1. a body projected or impelled forward, as through the air. 2. ejected with great force. 3. expulsive vomiting that is extremely forceful, with vomitus expelled some distance

On December 14, 2013, for the tenth consecutive year, sixteen runners gathered before dawn on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Each one of us touched the ocean then turned to run to the top of Saddleback Mt., the highest point in Orange County some 33 miles way. In accordance with this tribe’s tradition, each of us stopped to let the cold ocean water drip from our fingers onto crusty old sponge.

The 10th running of the Saltwater 5000 was supported by some very loyal and dedicated crew. Alfred C, the only crew member who has been with us every single year for ten consecutive years, experienced a bit of a health scare in the morning which turned out to be a virus that affected his lungs. He is ok, and has been told by doctors the virus should run its course in a week or two and not to ride his bike for at least 10 days. Alfred was presented the first ever Eddie award by Bino M for his long term commitment and support of the Saltwater 5000. Alfred will also be presented the Spirit of Saltwater award by me, his brother on Christmas Eve in front of his extended family.

Unlike 2012, the 2013 running of SW 5000 took place in near perfect conditions, with clear blue skies and sunshine for the entire day. Temperatures dipped into the low 40s at the start, but quickly warmed up to the mid 50’s for most of the day. And unlike previous years, there were no scrapes or brushes with the law, real or otherwise. If was, really, quite uneventful. Until the wheels fell off and the cookies were tossed.

Saltwater is a unique event because it is a bit of a melting pot of edgy, fit athletes that want to spread their wings up the mountain, and those who show up and struggle every mile but push through their misery with sheer pride and stubbornness. How many times can I ask people to stay together, chill and just look out for each other? It is the latter runners that I’ve come to learn are the ones that keep us together. This year Cracker was the dope who showed up out of shape. Not satisfied with being the last into the Modjeska aid station, he took a leisurely 20 minutes to eat his burrito, which he later tossed right back out on the trail. “It tasted so good going in, but not so good coming out”. Thanks Cracker.

Bino, Rob M and I hung with Cracker who refused to DNF. The four of us made it to the summit self-supported in a blizzard last year and it was appropriate we stick together this year. At one point I looked up and saw Bino pushing Cracker up the hill, saying he was glad it wasn’t him that was suffering. Those words would later come back to haunt Bino. It was frustrating to know all the other runners were 30 to 45 minutes or more ahead of us, and it must have been out of this frustration that I started imitating other people's running styles. Padilla, Tommy N, Laura W and a few others. Then Bino yelled out, “oh yea, well who is this?” And he began walking like a zombie on a 33 mile death march. Poor Cracker.

Before we reached the top of Joplin trail, I was concerned none of the runners would be waiting for us. Bino was unraveling faster than a cheap sweater. We'd been on our feet longer than any Saltwater I can remember. Our crew had been waiting for two hours or more. But when we popped on to the Main Divide everyone was there! Thanks for waiting folks! Laura W quickly identified Bino was in dire need of a beer and delivered one to both of us. This wasn't, looking back, the wisest choice for Bino, because, like Cracker, he tossed it right back onto the trail within a few minutes. Could there be a more dramatic method of vomiting on trail than what we all witnessed? I for one don't think so. Bino had it all, projectiles, force, retching vocals, rhythmic timing and a stoic pose. What can I say, Saltwater brings out the worst in all of us.

I'd like to thank all the crew who helped us at this years Saltwater 5000 for making sure we runners got what we needed when we needed it. This includes Al C, Eric D, Marshall, Tom, Rob S, Randy, John John and Jen C and my girls. If it weren't for you all this year's sweet sixteen wouldn't have made it to the top and back down.

And a hearty thanks to all the Saltwater runners for running so well and showing up in such good shape. A special shout out to this years award winners: Laura W for her preparation and awesome focus out there; Pam for making it look so easy on her first year despite having to find her way by herself on unfamiliar trail (payback by Saltwater running gods?) and Cracker for making a chump out of himself which he does so gracefully.

Keep it real Saltwater runners!

No comments:

Post a Comment