Would you run a race held on the Pacific Coast Trail? Well, sure you would. It’s where Cheryl Strayed hiked, and …. well, it’s where Cheryl Strayed hiked. It’s sorta like running Western States because Oprah did.
But beware. The diabolical Pacific Crest Trail Association is advising the U.S. Forest Service to ban all trail race permits. Although that’s as far-fetched as banning the Badwater 135 from Death Valley (yeah, right), it could happen.
Solution? This is America. We take swift and decisive action! We sign an online petition. THAT will show them! I dutifully opened the petition and began to read. I was in full agreement until I got past the first four words.
First, a confession. I have been hiking and running trails since the days Ronald Reagan was a B actor. I always pretend to read the fine print on how you must go 200 feet from the trail and stay away from water and dig a 6-foot pit and plant a small magnolia tree on top after you’re through. And I DO make efforts to blend in with the environment (it’s not easy to find camo toilet paper. well, ok, in texas it IS easy, but you can’t just steal it from the toilets at the ranger station.) But I stopped packing with my little shovel back when my mustache was still brown, and I am less than careful on trail runs.
You know that feeling. You’re at mile 35. The tequila/peanut butter combo at the last aid station wasn’t such a great idea after all. Nature calls. You let the answering machine pick up, but nature just keeps calling over and over and over. Finally you answer, bringing you to The Squat of Doom. You carefully crouch as your quads begin to quiver, the calves think about cramping, and your entire body begins to sway menacingly. You finish up, hopefully still upright, leave a little bit of toilet paper disguised under a rock and some leaves, and you’re back on the trail. Done and done.
If you follow rule no. 1, exactly what happens? You’re supposed to use some sort of dog glove scooper, insert into zip-lock bag, hope you’re able to seal it shut with numb fingers, and stick it in your vest next to the wool hat, rain shell and Oreo stash? Then run with it for 3-4 miles to the next aid station?
And not to get too scientific, but ultra poop earns its name. Too much liquid nutrition, coupled with junk food and defizzed Coke, tends to create a texture that reminds me of Aunt Dorothy’s tapioca. How exactly would one remove that from the scene of the crime? Backpacker Wet-Vac?
And what about aid station volunteers? These are the guys who get up ridiculously early to hike in to inaccessible spots so that you can have your precious pretzels. They already do so much. Now you’re asking them to tote out poop?
Realistically, though, who’s actually going to do this? It seems one of those environmental things that is a great idea that nobody will ever do, like composting orange peels and recycling plastic grocery bags. yeah, right. With pretty much zero chance of getting caught, would you actually do it?
I don’t know. I understand the need to protect a runner’s rights to trails. But maybe it’s time to give up the idea of races on them. Is it less of a run to go rim-to-rim-to-rim just because you don’t get a medal? (and they have a BUNCH of portapots on the course!!!!)
I just watched an amazing video of Anna Frost. She says something in it about how maybe she won’t feel the need to race anymore. Maybe just run for joy. What a concept.
The point? Beats me. Just that government regulation is silly, promises you can’t keep are futile, and it would likely be easy to poop in a plastic grocery bag. I could be on to something here.
mmmmm. tequila and peanut butter …