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.