The force that calls thousands year after
year, to subject themselves to a battle against them in
the Robie Creek Race makes you wonder, "What makes people
swim in shark infested waters or hike in avalanche prone
mountains in dangerous seasons?"
There is a human desire to challenge, albeit as insane as
it may sound, ones abilities, spiritual, mental or
physical in circumstances that make common sense a
meaningless possession. How else would you explain when
you hear a 70-year old say that he has challenged Robie
Creek for twenty two consecutive years?
One clarification is in order at this point. This Race is
like any other addictive human experience. Some do it once
or twice and they wisely rest their ambitions. Then there
are those that have no clue how not to be in the Race once
they try it. Strangely, these are my comrades.
It was my sober desire to be back after my first year,
2004. However, a business opportunity placed me in another
state on the day of the Race. That is when I learned the
addictive nature of this event. At exactly 12:00 (noon),
Boise time, the starting time of the Race, my body jerked.
I spent the next three hours estimating where I would have
been had I participated in the Race. All this occurred as
I was giving a presentation.
The agony of not being part of the Race was relatively
worse, to me, than the grueling up (8.4 miles) and down
(4.7 miles) hill experience. Not to mention being outrun
or outwalked or simply passed by people 30-40 years older
than you, walkers, and ipoded participants.
It's a week and two days since the Race. This is the first
time I could sit and put some perspectives in words. The
events of the day need several scribes to attempt to
formulate basic details in a language people who have
never been part of it can understand.
I will go to my grave still amazed and appreciative of the
caring nature of the volunteers who make the experience
humanly all along the Race Course. They provided water,
music, fruits and words of encouragement. The music and
the oranges rekindled my determination at very critical
moments, even the runner who finished first admitted he was
about to give up at the 4th mile. That mile and the 11th
were two of my several critical moments.
My calmness on the Race day surprised me, maybe this is
what makes people do the Race for years. Be calm. I left
home after some house cleaning and even stopped to visit
with a neighbor. At the park where the Race starts, I
visited with friends and strangers and only had to use the
portables once. When passed by a participant who would
have made me blame my abilities two years ago, I was
inspired to push harder instead of panicking.
I had prepared since September, doing about 20 miles/week,
even during cold months as evidenced by my participation
in the YMCA sponsored Christmas Run on the 17th of
December at 15 degree temperature. I had gone to the top
and back several times, sometimes adjusting my body for
each step before landing on snow. I had goals for the day:
stay strong to the finish, minimize the number of those
who pass me from the 7th to 8.4 miles mark. Finish between
2 and 2 1/2 hours.
That last goal didn't happen. I will be back. Maybe those
who do it year after year, have their last goal pending,
unachieved while still within a striking distance.