Too Stupid To Quit

My friend Frank and I have been doing races of some kind for about 20 years. We’ve done a full marathon in 90 degree muggy weather, we’ve done 1/2 marathons in the rain, we’ve snow-shoed across frozen golf courses at temperatures that need no second digit, and we’ve walked across the metro in pursuit of donuts and scenery.

Now, as we close in on our 6th decade as full-fledged morons, we’ve decided to branch out. Because none of the above really was tough enough for us, we’re going to do a 1/2 marathon wearing 35 pound backpacks.

Why? I think I’m responsible for this fiasco. I saw a news article about some 90 year old vet doing a full marathon this last winter, and goaded Frank about having no excuse or something stupid like that. Further, I have often complained over the years that while a lot of skinny little runners can kick our butts on the course, not many of them could put a full pack on and do the distance.

I guess it’s time to put up or shut up. Saturday morning at 0800 we will be assembled for the Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon. Okay, so it’s the Brainerd Bataan Memorial March, but who’s quibbling. Many times in my life I was told to quit whining during some physical training evolution. Often, the instructor would say, “This isn’t the death march.”

That means something to me. I am in awe of the fact that those guys made it marching across the Philippines after the fall of Manila. So off we go to see if we really can do what I’ve been claiming all these years.

Before you scoff, go put a 35 pound weight on your back and walk just one mile. Then you will get the idea. I’ve done 6 miles with a 43 pound pack a time or two, and a bunch of 3 milers with a 60 pound pack, and it’s really hard. I’m hoping that the 35 pound weight is relatively light over a slightly worse distance. By 1600 on Saturday I should have my answer. Below are the before and after pictures.

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We made it. Under our target time with smiles on our faces.

Before the race

Everyone knew the words to the National Anthem. No knees except during the invocation.

The herd leaves the start

Now, a few words about the race. It was about 70 degrees, sunny, a nice breeze. Neither Frank, nor I, found the weight to be particularly oppressive. We both drank a lot of water. One small blister between us. And, best of all, we out-walked quite a few soldiers young enough to be our children, or even grand-children. Not bad for a couple of old coots who were in the Navy. And some more pictures.

The route was lined by American flags held by relatives of the men who died on the Bataan Death March. Very moving, and they were great cheerleaders as we passed by them.

After a few miles, unit cohesion fell apart and there were a lot of guys walking on their own. The course was beautiful.

We made it. We were far from last, and we made it under our goal time.

The reward was a mess-hall spaghetti dinner. It was delicious.

Kids. They just can’t hang with the old dogs.

We’re imbeciles, but we’re happy imbeciles.

And, now, a new thing for the blog – video. Let’s see if it works.

A few words about the local populace are in order at this point. This is the America where I want to live. Flag-waving, patriotic, kind to strangers, and heavily armed. Hunter’s plaid with patriot blood. Everyone was exceptionally encouraging and nice. The good folks at Rutgers were most hospitable, and I will stay there again.

Remember Bataan.

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Too Stupid To Quit — 1 Comment

  1. Good job mate. We should all be part of something bigger than ourselves.

    David Wickersham
    U.S. Navy 1963-1969
    Kamiseya, USS Bon Homme Ruchard, USS Hancock, USS Astabula, USS Jamestown