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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Millarville Half Marathon (or Hillbilly Half, as dubbed by others)

I have been quasi training, which is way more than I can say about my last half. Andrew and I have been going on nightly outings shooting photos and scaling huge hills to do so. I have been running sporadically and even catching the even more sporadic TKO class. I have been losing weight.

It was an inspiring ride out to the Millarville Half.


I left it ALL out there on the race track yesterday. You know how I know? I know because of the general and total disrepair of my body today. And it feels great.

I ran 15 minutes faster than my half in April on a course no less hard. And that was the key to my success yesterday. The course was billed as net downhill (it was) point to point (it was) with one big hill in the middle. Um. it had a number of big hills. That was fine, it became a mental test for sure, but wow those were some long hills. at one point in the race you are standing (running) on top of one of the hills, looking 4km across the valley to the top of the next hill. 3kms away is the next aid station. that you can see. forever. it seems.

The good news was I ran the race barefoot. I took my old KSO’s with me, but on the shuttle to the start I was able to loosely determine that the surface was good enough for bare. I was right.


In all race courses there is some rough stuff, and this track was no different, but was by far the best barefooting course I have run on in all of my races. Smooth to very smooth for most, 50 feet of gravel to start the race, 100 feet of gravel at the 9km mark, a rough patch of pavement at 18kms and 200 meters of gravel at the finish. Today my feet feel fine. no issues at all. My calves are tired and sore, the rest of my body is generally race sore.

The start line was fun as always. I got to be the first user of the PoP. Stoked for sure!


There were a great number of friends at this race, and with my barefeet I made a bunch more friends as usual. I have been reduced to really corny responses when asked ‘Where are your shoes?’. Like. ‘What? oh shit, wife forgot to put them on me’ or ‘Is this a race? I am trying to catch the guy who stole my shoes’. The other one when on the run ‘How are your feet?’, I respond “Great, how are yours?’, always gets a quizzical, then Aha look.

Back to the race. It’s a good one. 300 runners for an inaugural event, very organized, very friendly, and great volunteers. Nice shirt is always a bonus. (bag of wellness tea and coupon for free beef jerky in the package too!) Thanks to Dave O for this shot as he passed me on his way to a 2:30 min negative split!


The course is a chug tho. Combining the hills with very long straights of the second half. wooo. Mind games for sure. This course is at least half in the mind because of that. Better runners than me seemed to mind it less. Such is the way it is. Again from Dave O, as he caught me up this long hill.


I got to the finish line all alone. No one for 200 meters ahead or behind me. “Here comes Neil Zeller the Barefoot Runner” Lots of oohs and aahs and clapping. I soaked it all in and even did a fist pump at the end. I was actually that happy. Not to be done (well yeah, to be done) but that it went really well. I battled in my head and my competitor won this time. I talked myself out of some cramping in my hamstrings at the 19km mark, but didn’t have the will to stop them once I got back to the car. I battled in my lower hamstrings for the rest of the day. Such is the way it is. Badge of honor stuff, right?

Met up with great friends at the end and had some food. David wears a GoPro camera when running, and it shoots an image every 30 seconds or so. Here is the awesome result.

On my way home the Chinook Half Ironman was going on. I stopped to shoot some pictures of the riders. As soon as I stepped out of the car my right hamstring broke off. Just the worst cramp ever. I was standing on the side of the road jumping up and down yelling F**k over and over again. Some of the riders got a kick out of that.


Next weekend is the K—100 Relay, which I am looking forward to. then a summer of training. Time to get serious. I just love running and racing too much to not work at it.

Till next post.


  1. When I come home to visit I love to go to the Millarville Farmer's Market. I hadn't realized they do a half marathon out there... nice going on your finish!

    1. This was the first year. It was opening day for the market!

  2. It was the first year for the half marathon. I totally agree with what you said about the run. Didn't feel like a net downhill course. Great run though. My calves are feeling it a bit today, but otherwise no problems.

  3. Good blog! Dave C. has a picture of you finishing with 3 people pointing at you but he said it's fairly fuzzy!

  4. Glad you had a great race!! I've not trained for a half in time for this race, but now I know which one to go for when I do!

    1. thanks, there are easier half's but this one is worth it I think!

  5. Hey, I was running ahead and behind you at different points in the race yesterday. I was so impressed. It was my first half marathon and even though it was a physical challenge (I'd never ran that distance before, even training) the mental part was definitely an unexpected challenge. Going down one hill, exhausted, and seeing the next in the distance! Wow! It was a great course, great race, and I'm looking forward to doing it again!

    1. I remember you! Great work for a first half! Congrats