it ain't so. Sorry. It's true. The best organized and most
beautiful relay race in the world anywhere, anytime ever is
over. Nobody will be able to match this one ever again.
volunteers of this class event were the reason that teams
came from all over the world, including Canada, the U.S.,
Europe and Asia to participate and kept coming back. Sure,
the country is some of the most beautiful in the world.
But the volunteers made it happen. Without them, no runner
would have experienced the unique 177 mile, seventeen
stage trek from Jasper to Banff (Alberta, Canada). If
you think I am overstating this, you might just start
making a little to-do list of what it takes to get over
2,000 runners safely through rain, snow, altitude, heat,
bears, cars, hills and down the Trans Canadian Highway
and see how quickly you might change your mind. Runners
can only hope that somehow, someway, they will do it all
again someday. It was great to see a heightened appreciation
for one last relay, which has been happening for the last
two decades. I would venture to guess that runners snapped
a few more pictures than in years past, savoring every
circumstances, Team Metric Morons, having participated
in the last eight JTB events, was determined to make JTB
2000 one to remember.
year, five runners from Eugene would join eleven others from
Seattle and Canada. Bruce and I were joined by Tommy, Ron
and Bill and all flew into Calgary, rented one of two support
vehicles the team would require and then made the five hour
drive to Jasper. For someone who has not made this drive before,
you spend most of it with your mouth hanging open, especially
when you see the hills you are going to be running up. I got
tired driving up them.
arrived in Jasper and met our fellow Morons and received our
official leg assignments. As we each pondered our assigned
leg, the CEO of the team sponsor (GeoEngineers out of Redmond,
WA), laid down a gauntlet and challenged the group to beat
the Geo team record of 22:30. I looked at my predicted time
and gulped a bit. It was 1:21 and I had leg 11, the second
most difficult according to the course ratings. The lengths
range from 8.4 to 12.5 miles. The elevation ranges from 3,500
feet to the maximum of 6,714 which is the finishing point
of leg 11. Now, I think of myself as a pretty capable runner,
but I know my strengths, and long steep hills ain't one of
them given my parakeet calves. The gulp happened right after
I realized that 1:21 flat was eight seconds faster than the
team record, held by Terry Parks and about a half minute faster
than Carla Woodworth's record. Terry's a 2:50 marathoner.
Carla, while I don't know her specific times, has competed
at the collegiate level. I knew I was not in her league watching
her run last year. I thought, "yeah, right."
was wondering what Bill, Bruce, Tommy and Ron were thinking.
I especially was in awe of Terry, not when I noticed he signed
up for his usual two legs, but the fact they were BACK TO
BACK. Running two legs was not unusual for this group of runners,
but back to back? Man. I ran two the previous year (#3 and
#10) and melted down badly during the last three miles of
#10. Alan Mills saved my life with some hilarious drive-by
trash talking, not to mention him and Bert Pschunder darn
near carrying me to the van after the finish.
runners on the first five legs were going to have to deal
with the heat, which followed closely behind the crystal blue
sky that greeted us in the morning. Layne Alphonso, Art Dunn,
Bill Welch, Dave Cooke and Ted all ran well. We made sure
we doused them real well to keep them hydrated and cool. Trash
talked early in their respective leg and then, reluctantly
resorted to encouragement inside of three miles to go…not
being totally heartless. The motivation technique of the weekend,
however, went to the woman who greeted their runner with the
cry of "Welcome to the Grand Tetons!" just before she flashed
was talking about the heat, but the runners all seemed to
be running real smart. Bruce, always the voice of experience
and reason on these things, tempered Gordon Denby's goal with
a footnote of not having anyone taken to the hospital. I am
real glad he said it, because it stuck with everyone in the
support vehicles, who were all over the runners with water,
sponges and Gatorade. At a minimum, it sure is nice to see
when you're out there running in the heat, having folks calling
out distances run and remaining and telling you that you look
like absolute shit. The other rule for the weekend was this:
"If you have something nice to say, shut up."
of us seemed to be motivated by negative reinforcement. Bruce
took the baton at leg 6. This one has Bruce written all over
it. You run four miles and then go straight up for three.
You smell nothing but burning brakes and then head down the
other side, to the Columbia Ice Fields. He fought off a side
ache for the first four miles and shook it on the hills and
hoofed it into the wind for the rest of the way. While he
was not happy with his time, he was the only one who wasn't.
Everyone was damned glad he was running it. Bruce can run
hills and kept us ahead of schedule.
for Gordon Denby to finish leg 7, Bruce and I saw a poor dude
come by with a bloody singlet, which also contained what was
left of his nipples…a perfect photo opportunity missed for
the pages of 10kTruth. Lucky you…and poor guy.
took the baton and started what was planned to be a two leg
effort. Two miles into the first leg, he confessed he felt
bad, having flu symptoms and was running anyway. Terry is
no stranger to The Truth. At the 5k, we started talking about
how to cover leg nine. Several options were tossed about and
Terry clearly knew it would be best to keep our hill runner
fresh to make up any lost time. If he could somehow make it
halfway through, we would have one less five minute penalty
for runner substitutions. It was no surprise to me he covered
all of leg 8 and half of 9 with the flu. Art Dunn covered
the last five miles and covered them very well, I might add.
Tommy hammered leg 10, which is nearly all up hill. He just
puts his head down and
goes. No big deal. Oh, what it would be like to have strength.
started my warm-up for 11 and learned we would have to have
a van escort on the second half of the leg as a young male
grizzly was sighted. Cool. They had to shut down leg 11 in
1998's race due to a female with cubs. Running at night in
these circumstances was a little spooky, but I finished in
one piece and gladly handed off to Gord Nelson. Leg 11 was
no fun. My time? 1:20.15...and it almost killed me. I don't
know how Terry ran leg 4 and 11 one year, which means my time
should have an asterisk by it to set the record straight.
Gord, Ron Wilson, Susan Nelson and Boyd finished off the evening
legs. Susan tolerated our trash talk, even dishing out some
of her own…but you really had to listen carefully. Being a
father of two myself and clearly understanding Parental Truth,
I was not about to trash talk anyone too hard who was leaving
right after her leg to get home before her young children
woke up. Under these circumstances, not to mention after watching
her throttle leg 14, Susan gets the Team Morons' Truth Seeker
The Truth Leg of the Weekend Award has to go to Alan Mills.
He was clearly hurting before he even started, with some pretty
sore knees, and managed to pump out 7:40's keeping us within
striking distance of the Team Morons' record.
then there was Robert "Take Us to the House" Miyahara, pulling
anchor. With the five minute penalty, it was going to be close.
Robert nailed his leg and we came in at 22 hours 27 minutes,
including the five minute penalty. Team Metric Morons sought
and found The Truth. That makes us true morons. But that was
the only moronic part of the 2000 Jasper To Banff Relay. Our
sincere thanks and appreciation are extended to each and every
volunteer that gave us and 50,000 runners over two decades