Fitness, Fellowship, Faith

Day: March 26, 2019

Hell hath no FURY like a Careless Whisper. Van Two P200

Back to reality this week after a blur of catnaps, long runs, intestinal “touch and go” issues, and laughs.  The Mayor had the Fury cleaned and prepped for the journey to Columbia.  The characters in this story are the Mayor as the Commander, Dolph as the Navigator, Stroganoff as Nantan, Breaker Breaker as just a character, Gold Digger playing himself, Roadie playing the reluctant hero and YHC playing the part of the grey man.

Van One was already running the race and we knew we had to get to Columbia by the start time and there wasn’t much time for any detours.  We all met at the Belmont PD parking area (Thanks to Broke’s connections with law enforcement) at 0815 Friday morning and loaded up the pristine church van.  The Mayor took great pride in this van and you could tell his Extreme Ownership in practice as it had been washed, had air freshener dangling from the mirror, a roll of paper towels, cell chargers, USB chargers, rechargeable lamps, pens, gum, a notebook with directions, legs, instructions, and all things P200, and all his personal kit at arms length on the floorboard next to him.  The outside had been completely made up in F3 Gashouse style with graphics, a sweet skull, the F3 logo, and the word “KILLS” written in red on the back window.  Several people commented the irony of a church van with skulls and “kills” written all over it.  You can take the gashouse out of Gastonia but……A true veteran driver going out in style for his swan song.  What is clear at this point is this ain’t his first van driving rodeo, he says it will be his last, but we all know that if Dolph HC’s for another run he is bringing the Mayor out of retirement for one more “farewell tour”.  It is reminiscent of Kiss, Black Sabbath, or other timeless bands who are looking to capitalize on their previous success one more time.


We loaded up the van and as we were getting ready to head out Gold Digger said he forgot the t shirts that Broke had given him the night before.  We had to amend our plan of hitting the road by making a detour.  The Mayor didn’t know where Gold Digger lived but “on Wilkinson” was said many times.  The left turn on Wilkinson was missed and a chorus of backseat drivers led by the Nantan sang a tune of discontent as we wondered if our navigator and driver team was up to the task.  We  headed towards 85 towards Mount Holly and had to make a u-turn near the medical center.  It cost us some time but we made it to Gold Diggers apartment and fortunately he was in and out with t-shirts in mere seconds and that made Roadie ask if he was fast at everything!

Once on the road the Commander and Navigator were giving each other a hard time but it was hard to hear from the 3rd row.  Multiple conversations going on with a certain nervous energy in the van, at least from me.  The Mayor was in charge of the tunes but I heard the commercial break say something about 102.9 “The Light”.  Ummmmm.   The next song was “Careless Whisper”.  Ummmmm   “Hey Mayor what the hell are we listening to?  Embarrassed, he quickly changed the station.  Then someone asked was that performed by George Michael or Wham?  I told everyone don’t answer that it is a trick!  From everyone moment the rest of the trip, someone in our van had that song in their head and Stroganoff actually whistled it several times.

Somewhere near Columbia I realized that although I had eaten breakfast I didn’t leave time for coffee and forgot to drink anything so I had to figure out how much water to chug to hydrate but not so much as to cramp or splash Merlot during the first leg.

Once on the other side of Columbia we got off the interstate and closer and closer to the exchange zone.  After going down some long roads that could best be described as a combination of pine forests and coastal plains, we all wondered where the hell these hills came from?  I thought this race wall all downhill?  They weren’t just steep, they were long and I had to run the first leg for van two Dammit!

The Mayor gave us a nice parking spot and we quickly found the porta jons and the other PAX from Team’s one and two.  It was a happy reunion as we all waited for Dr. Seuss and Short Sale to bring home the last leg of their vans for their respective teams.  I realized after standing in the sun and cooking that I may need some sunscreen since I didn’t bring a hat.  Roadie and I talked later about how hard it is to find hats that fit when you have a big melon on your head.  The one size fits all is a lie.  I started searching for sunscreen.  The First Aid kit that F3 Guts put together for our van had a neck brace and stethoscope but no sunscreen.  I asked around and no one apparently had any sunscreen.  We waited to see who would come to the exchange zone first and it was Dr. Seuss smoking a blistering pace!  Hipaa was ready to go just as Bed Pan brought me some sunscreen.  I quickly doused my face with a generous portion when Short Sale started bringing it home.  I launched out of the start zone while rubbing sunscreen, starting my new Gorun app and watching Hipaa run into the distance.  Could I catch him?

Gastone told me to run a 9 minute pace on the first leg to save myself for the rest of the race.  That went out the window as soon as I started.  I was looking for my first kill.  I thought I was gaining ground but unfortunately Hipaa is the 2018-2019 Most Improved Player and was the rabbit to my Greyhound.  Fortunately up one of the long hills I could see him getting ready to catch a wounded gazelle and I set my sights on that prey as well.  We both got by him for the first kill each.  Hipaa kept the pace going and soon I realized that the gap had been growing slightly.  A 7:49 pace for me and he was under that for sure.  Hand off to Stroganoff at the Exchange Zone.  I was met by encouraging brothers and a bottle of water.  Awesome!  One down, two to go.

At each exchange zone a bottle of water and the van teammates waited to witness the exchange.  Each man was working hard to exceed their anticipated pace.  The order of runners was Roscoe, Stroganoff, Roadie, Gold Digger,Breaker Breaker, and Dolph as the anchor.  Somehow the Mayor can drive and keep the pace for each runner in his head and we were withing minutes of each runner returning based on the math.  Amazing stuff!  After Dolph handed the slap bracelet off to Van one’s first runner JJ we could finally look for something to eat.  We found civilization nearby and settled for Cracker Barrel.  I was looking for a drug store because I wanted some sunscreen.  Once at the CB a few runners hit the bathroom to clean up before we were seated.  Everyone ordered their food and the wait began.  I am not a huge cracker barrel fan.  Comfort food is good but I like big portions.  I didn’t know what to order and was torn like an old sweater.I settled on a chef salad for some reason while everyone else was went with hot meals.    My salad came out first and I patiently waited for someone to tell me to go ahead and eat.  That order came from the Mayor so I started eating.  It takes a few minutes to eat a chef salad, but somehow I was finished before anyone else had anything to eat minus the biscuits and cornbread that came out.  We paid the tab and hit the road.  We skipped finding sunscreen, probably because the sun was starting to  recede in the sky.  We jumped on the interstate briefly and a few miles in there was a sign for a rest area.  Pull on in to that bad boy Mayor!  There were four stalls.  One of the stall was locked but no one was in there!  Dolph and I went full bore MacGuyver and picked the lock.  Thank goodness because we needed all four stalls.  Thank you SCDOT!

Shortly thereafter we pulled into Lake Marion High School shortly thereafter with full belly’s.  It was getting cooler out so the PAX unloaded their sleeping bags and/or inflatable pouch couches, otherwise known as the vagina sofa.  While a few PAX inflated their vagina’s with the wind, The Mayor, who is a veteran race driver, pulled out the portable and rechargeable miniature leaf blower and within seconds had a fully inflated vagina.  There were more vagina’s than expected.  Everyone got cozy in their beds to nap or read or listen or whatever.  Tool Time was out like a light.  Gold Digger was sort of deep breathing.  The rest were trying to sleep.  I think I saw a black couch pouch from BedPan get caught by a wind gust.  Lots of laughter followed.

The sleep was mostly in vain due to the nearby girls softball game  Those girls were chanting NONSTOP.  It was the teenage version of the soccer vuvuzela.  Nightfall descended on the high school and so did the men and women to the field house bathrooms.  The lines were long and the smells were awful.

It was close to the time that Short Sale was going to close out his second run so we loaded up to the entrance and awaited Short Sale to arrive.  It was dark but cool.  Short Sale came in with some other runners so it was sort of confusing but I almost immediately got two kills leaving from that EZ.  This was my longest run of the race at just under nine miles.  Traffic was heavier and it was very dark but I enjoyed the Pandora playlist and trying to get as many kills as possible.  A little over an hour later and I was at the EZ to hand off to Stroganoff.  Little did I know what had just happened as the Van one PAX awaited my arrival.
The following passage as written by the MAYOR:

It was at the end of our second transition in our second leg when it all happened. Most of the team was anxiously waiting stroganoff as he came in from one of his long runs. He had been having some issues with his stomach and had not been feeling good and had a long run on this leg. Dolph had grabbed a the water and headed to the cone area to wait on him. I was behind breaker breaker as he was walking the exchange. And then it happened. From the parking lot to the shoulder of the road was a sunken in 5 foot drainage ditch. On the surface it appeared to be terra firma, however, once breaker breaker boldly stepped forward it became quicksand. As breaker breaker went across, the momentum carried him because it was down (sunken)and he took one step and then another step and fell across on to the other side. Throughout mayors laughing, which attracted a myriad of folks at the exchange zone, Breaker Breaker Remained steadfast in his results. He never showed any emotion and was exemplary with his normal face. Mayor then quickly whipped out his flashlight and asked did he lose his shoes?  The reply came “hell yes I did.” The flashlight shown brightly on these two indention’s. Someone bent down and picked one up because it was reachable and the other one showed at least an 8 inch divot that all you could see was the back of the shoe. It was lost forever.  Something else also happened during this time. You may remember that stroganoff was coming in and had not been feeling well and while our van was gathered around laughing, stroganoff was near the van and feeling bad by himself. The water that Dolph had grabbed was completely forgotten and we abandoned stroganoff to his own until all the laughter had subsided.

You may think this the end of that story, but sometime later it was learned that Breaker Breaker had another pair of Crocs on.  He actually brought two pair!

The rest of the night was a combination of catnaps in the van and shivering.  I couldn’t get warm as I packed too lightly.  Stroganoff and I had some jacked up stomachs.  I felt nautious and we both were trying to figure out where to find a decent bathroom.  I tried at the above mentioned EZ.  It was a nice church and I asked the gentlemen where the bathroom was.  They told me and I went there and walked in to a sort of parlor outside the stalls.  There must have been ten guys lounging around like a frat house while in almost literally the same room other guys were in the stalls playing a symphony of “the sounds of dysentery”.  It made the bathroom scene from Dumb and Dumber seem like just a little gas.  I took a hard pass on that bathroom and prayed it could wait.

A few more stops along the way and we were headed through Monks Corner to the final exchange where Van one would finish up.  We parked in the area designated for vans but it was some distance from the actual exchange zone.  By this time it was probably 40 degrees.  With the exception of Breaker and Gold Digger, everyone else departed the van for a quiet spot without fire ant hills.  The Mayor had backed into a space that when you tried to get something out of the back of the van you had to watch out for the mound.  The Mayor got his inflatable vagina out again.  Roadie slept like a baby.  I think Dolph caught some Z’s.  Stroganoff wore out the porta jon’s three times in three hours.  There was a moth flying around the size of a small pterodactyl.  I don’t know how anyone could sleep with the constant porta jon doors slamming and the parking attendants talking up a storm.  At one point I heard a van turn on.  It was the FURY!  The Mayor’s vagina wasn’t warm enough so he went into the van to turn on some heat.  It was like an oven in there.  I packed up my sleeping bag and got ready to run.  All this time the phone service was nil and there weren’t any messages going through.  We estimated Short Sale’s finish time and we headed to the EZ, some more rested than others.

Short Sale came in hot and I took off for another decent pace and two kills.  I handed off to Stroganoff at daybreak.  We still didn’t have any coffee but at the next EZ a full grown man in a Tigger the Tiger suit was making coffee on the tailgate of his van.

Now Roadie’s third run leg was coming up and he was hoping that Hacksaw was going to run it for him since he was itching to run instead of drive.  That didn’t work out so Roadie was looking at the challenge ahead.  Roadie headed out for a plus seven mile leg.  We stopped the van at mile 3 and waited for him.  He was ahead of his pace and he took a bottle of water and soldiered on.  We drove to mile six and waited.  I asked if psychologically it would help or hurt to have the van there.  Before we discussed it the Mayor pulled off and when went to the EZ and waited for Roadie.  He made it back with a leg cramp and a killer attitude and a huge sense of accomplishment.  I think I speak for the rest of the PAX in van one that this was the highlight of the trip.  Roadie ran further than he ever has and completed all three of his legs.  It…was….awesome!

Gold Digger went out as usual and ran something crazy in the six minute mile range.  He came in hot to the second to last EZ and Breaker Breaker went out to try to catch Bedpan.  He had a solid third leg and he handed off to Dolph for the Glory leg.   We headed to the final EZ where the race ended and met up with the rest of our team.  We got out to see the taco’s and beer and the finish line.  We still didn’t have any sunscreen and this is where those of us wearing shorts thought we were in an episode of “When Animals Attack”.  The black flies started feasting on my legs which were already turning crispy red.  Dolph finished the race and both teams were 33rd and 34th.  Amazing!

A few beers and taco’s later and a group photo and we left to go to the hotel and clean up.  A nice time at night at the hotel saw a more normal schedule with dinners and basketball games.  The next morning Stroganoff we met for breakfast and QSource.  Stroganoff reserved the conference room for a great discussion on Shorties.

We left the hotel more or less rested and hit the road.  We had just gotten into Charlotte and gotten off 77 to 485 where a motorist in clear distress was flagging down cars.  The Mayor pulled over quickly and I jumped out to see what we could do to help.  The man didn’t speak much English but he only wanted directions to Charlotte.  I told him he was in Charlotte and told him where to go.  When I turned around every PAX in van one was right behind me getting my back just in case things went south!

That is a good way to end this (finally!)  F3 is about being their for each other whether you are in need or not.  We do crazy things together and the whole time think about how fortunate we are for the opportunity.  This was my first P200 (although I am a 3x veteran of the 50 mile relay!).  It was a fantastic experience to further bond with the brothers of F3 in Van One and all the other PAX that went out of their comfort zones to do something CSAUP.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.




P200 Ruck

After the team’s traveled a range of distance from 12 to 24 miles, some of the experienced runners know that a recover run is needed. With some of the guys being a little tired, a compromise was made – a ruck instead. So once everyone’s bags were loaded, we gathered in the lobby and marched over the flat asphalt terrain of the parking lot and put our gear in the vans. It wasn’t nearly as challenging as we’d thought but we felt good about the accomplishment considering what we’d already completed the day before. This P200 weekend was full of great events. There are probably several more I’m forgetting – if anyone recalls – write a backblast so we can get credit.

P200 – 2nd F

I’m not even sure Roadie knows what a great job he did organizing a 2nd F event following all the guy’s efforts at the P200. Once gathered at the hotel, we agreed for dinner at either the Mellow Mushroom or Brazilian Steakhouse. After dinner, we took over the hotel lounge watching basketball, visiting with each other, or watching a vicious card game (Roadie was the big winner and Broke – well Broke was almost broke). Great job by Roadie.

P200 Q-Source

Stroganoff led a Q-source discussion about shorties the Sunday morning prior to leaving Mt. Pleasant for home. It was a great message where we shared the challenges of being a Dad (except for Gold Digger – he was not allowed to raise his hand yet).

HIMs & Homeys

I’ve checked another one off my list, not that there ever was a list mind you, but I’m a veteran of three relay races now having added the P200 to drawer of t-shirts serving as Dad’s accomplishments. Having recently completed a half-marathon, you’d think I’m turning into a runner of some sorts but to me, it’s more about facing a challenge and kicking it’s tale a few times. Will I do another one of these things? Most definitely, it will require a bit of negotiating with my M though – so don’t put my name down just yet. At least with the 2019 Palmetto 200, I knew what I was getting myself into and was better prepared for the mileage I agreed to run, the lack of sleep, the inadequate food, all the normal things about this experience. What I was not prepared for was the hurricane that got our van all twisted and thrown around. Hurricane you say? Sure did, so why don’t you climb on my knee and let me share a story or two.

The P200, part Deux once again had 24 men register meaning Freight and Broke divided the teams near equal for experience and ability. They did a fantastic job even with the later substitutions. GasHouse Team Dos as we were aptly named was comprised of our captain Broke, JJ, Moses, Roundup, Allen Tate, and myself as the runners and Huckleberry as the driver, only he didn’t get to drive that much. Tate apparently gets car sick unless he is driving, so off we went on Thursday evening, headed to Columbia in a steady rain so we could gain a few extra hours of sleep before the 6:00 am start. We allowed Sparky and Def Leppard to tag along even though they were team Uno. Their intelligence would clearly aid their effort for the event with the extra sleep.  The Quality Inn was a few letter grades better than the bed bug inn Sargento stashed us in Kentucky but the smoke detector battery began beeping at 4 am in my room, getting us up before we really wanted. We arrived at the starting line to meet the other members of Team Uno. Sparky gathered us for a quick prayer. All men of our F3 Region have talents, some apparent and some hidden. I’m not saying Sparky missed his calling but I enjoy the opportunities when he shares a blessing, it just makes me feel extra good – thanks for the good word Sparky.

The good Lord was smiling on us as we were about to experience the first non-rainy Friday since October. I’d say this was the first great weather weekend of the year. We began the chilly morning with a good start having JJ lead our team. Uno and Dos split into our respective vehicles and headed off to the first drop zone. I’m not sure Allen Tate stretched anything more than is jaws or his mind. He was our 2nd runner, unintentionally paired with Oompa Loompa. JJ smoked his first 6 mile leg and Tate took off for 5 miles. Due to some health issues, he hadn’t trained much at all. There was reasonable concern for Pledge Tate as he called 4 different guys only a few hours before we left, asking what he needed to pack for this event. For those familiar with this relay, we do our best to estimate arrivals and have the next runner ready. Broke began getting loose about 7:30 anticipating an 7:42-ish arrival. Runners began rolling in for other teams. We surmised the Chief of Folsom may be struggling in his virgin run. Then Oompa rolled in. Team Uno crowed that Oompa got a kill on AT, but Oompa confessed he didn’t see our boy on the route. Oompa said there was a turn hidden by school bus boarding kids before sunrise he initially missed but was alerted by another runner to correct the mistake, maybe Allen Tate did the same. A quick phone call to our teammate assured that he was fine and had missed a turn. Something about his watch alerting him at mile 6 he figured we had messed with him and told him it was only 5. Broke got a pass to take off given the circumstance. Another van was kind enough to return our lost sheep. Of course Huck was ready to jab the needles. “Man, I don’t know where I missed the turn, I should’a looked at that map,” he began. “I kept thinking this sure was a long 5 miles.” Apparently Tate traveled 6.8 total miles. He was most proud that he didn’t walk until after he’d traveled the required 5 miles. Missed turns are common in these events – most all teams have tripped over this obstacle at one point or another – this was par for the course.

While the runners managed to navigate the remainder of the course, our driver/navigator (Chief Allen Tate) had a few more stumbles in the van. True he was out of his comfort zone in Dallas and some of the places we traveled on this trip could be listed in the definition of BFE, but the relay notebook and GPS on our phones (except for Huck’s Boost phone) kept us on track. After my navigation fiasco at the Bourbon Chase last fall, I remained in the second row, happy to defer directions to JJ or Broke. My only fear occurred prior to my middle leg because we missed a left turn to which Tate suggested we “drive a little ways and we’ll probably see it…” I reminded the van Roundup was near sprinting his short 3.5 mile leg and could beat us to the spot if we didn’t hurry. Luckily Huck got us back on the trail with time to spare.

Like all of these relay experiences, eating and sleeping are as big of challenges as the running can be. Van 1 started at 6 am and finished the first leg before noon, where we opted for a Cracker Barrel to carb load with the other team. At the next exchange zone, couch pouches and other gear were spread into a field for as much R&R as we could steal until we were back on the clock at 4 pm. Circuit 2 offered some of the shorter legs for JJ, AT, Roundup and myself. Brok and Moses each covered nearly 7 miles on their routes. The good news is Tate didn’t get lost and that was a positive sign. My goal was to avoid getting killed by Dr. Seuss who blistered a 7:15 pace on his first run and passed me at mile 6. The guys ahead of me thankfully had padded a lead but once the sun went down, any headlamp I saw from behind caused me to run faster as my pride couldn’t afford another hit, even if it was from one of the nicest men in our region. My legs and stamina listened as I ran my PR of 5:22 for 5.3 miles. We wished our Van 2 teams good luck as they had nearly 42 miles to cover in their portion. As I noted, we’re in the middle of nowhere in SC so at 8 pm on a Friday, our dining options were limited. We settled on a Wendys, which is #22 on Yelp’s list in Santee, SC, slightly edged by the Taco Bell and Bojangles (Gastonia doesn’t look to bad in comparison now does it?). From here it was on to the Hatchery Waterfowl Management Boat Landing for attempted sleep. Huck found a spot at the tree line above the water which we all agreed was a good spot away from other vans. We were blessed to have a clear night that allowed us to sleep outside or maybe just to lie down. I learned from past experience, the van benches are not comfortable, so I left them to Roundup, Tate and Huck. JJ opted for the asphalt and somehow slept on it. Moses and Broke settled in their couch pouches. I managed to sleep hard for 4 hours on the pine needles and missed the boat that woke most everyone else trying to get on a trailer. Once other vans came to the Exchange Zone, some were opposed to sleep and kept others up. Since JJ and I slept pretty good, we missed the message Dolph was on the course and would arrive a little after 2:00 am – this we learned at 1:55. Think of when your parents arrive home unexpectedly and your subconscious takes over – this was JJ as he got his gear ready and was at the start to get the baton. Most guys would have bagged that run in that state of mind but JJ ran another sub-8:30 – pretty strong work.

Delirium was beginning to set for us as Allen Tate solicited financial rewards to run his final 3.7 miles. I offered to walk it for $1200 while Roundup contemplated $75. Only thing was – Allen Tate wasn’t willing to bid for Roundup’s 7.8 mile leg. Which by the way, Roundup said his foot was sore and he’d probably only run an 8:15 pace for his final leg. He cruised in at 7:37 – strong work. Once I handed off to Roscoe a final time, we opted for a McDonalds breakfast and then to the final spot to await the teams. The good thing about being one of the first vans to arrive was to break the seal on the porta-jons.

Moleskin – I’ve had the pleasure to post a few Saturday’s at Folsom and be among a great group of guys. But never with Allen Tate…sorry, Chief Allen Tate. I’d heard rumors and read a few backblasts but until the Christmas party never been exposed to the legend, he myth and the character that makes the man. For those at the Christmas party, we got a glimpse of AT but having spent over 30 hours in a van with him, well, I couldn’t begin to capture all that was said and learned but more enjoyably, laughed at. Damn near brought to tears on a few occasions. Netflix could get a three year run with the Chief as the lead for their next production. So Hurricane Allen Tate circled through us and it was entertaining, as these relays always are. Before F3, I didn’t know any of the guys in my van which is a great reason for you to jump onboard the next one that comes along (thanks to Freight and Broke for leading). It’s a trip where  you get an opportunity to interact and learn more about our F3 brothers, their lives and families. This isn’t the military by any stretch but throwing guys into close quarters with the spirit of competition being the thread that pulls them along – you fight for each other, even when it’s your other brothers in the other van as your closest competition. We don’t want to let our teammates down so we push a little harder and overcome being tired, cold, or irritable. It was impressive to witness JJ run all three legs under 8:30 – whether it was an intentional goal or something he achieved, it came from hard work and running with faster guys. He credits being the Pub Q as a factor (btw – he’s looking for a replacement site Q who wants to step up?). Moses has been training for a half marathon and ran each of his legs with dogged intensity; head down, plowing through. After one of Allen Tate’s police stories, we shared that Moses was really on the trip for surveillance on his fellow law enforcement officer.  Roundup gets an honest work ethic from his father Hacksaw, that is clear having spent time with both of them. He quietly goes about his business. He enjoyed the trip and is ready for another one – be sure to give him a tough leg – he won’t let you down. We had two birthday boys with us on Friday. Huck and Broke said they were happy to spend their birthdays with us. In hindsight, we should have got them a cake. I got Huck a 6-pack of IPA’s thinking he’d be our driver – so maybe that counts a little. Which I learned that Huck is a snob – who’d have thought that? No, it’s not people – Huck loves almost everyone but he does hate wheat beer. Nothing was more clear than Saturday assortment drinks of IPAs, Captain Morgan, moscato, and other stuff. Needless to say he enjoyed the weekend and did a great job when Allen Tate allowed him to drive. Broke treated himself to a steak Saturday night maybe for his birthday or maybe for the effort he put on the course. I knew he could churn the legs and he did that consistently. His final leg was under three miles and he attacked it with a sub-8 mile to finish his turn. Broke and I have been on the same relays but this is the first time as van-mates so that was a bonus for me.

Moleskin – The Finale – This is my third relay event and the first P200 as well as my first time in van 1. I couldn’t begin to give you an order of preference as each one has their unique attributes that make it memorable. They all bring memories and stories to be shared for the future. More than one mention was made of my blow up at the T200 over the wrong biscuit being in my bag – good times…more were made on this trip circa the Legend in Chief Allen Tate and the others. I heard the P200 2017 attempt at multi-teams didn’t go so well. While in the 2019 version we jockeyed positions a few times, it was like an intra-squad scrimmage. We’ve done this at many a bootcamp. We say it’s a “you vs. you” but our competitive nature has to draw a target from somewhere. Sometimes it just happens to be the guy a few minutes behind or running just ahead. Maybe it’s the guy waiting on you to take the next leg or the guys at the finish. What made my P200 memorable are the fact we had two teams worth of runners and drivers to enjoy the weekend, and what a weekend it was.

The View From Behind the Windshield of F3GashouseUno Van 1

As a first-timer, I have been both dreading and looking forward to the Palmetto 200 relay ever since I committed to running. “What a way to push myself!” “Why did I sign up for this?” “This is going to be a great time with some good friends.” “This is going to be terrible!” All of these are statements I have uttered the past 3 months.

Hacksaw, Oompa, Blart, Montross, Seuss, met up at Pocket’s garage like vandals in the night, plotting an attack and loaded up the van at Oh-so-dark-thirty minus our two spies (Def Leppard & Sparky), who had previously infiltrated into the enemy camp. During the ride down, you could feel the excitement in the air. Blart shared stories of competing brothers, boat shoes, cargo shorts, and polos. Oompa was oddly quiet, presumably soaking in the situation and resting his jawls for future verbal thrashings. Dr. Seuss wanted coffee which, as we all learned, is the cornerstone of his diet. Hacksaw was already on his job and behind the wheel, cannon-balling down 77 Southbound making sure we were on time. YHC was right in the middle of conversation, making sure everyone knew about the RunGo app, and feeling really anxious about this first leg which, BTW, was mine.

We arrive a little after 5 after a quick pit stop with plenty of time to get settled, pickup Sparky and Def, and spend some time with the F3GashouseDos Van 1, with whom we would both battle and encourage for the next 29+ hours. Before we knew it, the relay was on and so was the adventure. Here are a few highlights for each member of Van 1.

— Montross — YHC came out strong on leg 1 and set a PR pace for a distance over 5 miles. I was shocked and felt great. I was at a 100 on the confidence meter. My 2nd run humbled me…I came out faster than I meant to, the sun wore me down, and it was all I could do to push on and not puke for the past 1.5 miles…but push on I did! JJ did not get that elusive kill! By the 3rd run, I really just wanted to finish my goal of not walking at all…I slowed the pace down, and just ran the smoothest, calmest 5.6 miles I’ve ever ran. I enjoyed the moon, soaked in the moment and tried to enjoy my final leg, picking up a kill along the way. As I approached the exchange zone, I dug in for one last charge. I was the first one from our van to be finished and that was a great feeling! From a physical standpoint, I learned 2 things on this trip. First, get out and walk around a lot…I did and this helped me stay loose as well as let me interact a lot with Team Dos. Second, get some afternoon runs in…I was not really prepared to run in the sun on leg 2. It beat me up pretty good and cost me some time on my 3rd leg!

— Oompa Loompa — (these words are from the Ol’ Marine himself!) – Met up with Team Two at start. Two always comes in second in numbering sequence. Our giraffe was kicking the walls of the starting stall with anticipation of starting. 3, 2, 1, Go! Covering 8 meters with every bound he quickly left our sight. We hopped back into the Team 1 Van 1 and speed over to the exchange zone. In comes JJ from Team 2 (Booooo!) who passes baton to Allen Tate. Where is our young giraffe?
Here he comes bounding and running like lions are chasing him on the Savannah. Quick baton switch to Oompa and away the ancient marine waddles trying to keep AT within sight. About halfway through our 5 mile route, a school bus was sitting at a red light blocking his view of the directional sign. AT, being a rock pusher runs right past the sign, as he is more interested in out running Oompa than staying on course.

The bus moves, and voila, there is the sign informing me “left turn Clyde”. I follow the directions and watch Chief rapidly increasing the distance between us as he goes off the reservation. Eventually Oompa gets to the exchange zone before Allen Tate. All are surprised that Oompa got there way before Allen Tate. Legend has it that he is still lost in the hinterlands of South Cackalacky.

The rest of the P200 was a delirious victory party. Did you hear about the time Oompa beat Allen Tate to the exchange zone? Ran second leg later that afternoon. Gave last leg to Hacksaw so he could share the running experience with Round Up.

— Blart— While in the gloom, you may think of Blart as a guy who doesn’t usually say a lot and, when he does, it’s always hilarious. I’ve also come to see Blart as a listener. He’s always paying attention and listening. Blart was down on himself after his first leg. FWIW, most of us would have been more than pleased with his time, but he was showing that competitive fire! From his stories with Ash Pond and Slaw to his one-liners, Blart brought a special piece to our van…not to mention he took the sandbags off and ran very well. While he was disappointed with his first leg, he crushed his second leg in the heat that he is all-so-familiar with from Midoriyama and was in rare form as he blistered his final 3-ish mile leg. I’ll take the big guy on my relay team any day of the week!

— Sparky — Of all the guys in the van, I feel like I know the “ultimate sandbagger” the best. Sparky is something else…one of the most devoted God-fearing (and loving) men I know, while still maintaining that sneaky streak to stir the pot a bit. He had fire in his eyes as he chased after Moses on leg 4. While he didn’t quite overcome the heads-start, he was flirting with a 7-minute mile pace. I told y’all he is a sandbagger! Sparky just went out and did work for all 3 legs. I will point this out though….we saw this girl running during he relay who kicked her left leg out every time she stepped…just the left leg. We started calling her Side Straddle Hops! She ended up running leg 16 into Santee Park with Sparky…he ran her down and got the kill as he approached the end of the leg, but she got the revenge kill moments later. In other words, Sparky was killed by the girl with the limp! Sparky came away from that leg looking to jump in the lake…he just wanted to cool down from the blazing sun but changed his mind after realizing it was a 10 foot cliff into the lake! Way to step in at the last minute as a runner and, not only run, but run well.

— Def Leppard — The Silver Fox is no rookie when it comes to relays. Leppard is held in high regard by all around F3 Gastonia and I was more than happy to see he was going to be in my van. Leppard got the shortest end of the straw when it come to our van’s running legs. Leg 5 was just terrible. He ran about 1.5 miles down a sandy dirt road that looked more like Daytona Beach than an actual road…..but it was uphill! Leppard plotted along though, just as you’d expect.

I thought he may beat the van on his second leg to Lonestar BBQ, but Seuss arrived at the starting line at the same exact time Leppard did! Leppard was hitting the wall as we approached his last run though. As Def looked forward to an 8 mile run, Sparky sang a song title “2.78”, clearly in reference to the 2.78 miles he was getting ready to run! The fact that Hacksaw spent an hour of sleep time slamming doors on the van (more on that later) probably didn’t help! I could see his spirits rise as Sparky was running…it’s like Leppard got his mind set and he was ready to go when it was his time. He knocked those 8 miles out to finish his runs, despite nearly depositing his dinner on the side of the road and breathing smoke for 3 miles.

— Dr Seuss — This was the one guy I didn’t really know well going into this trip. I had heard through Sparky and several others that Seuss is just a great man who loves the Lord! Well, that was just evident. Such a nice humble man. There were some things I learned during this trip as well. First off, he has a little competitive streak! As runner 6, he was the last to hit the course and he had some pent-up angst when he left. Just about the time he took to the course, we see some young 20-something jumping around, doing burpees, taking his shirt off, etc and talking junk. I think the words he used were something like ‘no Respect is going to catch me’. Well, Seuss was after his tail pushing to a 7:06 pace on his first leg. He did not catch that young buck but he most definitely outran him. The lead was closed considerably!

Something else I learned, he lives off coffee. If you ever can’t find Seuss, start by looking at Starbucks. We think that is the key to his speed.

The coolest thing I learned about Seuss though is he is always looking to pray for others. As Seuss was racking up kills, we were joking about how polite he probably was as he passes people. “Excuse me”. “Pardon me”. (note – rumor is Quiche says “You just got Quiched!” when getting a kill, does Bret say “You got Seussed?”) As were discussing this though, Spark mentioned how Seuss likes to pray for people and he is always looking for ways to pray for us all as he is running and posting with us! Dr. Seuss is a real HIM!

— Hacksaw — “Our Time was well spent , I watched, learned and took a little bit from each one of you thank everyone of you for taking time for me and Oompa thank you for letting me run, one more men let’s pray that the Lord speaks through us in a way that other men will want to follow , Hacksaw !!!! ”

Hacksaw is the Wildman of Folsom. He’s wired differently than most! He is as competitive and driven as anyone I know. He also cares for others as much as anyone I know..the sincerity and love with which he treats the wrestlers he coaches (and other kids) is impressive. He does it for the right reasons! It’s also so amazing to see the relationship he and Roundup have as Father and Son! From a P200 perspective, I appreciate him signing up to drive and be a part of the team. Hacksaw got us there quickly and was sure to check the pressure on each tire of the van on a regular basis (by rubbing those tires against the curbs!).

Leading up to the event though, it was clear he wanted to run. He’s been battling injuries and clearly he wasn’t in position to run 15-20 miles but he made it clear he would pick up a leg if anyone needed him. Well, sometime late Friday, Oompa decided to let Hacksaw pick up his final leg (#26 for those tracking at home). From that point forward, Hacksaw was an animal. He was rocking back and forth in the seat. Pacing at stops. He spent half of our break time unloading and re-packing the van and keeping people up. He was jacked! As I finished up leg 25, Hacksaw was in the road getting in 50 Merkins to get ready to run! Animal. As I handed the baton, Hacksaw came out like a bulldozer with his head down and rollin! Thanks for stepping in to run Hacksaw but most importantly, just thanks for being you and being a part of our team!

— Best Idea of the Trip —

Once Van 1 finished up, it was off to IHOP for some grub. Not sure who to credit with this, but we found our way to the KOA campground for showers after breakfast. Solid idea guys! That hot shower on Saturday morning was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Refreshed and revived, we hit the road for the finish line and we saw some runners on the side of 17. We knew we’d finished our legs about 30 minutes behind team Dos and figured we’d end up finishing the event just a bit behind our fellow Gashouse HIMs.

— The Story of the Dark Angel —

As we looked at the runners, we recognized Breaker Breaker chugging along down 17. We beeped and cheered for him and then, about 1/4 mile down the road, we saw Bedpan! In the lead, giving it all he had, and looking exhausted! Our van’s energy instantly went to 10! I yelled ‘pull over, let’s give Bedpan some water!!!”. I jumped out of the van with a bottle of water in hand a bit ahead of Bedpan. I walked to him in my black F3 shirt, dark hat, and dark pants. Bedpan didn’t recognize me at first. I yelled something at him and he was like ‘Montross!!!!’ I ran alongside him as he took a few gulps, encouraging him. He said ‘I couldn’t tell who you were, you were like a mirage! You were like an angel in the dark! You’re a Dark Angel!’ I just told him ‘you’re getting it done Bedpan, we’re winning, keep doing what you’re doing and finish strong’ and I gave him a big slap on the butt for good measure. I heard him yell as he kept on rolling to the exchange zone.

The team had already gotten some water for Breaker as well so we headed out, telling Freight BP had a small lead. Freight’s response. “That’s not enough.” Freight needed help from above. He needed support so we decided to stop in and lay hands on ol’ Freight!!! Freight left the final exchange zone in a Frenzy with a small headstart.

— The Ballad of Fast Ricky —

First off, I want to say Freight probably helped and encouraged me as much as anyone as I started P200 training. He ran with me, he talked about his experiences…he (as well as Def Leppard) really helped me get going on my preparation and I appreciate that! I like to mess with him by calling him Fat Ricky and Golden Rekeever, but I have utmost respect and appreciation for him. Freight is a real leader and a HIM. Props to both Freight and Broke for heading up the teams!

That being said, Freight dashed out of the final exchange zone with a small lead of just over 2 minutes. We look back to see Dolph, in all his masculine glory, moving around and getting psyched. He was like a race horse in the gates, about to be unleashed! As Dolph explodes from the exchange zone, we all hop in the van and off to the finish line.

The math was close. Some said Dolph would pass Freight. Some said there wasn’t enough time. No one knew what was coming as both Gashouse teams waited with excitement! We saw a guy come around the corner in black that looked a little like Freight. Then, to our dismay it was a runner from another team. Then we see another black shirt. Was this Freight? We couldn’t tell!!!! Then a runner in grey…no mistaking, that WAS Dolph….and another runner in black behind Dolph! Oh my, it was intense! About 2/3 down the length of the pond we realized what we were seeing…Fast Ricky had done it he had held off Dolph! Freight was laying it all out on the line as he came down the final stretch of what turned out to be a TRUE Glory Leg. F3GashouseUno crossed the line together! Incredibly, after 205 miles and just over 29 hours, both teams crossed the finish line within about 30 seconds of each other.

Just as impressive though, while that was exciting, that was quickly pushed aside and the friendships and brotherhood of F3 Gastonia rose as both teams congratulated each other. Competing and finishing together was the best result we could have asked for. I’ve heard people say you can’t plan it like that…teams tried to stay together and it never worked out. It was amazing that we finished that closely!

In the end, it was a great experience for F3GashouseUno Van 1, as I’m sure it was for all the other vans. The soreness wears away but the memories stay! I appreciate all you guys for pushing me and I hope I helped push you as well. It was a great experience. Guys are already thinking about ‘next time’ and so am I.

  • Montross (with an assist from Oompa)


Mumble chatter was lively this morning the men who just finished the P200 were telling others of the weekend and the weather was nice.

Warm up:
Ssh,Jump lunges, hillbillies, then 5burppees.
Mosey to triangle in the road
Karaoke to corner then 1 burpee
Lunge downhill 2burpees, nur uphill 3burpees. Repeating 3x.
Mosey to the flag. Say the pledge.
Flutters,lbcs,dying cockroach,squats, American hammers
Mosey to the track
Dips,derkins, then step ups. After each set take a lap x3
Back to the parking lot for Mary.

Announcements p200 2020.
Snowbirds is coming up get with Sparky about the details.
4/12 3rd f . 3/30 convergence at Folsom. That evening will be 2nd f at ole Dallas Brewery. 5/5 mr Mitchell hike with Gastone, 4/5 is the 5k for sparkys M’s school.


While getting ready for the P200thought it would be best to do some AMWRAP
Warm up ssh,Moroccon night clubs,
Shoulder press. Mosey to the shelter dips and derkins.
Set 1
25 squats,20merkins15 lunges,sprint 2courts then back. Repeat for 6 minutes.
20bigboys,15 flutters,10mtnclimbers 1court then back 6minutes
25ssh 25sealjack,25overheadpresses,
Karaoke down nur back.
After each set we took a lap

Good work men.

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