The announcer called the adult contestants to the line and I had that first guilty tingle – similar to what the Roman plebeians must have felt when they watched the lions pacing back and forth in the coliseum, waiting for dinner to be served. The drivers skidded through the watered-down infield to the start. Engines in need of lozenges roared. The announcer counted down. The green flag waved and seconds later my senses were overwhelmed by the endorphin rush from hearing the first metal-on-metal collision.
My wife and I packed our three children into the car and drove south into the corn and soybean fields of Illinois. We were taking the kids on a sampling tour of downstate children’s museums, searching for that rare find: something to keep the little angels occupied while also providing some adult entertainment.
We pulled into the gravel lot. There were no lines (that is the last time you will read that phrase here) on the ground guiding the drivers into right-angled order, so the meandering rows of parked cars appeared to be melting in the heat. We exited the car, strapped packs on backs, and set out to find the bus to the visitor center.
It was easy. Like the downtown nightclub, the long, cordoned path filled with waiting people advertised the popularity of the bus stop. Its exclusivity as well. The bus arrived, but it was no match for the line. Soon full, the bus left, the line of waiters no shorter. We decided to walk.
Welcome to Yosemite National Park.
I was in the locker room with four other masters runners. One of our group made notice of another’s arm warmers. They’re so light and sheer, said the first, unlike any he’d ever seen before. Who makes them? The owner giggled sheepishly, looked around, and confessed: they’re his wife’s pantyhose. All of us were married with children, and thus, no stranger to oddball displays of ingenuity. There were high-fives all around.
Mile 22 of the Indianapolis Marathon was not where I expected to have my first extra-marital tryst. Looking back though, I should have seen it coming – dangerous, illicit love was in the air. And as is probably often the case, it started with the Megabus ride from Chicago to Indianapolis.
We walked downriver along the shore to scout the upcoming rapid. Our guide was briefing us on what we should prepare for, what to do if we needed to perform an emergency wet-exit, and letting us know that it would be perfectly acceptable to opt out if we didn’t feel comfortable. At the very least, she said ominously, we would have to run it one at a time, because she wouldn’t be able to rescue both of us at once.
I looked closer: all the jackets were adorned with a collection of Harley Davidson patches. Really? They hired a motorcycle gang for security duties? Are the race organizers not familiar with the fable of the Rolling Stones’ Altamont concert? The moral of the story: do not get a motorcycle gang to be responsible for security at your event. Perhaps the organizers calculated that everyone in attendance is a marathoner and, in case of trouble, can just run away?
The day began with a 10-minute ferry ride from Brooklyn Bridge Park with the skyline of lower Manhattan preening just off to the west. Once landed, we set out to get artified. My mild sense of apprehension (born of the assumption that free equals bad) quickly turned to relief – the quality of the performances and installations was surprisingly good. The selection committee had done an admirable job.
There is an ad campaign, the posters for which are easy to find in Chicago, called Mile after Magnificent Mile, which is meant to entice visitors to venture beyond the friendly confines of the city into the Illinois hinterlands. The ads are, as far as I can tell, completely and unequivocally ignored. No one from… Read More »
When a Race’s Logo Foreshadows its Own Cancellation The orange goo oozed down the windows, casting the cabin in an eerie Halloween glow. I had never been on a plane while it was being de-iced before. It was an airplane that was supposed to be on its way to Little Rock, Arkansas, where the next… Read More »