I wrote this the day after the event and I forgot to hit ‘Publish.’ Here it is, a month late.
Yesterday my mother was discharged from the hospital. Her next stop was going to be a therapy center in Mechanicsville. Before going to the hospital to transport her, I rushed off to her apartment to get the clothes and essentials she would need for her stay. It was 10:00 am.
Enter the 2012 Anthem Richmond Marathon. This year’s half-marathon route ran right up the road her apartment sits on. Her street was closed to all traffic and there is only one way to get in.
Flashback to 2011: The day of the 2011 Richmond Marathon my mother and I had an appointment to tour the apartment complex she subsequently moved into. After trying to get in for over an hour, and being turned away three times by police officers and organizers who would not even speak to us other than to say, “Sir, you must move along!” we had to call the complex, reschedule for another day, and go home.
Back to 2012: For half an hour I drove around in circles trying to get onto her road. All side-streets feeding into it were blocked by cones and barricades. Finally, in stress and frustration, I started moving and skirting barricades. I turned tentatively onto Hermitage Rd. and headed toward her street. I did not see a single runner or vehicle as I proceeded to my intersection. I was immediately approached by a male police officer and a female race organizer. I lowered my window.
“How did you get onto this road?” the organizer said.
“I moved a bunch of barricades. I have to get to my mother’s place.”
“So you just disregarded the safety of the runners?! You can’t…”
“There’s was nobody standing at the barricades for me to ask permission from. Look, I’m going to her apartment,” I said angrily. “My mother is going to rehab and I need to get her things. She’s waiting for me at the hospital right now, so…”
“You need to calm down,” the officer said.
“Last year when this happened I turned around and went home. Not this time.”
“You need to calm down,” he repeated menacingly.
“I’ll be a lot calmer when I get to her apartment.”
The organizer said something and I said something back. The cop moved closer. Other things were said on all sides that I can’t remember.
“Look, I apologize for being a jerk,” I said, “but last year you people wouldn’t even talk to me when I stopped at barricades. This time I just decided I wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer. But I could’ve been nicer about it. I’m sorry for being so tense and rude. Really, I’m sorry.”
I think the organizer said something about watching out for runners before she stomped away. The policeman waived me to turn and I did.
At the gate to the complex, the security guard stopped me.
“How did you get down here?” she asked. I told her my story in brief.
“I had to park eight blocks over and walk in with my lunch and all my stuff,” she said. “What a pain! You’re only the third person to make it in all day. The other two said the people at the barricades are really being assholes.”
“In my case, there was little bit of that on both sides,” I said.