Tuesday, August 17, 2010

S-to-S Word Association

The Spokane to Sandpoint Relay's website isn't quite as brilliant as that of the Headwaters Relay' or the Meeteetse-Absaroka Challenge (note the page title, sporting the name of a different race), but it gets the job done nonetheless.

Sally in Spokane. I think she said her name was Sally, but I don't remember; I'm not very good with names. She talked to a lot of us in the lobby of our hotel in Spokane Valley. She got around in a motorized wheelchair, loved talking to strangers, and had stayed up all night for fear of missing her 7:30 AM wakeup call to catch a ride to a doctor's appointment. In some pretty obvious ways she wasn't quite “normal”. It's easy to notice and dwell on that. She used to ride her motorcycle from Spokane to Sandpoint and knew there were some beautiful corridors along the way. She participates in Spokane's annual Bloomsday race every year. And she works in some capacity to facilitate the creation and availability of stylish clothing and accessories for wheelchair-bound people, so they don't have to look like hospital patients all the time. The personality traits that cause her to stay up all night to catch a ride and talk to everyone she sees in the lobby might be some of the same ones that help her overcome the many difficulties she faces and do work that improves people's lives. She does things that are hard and sometimes awkward, because that's what she has to do to get out of her home, to contribute to and live in her community. Go Sally (if that's indeed your name)!

While Spokane Valley is loosely based on Big Island from Mario 3, Spokane Airport is surrounded by the actual set of the empty castle in World 7.

Some of Joe's LEDs and batteries wound up in my car. Per Wikipedia and Wikipedia I'm guessing the multi-color ones are low-current LEDs that draw about 2mA and will discharge the batteries in about 110 hours, which will be some time Wednesday morning.

On the way back to Seattle we hit some nasty traffic delays as a result of the Meat Loaf concert at Snoqualmie. Specifically, the back-ups were all in back of Snoqualmie, and thus probably caused by backwards-propagating waves of slowdown due to lots of people entering the freeway to get away from Snoqualmie, back to Seattle, before the start of the concert... that ran dead-on into the entire population of Spokane driving into Snoqualmie to see Meat Loaf. I blame Rhea for the whole thing, as a car carrying her both drove from Spokane to Snoqualmie to drop her at the Meat Loaf concert and then immediately entered the freeway to escape to the disdainful, hipsterly safety of Seattle.

In Van 2 we saw a few shooting stars, mostly while Lauren and Neil were running their night legs.

Many people love runnnig night legs at relays, and we mostly run them really fast, but they always make me nervous. My favorite time to run relays is at dawn, even though dawn legs are typically last legs and quite painful. I should start running at dawn again in Seattle.

Randomly there were some people putting up Christian yard signs at exchange 6 that had that spirit of neener, neener, neener, we've got the real god, you've got the fake one, or maybe you don't got one, either way we're awesome. I love that stuff. Anyway I'm pretty sure I'm awesome too, real god or not.

For everyone that missed it (all of Van 1 and whoever was running at the time in Van 2), we saw someone that from behind looked like he was motoring along, but when we passed him we realized he was turning over quickly but with short strides. And I went on ripping on his short, shuffling stride for about 30 seconds. And am thus going to runner hell (unless he was from Eriksaurus Rex, but I don't think he was).

The team seems mostly in agreement about some of this at least, and we'll probably send a letter to the race organizers about it, but my personal opinion on course safety at S-to-S probably belongs here. On a road with no pedestrian facilities, especially on a road without much of a shoulder, runners and walkers should use the left side, espcially at night. People on foot can more easily get out of the way of oncoming traffic than traffic from behind. On a bike you usually want to use the right side; getting off the road is very hard to do without crashing, and cyclists travel fast enough that riding with traffic gives overtaking cars significantly more time to adjust. Cyclists and pedestrians have very different capabilities and limitations, and therefore I don't think it makes sense to allow cyclists to pace runners at night, as the S-to-S race does. I also think the organizers need to give clear direction on what side of the road to run on in road sections, that it should almost always be the left, and that therefore directional arrows should usually be on the left side of the road. I saw lots of runners at using headphones at the race, and I think that's always a bad idea running outdoors, and should never be allowed on a race course that's open to traffic (I don't like the idea of headphones in any race, but the danger is not nearly so grave when there aren't cars on the course... greater experts than me have both allowed and disallowed them in their races, and I'll certainly grant that there are many runners that get a lot more out of listening to music while running than I would).

There were a couple of accidents at the race this year. Neither would have been prevented by such rule changes (yes, one was a cyclist that wouldn't have been allowed on the course, but the driver went far enough off course to injure the runner as well, so I see that accident as similarly possible without the cyclist there), and I'm not trying to react to the accidents. I'm reacting to the general difficulty presented by runners and cyclists using both sides of the pavement, and riding double-wide, forcing cars to go very far to get around. One or both of the accidents may have been prevented by closer coordination with local police departments. I don't know enough about what this race did in this regard, nor what other races do, to do more than speculate on this subject, so I won't get any more into it here.

Overall, for an experienced runner taking the proper precautions, I don't think S-to-S is any more dangerous than any other race, or even than going out on a typical run. But there are inexperienced runners that don't know much about running in traffic. There are runners that impatiently take risks while racing. And there are those that don't prepare themselves (while briefly lost in Coeur D'Alene during my second leg I crossed paths with a runner that said, I didn't even look at the directions for this leg, I'm just trusting the signs to be right. He thought we were on the right road at the time and, as I suspected and later confirmed, we weren't). I don't at all mind events where runners are expected to take responsibility for their own preparation and safety (if I did I'd have missed some great races), and I usually try to do this in any race. Unfortunately lots of people don't.

On a lighter note, we really had a good team that worked well together, from the email threads before some of us even met through van clean-up at the end. From Captain Danielle through the relay vets (Joe, Shaun, Lauren, myself), relay n00bs (John, Scott, Maria, Neil, Maureen, Rhea) and Judy, picked up at the last minute.

And this is the glorious George Washington rap. It was made by Brad Neely, and thus it is NSFW, juvenile in a very sophisticated way, and has tons of rhythm.

1 comment:

Al Dimond said...

Update: My Wednesday prediction was way off... I think all the LEDs I have with me are still going. Maybe the current ratings are max current they can handle, not typical draw from a battery... or maybe, as they're rated for 3.3V operation, they draw less current than advertised connected to a 3V battery.

I'll post here as soon as some of the batteries go dead.