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Title:What Ever Happened To [...] #1030
Date:Friday November 15th, 2013
[Default Article Image][Good Aftermourning, "all you groovy guys and groovy gals!" (as they used to say, oh, by now it seems like centuries ago). The "mourning" part has to do with my recent discoveries of rampant unfairness and lack of integrity in our sport, and in running/racing in general. But no, further research is required so I won't be writing about that for awhile. The "good" part has to do with: Hey, it's stopped snowing in Chicago!!! Which is probably old news, but nevertheless… "oldie but goody" (news) as we also used to say. So anyway, today's lecture, dear students, studs, and studettes, has to do with perhaps another sorta/kinda unfairness; and this is stuff yours troubly HAS seen and/or experienced… with his very own eyes! …or somebody else's. ;-)]

The Obama Administraction (since it's all his fault anyway--by his own admission!) Presents…

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO [trail etiquette] ?

Indeed. So what DID ever happen to such notions and courtesies as "announcing your intent to pass," "yielding 'track' to faster runners," "downhill running has right-of-way over uphill," "be aware of your surroundings at all times," and my personal favorite: "pack it in; pack it out"--which includes, of course, "step well off the trail to relieve yourself" AND "know how to shit in the woods"!

I could add a few others, whose utter and complete disregard for I have noticed considerable evidence of over the years :) "pets must be leashed" (anybody ever tell that to the wolves and coyotes, or to their owners?); "private property/no trespassing" (with footpaths going around fallen trees, for example, that extend well beyond any boundary signs); and my other personal favorite: "no hunting" (with signs that say that being just riddled with bullet holes).

These things always used to be de rigueur, standard operating procedure, and the MOS of every trailrunner I knew, saw, or ever heard of. Everybody but EVERYBODY used to show respect and pay attention. They couldn't help it. Earphones and iTunes hadn't been invented yet. In fact, who remembers boomboxes? It used to be that if you wanted to distract yourself and/or drown your boredom in rousing choruses of "We Are The Champions," you had to hoist a radio/tape recorder the size of a Volkswagen on your shoulders with the volume turned all the way clockwise--just like those young fellows in the city used to carry with them on the bus.

Whatever happened to FULL busses? Busses just crammed to the sidewalls with lovely old peeps who used to appreciate such entertainment so totally, that they would get off at the next corner, go into a phone booth, and recommend "Superfly" at ten thousand decibels to their buddies at the precinct.

What ever happened to phone booths? "-Fly"? "Dingo"? "Shaft"?

Nowadays in the urban jungle when you mention such things, the kids all want to sell you other "things" stuffed inside plastic baggies. Don't schools teach film appreciation classes anymore?

And of course I can remember when EVERY runner knew how to take a crap! Today? Not so much. I've seen "deposits" right smack in the middle of the singletrack trail. And the T.P. just scattering to the four winds. FRESH dumps, too! Like, I think, "wasn't this person worried about who might be following just inside his 2-and-a-half-minute lead?"

For the instructionally impaired, there's even been a book written about it. See it here:

So, a little common sense there please, folks, eh? At least cover it up!

And please turn the volume down on your iPods, iPads, iPoops, Sony Walkmans, whatever. (Do they still make Sony Walkmans?) I recommend these things not because I'm on commission, but because it all really will help YOU… you know, so that you're NOT leaving your own fresh live scents on the trail for the bears to track you. And with less MEGADEATH blowing out your eardrums, you might also be able to *hear* the stampeding wild boars bearing down behind you, ya think?

Besides, if you're real good and really are conscientious and truly do wish to pay attention to your surroundings while out there on the trail, you really do also have a better-than-average chance at NOT becoming mountain lion lunch.

"Trail Etiquette: An Extinct Idea Whose Time Has Gone," by M. E. Phirst. Hey, I'll tell ya what the heck happened to trail etiquette: It all but vanished with the invention of GU packets. Gels! Those little teeny tinfoil squeeze packages that plague the trails twice: Once when you bite off the tops and spit 'em out, and again when the rest of the packet gets too sticky to handle. And maybe a third time when you upchuck the contents anyway… all over the path (and possibly the person's shoes) in front of you.

Yessir, when Modern Commerce & Convenience, Inc., first began finding ways to make money (BIG money) off all the half-naked natives that used to zoom through the jungle, THAT's when all your best practices of The Noble Savage began to fade. That's when our fit and fleet-footed all-natural athletes began reading magazine ads that told them they cannot possibly run a trail ultramarathon or even shorter races without some fancy-ass accoutrement all crammed full-in-the-pockets with: gels, electrolyte replacement drink, e-capsules, bars of power, chunks of gum candy, the whole idea of "you're brave as hell just for showing up," "to finish is to win," and of course: tune-in, turn-on, and crank the gain on that all-new seventh generation cell phone you've JUST GOT to carry.

When "for the good of the tribe" began morphing into "for heaven's sake: I AM THE BEST that can possibly be"--that's when the trash and the crap and the discarded clothes, garbage bags, wrappers, pee, poo, and shell casings started collecting all over the forest floor. Uphill runners CAN'T yield to downhillers because they don't see them. They don't hear them. And they believe they're entitled to do whatever they wanna do anyway! Common courtesy CAN'T be practiced with excretory necessities because that would take too much time! And the phenomenon of peeps "packing heat" is becoming more and more common… just like road rage.

I can see it all now. If running our little races can be considered microcosms of the society at large, pretty soon "lack of trail etiquette" is going to evolve into bloodshed: "The next dufus who pees on the heels of my $200 Hokas is going to get blown to Kingdom Effing Come!!!" --courtesy of this handy little chest pocket here in my ultra-hydration vest. It's where I can carry my "conceal."

Ah well, in these times of underemployment and overpopulation, maybe a for-real version of "The Hunger Games" is just what we need in the woods. It's Modern Commerce's most convenient technique for thinning the herd. But the ubiquitous trail garbage problem will still likely only get worse. I mean, if forest rangers and park police can't enforce any of those rules they post on their signs now, how are they ever going to patrol hundreds of miles of remote singletrack to clean up and investigate all the (human) roadkill?

Of course, there are rules already in place (during races at least) dealing with that very thing. Dead bodies that you find along the way--just like runners who need help--should be reported to the next aid station.

It's when THAT sort of trail etiquette disappears that yours troubly starts worrying for real!!!

( O_O )

Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"your friendly neighborly eight-hundred-year-old lute-plucking song-and-dance Frenchman who right now is ready for Happy Hour"

Yankee Folly of the Day:
On the other hand, ya gotta give credit to trail signs that DO mean what they say. I recall the old course of the HUFF 50K. You were warned at some point that there was a shooting range next to the woods. And, sure enough, one time I got shot at.
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Posted:November 15th, 2013 7:41 pm
Last Update:November 15th, 2013 7:55 pm
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