This is a retelling of the events surrounding the Old Pueblo 50 mile race for 2014 by either Bruce G. or someone named Gene J.. or both. Who knows? Whatever the case and whoever wrote it, I think you might like it.
Came to on the floor tonight and found this tucked into my back pocket. Truly bizarre.
Chris F. and I ran up Florida Canyon in the Santa Ritas today, and got to talking about last week’s OP50 and how it was too bad Gene J. had to miss the race both because he has probably run OP more times than any person alive, living or dead, and is a fabulous foul weather runner, but also because Gene always seems to have spectacular adventures that are, quite frankly, hard to believe, except that as we all know, Gene is about as honest a guy as any of us have ever met, quite honestly, and so I doubt there are any let alone many among us that would seriously doubt that, for instance, Gene was eaten by the must ginormous diamondback rattlesnake pit viper cascabell that has ever slunk down a southern Arizona canyon. I mean, honestly. And so Chris and I were discussing how it was, quite frankly, just a crying shame that we weren’t going to get to hear about another one of Gene’s fabulous adventures, this time from the OP50 Diluvium of 2014.
And then I remembered that back during my days in the dorm at Drake University I went to purchase some weekend recreation from the guy down the end of the hall, and he was out of what I was looking for but had something else he said that only the FBI had available and they had been using it to experiment on various evil-doers, but it seemed the stuff turned out to be better for moving back and forth along the time continuum than for getting evil-doers to tell the truth or straighten up or whatever.
As any good trail runner who has approached the speed of light on a Box Camp Trail decent can tell you, when you get going that fast, close to the speed of light, time buckles, just as Einstein theorized. And as anyone knows who has too much time on their hands and so thinks too much, there’s no real good reason why you can move around in space 3-dimensionally but only 1-dimensionally in time, not to mention in only one direction, younger to older, and that the only good reason for that is our little brains can’t deal with multi-dimensional time. And that, apparently, is what these time pills do according to that guy at the end of the hall in my dorm 35 years ago: they allow your brain to comprehend, and thus move around in, multi-dimensional time.
So any way, I said, “Hey, what the heck,” and bought 5 or 6 of these little white-and-purple pills, put them in a tiny little super-small ziplock baggie, tossed them in the back of my freezer, and promptly forgot about them. Until today. And when I thought of them today, I figured this was a pretty good reason to give one of these time pills a whirl—I could go back in time, fix up Gene’s ailments, get him to the start line of OP50, wait until his email came out detailing his outrageous experience during the Grand Diluvium of OP50 2014, print it out, toss it in my back pocket, wait for the time pill to wear off and then once I was back on the standard time continuum, pull Gene’s tale out of my pocket and share it with my running buddies.
Without further adieu, I dug out that tiny little diminutive ziplock baggie from the back of my freezer, pulled out one of the white-and-purple time pills, and for once everything went according to plan. What follows, then, is straight from Gene’s keyboard in a parallel universe where he was able to run OP50 in 2014 and then tell us about his amazing experience. It’s been brought back for your edification, information, education, and exclamation. Read on.
From the keyboard of Gene J., Universe de Parallel, 03-09-14:
I know the flood on the OP50 course this year was big, but incredibly, the rain was harder, the winds were stronger, and the gnarled black clouds were blacker than midnight in Mongolia if you wound up off trail with me and a few other people this year.
We were running through Rosemont Ranch when we realized we weren’t in for just another day of harmless trail running rewarded with the fabled Old Pueblo 50 Mile Endurance Run belt buckle. We had seen the green and yellow flags for what we thought would be the annual Endurance Horse and Rider Race, but when we came out the far end of Rosemont Ranch, it wasn’t horses that were there, but Centaurs! Horse bodies with human chests and heads where the horse neck should have been! And these Centaurs liked things colored orange and white, with the occasional blue thrown in, and had accidentally eaten all of the flagging for OP50! At this point, without the ribbons, the group of 5 or 6 runners I was with became hopelessly lost and soon we were on jeep roads and then trails that none of us had ever seen before, and eerie halos of green light glowed from the corners of the sky. Of course, 4 or 5 of the runners I was with were from out of town and had never run Old Pueblo before, but even I had never seen these dirt roads and trails before either. Anyway, I noticed that at this point I could still see Gunsight Pass at least, off to the left, and so I guided our group toward that land mark, but the closer we got, the darker the clouds became as they roiled above the lizard-spine of a ridge line that runs to the north from Gunsight. The winds were starting to kick up and the temperature was plummeting and I knew things were going to get out of hand in a hurry.
By now I was pretty sure we had missed the 13 mile Aid Station, but given the conditions, rather than hunt around for it in the gathering gloom, I urged our party onward. Lightning and thunder started to spark and crash all around us, and the heavens opened up. Since it hadn’t rained in months, though, the Earth was soaking up most of the initial rainfall, and we were able to hike our way up the face of the ridge, but now it was so dark none of us could make out Gunsight Pass any longer. I don’t know where we topped out, probably north of Gunsight.
By the time we crested the ridge, the water was finally beginning to run off in rivulets that became little streams that became bigger streams and then rivers and down below we could see raging rapids beginning to form. I pulled out my Leatherman utility tool and quickly implored the other 4 or 5 runners to quickly find a long, straight, dead tree, which they were quickly able to do very quickly. With some skills I learned from my father, who was a grandson of Paul Bunyan (on his mother’s side), I sliced the long, straight, dead tree into 3 planks. We maneuvered the boards into position at the top of one of the now-raging rivulets, two to a board, one runner in front, and a second in back on each board. Fortunately, all of the runners either grew up as surf bums on Venice Beach or as skate punks in the northwest, so everyone except for me had pretty good balance and we surfed the raging torrent and Ollied (skateboard term) the boards over the boulders and trees that inevitably got in our way.
Down the face of the west side of the Santa Ritas we went and into Helvetia where we were able to bank our boards off the east-face of the Helvetia Road and down the hill into mile 19 Aid Station. Because the river we road in on raged off toward I-19 but we needed to cross over to the 25 mi Aid Station, we all hopped off the boards, refueled, and set off at a wicked clip across the hills. That was when the hurricane force winds kicked up, straight into our faces, driving every rain drop right through our water proof jackets, our 3 layers of technical sport shirts and on through our skin where it rehydrated us, saving us the necessity of carrying bottles or hydration packs. Thank someone for small favors.
Unfortunately, though, the winds, now blowing at Category 4 hurricane speed, got caught up in our shells and lifted us straight off the ground and into the swirling black clouds overhead. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz—it was amazing! As we climbed higher and higher into the atmosphere (I could still count 4 or 5 other runners near to me in the air) the winds began to swirl and I started to get dizzy. On the plus side, we were getting above the rain and my clothes were starting to dry out in the incredible winds. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only 5 or 10 minutes, the winds subsided enough that we began to descend and landed safely just before the turn onto Box Canyon Road and so we were able to jog into Mile 25 Aid Station as though we were just enjoying another day on the trail rather than the most amazing day of our lives.
Well, the rivers coming off of the Santa Ritas were all raging torrents of white capped fury and we had to build suspension bridges from vines and planks using only our Leatherman multipurpose tools, but it all went off without a hitch and eventually we made it through to the knee deep mud that continued on for 7 or 8 miles after the Mile 46 Aid Station and then we swam up through the meadows, hitching a ride on giant sea turtle big enough for all 5 or 6 of us. We realized that this last bit—riding a sea turtle—would probably disqualify us from the race, but as you know, desperate times call for desperate measures and it saved us from having to kill the giant white mud shark that had been tailing us from the Mile 46 Aid Station.
Fortunately there were still some burgers and hot soup left at Kentucky Camp when the turtle dropped us off, and all in all it was really just another great day to be out on the trails.