Another epic year. I do not know how it is possible, but every year just keeps getting better. Year 4 was no exception, we keep refining the process and the experience follows. The theme of this year was “Invitation Only”. As with anything F3, the theme is a combination of a little bit of seriousness and a lot of sarcasm. To accommodate the theme, we jettisoned the yearly t-shirts in lieu of an embroidered race polo and race bag. The race bag ended up being perfect as they kept the size of bags and the amount of packed clothing pretty even across team members. As such, the vans were incredibly organized (Van 2’s more so) and easy to manage.
The ride down never disappoints. It is hard to explain what happens on the van ride, but the fun begins as soon as we pull out of the parking lot. Oh, speaking of leaving the parking lot, we were a little bit late launching (10 minutes to be exact). For an explanation of the delay see Lab Rat. We made our usual stop in Fishersville and stopped every ten or fifteen minutes for gas. Beers were popped within 10 miles of Richmond and the hint of jalepeno’s got crushed quickly.
There were 12 of us in the first van. Bleeder and Lugnut were the sole riders in the second van. Despite a two hour headstart, the first van beat the second van to the hotel by only 12 minutes. Only 12 minutes, you gotta be kidding me. How is that possible. Some have suggested that a combination of Bleeder and Lug at the wheel is better that TYA at the wheel. I say no, it must have been the extra weight of the passengers or some other unknown reason.
Once settled into the hotel, we headed to Boondocks for dinner. A table of 14 is a piece of cake to handle, right. It went pretty smoothly at first, beers were being delivered and the waiter double checked our orders to make sure he had everything correct. All went well until dinner arrived and we ended up a meal short. It was TYA’s dinner that was missed. No big deal, just make another burger. Well, 13 people trying to problem solve one missing burger makes a simple problem turn into a major issue. Lots off folks were getting fired up and making suggestions on how to fix the problem. Everything turned around when the waiter let us know that “Food is not his responsibility, he let everyone in the kitchen and his manager know that there was an issue, but he wasn’t responsible for fixing this”. Fortunately, despite the long discussions, the burger was delivered without much delay.
Talk of the town was the F3RVA race polo shirts. When TYA and Saab went to pick up the race packet, the race director looked at us and said “Nice shirts”. Then when walking back to Boondocks from picking up the race packet, several teams stopped and commented on our shirts.
BRR 2018 Van 1: “Windows down, A/C on”
Van 1’s experience of the BRR started in stunning fashion with a view of the sunrise from atop Grayson Highlands State Park. Gomer Pyle was on the course…which if you have not been to the BRR runs straight downhill in the middle of the road for 4 miles….and the rest of the van was going from start line to first EZ. Rounding a corner and what would have been a pullout had there not been a race going on was one of the most stunning sunrises a man could hope to see. Yes, it’s going to be a great day. Gomer finished this leg by leading all the way down, only to get passed at the very end by a young lady, who probably “enjoyed the view” all the way down (and admitted later to drafting off Gomer) and passed him at the last ½ mile to get the “kill”. Well done. At the next EZ, she had already put the kill hash mark on their SUV window. Gomer being the awesome sport that he is, went and signed it.
Speaking of EZ 2, on the way there, the crew in van 1 (minus Screen Door, out on the course) was heading down one of the more precarious gravel mountain roads, when the guys from last year commented that this is where Saab got the van stuck. Talk in the van centered around this for a few minutes until there was a backup on the course where a van had repeated Saab’s feat from last year. They were very close to rolling down a hill, which Gomer said he could have got “at least 2 yee haw’s out” on the way down. EZ 2 was also the location of Lab Rat trying to make coffee and discovering his glass French press had been cracked on the trip. Glass? Really, Lab Rat? Wait, it gets worse…
At EZ 3, Ollivander is picked up and Swiper starts his first leg. As Olly is catching his breath, Lab Rat decides he should start getting ready to run. Wait, where’s his bag? Oh yeah, that’s still back at EZ 2 where he was making coffee, down that one and a half lane road that all the runners and vans are coming down from the other way! To a man, all the runners are CRUSHING their runs, so the drama has to come from somewhere else. Enter Lab Rat and his coffee maker again. At this point, the decision is made to dump Lab Rat off to get a ride to EZ 4 while the rest of the van goes back to retrieve the bag with LR’s wallet, glasses, AND race bib from EZ 2. Against traffic.
Lab Rat jumps in to a van with F3 Lexington and catches a ride to EZ 4. Keep in mind, at this point Swiper has no idea what is going on with the van and Lab Rat…he is out killing a run thinking he is going to be met with 6 guys talking about how great he did. Instead, he comes in and is met with Lab Rat, handing him a shirt and a phone telling him to “get a ride with that van right there”. Understandably, he starts yelling at LR telling him to run. LR is yelling back at him to get a ride to EZ 5. Swiper yells back to get running not knowing why LR isn’t taking off. Eventually, Swiper wins over and LR takes off. About a ½ mile in, LR starts wondering if he got his message across, and if he will see Swiper when he gets to the EZ. The gang was all together again by the time Big Tennessee came in to EZ 6 though, no worse for the wear despite a terrible trip back to EZ 2 for the early runners and Shakedown.
Staring the second legs, things started to get fun. Along the way, the van has discovered what would become the mantra of the trip, “windows down, A/C on!” The crew discovered that when riding in the “hot seat”, that is, the sacrificial seat in the van for runners coming off their run stinking and covered in sweat, the perfect combination of cool air and a nice breeze was with both windows down and the a/c on blast. We also discovered that under enough sleep deprivation, stress, and caffeine, Swiper cusses like a sailor and Ollivander turns in to Swirly. Shakedown took the crew up to a coffee shop in Blowing Rock while waiting on Gomer to finish his second leg (a brutal 9 mile run in the heat and sun). Ollivander got an iced coffee that got him all jacked up, which carried him all the way to the top of Grandfather mountain. This infamous run was completely destroyed by Ollivander, and he still had enough caffeine in the tank to start hooting and yelling at Swiper during the exchange!
Speaking of changes in personality, the stress plus caffeine brought out the weird (in a good way) in Shakedown. It turns out that if you get Shakes in the right conditions, the filters go away and the komodo gets parted. For example, he went on a five-minute rant on why The Walking Dead is complete bullshit…. including why tin doesn’t work as bulletproofing a car and the guns all have unlimited ammo…all because Lab Rat asked him if the zombies on the show ever kill anyone (they move really slow). Another conversation eventually led to Shakes deciding that if he was a Dungeons & Dragons character, his alignment would be “chaotic neutral”. Everybody in Van 1 immediately agreed that this would be a kick ass F3 name. While on the subject of Shakedown, it must be pointed out that he really did a kick ass job of driving the van around in some really sketchy situations, all while completely strung out on coffee and red bull. Along the way, he was entertaining the van with stories from his checkered past and completely unique ways of looking at politics and life. He topped it all off by running a leg in the pre-dawn hours with Lab Rat, where there may or may not have been a ghost siting, watched LR nearly crap his pants after being jolted by the most silent runner in history, then almost get taken out by a van as he was running in the middle of the road. Great job, Shakedown!
Somewhere along the way, Swiper hurt his foot (again). He was icing it down in the van and talking about the possibility of it being another break. The van was wondering if he would be able to go on his third leg or not. This would not be that big of a deal teamwise, as Shakedown driving the van would be a great sub. Shakedown started talking to Swiper about the possibility of swapping out, and Swiper was quietly refusing. Eventually, Swiper came out swinging and told him: “you are not taking my leg, Shakedown!” Shakedown then switched tactics and tried to get Swiper to pop some unknown pills. Swiper swears they were Quaaludes, but Shakes insists it was just ibuprofen. He ended up taking neither the Quaaludes nor the ibuprofen and crushed the run just the same. BAM!
No one that knows Gomer Pyle would be surprised to hear that he is an excellent navigator and has no problems making tough decisions with confidence. He did so on the BRR, helping Shakedown navigate thru the weirdness that is the BRR. Also of note, while BT was out running the final leg along yet another of the BRR’s famous lane-and-a-half roads, the van with Gomer at the helm came upon a local driving the other way that pulled in front of the van to get around a runner then stopped. Gomer stopped as well, and sat until the driver went around the runner, pulled up next to the van and rolled his window down to give some advice on how to drive. As soon as he started to speak, Gomer slammed on the gas, driving away in a cloud of dust and leaving that guy to give his advice to the river.
Other van chatter worthy of note was much talk about the military, with Screen Door and Lab Rat current and former submarine sailors respectively, and Gomer’s time in the Army. BT talked some baseball and the guys that he knew playing at UT that went on to play in the pros. Swiper for the most part quietly declined all drugs but caffeine, and took some killer photos along the way. By the way, if you haven’t seen these yet, make it a point to get the link. They are stunning. Ollivander spoke of living abroad and running marathons and ultras, until the caffeine kicked in. After that, it was all rebel yells and a lot of shadow boxing. This was all sprinkled in with Shakedown’s stories of ex-girlfriends that left him for the coke dealer, riding the rails in a box car, and his awesome look on politics…. which could be wrapped up in this quote: “I just want my gay friends to be able to get married and guard their marijuana fields with their AK-47’s”.
How could one not have the time of their lives hanging out with a group of men such as this? To sum it all up, apology of the week goes out to all pax members that did NOT have the PLEASURE of watching Van 1 completely crush their running legs, eat CLIF bars with peanut butter, run in the dark, the sun, the heat, the early morning mist, drink gobs of coffee and Gatorade, get woken up by “Tool Time in 20 minutes”, slamming doors, and falling paw paws (of all things), being completely elated when they find a “fresh” portajon to crap in, talk about kids, women, past experiences, Dredd, and all the other things that made Van 1 THE place to be.
Van 1 for Life,
Lab Rat apologizes…
Van 2 – Swirly, TYA, Saab, Bleeder, Circle K, and Rosie – Enough said
We took over on Leg 7 with Swirly leading us out on a 5.8 mile jaunt. The theme of the first six legs for Van 2 was heat. The routes themselves were not too bad or too hilly, but the sun was out in force. Although the actual temperature never reached about 87, the lack of shade and the blacktop pavement made the runs really difficult. We all slogged through our routes, but overall we lost a total of 25 minutes to projections on the first six legs or our run.
Arriving at Transition zone 12 is always awesome. This is one of the best places to hang out on the entire course. This year did not disappoint at all. Van 1 had saved us a spot next to their van in the perfect spot at the church. The spot turned out to be even more perfect when I stepped out of the passenger side door and looked towards the “rear” or the car. What was just “behind” the “rear” of the car was a resting racer taking her afternoon nap. As a result of the scenery outside the “back door” or the car, I made a continued “ass” of myself hanging out making PB&J sandwiches for the entire transition zone (I was also the “butt” of all the jokes). Anything to keep me towards the “rear end” or the car and make sure that we were not “arrears” on calories was what I wanted to do. This was just one example of the extreme talent that was at the BRR this year. The female racers were in “rare” form.
Van 2 hung out at Transition 12 until about 8pm. Transition 18 sucks, so hanging at 12 as long as possible is awesome. Several other things observed at 12 were: 1) a guy next to us pulled out a massage tool that was absolutely ridiculous. It was the size of a football and sounded like a jet engine. When he pulled it out, the hilarity started. Swirly had about 15 folks rolling on the ground making jokes about the massage tool….priceless 2) we got to see the leading team’s come through the exchange zone. They are at a whole other level than us. The came up the hill at 12 at sprint. Truly impressive.
19-24 were a completely different ballgame for Van 2. The sun had long set and the weather had turned. Time to turn up the heat and claw some time back. TYA had a talk with Swirly pre run and said “if your feeling good on this leg, let it rip”. Swirly had a 6 mile downhill run and this was the time to see what he had. He had a lot. His worst mile on this leg was a 7:02 and his best was a 6:23. He was flying and he started us off right to claw back time. TYA took back a few minutes off his run, the Saab was up. YHC had never seen the 8 mile leg 21 before. It is an absolute beast. I have no idea why this leg is not categorized as a mountain goat leg, but it is brutal. Bleeder, circle K, and Rosie also clawed back time and by the end of Leg 24, we were back to on track with the projections. We had clawed back 31 minutes in 6 legs….a truly herculean task.
Ok, so we were now off for 6 legs and had to be at Transition Zone 30 by 7:30 am. It was 2:00 am and we had 5 ½ hours to spare. Bleeder had done his research and figured out that we were 1 hour from our house. If we boogied to the house, we could get some sleep and still get to Zone 30 on time. Time to execute on the plan. We arrived at the house by 330. Some grabbed a shower, some just hit the sack, but all got some valuable sleep. We headed back out at 5:45 and were at Transition Zone 30 with plenty of time to spare. Great learning this year. If you can get to a bed during the overnight transition, it is well worth it….Thanks Bleeder.
So now all we had to do was crush 31 – 36 and then we were done and finished on time. Swirly attacked the first mountain goat with vigor, TYA worked the 9.4 mile downhill segment, torturing his quads. Despite the hard work, we lost a few minutes to the clock. Saab then hit the second mountain goat and despite the jug of water launched at him from a car he crushed it. Bleeder made up five minutes on his leg, and Circle K slogged up another leg that should be categorized as mountain goat hard. Rosie finished it off with a strong run back into Asheville.
Lug is the best driver ever. We had the best parking spot in every transition zone. His ability to speak “North Carolina” was awesome. The minute we pulled into the transition zone, his deep southern twang would appear and the next thing I know they were talking about moonshine, farming, and barbeque…..Boom, once that happened primo parking spot occupied.
Final finish time 31:17 minutes. 8 minutes behind the 31:09 TYA had predicted.
Back to the house for some food, beer and sleep. Thanks to Flip Dog for stocking the house and getting everything ready for the party. Too much to cover here, but a couple things 1) moonshine 2) 6 ½ cases of beer 3) the best barbecue chicken ever 4) F3 testimonials 5) turkey hunting with a football
On to next year.