I don’t know about you, but after a full year of pandemic induced anxiety, worldwide lockdowns and a half dozen asthma hospitalizations, I’m ready to start living again. For me that means planning new adventures, which of course, usually includes a foot race or two.

Sorry, but I’m not one for “virtual” races. I can see why these might be appealing to some, but honestly, the whole idea of virtual races is nutty to me. Even if you stick to the honor system, its just not the same. For me, part of the fun and challenge of doing a race, is the planning, the training and the travel. Its about getting out there with a bunch of other people, sometimes thousands of people, in unpredictable environmental conditions with interesting and sometimes very unique locations.

Because my body is getting old, and because I haven’t grown a new pair of lungs, I wont be attempting any full marathons. I did 9 full marathons in the span of only 7 years, so Im good in that regard. Instead, Ive decided to do a series of smaller races, including a half marathon, a 10K and a 5k. They’re just as fun and you don’t have to train as hard or torture yourself as much to prove a point. That’s not the say that these smaller races are any easier to complete, or for that matter, to get to. That said, in this series of races I’ve decided to breakout the the nighttime safety gear and will be doing area 51 ET Midnight marathon again. Yes, ET as in Extra Terrestrial. And no, not the full marathon, more like a half.

Out of all the unique and themed races Ive done over the years, I think the ET Full Moon Marathon is my favorite. Not because it takes place at midnight ( actually at 1am), but because of…where it takes place. What makes this event special is the course itself. It has the usual certified full marathon, half marathon 10K and 5K race, but also a 51K race for the hardcore runners. But unlike most races, this one takes place in the middle of the night, at an altitude of 5,000 feet, in the middle of the Nevada desert. Specifically at the rim of Groom Lake, also known as “Area 51“. Talk about a secluded location for a race. Just getting there is an undertaking. The last time I did this race, we flew from the Bay Area to Las Vegas where the host Hotel and Expo was located. Then we had to take a 2.5 hour ride on the chartered race bus to the starting line. I remember we boarded the bus at 9:30 in the evening, and it was still 100 degrees outside.

Speaking of starting points, the start line for the 51K, full and half marathons, is the “Black Mailbox” ( actually painted white now) located at coordinates… 37°27’25″N 115°28’57″W .

To make this even more of an adventure, this time around Ill be driving the entire distance. 8.5 hours each way from my home to Rachel Nevada, which by the way is barely a speck on the map. The population is something like 54.

Another cool thing about this race, is that the finish line is that the famous Little Ale’Inn & Cafe . After you finish the race, they serve everyone a huge breakfast, and of course a chance to check out their giftshop for UFO stuff.

I admit I kind of a UFO buff, so walking along the parameter of this very secretive Military base is pretty cool in itself. When I did the half marathon there back in 2008, I remember seeing several of those notorious black SUVs sitting along side of the road. They were obviously there to make their presence known, so that none of the race participants might be tempted to veer off course and take a peek of something they shouldn’t.

I haven’t decided yet on what race distance Ill attempt. It will either be the 1/2 marathon or the 10K, it just depends on how my lungs are acting that week. In preparation though, Ill be training for the 1/2 marathon. Haven’t decided on a costume yet either, but it will certainly be a UFO theme.

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