Jake Waddingham and Nick Newbury wanted to do something memorable.
That’s why they signed up to run back-to-back races in Humble, Texas on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.
Waddingham elected to run a half marathon on each day, while Newbury decided to attempt a marathon on each day.
Friday, Dec. 21 was the day the Mayans predicted the world would end.
The End of the World Marathon on Dec. 21 offered runners a chance to get one last marathon in, just in case the world did end, while The Day After The End of the World Marathon gave “survivors” a race to participate in.
Waddingham, a graduate of Orient-Macksburg and currently preparing for his final season of track and field at University of Tyler-Texas, said there was some concern he wouldn’t be able to race on Dec. 22.
“Mainly because I didn’t get signed up right,” Waddingham said. “I never really bought into the whole ‘end of the world’ thing, but I messed up my online registration so I had to show up a little bit earlier on Saturday and fight the crowd a little bit to make sure I was signed up right for Saturday. That was the only reason I almost didn’t get to race on Saturday.”
As it turns out, it was a good thing Waddingham solved his registration issues, because he won each day’s half marathon.
Waddingham took the crown on day one, running 1:24:44 for a race that ended up being about 14 miles, longer than the typical half marathon distance of 13.1 miles.
He followed that effort up by running 1:23:11, this time on a slightly shorter course, getting it closer to the half marathon distance.
“The first day, I didn’t really know what to expect, because I didn’t know who all was in the race,” Waddingham said. “I just kind of took it out hard and the marathoners started 15 minutes before my race, so I was constantly chasing people on the course. It was more of a fun racing crowd than a really competitive race.”
Waddingham said it wasn’t a typical marathon course, likening it more to a difficult cross country course for a high school cross country race than the typical road course seen at marathons.
While Waddingham was winning his two half marathons, Newbury still had several more laps to complete around the loop course, as he competed in the marathon on both days.
Newbury, a graduate of Nodaway Valley, said he just wanted to have fun with the races.
“Honestly, I wanted to just have fun and make sure I finished both of them,” Newbury said. “I had a blast. Awesome people. The course was a little surprising, but it was a lot of fun.”
Newbury also had a respectable finish, as he placed second in the End of the World Marathon and then placed third in the Day After The End of the World Marathon.
He said he didn’t do anything special for recovery between the marathons on back-to-back days, just the usual rolling out his legs and stretching. He did receive an assist from Waddingham and their friend Obsie Birru on the second day, however.
“Surprisingly, it went pretty well,” Newbury said about running marathons on back-to-back days. “I was starving in the second one. Jake and Obsie, I told them to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and they gave it to me at mile 16 and I ate it while I was running.”
Newbury completed his marathons (which also ended up being slightly longer than the typical marathon distance) in 3:14:18 and 3:27:14.
Waddingham and Newbury, who ran cross country together at Southwestern Community College for one year, said they wanted to do the races as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“When I moved to Texas, (Nick) had talked about coming down and doing a race nearby,” Waddingham said. “With me graduating soon, he thought it would be a good idea to come down and visit. We had a friend (Birru) in the area, and it all just kind of clicked.”
“I had looked at it before,” Newbury said. “Since it was the end of the world marathons, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It kind of worked out I could go hang out with Obsie and Jake.”
Waddingham said the experience gives him plenty of confidence heading into his final track season, especially since he hasn’t raced in awhile.
“I wasn’t sure how race ready I’d be,” Waddingham said. “It was nice to be competitive again. It’s always fun to win. It was definitely a very respectable time for what I thought I could do on a course that was that challenging.”
And while Waddingham was concerned for just a moment he wouldn’t race on Dec. 22, Newbury said he never worried about missing out on the second race because of the Mayan apocalypse.
“No, I just kind of laughed that off,” Newbury said. “But, if the world did end, that would have been OK that I didn’t have to run again.”