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Grouch Run

Gecko, (Mike Roe) and I (Hacker) have total running experience of 36 years between us. I am not saying we are experts but after all these years we have an idea of how a fun run should work. However, the local fun run's in both of our home towns never seem to amaze us. The directors make the same mistakes year after year and apparently have no idea what a fun run is! The first sign of trouble is right on the entry form which states "The Grumpy Grouch 5k run 3.2 miles" Now how far is a 5k?

It was my turn to be embarrassed as this run is in my hometown of Kettle Falls. I invited Gecko up for my son's High School graduation and then he stayed over for the fun run on the following day. We really don't expect much for competition because most people have heard about this race. After all, this is the race that instituted the now famous "Half way tag" where we were required to stop halfway through the race and hand a guy our halfway tag.

We show up at a little after 8:00am expecting to find something there for a signup as the race starts at 9:00, Wrong! At 8:30 we head back and find the signup table with about 4 people waiting to get their numbers. They give us our numbers and some sort of extra tag. Upon inquiring about the extra tag they tell us that this is how we will know what place we are in at the finish and our time. I look at Gecko and say "what is the tag on the number for?" I don't know why but this is the way they have always done it. We have a finishers tag and a number with a finishers tag. That makes two tags, I am already confused. Which one do I hand in at the finish?

Mike could not find an atm machine with cash in it anywhere in town so I offer to pay his entry but all I have is a fifty and some one's. I ask if we can do the no shirt option because they cannot get change for the $50. They have no idea what I am talking about. "No shirt option?" They repeat back to us twice, "Yes," we tell them and finally they ask the race director and she says it is $8.00. I only have seven ones so I give them the ones and we promise the return of the other dollar. Alright we are in!

It is a cold morning so we start to jog a little and ditch our sweats in the car. As I jog back to the start I hear the race director asking us all to gather around. Last minute instruction I think, Wrong again. She is directing every one in jumping jacks to warm up. I would rather run to warm up so I take off.

We all gather in the road at the starting line but everyone has questions about the course so they pull out a map and for what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes tell us every single turn on the course. We would need to take a page of notes! After realizing no one was "Getting it" they offered "You can take a map with you" Mike takes them up on this and just before we take off they tell us that the course is marked. I don't know why we went through all the other stuff that was all we needed to know!

"Ready... set... go!" Well they got that part right. I decide to run up to the front with Mike so I can help show him the way. Now I have no business being up front but Mike hasn't done the course for a couple of years so I figure I should do the neighborly thing since he is an out of towner and show him the course.

The running part turned out to be the most uncomplicated part of the race. We have no trouble finding the small arrows that direct us around the 3.2 mile 5k. Though we are not exactly burning up the course with a blistering pace we soon open up a big lead and run together following the signs.

As we turn the corner at the three mile mark, we begin to pick it up a little for the finish. Mike stays right with me so I go a little faster. I am thinking, "this is great! We will put on a real show for these people with a fast kick." We see the finish shute and turn in at what is close to a full sprint for me. Mike is right there not two inches in front or two inches behind. We sort of turn a corner off the street and behind a parked car and there is the finish tape. This will be a nice tie for Mike and I, our first ever. We take two strides and look up to break the tape but wait! I notice two people standing right in the middle of the finish. They have vests on, obviously helping out with the race but they aren't even looking. I just manage to move to the right but Mike doesen't have a chance, we are running at full kick speed breaking the tape and KA-WAM!! we have race helpers flying to the left and race helpers flying to the right. Not an ideal finish unless this is funny video's. Fortunately no one is hurt.

At this point we figure that they will announce that we tied and will have to spilt the trophy. We stand there and talk as we watch the race officials move the finish line about three or four times. There is a guy with a megaphone calling out the times to finishers 9 blocks away. He has no idea that the runners can only hear the last 30 feet.

After watching all this amusement for a while the last person finishes and they start the awards. Awards go to the fastest gradeschool runner, the fastest middle school, High school, then overall winner. I notice a strange absence of High school age runners. When they get to the overall award they say "ooh this was a close one folks but the winner is Mike Hockersmith by one tenth of a second!" How they decided this we will never know. We were kicking it in side by side and there were bodies crashing and flying and people running around, I don't even think the guy with the megaphone was there yet. Mike and I expected to be declared the co-winners because we both had team uniforms on and it was fairly obvious that we were running this thing together. But nope! I am declared the winner and awarded the trophy. I guess all bragging rights go to me. These Roe guys aren't so scary with their big kicks, I can outkick both of them. I think the most embarrasing part of the whole day though was as we drove home we found the high school kids. The seniors were having their graduation ceremony while the rest of us dummies were out running. I think I will go to the graduation next year and spare myself the embarrasment.