Quatro Takes Icy Plunge: Delaware Fat-Ass 50K

By John A. Dodds

Before I lose my train of thought, which usually happens by the second paragraph of my reports, I would like to say Carl did a tremendous job in organizing this event. The trail was well marked (although that didn't prevent me from missing a critical turn), the burgers and dawgs on the grill at the end were superb, and on and on.

Rendezvous. I decided the day before to do this event. We all met at her place (name withheld) and would drive up in two vehicles - mine and Jim Cavanaugh's. I asked Michele and Mike if they wanted to ride with me. Michele looked at Mike and said, "If we ride with him, anything we say will be on the web." They rode with Jim. I was crushed. The rest of us had a great time driving up and back, talking about all kinds of neat and personal stuff, none of which will be repeated here.

Navigation error. I made one navigation error and that was not making the turn marked with a blue ribbon that would have taken me back to the parking lot. But this wasn't my fault. The 50K was to be a 10.5 mile north loop (and there was a 2.5 mile loop off of this loop), a 5 mile south loop, the north loop again, and the south loop again. I didn't read the turn directions or pay attention to Carl at the start because I was going to run with people who knew the way. And it almost worked.

Vicki and I finished the first two loops and then headed into the 10.5 mile loop for the second time. We soon came across James and Rebecca who had just finished that loop and were doing it again. Vicki told them that they had missed the turn back to the parking lot, so they turned around. Vicki and I continued on. When we got to the junction where the 2.5 mile loop started, Vicki said she wasn't going to do it but would just continue on back to the parking lot. I was going to do that, too, but, unfortunately, Karen Shiley came along and said I could run with her. Frankly, I was getting tired and the thought of trying to keep up with Karen wasn't real appealing. But I gave in and was barely able to keep up with her. At one point, she said she was starting to get a blister on her heel, so I offered her some duct tape. She took it and said I could go on. Since I figured I was near the finish (which I was), I took off. Left to my own devices, a couple minutes later, I missed the turn back to the parking lot (à la James and Rebecca) and proceeded into the 10.5 mile loop again. About a mile later, I realized my mistake, turned around and headed back.

When I got back to the parking lot (Karen had already come in and headed out for the last 5 mile loop), Vicky asked what I had done, and I told her. She asked me if I had been paying attention to when she was giving directions to James and Rebecca. I said no. It's not that I tune Vicky out when she talks, but I saw no need to pay attention back then since I had no plans of running by myself from that point on.

So who was at fault here? Some would argue Vicki because she shouldn't have cut the run short and should have made sure I got back to the finish. Some would argue Karen because she should have insisted that I not leave her--not because she needed any help but that I shouldn't be left alone to navigate on my own. But really it was the RD's fault. He should have designated someone to run with me at all times because it's fairly common knowledge that I'm bound to make a wrong turn sooner or later. The only excuse he has, and it's a lame one, is that he didn't know I was coming until I showed up that morning.

I know what most of you are thinking: how is not making a turn at a junction marked with a blue ribbon a "navigation error" (see title of this section). Because Russ says so. Let me give you a quote from Russ's 2000 MMT100 report. I've written about this tome before (and will probably continue to do so in the future from time to time - especially when I run out of things to write about). Although this report is still on the web, it is being carefully hand scribed and meticulously illustrated by a group of monks in a monastery on a small island off the coast of Ireland. They have been working for several years now and will be done about the time Mike and Kerry finish their reports. Anyway, here is what Russ wrote: "Shortly after this, I made my only navigation error of the race. The path split and I did not notice the flags directing me to bear right. I was continuing uphill to the left."

Frankly, Russ missing that turn was not a navigation error. Examples of navigation errors are focusing your sextant on the wrong star or not taking into account the proper declination angle on the map when calculating your heading. When you don't notice a trail ribbon and miss a turn, there is another phrase for that: it's called f---ing up. And that's what Russ did almost 4 years ago, although he has tried to convince us otherwise.

Quatro's icy plunge. Although I probably don't have all the facts, that doesn't stop me from telling the story. Quatro and Linda were running in the south loop, and there was a stream crossing that had ice. In his concern over watching Linda to make sure she was doing ok, Quatro wasn't paying attention to what he was doing. Next thing you know, he falls in the stream. Not just stepped into it but fell into it. The water was frigid. The worst part about it was he got his hands wet. Fortunately, Linda had an extra pair of gloves, and they finished the 50K. Quatro later said that Linda had saved his life. What this means now is that Quatro owes Linda big time. And Linda gets to define what "big time" means; if she is undecided, I'm sure there are some people out there who could give her some suggestions.

Michele. Although Michele certainly has a reputation as an ultrarunner, her reputation as an aid station volunteer is less than par. And that day was no exception. For some reason, she took it upon herself at the finish to ladle out the soup to some people. Quatro, who by now had changed but whose hands were still visibly shaking, held out a styrofoam cup for Michele to pour him some soup. The soup was chicken noodle and was scalding hot. As he held out his cup, she dipped the ladle into the cauldron and then poured the soup over Quatro's hand. However, I did see some of the soup go into his cup. Fortunately, he was wearing insulated gloves, which prevented any third-degree burns and later skin graft surgery.

Using the facilities. We all rode back to her (name still withheld) place, again talking about neat and personal stuff, none of which will be repeated here. As we were unloading, he (name withheld) asked her if he could come in and "use the facilities." Being savvy to these kinds of things, I said that that seemed to be some kind of code for you know what. Trying to cover things up, she asked if I wanted to come in and "use the facilities" too. Things seemed to be getting a little out of hand at this juncture, so I merely said no thanks and headed on home. What happened after I left is anybody's guess.

VHTRCers. I'm sure we made a great impression up in Delaware that day. Carl is probably thinking we're a bunch of idiots who fall into streams, get lost, and try to inflict personal injury on each other. And there is probably some truth to that.


(To see pictures and results from this event, go to: www.ultradawgs.org/.)

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