Friday, January 20, 2012

Regulate Ultra

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so here it goes:

My name is Slow Aaron, and I am an Ultra junkie.

Last season I hit rock bottom. Twice I was swept up in the excitement of a race, and entered on a whim. I ran so much I hurt myself, which is surely a sign of over-indulgence. Once hurt, I was forced to cut back, but biking was too boring so I found comfort in cold beer, Sunday football and 7-layer dip. The past two months have been amazing, I stopped running and felt better than ever. Unfortunately, I thought I could go for one run without a problem, then one run turned into 50 miles a week, and last night I did hill repeats. I’ve tried to set rules for myself, but always find an excuse for just one more – one more summit, one more mile, one more taste of the Gu. In light of my problems, and out of concern for my fellow runners, I’ve contacted my congressman to finally regulate running, specifically within the sport of ultramarathon. Too many of my friends are junkies like me, and need saving. With the help of a little bribe and eager to attach a new mega-fitness facility through pork-barrel legislation, Colorado’s newest politician was eager to jump on board. Until recently I have been unable to talk about this case, as it was still moving slowly through the court system. Finally, last night, we settled with the US government. Here are some of the court transcripts:

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: In the case of SlowAaron vs. Ultra, I present this evidence on behalf of the prosecution (SlowAaron), who alleges that too much ultra has devastating affect, and therefore should be regulated. Consider, in terms of products and services that are both fun and vomit-inducing, great in the moment but cause regret in the waning hours of intoxication and generally cause the public to question your sanity, ultramarathon is relatively unregulated. In fact, the most cumbersome barrier to entry in this subculture is that for some gatherings you must have already been under the influence of this terrible scourge.

DEFENSE: I am outraged at this accusation! Regulating Utramarathon would ruin the ability of these exception people to create new frontiers for achievement. Had ultra-regulation been enacted a year ago, the world would be robbed of Jennifer Pharr-Davis’s Appalachian Trail record and Nick Clark’s WS/HR double. Ultramarathon must be self-regulated because the Constitution is designed to protect the enterprising spirit of the American. Did anyone say to Steve Jobs, "For god's sake Steve, stop! The world is happy with Walkman and Napster!"? Furthermore, the actions of ultramarathoners are not attached to any negative externalities, why regulate something that has no deleterious affects on the public?

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: FOR SHAME! Imagine the poor souls hiking on the trails of the Leadville 100 the day after the trail run. Imagine the smells of excrement, urine and vomit. Imagine the experience of those setting off to glimpse the wilderness at it’s purest, a wilderness destroyed by hanging flagging and expended glow sticks. Surely these count as negative externalities. What of the families destroyed by endless “training” hours? We have countless witnesses who can verify that even when an ultrarunner returns to his home it is with much laziness, an apathetic attitude and an appetite that has left countless children hungry. One such witness even reports that his significant other ate a whole box of Oreos, which were meant to be lunch snacks!

The proceedings continued along these lines for several hours with the defense steadfastly maintaining that regulating this particular industry was un-American and a blatant intrusion of government onto free choice. The judge, seemingly unmoved by crying aid-station volunteers and images of intoxicated runners ruled in their favor. I will have to be responsible for my own running for yet another year. If you see me running any other race than Salida, San Juan Solstice or Steamboat, please get me help. At the very least I hope I’ve raised awareness of this latest health risk that could be endangering someone you love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Golden Sundial Awards

The wizards who decide North American ultrarunning awards came out with their results, and frankly I'm disappointed in the lack of categories. The Academy Awards honor the best makeup artist, there is a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, and all we can manage are two measly UROYS? In honor of the time piece best suited for measuring long lengths of time, I present the First Annual Golden Sundial Awards.

Disappointing Gel Flavor of the Year - CLIF Chocolate Cherry, 2x Caffeine

CLIF How do you screw this one up!? Chocolate? Good. Cherry? Great. Double caffeine? Even Better. Unfortunately, here are a list of gel flavors I’d rather carry with me; Baked Beans, Marinara, Sweet & Low (just the packet, no syrup necessary), Minced _______________ (insert endangered animal here). CLIF, if you’re reading this, I volunteer to be a gel taste tester so this mistake never happens again, provided I never have to eat another of the Chocolate Cherry disappointment.

Sub-Par Performance of the Year – Geoff Roes, Run Through Time - Salida Marathon

Geoff, this award is a compliment and honor, please remember that sub-par is the goal in golf. Perhaps we should laud this performance as race of the year, but that’d be too easy. Even the mysterious Cloud couldn’t find a way to hate the way you raced on this day. Geoff managed a top-ten finish with a PBR at the last aid station, 3 hours of nonstop chit-chatting and a race report that includes the words “cutest little town in the world.” Bravo, we hope our Golden Sundial finds an imaginary place next to your real trophies.

Scapegoat of the Year - Weather

Mother nature made her presence known this season, and in doing so became my favorite excuse since my brother began suffering from mysterious migraines during his senior year of high school. Weather at Pocatello, Steamboat and the night before Leadville certainly affected my races; Western States had its now signature snowpack, Hardrockers were shocked by storms in the San Juans in July, and UTMB decided that it’s mandatory 15 lbs (or is it Kilos?) of gear were insufficient for a little Cham-oh-nicks shower. Ms. Nature has redeemed herself by keeping most of the nation's mountains clear of snow for a extended season of fall running. We’re even.

Thanks for Nothing Award – Fred Abramowitz

Fred is the race director of Run Rabbit Run, and though I was supposed to be a volunteer, he was so gracious as to allow me a late entry the evening before the race. As is often the case, karma came back and kicked my ass for this sin against ultrarunning. The horrible weather was surely a result of my volunteer to runner flip-flopping transgression. Most recently, Fred had the cajones to create a real prize purse for the inenviable task of racing 100 miles, thus insulting a running population that insists its elite athletes live out of trucks, unable to afford razors, food or rent. Thanks for nothing, Fred!

Best Beer to Mile Ratio Award – Brownie

This guy has become the stuff of legend – did you hear he drank a PBR at an aid station at Hardrock? Did you know he wears a bucket hat because he can hide a full Schlitz under it? Did you know he eats the can when he’s done, refusing to waste even a drop? Brownie, you are an inspiration here at Irunslow, congrats on your achievement.

“I Pay for My Shoes UltraRunner of the Year” – Pete Stevenson

Pete Stevenson is the best ultrarunner on his block, which is coincidentally the same street I live on. His Hardrock bumper sticker mocks my every run. Pete trains like an animal, and with animals at the local shelter. He got a full nights sleep at Hardrock and still managed a 15th place finish. Pete earned the beard of the year award, first place at the Antelope Island 100k, and probably logged more miles than anyone who managed to stay healthy all year. His local tests of insanity/endurance are notorious for bringing mortals to their knees (there is a reason certain other FoCo runners aren’t going for the Grey Rock six-pack FKT). Someone get this guy a shoe deal!

I am open to suggestions for categories for next years awards, and please let me know of any potential omissions from the current categories.