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.

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