December 2001 Fat Ass
By John Dodds
It was just another tequila sunrise, and I was running down the road tryin' to loosen my load. Spying a log, I soon had a peaceful easy feelin', and from then on I was just tryin' to take it easy. It's amazing how whatever you need to say can come from the lyrics of old rock 'n' roll songs.
What is a Fat Ass? The official definition seems to be a run characterized by the following slogan: "No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps." Now we have to ask whether the Nui Loa Okole 50K was truly a Fat Ass? I think not. First, there was plenty of aid. Second, there was a wimp. One person fell and broke his arm and decided to let the rescue trucks take him to the local hospital for treatment rather than continue on with the run. I mean it's not like he broke a leg. Third, while there were no finisher's awards, every starter got an award of sorts: a cheap, tacky lei. But true to the spirit of a Fat Ass, there were no fees. In the dining facility after the run, I learned that there was going to be another 20 pizzas coming at 4 p.m. I asked Scott Mills how the VHTRC could put on an event like this (and all the other formal events) and keep the dues at $10 per year. He gave a complicated answer that I didn't really understand because it involved Colombian drug money, money laundering in Panama, and offshore banking in the Cayman Islands. And without getting too much beside the point, you know all that "quality" apparel you get at VHTRC events? Where do you think that comes from? I don't think it will be much of a surprise for you to learn that the VHTRC is a part owner in several factories in China that exploit child labor. It is also rumored that the club even owns part of the Catholic Church. The Pope (or Il Papa as we call him in Italy) actually has a trailrunning nickname that I've been asked not to divulge for security reasons.
Another key feature of a Fat Ass is that there is no official sponsor. That way if someone gets injured, there is no one to sue. So, I was a little surprised to see the VHTRC banner being unfurled at this event. But there is a subtle legal distinction here: there is a difference between advertising a Fat Ass and actually organizing a Fat Ass. While it may be true that the VHTRC advertised this event, all the organizational effort in setting up and conducting the event (course markings, aid, pre-race and post-race food and drinks, etc.) was done purely by individuals, and not the VHTRC. Actually, I think most of the work was done by Joe Clapper who is probably judgment proof anyway. I'm sure someone had to pay for all this, but I'm also sure no one could trace the source of funds to the VHTRC (see preceding paragraph).
The Pennsylvanians. Normally, a race starts with a gunshot or other loud noise. This one started with a verbal cue: "The Pennsylvanians are here, so let's go." I thought they were a pretty reputable group since they were recognized at the start of the run. However, being born in Pennsylvania and graduating from high school and college in Pennsylvania, I would just like to say I was appalled by the vulgar display of this group in the Do Loop. Who do they think they are? Do VHTRC members go up to Pennsylvania and bare their butts? No. They are more responsible than that. They stay here in Virginia and hang out their butts as was done on the Browntown Loop run in May. It's ok to do it in your home state; it's another thing to actually cross a state line and do it. I'm almost sure that's a federal offense. And here's another thing that's bothering me: try as I might, I can't remove the black "modesty" bar Anstr puts on the photos.
The Run. Trail conditions were great, weather nice and cool (but we could still wear shorts and short-sleeve shirts even in December), and great company. A picture perfect day all around. Almost hard to imagine a better day.
It was a super run for me because I caught up to Amy along the river just before the last climb up to Hemlock. She was walking with Seth and asked me if this was the right way. Rather than send them both farther upriver, I told her to follow me. So, we finished together, the thought of which I'm sure (and hope) will haunt her for a long time to come.
The only thing that somewhat detracted from the run was Chris Scott. I passed him once and then saw him ahead of me at Wolf Run Shoals Road (I think). So, I went by him again. Then I saw him again at the start of the Do Loop. I pointed my water bottle at him menacingly (if that's possible with a water bottle) and said, "You are bad for my morale." He said I would not see him again for the rest of the day, which was music to my ears. Here's a picture of Chris still tied for the lead with Derrick late in the run.
Post Run. This is the time for runners to get better acquainted with each other. Sometimes, people carry this too far. For example, Amy was telling me and Gary about a fall she had taken on Dickey Ridge and ended up in the Front Royal hospital. I asked her if she would show Gary the place where she had stitches on her elbow, and she pulled up her sleeve. I asked her if Gary could see the spot on her hip, and she pulled her pants down to show us. I said Gary couldn't see the spot all that well, and I reached over to pull them down just a tad more. Can you believe that Gary? I don't think he was really interested in her injuries because when I asked him if he wanted me to show him the scar on my knee where I fell down in the 9th grade, he said no.
And as if that weren't enough. A group of us were talking, and Gary got ready to leave. He looked at Kerry, and said, "Good-bye, Mary." She was a bit perturbed after he left. I told her that Gary can run with someone for 4 hours and ask his/her name 35 times, and he'd still forget it. "At least it rhymed," she muttered. Now, do we really think that he can remember the names of 45 wildflowers? I think I've answered that question before. In case you're wondering if there's Something About Mary, I mean Kerry, there is: she's a geeky patent attorney who apparently runs a shelter for homeless runners. My guess is that she runs ultras to add some normalcy to her life.
Some of you may be thinking that I will print anything people say. Not so. I do have standards, low as they may seem. For example, I was hiding, I mean I was standing behind someone when I heard Jim Moore and Gary exchange words and then both laugh uproariously. They sure were surprised when I stepped out. But you won't read here about what they said or hear me talk about it. That's because they've both agreed to supply me with post-run Yoo-Hoos for the next year.
Final note. A lot of people are already talking about BRR50/MMT100 and planning their training runs. On behalf of the VHTRC, which did not sponsor the Nui Loa Okole and which I'm not authorized to represent, I would like to say good luck and