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Next Year
I'm Not Doing Anything Stupid

Gary Knipling & the Snake

Gary nominated by Keith Knipling, et. al. -- the snake by Joe Clapper

This is a rattlesnake, not a copperhead, but he/she is still one of Gary's friends! Photo: John Nelson

So, you're an experienced veterinarian, outdoorsman, and naturalist. What could be more natural than using a night-run on Signal Knob to teach the other members of the group about venomous snakes? Early in the run, when one of the party pointed out a snake, who but the VHTRC's own Crocodile Guy, Gary Knipling should pick up the copperhead and demonstrate how to milk it of its venom using a small stick. After the show was over, Gary released the snake and everyone continued the trek up the mountain. A few minutes later, Gary informed the group that he had run quite a few miles earlier in the day, that his legs were a little tired, and he felt he was slowing everyone down. The group protested, but Gary insisted on heading back down the mountain by himself.

Gary Knipling
Gary Knipling, outdoorsman

Several days later, after Gary was released from the hospital, he revealed that the handling of the copperhead had not gone smoothly. The snake had bitten him just as he had released it, and he had rushed himself to the hospital, where he was kept for several days. Good thing he had milked the venom! Being a veterinarian, Gary has some knowledge of snakes and treatment for snake bites and was able to keep things under control to get to the hospital. Gary has treated dogs for copperhead bites, so he knows the symptoms and how to handle them. Gary truly had a poker face---no sign of pain whatsoever after being bitten by the snake. When asked why he didn't tell the group, Gary said "I didn't want to ruin the rest of your run."

It's hard to say what was stupider, picking up the snake, messing with the snake in the dark, or leaving without telling anyone that he had been bitten by the snake.

As one party on the run said "I can say with authority that Gary has not stopped picking up snakes or messing with snakes. In fact, when I referred to the incident during MMT, Gary found a snake to wave in my face almost instantaneously. Hopefully, if this happens again, Gary will 'ruin our run' and let us drive him to the hospital."

If Gary wins, an award will also be given to the snake. After all, 60+ year old skin is mighty tough; the snake might have broken off a fang. Moreover, the snake had no idea where Gary's been or with whom. The snake needs to exercise better judgement in the future.

Ed Schultze, Bob Coyne, and Brian O'Conner

Nominated by Jaret Seiberg

What's really stupid is not trying to run 100 miles in a flood-plain while the remnant of a hurricane is still dropping water into the watershed, but rather taking along your own reporter (Jaret Seiberg) and then taking pictures of the whole endeavor.

Picture of Runners
Award Nominees and Nominator Prepare for their adventure

Jaret adds, in a precious aside to his report:

...At the same time, a middle-aged woman in an expensive car arrives with her golden retriever. She proceeds to throw a tennis ball in the middle of the river and sends the dog to fetch. The dog gets washed 200 yards downstream. He barely gets to shore. She then calls him to swim back to her against this raging current. The dog barely survives. Last we saw, she planned to head downstream thinking the current would be less. Clearly, not everyone is born with a brain.

So, in passing judgment on the wisdom of someone who risks her dog's life and then seeks calmer water downstream, does the accuser implicitly indict himself and his co-conspirators?

If this group wins, Jaret Seiberg will win a "I'm with stupid" T-shirt.

Ryan Henry

Nominated by Mike Mason

Here's a unique two-fer. Rumor is that Ryan Henry ran the Double-Ring (140+ miles) last fall as a training run for the MMTR 50 Miler, two weeks later.

Image of Ryan Henry
Ryan Henry in the "real" Ring in 2003

First, this is stupid, because there's no training benefit to anything done that close to a race, when all sane people are starting their taper, and that a rocky, slow, awful death-march has any event-specific application to a very runnable 54 miler.

While remarkable, what makes this truly worthy of earning the "Next Year, I'm not doing anything stupid award," is that Ryan did this run after consulting with David Horton for advice in training for the MMTR and in improving his times. Does it really make sense to ask anyone who runs (and wins) Hardrock with a compound fracture in his hand for training advice??? Why on earth anyone would ask David Horton for training advice is beyond the ken of anyone who values his career, marriage, health, or sanity. Whatever David told Ryan somehow morphed into running 140 miles on almost unrunnable rocky trails to prepare for 54 miles on dirt-roads and jeep-trails.

Brian R. McNeill

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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