Apparently, the key to Race Director recognition is: speak softly but carry a big clipboard. Couch Couch, our race results guru, bought into this theory and got mistaken for me at every Camp gathering despite the fact that he obviously looked nothing like me. But then what do happy-go-lucky campers know? So to test this theory I checked out the Jailhouse Rock 5K. There he was again, clipboard in hand, fielding questions that had nothing to do with his job as course marshal coordinator. Jen Ferriss, the real race director, was dancing to the Elvis beat, having a great time. So for both of us the decoy worked! “All” we had to do was organize the pre-race logistics and then we could coast.
What I really like about Camp, though, is that the Stryders have been doing it for so long that it magically just happens. Not really, but I like to think that at the start of each summer Tom Law and Pete Finley will set up the flags and Dave Peterson and Will pick them back up. Ann Marie and her contingent of kid groupies record the times and pick the raffle winners, Steve Mastitis is Watermelon Man, Amy Ballesteros cuts the cake, Joe Favatt takes out the garbage and remembers the grout.*
Except when a vacation interferes. For Camp #4 neither Dave nor Will showed and we realized after most folks had left that there was no one to take down the flags. So John took the shorter section and Matt Miczek and I teamed up for the longer half. But we forgot that the closer to September you get, the darker it becomes. Especially in the woods away from mall and highway lights. Blue marking flags don’t exactly stand out in a rapidly darkening woods. Our hunt and pick system took a lot longer than expected and John became concerned and doubled back on the road to find us. Another time Joe missed garbage pickup and the rest of us juggled leaky garbage -- we later learned that he lines his trunk with an easily hosed-off tarp. Dwight Eisenhower, from his Normandy Invasion vantage point, famously commented, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning indispensable.” Latterly, a do or die approach. Give me a clipboard any day.
Another thing you can never plan for is nature. While Eisenhower had the “luxury” of delaying his invasion and praying for more favorable conditions we were committed to every other Monday. This year we dodged the plague of ground bees, most of the geese, potential thunderstorms and our usual hot and humid weather. But for the first time, Camp Saratoga #2 was visited by a kaleidoscope of Karner Blue butterflies hovering above the sandy area by the finish line. This was indeed puzzling as they were far removed from the carefully planted field of blue lupines which they are supposed to prefer. I tried rerouting the finish, only to discover yet more tourists. Fortunately, as the sun lost its intensity, the sunbathing ceased and the Karners presumably headed back to their roosting spots.
Most inspirational runner this year was Peggy McKeown who, had we double-dipped, would have won both top female and age-graded awards, with her time surpassing Dana Bush’s long-standing age-graded record. For Continual Improvement we began with a robust 40 which dwindled to 20, then 8, then a last-man standing 2 ultimate survivors. The hypothetical Spirit Award went to the Ballesteros family who showed up for the final race wearing custom-made tie-died tees, with their dog sporting a dashing bandanna. What better way to celebrate Eclipse Day than at Camp, with an eclipse-themed cake, IRunLocal gift card prizes, Ben & Jerrys ice cream cone coupons, free local race entries and 9 MilesEast pizza and salads. Summer went by way too quickly!
*Camp is famously not hesitant to solicit all manner of free stuff. The grout was a handout from an original Silks & Satins sponsor who contributed way too much of the stuff. Like the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which was forced upon the US Armed Services abroad, it worked its way down the path of least resistance and became a staple item in our raffle prize repertoire