Dare to fail; I mentioned that in the Convergence backblast at the beginning of the year. No bigger endeavor than the first ever Strides of March, a double relay through four different exchange zones in Gastonia. As Pepper Brooks said in Dodgeball: “that’s a bold strategy, Cotton.” It was, one that I explained several times in the last few weeks. Most of the responses I received were blank stares or furrowed eyebrows. I dare to say most of the participants didn’t fully comprehend the plan until after they completed the first circuit. That’s okay – the Q had you covered, for the most part. We had 28 “official” participants placed onto three different teams which were quickly named after light beers: Team Bud Light, Team Miller Lite, and Team Coors Light. Admittedly, I could have used more creativity in the names, so if we ever drag this event out again, we can be more democratic in the process. For now, I just needed to identify the teams which were:
BOS, Oompa Loompa, Hacksaw, Slaw, Blart, Flintstone, Boudin, Pockets, Def Leppard, Pizza Man, Freight
Radar, Brillo, Orangemen, Breaker Breaker, Short Sale, EZ Rider, Purple Haze, Broke, Gavel
Round Up, Sarlacc, Stroganoff, Dirt, JJ, Doodles, Dr. Seuss, Montross
Leading up to the event, there was still confusion among the teams, when to run, when to rest, etc. The way this event worked is each team had 2 runners at each exchange zone (Lineberger, SnoBalls, The Pub, and Parkwood Baptist). The 1st runners left at 6:30 am. The 2nd runners remained until the runner at the EZ before them arrived to tag them in. At all times each time had 4 guys (some partners) in motion and 4 resting. Know where to begin, who you tag in and who tags you – it was that simple, if you can call this creation simple. Still, I put together a handbook with maps and directions. Then I put signs out on the course for key turns – well in one spot, I did say go through the intersection with a left turn sign on the opposite side of the road. The Q failed there and BOS paid a penalty (my apologies BOS – I owe you a beverage at Primal). The only other casualty was a late exchange at Parkwood when Flintstone arrived looking to tag his teammate but Slaw was indisposed at the new 7-Eleven earning a road win. Quickly referenced was a similar experience from a few years ago P-200 when Tiny Tank arrived to tag in Slaw “Where the F is Slaw!? Where the F is Slaw!?” Fortunately, Blart was teamed with the King of Deuce and took the behind. But to Slaw’s credit, he caught and passed Blart on the route, making up time undoubtedly having dropped some baggage behind.
Speaking of turning on after-burners, Strava confirmed some PAX were flying around the course, well under their estimated 5k times used as baselines to form the teams. I can only say from personal experience and what a few others shared with me, but I think the beauty of this event was the opportunity for all men to find ways to push. Whether it was to catch the guy ahead, to make up time, to run further than they imagined they could, or just to finish the race. The separate circuits of 2.5, 2.9, 3.2 and 3.0 miles served as a reasonable test for all levels.
In order to put this event on, I needed help. Watts Up created the registration form. Big Pappy quickly converted the handbook to a weblink that could be shared with the participants to study ahead of the race. The SLT that supported the idea. Mayor was on his bike as support for the PAX helping them stay abreast of all that was going on ahead or behind them. JJ, BOS, and Freight were EZ leaders, then Sarlacc, Def Leppard, and Freight helped me start the race (note Freights group started early), but that’s okay. Anyone who has Q’ed a large workout can appreciate the challenge. The Strides of March was difficult because the Q (YHC) was at one of the EZ’s and had to Trust the Team to get this thing started as order was paramount. Other than the one fail previously mentioned, I’m proud to say there were no casualties among the PAX as all returned to their original starting point, possibly a little sore and tired, but can all shared in the accomplishment of having completed the race. Oh – one other Q fail – I was not clear in having the teams record their official end times but that’s okay, this wasn’t about winning – just getting better. So while the Strides of March was Completely Stupid, maybe it wasn’t Utterly Pointless. Ask the guys that finished. Thanks to all that competed and participated. And to those that were OYO: HIPAA rucked the course, Roscoe tested his leg with a few miles, Buckeye went for 6 miles while Sargento and Quiche got 12 miles the long way (they missed the same turn as BOS but their whining doesn’t count).