Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WS100 Lotto Apocalypse

Somewhere out on the WS100 Course, June 1993.
Note: This post was originally unleashed to the UltraList on December 10, 2011 12:11:26 PM PST
Not only is this still largely relevant to WS100, but practically every other major 100 in the US, right now. Times have changed, and things need to be rethought.

Hello, fun-hogs!

Yes, its that time of year when thousands of anxious WS100 hopefuls agonize over whether or not they're in the magic circle. Are they 3-time losers in the 2nd degree? Nominated and EZ-Passed due to Extraordinary Accomplishments or somesuch? Busted out a 50-miler somewhere on a 2% downhill course?
Probably not. So lets go down to the killing floor, and go to work. Here are some ideas.

  1. COMPLETELY ELIMINATE the 50-mile race requirement. This is dead meat, and has been festering like a zombie with bad manners for way too long.
  2. The new baseline qualifier would be a *FIVE prior 100-mile finishes* requirement. Yes, this is harsh. And pay phones are gone forever too.

Five?? Lawd have mercy!! That is so *elitist*! Damned right.

If WS100 is truly the Big Show, this would clear away a lot of junk and false hopes. For instance: if you ran the Rock'n River 50M 50 last month as a WS-qualifier, who are you kidding? The race is AMERICAN RIVER 50 spelled backwards [05 REVIR NACIREMA, for those keeping track], and most closely approximates the Bath Rd to Foresthill section, or perhaps the last kick into the Placer HS football field. The long-departed Nugget 50 of Ancient Times would be a far more accurate rendering of How Much Your Dick Would Be In The Dirt.

I did WS in '93. Didn't have a good year [28:40], but learned a lot out of it. Did better at AC 90 days later [27:10] and never looked back.

I think the WS req's are too easy. Times have changed, WS hasn't. The talent pool in '83 or '93 was overall tougher than now. Maybe not faster, but tougher.

Why's that? As the sport increased in popularity, it reflects the society around it. And the society is increasingly suburbanized. And they expect certain things.

  • Why the blister fetish at WS?
  • Why the endless hoo-rah about how tough the race is?
  • Why the Nurse Tents?

Yes, I'm a cranky dick, and this was not my experience when I got into ultras in '89. Things were leaner, tighter, and the runner was expected to step up. I came into the sport from ski-mountaineering, backcountry travel, and self-taught bodyboarding. You self-insert, and self-extract. Period.

And while we're at it, junk the lottery at Miwok 100k. Nothing like jerking people off long-time, instead of a quick-fill and be done with it. Announce that you'll be taking entries postmarked at X date, toss the priors and afters, and that's it until it fills.

I know. I used to be an RD. You're not in it to be popular, or a Nice Guy. And you'll get blamed anyway if somebody DNFs.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2011 J-Tree VisionKwest: Riding The Snake, Or Something Like It.

After a long absence, the Joshua Tree VisionKwest was reconvened on December 3-4, 2011. It had been almost 7 years since the last Gathering Of The Tribez [And Shit]®™. Were the Ancestor Gods annoyed, or delighted that their prodigal children had returned? As with all family gatherings, we'd have to be deep into the mix before finding out.

Casino Bingo and Draw Poker had begun laying plans and cable for this enterprise several months earlier, with Dr Bingo doing the bulk of the heavy cranial gymnastics. A New Route had been chosen, one promising elements of delight from Previous Outings, but with New Sensations.

Ostensible Route: Boy Scout -->Big Foot-->California Riding And Hiking Trail. Our original destination was Juniper Flats. 

When the rosy-palmered sun arose over the Whine-Dork Sea, a nipply start was enjoyed by the under-dressed scrum, setting epic pace uphill out towards Boy Scout Trail. The bravely-dressed Rebecca V, Lori H fought for pole position, while the Famous Hatted L1-Larry Grill, Messrs Bingo and Poker, with the wisely-retiring John Douglass riding drag on this motley herd. Using my Acme Industries FKT Race-Place Calculator, I realized that since Ian Torrence had not shown up, I'd moved up 4 places.

Upper Boy Scout was crispy cool, with none of the usual heat associated with a Spring Outing. We mocked Ian who was judging the Nude Insulated Carhartt Coverall Contest in Vegas, and all the other losers who were either fighting over trinkets and baubles at the North Face 50, or soon to be releasing the Chocolate Hostage somewhere on the Ridgecrest 50k course.

To the West Portal Of The Gawdz did our brave band thunder, whence to pick up the enigmatic Big Foot Trail, and ride to the west. Things were looking good so far, and the Ancestor Gods took note. Putting down their newspapers and Pall Mall straights, they decided that we were just too full of ourselves. And to their great amusement we went blundering over The Great Cabled Park Boundary down a wide wash, paved with good intentions and swept by idiot winds.

The evidence of our straying was bold, but were we paying attention? The Little Ducklings quacked with delight as they continued on over an offroader's ingress. But doubt began to grow. Where we lost, or delusionally confused? We angled up a jeep road, that perhaps would take us somewhere near Upper Covington, over two ridges and well to the south. At a windy saddle, it became clear that the jeep road was a north-bending loop loop back to the sheetrocked delights of Joshua Tree Village.

Tempis Fugit and a rising wind whispered "turn around" to the benighted party. Thus chastened, we backtracked down to the Wash of Lost Ways And Dreams, thence turning up-canyon back to the trail. And there we saw Our Missing Junction.

But as Dr Bingo later discovered: "We could not find the out extent of the Bigfoot Trail because IT HAS NOT BEEN BUILT YET. Garmin data indicated that our route at this point approximated  a clockwise, inward spiral, not unlike the flushing of a toilet."

The Ancestor Gawdz roared with merry laughter at our discomfiture, wiping tears away at our high-pitched squeaking of dismay. With our now downcast tails between our legs, we sand-slogged back to the Park Road, thence to our New Plan B—get to the fucking car dropped at Ryan [?], where we were supposed to have been several hours earlier.

Running up the road, the first car we flagged was driven by an elder man, with wife and cousins and  their toothsome niece/granddaughter in the backseat, who was probably doing The Obligatory Weekend Ride, perhaps jockeying for Inheritance Pole Position. She was interested in this unexpected development, that perhaps 2 PhD Braniac Who Smelled Like Ass might be riding along. But our gallant hitch-hikers declined to impose themselves, opting to wait for the next car. Paydirt! They snagged the ride, got the car, and within 30min were flying towards us.

Things were looking a lot better after we declared victory, and were ripping down the highway, and our ignominious adventure receding in the rear-view mirror.

With the daze events well behind us, and a good dinner well in hand, chased by estate-pawed vinas chilenas, and pursued by Slutty Little Cookies, Dr Bingo awarded to Ian Torrence his 10th Year Non-Participant's Non-Jacket. Jay Grobeson was also recognized for his non-contributions to the VisionKwest in a similar manner. The assemblage was moved in such a manner that nobody updated their anti-social media for at least 15 seconds. The highlight of the evening was Dr Bingo presenting all participants with a Keepsake Treasure Soundtrack.

Dr Bingo also noted that: Saturday was Ozzy Osbourne's birthday and, given our experiences, the day's theme song should have been Black Sabbath's "Wheels of Confusion." To wit, "Lost in the wheels of confusion/Running through valleys of tears."

By the light of cool sunny morning, Dr Bingo and his stumpy-legged sidekick took a 10-mile mini circumnavigation of Ryan Mtn the following morning. Being humbled from the previous day's adventure, they were properly grateful to stumble around the massive ballsack of Ryan Mtn. Making it back in one piece brightened their moods completely.

And thus ended the 2011 Joshua Tree VisionKwest. Further visual evidence will be forthcoming.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Why Ultrarunners Are Not Family

The Jessica Simpson Flagon Of Forgetfulness Awaits
Here's a sweet rhetorical question for you: "Are Ultrarunners A Family?"

I'll be the Ancient Voice Of The Dead here and say that "no, ultrarunners are not family". Any more than pistol-enthusiasts, RV'ers, quilters, or MTB'ers.

These are ALL associations. An association is a group of similarly-minded and focused interest group. You are born into, or marry into, a family—that's it. Families are composed of people you didn't choose.

Finally—the humble runner, is invisible. Does not go out of their way to honk on about being inspirational or set an example. They simply do. Its insanely hard. Sure, if they help somebody, its a natural action. They aren't posing for their Instagram, tweeting their virtue, updating their Faceblurt, and so on.

So when you meet some duck in shorts and they're going on about their good works, they're an egotistical horse's ass. Because its all about them.

Be honest. Nobody here got into ultras to save the world, the seals, raise awareness of sideburns, combat global flatulence, or anything else. We got into it because I, we, you thought it would be pretty damned skippy to see what it was like to run all day in the mountains.