|The BTR Tribe|
Welcome to Born To Run, the Burning Man of ultra running.
This was the morning before my 50K, I couldn’t walk straight or mumble more than 3 or 4 relevant words in a row. Looking for some sympathy from fellow partyfaces, I stumbled to the Clemens camp to see if anyone had made coffee. Tyler handed me a Tecate, which I pushed back to him, gagging. “Are you nuts?!” I said, trying to keep my cookies. He broke the can open and handed it back. “It’s open now. Gotta drink it!”.
As more tent-zipper, groaning and can-kicking sounds arose, the camp slowly came to life on the glorious California morning of the Chamberlin Ranch. Everyone looked like shit, with some emerging out of tents that weren’t theirs, or others still buzzed from the craziness of the night before. If you’d taken a snapshot at that precise moment, no one would have ever believed you were among ultra distance runners, and some of the best ones at that.
was not listed on Ultrasignup's event schedule.
When your weekend of running includes half-naked men dressed like trees, archery runs, beer half-marathons and heavy metal mariachi shows, there’s no need to devise a hydration strategy or meticulously prepare your race-day food; your only job is to survive the party, surf the tidal fun wave and wait for the horrible Norteño music, 5:00 AM wake-up call and Luis Escobar’s broken voice over the PSA screeching “You have 15 minutes to show up to the starting line, dressed up and looking like a distance runner”.
|Don't ask. No, seriously.|
Even our Raramuri friends were here, with Equipo Caballo Blanco running its first BTR-sponsored event. Despite grand fears that this whole freak show would terrorize them forever, it was delightful to see them walking around the camp, hanging out under the shade of trees and – yes, you read this right – smiling. They looked relaxed, perfectly at ease, in maybe what they might have interpreted as the gringo-style Tesguinada (traditional corn beer party) they are so familiar with as the landmark event before any big Copper Canyons running meet.
Surrounded by my whole tribe, I spent the rest of the morning trying to rehydrate and telling everyone who’d listen (read: nobody) that I wouldn’t drink another drop of booze until after my run.
|BTR's idea of sticking to|
a strict pre-race regimen
Soooo, as you can imagine, 5:00 AM came in crashing, with a vengeance. I’m not sure what was the hardest: finding my running clothes in the dark and something liquid that was not alcohol to fill my hydration vest, or keeping in an increasing need to puke. I managed to shove a Clif Bar down my throat and walked to the starting line. In the half-obscurity of the early morning, things looked like the police had just busted in the ranch and were rounding up a herd of half-drunk hobos to put an end to this debauchery. At least, I thought, everyone looked equally “ready”.
|Somewhere between the Beer Mile and the rock show, |
I was officially adopted by the Clemens Clan
I don’t know if I spaced out badly or if the shotgun misfired, but without much ceremony, we somehow just got moving out the gate and onto the course. And then something really weird happened. We started running.
Between awesome segments with kick-ass Jody and my buddy Jon Zaid from Nine Trails, the first loop felt like an easy 5K. Shortly after that, I played catch with Durango Mike for a bit, saw Benedict whizz by like there was nothing to it and then came across the radiating beauty of Amy, closely followed by the highly inspiring Dan. I completed my second third of the run with my girl Crista, chatting and joking the miles away until we crossed the gate for the second time.
I really thought things were going OK, considering, but it only occurred to me that I might be doing really well when I reached the last aid station before my finish, with about 10K to go. I got in to get food and was really happy to see Margarita… and casually smiled at Michelle and Bobby, who were- Wait. What the hell were Michelle and Bobby, by all means WAY faster people than me, doing at that aid station?
|This one serves to prove there was actual running involved|
After catching my breath a little bit, I started wondering if I could really have ran my best 50K ever, ill-prepared and badly hung over, or if this was all some sort of withdrawal syndrome, post-alcoholic hallucination. So I went back, looked at the clock and marveled at what I can only call the Born To Run magic.
6:16. Go figure.
Born To Run, C'est le Woodstock de la course d'ultra, un festival de la folle amitié qui nous unit et la réalisation incroyable que ça se peut, courir 50 kilomètres sur un lendemain de brosse :)