December 10th, 2018
View From The Bottom of The Food Chain… From Those Who Provide The Food
Saturday June 1st, 2013
Well, perhaps from just one of them. I dast not (as they said 100 years ago) presume to speak for others who also provide the food. I jus' oughta yak fer me.
So. Last weakened… I helped dole out the Dole (and the Chiquita, and the Wonder, and the Smuckers, the PB&J, the M&Ms, the citrus, the melon, the chips, the salsa, the salt, and the spuds) at the Bluff Road Aid Station at various locations throughout the Kettle Moraine. Actually, the location never moved (nor did the forest) but because of wise and successful geographical planning, our A/S loomed large for the runners in as many as four different spots along the course. Don't ask me to reveal 'em all exactly, but I think around 7-, 55-, 70-, and 90-something miles is where it loomed.
Think of a figure-8. Maybe a double lollipop (Disney sells 'em, they look like Mickey Mouse). Or maybe a figure-8 with a zero for a footnote--set betwixt and between the circles-8. Right. The "0" is your first loop. Then runners do one of the mouse ears and return to do the zero loop a second time. And they can take refreshment both times from our Bluff Road A/S. OK, that'll give ya 100 kilometers. For the 100 milers, ya gotta loop back *again* on that zero loop and proceed to do the other mouse ear. Yup, and take refreshment both times again then too. Hundred-mile relay teams do the same. And for yet a third concoction (the nighttime Fun Run), ya only gotta do like the 100K-ers, except that you do the other mouse ear--the same one as the 100-milers do.
No, of course not. Ya hadda be there.
I "think" I was the guest of the Movin' Shoes. Obviously, eh? Well no, it's not what you think. The Movin' Shoes is a running club centered in Madison, Wisconsin--just a "stone's throw" (with a damn good arm and a pretty small stone) away to the west as the crow flies… and dodges your stone. I like to think of the Kettle Moraine as this gigantic forest stuck somewhere betwixt and between Madison and Milwaukee, but more to the south and closer to Lake Geneva, which is "Tourist Trap Numero Uno." You can sometimes find lodging there (at twice the price) if everything in Whitewater, Elkhorn, and East Troy is full.
Of course, you can always camp. In gigantic state forests that largely depend on tourist dollars, you can usually count on a campground. And, heck, as a special to the annual KM100 event, the state'll even let you "camp" in the parking lot--but only over Saturday night. Once I tried it Friday night and got my window banged on by the very bright flashlight of the sheriff. So, behave yourselves and don't tempt fate. Wisconsin police are notorious for taking radar along the feeder road into the park at 4-to-6 AM raceday mornings. Again, they probably wouldn't have to do that if more folks agreed to sufficient taxes to fund the forest in the first place.
But I digress…
So anyway, I'd like to pause right now and say a big THANK YOU to Tim, Greg, Dave, and Brenda of Madison's Movin' Shoes, and to a few others working "the booth" with whom I failed to make acquaintance. Also I'd like to give a special "shout out" to my old buddy Bob Rehn who takes it upon himself to supply and resupply all stations with all water all throughout the race. How he single-handedly wields those 55-gallon blue drums full of aqua vitae I'll never know. [Here's a sacrilegious black-humored by-the-way: Y'all have heard of Drew Peterson? The Illinois convicted wife murderer? Supposedly he disposed of his latest "missing wife" inside a blue 55-gallon drum. But you'll all be VERY pleased to know that all water for the Kettle Moraine is completely free of Stacy Peterson.]
[Was that a horrible joke? I'm sorry. I guess it was. :-[
Thanks to alla y'all who let me into the booth to help assist our fellow runners… such as the UNSTOPPABLE Juli Aistars, whose main man Val I happened to kibitz with nearly all of the four times he visited Bluff Road to crew his amazing bride. She barely recognized me the last time through. Of course, I got a haircut. (No, not at the booth between her 3rd and 4th visits, although that might've been nice. I actually got the mane shorn just after returning from Massanutten, where I also helped at an aid station. I was trying to play a trick on Brenda, who ran (very well!) at MMT100 and then a couple weeks later worked her Movin' Shoes (very good shoes!) at Bluff Road. She barely recognized me for not looking like the Cowardly (Gray) Lion.
I saw, and we administered to, many other terrific runners as well who also didn't recognize me. Certainly they never expected me to be a member of the Madison running club. I'd name them all here, but I'm afraid I might miss one who might then never forgive me. (How 'bout that for a cop-out?) But there are a few things I'd like to say about them--THEY'RE AWESOME!--and about "the booth" itself. Imagine zipping along some deep dark forest trail that Alley Oop first blazed on dinosaur back during the Ice Age. You laugh (aren't you?) but here's a thing: Along the northern loop (or mouse ear) of the Ice Age Trail used by the KM event, there actually is--off to the side and down a little hill--an honest-ta-Ja petrified mammoth. Well, in modern terms he's called the "Stoned" Elephant ;) but, hey, as old as I am? I remember when that particular woolly mammoth first turned to stone. It was because he was terrified--stone stiff--of Alley Oop!!!
There are lots of wonderful "feetures" experienced by runners of the Kettle Moraine. There's old original kilns and shelters and barns and hidden lakes and bullfrog ponds and even a hilltop we used to call "Star Mountain" (on account of, yes, a huge electrified star made of bulbs and metal that would shine from the hilltop each and every Christmas). But then one of those sudden Wisconsin storms (aka tornado) took the star down faster than Lindsay Lohan. :-( And, hey, in addition to all these groovy tourist sights, there's also the Bluff Road Aid Station.
"No runner left unattended" is our motto. Maybe. How about: "If ya leave here hungry, it's your own damn fault!" And BTW, every year the A/S has its "Margaritaville" theme. Jimmy Buffett plays in the background. Pink flamingoes and flowered leis are everywhere and lights all over the booth glow all night long. And after the umpteenth continuous loop of our Master Parrothead, we ALL sing: "Lookin' for that lost shaker of salt. Some people saaaaay there's a wooooooman to blame… but I know, it's my own damn fault."
I myself personally helped a young woman tape her toes with duct tape. So hopefully SHE didn't DNF, or it would be MY own damn fault. :-(
Lastly, I gotta say that--just like Disney--Bluff Road every year during the first weekend of June IS "the happiest place on earth." Why do I say this? Well, what other aid station that you know of has gas grills, heaters, stereo, marquee lights, Brenda dancing, and a DEEP FAT FRYER available for use all weekend long? Man, we had FRENCH FRIES to go with our "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" and, in the morning in addition to breakfast burritos for all the runners, we also had freshly made donuts!!!!
I kid you not.
Oh yeah, but the margarita mix--though prominently displayed on the table with all the runners' food, snacks, salt, and salt tablets (!)--was just for us.
YASEMV (your aid station experience may vary) but mine was absolutely fantastic!
Yankee Folly of the Day:
"I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well good god almighty which way do I steer for my…
Cheeseburger in paradise
Makin' the best of every virtue and vice
Worth every damn bit of sacrifice!!!"
(Thanks Jimmy. No "folly" in this case, just "frolic!" ;-)
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