Point, the start and finish line of the event, but a number of camps that border the route, such as Moose Lodge in the B blocks and Talfryn at the extreme north end of the campground, will be set up to provide water to runners and walkers.
And anyone who has participated in a walk or run knows the importance of swag. Lady Caroline Forbes of Oxfordshire is making participation pins for everyone who starts the race.” I think of them as a pilgrim’s badge. Hopefully, people who do one loop this year will be able to come back next year and do two laps or the whole thing,” she said. Finishers will receive a pewter bunny token made by Mistress Serafina Alamanni.
There is now a Facebook page for those training for the event (just look for Unofficial Pennsic Half Marathon), where participants have been sharing their progress and cheering each other on. It’s also helped Queen Signy, Countess Thora, and Master Philip organize the event and keep track of who was doing what.
Countess Thora challenged the Royalty of the Known World to participate. “We have had two sitting Queens (me and Ariella of Æthelmearc) finish the half-marathon to date, but no Kings, Princes or Princesses. We hope that changes.” She also mentioned that both she and Countess Ariella are the only two she is aware of to have completed the “Pennsic Ironman” – the half marathon and fighting in every rapier and armoured combat war point.
Didn’t train at all? Didn’t know there was a half-marathon until you read this article? Come on out and walk/run as much as you can, and enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow endurance enthusiasts.