THE 2002 BIG SUR INTENATIONAL MARATHON
April 28, 2002
To see spectacular beauty, you usually have
to travel to remote areas. The Big Sur Marathon is no exception
to this truth and in fact, supports that assertion because the
Big Sur marathon path is almost as remote as it is beautiful.
Because of this fact, you are not even allowed to drive to the
start line. You must catch a bus in the wee hours of a cold April
morning and be transported to the beginning of the race, covering
in reverse the course you are about to embark upon. It occurred
to me that this process is akin to parading slaughterhouse-bound
cows in front of freshly butchered ground beef. To this, I will
simply say, “Moo.”
It’s all part of the experience and
if you have never had the opportunity to witness the course
in twilight, you have not seen the very definition of beauty.
As the bus wound around the hilly Highway 1, clinging to the
cliffs which led to the sea, I was allowed a glimpse of was
heaven must surely look like. The sky, a deep blue-black with
scattered clouds, was suddenly and vibrantly illuminated by
the full moon which cast down silver rays reflecting off the
sea below. At times, I could see a few miles out to sea where
the moon lit up only a small disk of water and it reminded me
of that scene from Close Encounters Of the Third Kind. The beauty
and surreal scene struck me as the clearest proof that there
is indeed a God.
Despite this eye-watering beauty,
arriving at the start line was an extremely painful event. Much
like my fellow runners on the bus, I had hydrated my body to
the point of almost complete saturation and it doesn’t take
a physiologist to understand what that level of hydration and
a 50-minute bus ride combine to create. Yes, by the time we
arrived, I was ready to crack porcelain!!! So imagine my excitement
when we saw the “Start” banner and the equal disappointment
when the bus just kept rolling. Keeping with my earlier thoughts
about God and biblical truths, I wondered internally where the
HELL this bus driver was going. It seems that someone had this
great idea to go onward for two miles and turn around before
letting their hostages, er, passengers off the bus. What sick
mind came up with that little form of water torture?
“OK,” I thought, “I can do this. I
can make it…” No thoughts of nervousness about the race or my
performance was even near my thought process. My entire world
was centered a couple of inches behind my belly button. But
endurance and perseverance were the games for the day and I
took the challenge. Just a couple of miles back and we’re golden
(no pun intended).
In a moment of foreshadowing, another
thought crept into my head and I beat it back with sheer denial.
As we turned the last curve, that thought materialized in heartbreaking
reality. There was a line about 10 busses deep waiting to discharge
SNAP! END OF THE GAME. PLEASE PICK
UP YOUR PARTING GIFTS AT THE DOOR.
I knew at that moment what I had to
do. To my right were two women clucking away, oblivious of my
rogue, boorish plan. Behind me, the last bench on the bus was
my friend, Steve, who was in as much agony as I was. To his
right were two other gentlemen whose eyes vividly expressed
the same physical limitations that had me guzzling down the
remainder of the water in my water bottle, in preparation for,
well, um…. Ladies and gentlemen, it was time.
Almost without discussion, Steve knew
the deal. He slid out of the seat and I lunged myself into the
corner in preparation for the deed at hand (again, excuse the
pun). I will leave out all the gory details but suffice it to
say that the unexpected lurches of the bus moving up in the
line made for a very challenging session. We’ll just leave it
at that but I must add, no violation was made on the play and
after following my lead, the other two gentlemen accomplished
We all agreed while leaving the bus
that all things considered, it’s great to be men sometimes.
As for the women, well, I think they would be more jealous than
offended if they knew because the last I saw of them on this
day was them rushing off the bus and toward to port-a-potties.
Me, I leisurely strolled over to the nearest trashcan and made
an uneventful disposal of a very full water bottle.
THANK YOU, WHOEVER YOU WERE
COMING IN FULL
MARATHONERS, START YOUR ENGINES
CRAMP IN A MINOR