Aroostook Dirty 30
Oh cool, you're a marathoner or badass ultra runner!
Sweeeeet, you've done a million obstacle course races, because you think you're one Tough Mudda Humpa, bub.
You've read the news stories, or maybe you saw a youtube video, or heard whispered in hushed tones within your running community about this crazy race up in northern Hicksville that you don't even have to pay for!
And now you're here, the "official" website of the world's worst 30 mile run.
You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll quit. Our DNF rate is 50 percent for 4 years running.
This race is so bad, that it's damn near a miracle if you even make it to the start. Our DNS (did not start) rate is like, 90%, dude.
Now that we've really sold you…..
Send a humorous handwritten letter(decorated), and a check for $30 to:
10 Mitchell Place
Laconia, NH 03246
EVERYONE WHO TOES THE START LINE GETS A FULL REFUND.
If you are someone who just wanted to say that you signed up to sound sexy on Facebook, that's O.K. You're money will fund our Rock-n-rolla status at every club in town the night after the race. SO THANK YOU!
For questions, find our Facebook account AROOSTOOK DIRTY THIRTY or email email@example.com
Lillian "The Terminator" Porteus
Lillian "The Terminator" Porteus
Stephen "Pepe Lepew" Assante
Amy "Split Chin" Poland
-Michelle Roy was yanked from the bushes at mile 4
-Michelle Roy was yanked from the bushes at mile 4
-Beau Taylor and Adam Murchison enjoyed each other's company after they were too pooched to go beyond mile 15
Sunday, December 29, 2013
The sun was already coming up, and the 2013 race was just 4 miles old, when we legitimately lost Michelle Roy... an annual AD30 starter, and Finisher back in 2011.
I stood on the Route 1 bridge, overlooking the Aroostook River, desperately trying to see glimpses of color or movement in the thick brush. Moments were tense as we called her name for what seemed like an eternity. No response. Had the river finally claimed a victim, similar to the moose of 2011?
Eventually she was recovered, and learning of her decision to quit, we were free to unleash the fury on the remaining 5 participants. This would be the nail in the coffin for river running in the dark at ad30. A staple of AD30 every year, it has been deemed just too damn dangerous.
Julia Bayly, a first-time TMB, set about on a lunge-fury-from-hell crusade, torturing the racers at the Aroostook Snowmobile Bridge Crossing(11 mile mark). Two racers, Beau and Adam, would suffer through the mileage back to Mojo from the bridge and bail on the race....just in time to watch Lilly hammer out some dumpster pulls before embarking on the last half of the race.
Beau and Adam would be the last to drop. Amy and Stephen, the remaining racers, would stagger through the rest of the race, just pacing themselves along, and putting one foot in front of the other.
As Amy finished with just minutes to spare before the cutoff, I watched Frosty melt into the pavement angrily.
The pumpkins were smashed, revealing their prize for lasting through the most torturous 30 miles known to man...but something else sprang from the mystical pumpkins.
A contagion that pops up just once every 5 years.
Each racer who toes the line at Aroostook Dirty 30 V: Rise of The Outbreak, begins dead, and races to Life.
All racers show up dressed like a zombie.
Who lives, and who stays undead?
Start training. Your life depends on it.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
**all photos courtesy of Julia Bayly
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Beau "The Main Street Nightmare" Taylor's sweet new AD30 ink.
This blog doesn't get updated often.
Before we almost killed Kyle... before a trio of participants carried half-decomposed moose carcass out of the darkness alongside the Aroostook River... and before we had dudes running down Main Street in Presque Isle, barefoot and bare-chested carrying a snowman, we needed to drum up propaganda to get people to the starting line. It is now safe to say the race is it's own propaganda.
Now, the ever-expanding facebook community away from Aroostook County keeps throwing the question out:
"What IS this 'Dirty 30', anyways?"
My first reaction is always to laugh. How do you put into words what happens on that weekend in September every year?
You're going to run 30 miles. You're going to lift, drag, cry, laugh, swear, and probably quit. We have a 47% finisher rate, all time. Other than those things, I cannot tell you what's going to happen. The personnel may change a little from year to year, but the spontaneous nature of the course and the race volunteers, called TMBs(Torture Maid/Men on Bicycles), guarantees a completely different event every year, and an experience that will be unforgettable. We offset the cost of driving to Aroostook County by making this event free. To sign up, simply send a funny letter of intent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for 2013 rules...located on the sidebar of this blog!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Your race sounds insane. I like that. In regards to a few notes on your blog.
1. I don't make lots of money. I hate paying entry fees. Free is good.
2. Why would I want a tee shirt? Most race shirts are awful. I think I have seen two decent ones in my entire life. Forget that. Also, who wears a tshirt in Aroostook County from October on? It's basically winter at that point.
3. Food? I am an adult. I'm capable of feeding myself.
4. Starbucks? Seriously dude? I don't think there is much of a crossover audience for fans of Starbucks and AD30 from what I can gather. I include myself in this.
I hate quitting. If I can still move my legs, I plan on finishing. I don't know what the two bricks are for, but I will bring them too. See you bright and early.
Bring it on, Frosty.
Just learning about the dirty 30 race. Having a hard time figuring it out but guess it will be a harder time to finish. Gotta get started and I'm already 30 time to get dirty. Please consider this my/our funny letter of intent to run laugh and cry at the dirty 30 2103 race:
This past weekend was my guide to whether or not I was going to do the AD30 again this year. I spent 3 days and 2 nights at the Cape Cod Relay, with no sleep, ran 20 miles, AND was in a van full of Polands and a future Poland. Just spending three days with Polands is worth recognition.;) I am going to toe the line in hopes of redeeming myself after last year's DNF. Shit just got real.
Michelle Roy, Finisher, 2011
I'm prepared to meet my maker 9-23-3013. Count me in. Oh ya, Beth Curtis too. I'm not going to hell alone.
I don't know if, strictly speaking, I am entitled to write this in order to take part in this year's AD30 Frosty Edition, but I feel compelled to do so anyway... both to extol this incredible event... and lament the two or three hours of my life spent feeling total agony, anxiety, and a strange underlying fear. I noted in last year's email that our runners always discovered something dead... and last year was no exception, only I didn't realize it until after the race. I was on the four-wheeler trail, shortly before I decided to drop out, when I stumbled upon the body of small chickadee. I took no heed of it at the time, and kept running/hobbling onward, but now I look back and wonder... is this a coincidence? Three years going and each time I find some poor animal dead on the side of the course? First it was the racoon, its glassy eyes yelling at me to stop while I could... then it was the remains of a moose leg, leaving the poor runner to wonder; what happened to the rest of its body? And finally, it was the small and innocent looking chickadee... just lying there... I woke up on the morning of last years AD30 Apocalypse edition, wondering one question.... what does this day have in store for me?
The day started off a little like this, I got up and shut off my alarm (set to go off at 3:45) and then got dressed in my windpants, and a t-shirt. I grabbed my backpack (packed to the brim with various survival tools and band-aids) and walked upstairs, pausing only to grab a banana from the fruit bowl. I slip my running shoes into my already full backpack with some difficulty, before walking out to the garage with only my socks creating a petty boundary between me and the pavement. To the immediete left of the garage door are my biking shoes, I pick them up and then gently lift my bike down from the hook it resides on when I am not on it. I get on my bike and pull out a flash-light, preparing to bike through that darkest part of the night known as the "witching hour." I am almost down my driveway, coasting gently through the cool air when I remember something... Damn! I forgot the tire... how am I supposed to bring a tire with me on a bike?? I imagine a large figure on a bike wearing windpants and a heavy backpack heaving a tire over his head as he bikes no-handed and holds a flashlight in his mouth. I shake the image away, and ponder for a moment, then I remember a Facebook post I had seen (Thanks Nate). I hurridly run indoors and quietly make my way to my brother's room. On the floor, scattered with the other toys and playing cards my brother has collected over the years, is exactly what I'm looking for. I quickly snatch up the small Lego Tire and run back outside. I pick up my bike, and stuff the small Tire into my backpack's outer pocket. Four miles later, after enduring the long darkness with nothing but a small and unreliable flashlight (The stupid thing kept turning off on me) to light my way, I finally reach my destination. Yet I know that this is only the shortest leg in what will be a long day of aches, pains, bleeding, limping, and exhaustion. What happens next is not something that can be told, or explained... only experienced.
The biggest question I always ask myself is this; did I regret this? In the moment, as I drop-out of the race with every muscle screaming, every ache dully pounding, and every cramp gnawing at me... I would answer yes. What the hell was I thinking? I can't run a race like this! 30 Miles??? Wayyy too much. I'm not fit enough... not strong enough! Do I really want to do this to myself? And then... I reflect upon it, and look at it as not just a painful race, but a test. A test to see where my own limits are, and how far I can push myself physically and mentally. Especially mentally, because that will always be the first thing to go out on anyone in a race like this; the desire to continue will be the only thing helping you through the pain that you may not necessarily feel. It is about attitude and perseverence... and a willingness to see it through to the end. I met my mental limits at 13 miles, and that is when I decided to stop... because I thought I couldn't go on, but in all honesty... I believe I could have. This year, I am striving to make it between the fifteen and twenty mile range... no matter what it takes. Hopefully I don't end up being defeated by my own brain, but I guess I'll have to see what this year has in store. Because I can run this race, maybe not all thirty, but I want to try and reach those limitations whatever the cost.
The hardest part about AD30 in my opinion is the arguing with yourself as you slowly lose all vestiges of sanity. Average thought processes tend to go like this: This is fun! This is f*****g insane. I'm having the time of my life. I'm going to die! No pain no gain. At least if I get lost they can follow the trail of blood... A good attitude is the key. Misery. Gloom. Despair. Just over that hill. That mailbox isn't getting any closer... This river water is nice and cool. Maybe I can drown myself... Ooh look at that cool plant. I think that was poison ivy I just touched... Wow look at that squirrel! That bear is going to maul me. Good thing I packed medical supplies! This band-aid doesn't fit. Wow! Two miles already? How far is that? Seventeen miles? Twenty? Oh wait... three?? I feel fast. I think I'll walk the remainder of the race. Those clouds are really neat looking. Is it raining?? I'm going to feel so great after this! Maybe if I close my eyes and count to three, I'll wake up in my bed with coffee, food, and my ps3. Ow, that cut kind of hurt. All well, pain is weakness leaving the body. I hope our medical insurance covers this... Oh look, it's another activity station! Ah, judging by the sound of small children crying, I must be nearing another activity station. I feel pretty strong right now. You actually expect me to carry that? Uh oh, Kyle fell off the bridge. I have a feeling that fall was no accident. Oh no, it looks like a poor moose died here. I am going to stuff this femur down Kale's throat. Wow, look at all the people who volunteered to help out! YOU ALL DESERVE TO DIE!
The slightly more practical side of me was verging on psychotic, and my optimistic side is just a bit too unrealistic....
The AD30 has been a source of personal trial for me, I love knowing that, although I have yet to finish (Or even make it half-way!), I have still tried. I have still dared. And I am ready to have another wing at it this year. I will give it another go against my better judgement, because it is probably the better judgement that made me quit. I want to see if I can get past that mental boundary to actually reach my physical limitations... With that said, and my novel complete; to you Kale, and the rest of those setting up this year's event, I can say only this: Bring it on Frosty.
Starter of every single Dirty 30 since the beginning.
Fuck it, I'm in
-Adam, Finisher 2012
As I read the newest post “Frosty’s Revenge, and The New Wrinkle” I found it was hitting way to close to home…
To name a couple parts…“You've probably spent the last couple of weeks ignoring your running shoes, trying not to choke while stuffing your face with treats, and singing carols.” …yes, yes, and although my singing may be poor, YES!
“Maybe you've even gained a pound or 15”…I don’t want to talk about it…
I continued reading the article and I am excited to see which of the finishers decide to step up to the plate for the Slaughter in Star City. But the closing of this article was what really got my attention…
“It's time to put the cookies down and get after it.”…I may or may not have just finished a bowl of Schwan’s Coffee Ice Cream, but that’s beside the point. But yes, it’s time to ‘get after it’.
I was proud of my accomplishment of 6 miles this year and ecstatic when Kate e-mailed me a week later telling me she re-mapped it and I really trudged 10 miles, but without an official commitment to next year’s Frosty’s Revenge I have quite literally got fat and lazy and now probably couldn't roll 10 feet. I guess it’s time to put down the ice cream cones, Reese’s, Velvetta, cheeseburgers, Swiss Rolls, Nutty Bars, Gushers, Kraft Mac, Chef Boyardee, bacon/pepperoni pizza, Chinese food, pie, and chocolate and get after it.
So with all that said, I would like to officially submit my letter of intent to attempt once more the Aroostook Dirty 30. I know 1/3 of the event won’t be enough to make me happy next year so it’s time to dust off my running shoes (once I find them) and get to work. See you all in the Fall.
Please accept my official entry to AD30 2013: Frosty's Revenge. In my mind, though, it will be known as "Amy's Revenge." I busted my ass training for this year's race. My bags were packed. My tire was washed and "shined." I had perused the maps in the Gazetteer imagining where the course might take us. I had strategized for how I was going to deal with the distance, tire, flotation device, nutrition, etc. I had all the confidence in the world that I was going to conquer the beast for a second time, and I was determined not to finish last. So, to have to pull the plug was a disappointment to say the least, and while I knew it was the right decision, it was still hard not to question it. I cried, like shed REAL tears over it. I "watched" yesterday's race with a lot of jealousy for what those amazing athletes accomplished. I realize this letter's not funny or cute or clever and a bit rambling..., but it is a guarantee that I will be "sexy" enough to hit the start line next September.
-Amy Poland, Finisher, 2011
I have been following the AD30 since the beginning...because like most of us ...we follow and stalk Kale's life and endeavors like it is our job (or 2nd job).
The first year I said NO because it was too close to my first marathon...and I didn't want to jeopardize a weekend away with the girls for the AD30 (plus I thought I would die while RUNning 26.2). The second year, NO...my brother in law was getting married that weekend (although I did send Kale a message stating that I was secretly hoping for the wedding to be called off so I could attend the AD30). This year, well...it seems as though I have no true excuse...I mean, I am sure I could come up with something, but let's face it...It wouldn't be a valid one. SHIT!
So here I am...
Kale called me out like...fill in your own blank.
Head MORONS (MOms Running On No Sleep)...and yes I am ok calling myself a MORONS...it comes with a lot of pressure, respect, and a whole bunch of other BS.
And even though this goes against EVERY truth of the MORONS (insert...support, friendship, self confidence, respect, and I know you won't let me hold Amy's hand, blech, puke, blah blah blah I know that is what you are thinking...but you get my point).
The MORONS is very near and dear to my precious little heart (empowering woman, getting moms back into RUNning, taking care of themselves, this is good shit here)...but sometimes you gotta take off the mom cape and throw on your hooker thigh highs, saddle up, and get DIRTY!
So look for me...I'll be the one with HAUTE PINK HOOKER THIGH HIGHS, two pigtails, and dropping every NAUGHTY word in the book.
-Jessica Woodcock, Head of MORONS (Moms Running on No Sleep)
I would like to talk in my letter about something serious. My greatest influence. While growing up, I often though about my hero Mario, and how I too someday would like to grow up and chase after a princess.
How I wanted to be able to throw fire from my hands, jump on turtles and find gold coins hidden all over The world.
I strived during my teen years to grow and eat as many mushrooms as I could... This my account for three year blackout from ages 15-18...and ultimately to be the owner of the most bad ass porn- stache money could buy.
As far as I am concerned, Mario lived the gold standard of lives.
On my final note, this is why starting in early July, I am going to attempt to grow a bad ass stache! I encourage all of you to join me in my effort
Oh, and sign me for frosty's revenge, I want in!!
Matt Lindsay, Winner, 2012
Even though I didn't get the foot rub I was hoping for last time, I guess I will give it a go next year. I have a dream of someday starting my own railroad company, that I will have to build one spike at a time. This may take a while, but I feel that by the time I am Brent's age I can at least get a few feet of track down. Warn the town of Presque Isle, they may witness another battle on Main St. between a viking and a snowman, because I'm coming back!
Beau Taylor, 3rd Place, 2012
Because I have had to write a lot of formal letters this past month, prepare yourself for a completely non-formal letter of intent:
I love running. I love signing up for crazy/scary sounding races (ESPECIALLY Tough Mudder, Kale’s FAVORITE race). This year I ran and completed my first 50 mile ultra and off road triathlon, in October I’ll attempt my first 100mile ultra…during all this Kale has given me advice, and even paced me during the ultra. I just recently found out that I am now free the weekend of AD30, so, of course, I start to wonder if this is a good idea or not since I have no idea what to expect. After consulting with Kale on whether or not participating in the AD30 a month before my first 100 mile ultra was a good idea or not, he says yes, that I will love AD30, and that it will be good training for the 100….after re-reading the information on the website, I’m unsure if Kale is telling the truth, or just being evil. Either way, I’ll be there! Also, not sure what this Frosty character is all about, but I may have to ninja-kick him in the face.
As an old man (61,) I have always been interested in a running (but now, some folks see my pace at less than a turtle but more than plate tectonics.) I doubt that I would have the stamina to finish but have never stopped unless I have fallen asleep or feigned an injury so severe that I elicit sympathy from a well-wishing female passing within earshot of my whimpers and whining.
To my credit, I have completed more than a few marathons, a couple of ultras, but was beat by Vermont 100 at Camp 10 Bear. With a running partner, we did complete the 2-Day Tango in Western PA (a marathon, followed by a 4.5 mile swim, a bike ride, canoe ride, orienteering, and a run back) which took us 1,770 minutes to complete.
I may get lost or forget where I am driving to before I get to Presque Isle (do I need my passport like in Lubec??) but would like to be considered. Enclose is my race fee. If accepted, my tech-shirt size is M to L and I prefer a vibrant color to keep the vultures from thinking I am just some more carrion.
Stephen B. Assante
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
You've read the introduction on this page.
Maybe you've even browsed the old entries, watched the video, and analyzed every race report.
That's cool...there are still things I need to reiterate every year. This entry is not to scare you, but to better get your head around what is about to go down in 24 days. Registration closes 9/15.
#1- this shit is real. Tough Mudder, Tough Mountain, Warrior Dash= all boast HUGE finisher rates. AD30 absolutely does the opposite. Tough Mudder is 10 miles. TEN. You will be running 3 times that distance at AD30.
My experience in extreme racing is that many people float to the starting line on a cloud of hope, only to figure out too late that they don't have their head on straight. Come down to Earth before this race starts. It's going to suck.
#2-We'll never give you food or drink. That's all on you. You will be out there as long as 9 hours. You need to be able to balance sugars, salts, proteins, and fluids accordingly. Without giving course hints, I can say you will be able to hit up a store here and there along the route.
#3- We're going into this year with a lot more prep than usual. The course is going to be marked extremely well. We need you to know that if you choose to drop, getting you back to civilization is not on our priority list. See #4
#4- There shall be no cell phone or electronics usage by participants during the event. You may have it on you(in a plastic or dry bag) in the event that you drop and need to call someone to come get you, but know that the second you remove the phone from the bag, your day is done. There are too many gps apps and other ways of spreading knowledge between Dirties. You shall not know how far you've gone until you're done.
#5- You do what the TMB's say. Period. At the pain stations and along the course, you may not need to do as much as the person next to you. You might do more. Everybody's body is different. Our AD30 Guarantee is that anyone who finishes this race will have worked extremely hard for it.
#6- Event starts at Mojo on Main Street in Presque Isle, at 5am sharp. Please be there early. We will be hanging out around Mojo all day Friday the 21st. Come chill with us.
Headlamp- the first 2 hours is usually dark
One Automobile Tire
One Little Debbie Snack
A flotation device
A camelbak or small daypack with hydration
Any type of awesome runnable costume is not required but preferred.
We're excited to see this event grow. We started with a few Aroostook County Crazies. Now we have people from all over New England showing up to bust their ass in the most twisted 30 miler in the world.
You will wonder what the hell you got yourself into. You will hate the TMBs, and will have choice words for all of the them.
You will experience a ton of pain physically and mentally.... and then deal with it, and if you're lucky, you'll finish, and fall in love with the feeling of persistence paying off.
There's a reason that every finisher over the last couple of years has come back for this... the Apocalypse Edition of AD30.
See you soon.
The AD30 Crew.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Yes it's pushing 90 degrees, and it is still July, but don't let the temperatures and long days fool you.
Only 68 days until the line will be drawn in the sand behind Mojo.
You'll stand there looking around at your peers. Tires next to you, wondering just what the hell you'll be doing with them, and just why in the hell is it so important to have that Little Debbie treat stashed in your Camelbak?
Shivering as the dark encompasses you and makes you feel even more vulnerable, you'll receive the day's first instruction: Go.
You'll hear stories along the trail from the Dirty veterans as they try and compare one year's course to the other, and which parts we might include from previous years...but it is all speculation. They don't know any better than you.
You'll take whatever the day throws at you, but as the day progresses and the sun comes up, the little things won't be so easy to just roll through, because your feet will be tired and sore. Your MIND will be tired and sore.
As the mileage count gets higher, you might find yourself in the woods on a trail, scheming on how long you have left to suffer.
Once you've stepped from the trail and into the world of cars and trucks, you'll make eye contact with a driver of a minivan, cigarette in mouth and supersize big mac in hand. He'll look at you over his steering wheel which rubs against his gut, with a disapproving eye. You'll stare back in much the same way, and feel an overwhelming sense of pride of just how lucky you are to even know the kind of suffering the AD30 has brought you.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Dirty Deeds Run Dirt Cheap
The Aroostook Dirty 30
by Gary Allen
The invitation came in the summer. A running event that required an
essay to enter, no fees and it seems no bull. I wrote back.
Sept 24. Midnight. Driving rapidly toward northern Maine on Interstate 95. Destination Aroostook county. The fog is thick. I can barely see the road ahead. I have the cruise control set at 79 mph,thinking a cop might let me off if keep it 1 mph below 80. There are no other cars on the road. Car moose accidents are common in this part of the world. Neither fare very well when they meet. I am dressed as a Spartan. I am wearing a dark maroon toga and little else. The heated seats are toasty on my bare ass. I have Nick Cave cranked on the radio. His dark lyrics make the night and the fog only darker. I figure if I collide with a moose the police will at the very least be amused by a dead roman gladiator driving a Volkswagen Passat with Nicks riffs..."Just remember that death is not the end, When you're standing on the crossroads, That you cannot comprehend, Just remember that death is not the end.", playing on the radio. I study the road intently as the the miles click by. I burst out of the fog and suddenly am in Houlton, now I need to follow US Route 1 North to a place called Presque Isle.
When I arrive at a few minutes before 4am I have no idea where the start is but being a veteran of many races in strange towns I search for clues that will lead me to the start. Road Cones? None. People wearing trash bags? None. Banners? None. Geeks with gadgets?(GPS, fuel belts, i-pods) None. So I stop at an allnight gas station and convenience store and ask about a place called
Mojo. I also purchase a banana, a coke and a bottle of water, cause the race instructions say we need to be totally self sufficient. The lady looks at my costume and with her best cougar smile says, growwwl out the door, take a left, go
thru the light by Walmart then it's on your right sweetie! I was surprised she didn't ask me why I was dressed like I was and that she didn't ask me to come over to her place, but also remembered that Northern Maine is known for being different and maybe she sees roman soldiers thru here regularly? I pulled into the dark parking lot and did not see another person. Strange for a race that would be starting in about 45 minutes, I decide to pull on some running shorts under my ropes and I don by
I twist the cap of my coke and with a hiss I spray myself with caramel syrup. For a second I am pissed off to get wet then I
remember this race is called the Aroostook Dirty 30 (Yes. 30 miles!) and figure my frocks will be damp before days end as the race organizers also said we needed to be able to swim and to bring a life vest.
Reaching for the car door handle the thought suddenly crosses my mind
to just drive away. I figure nobody would even know I was here and I
can quietly go back to where I came from, instead I open the door with
a sure click. I am approached out of the darkness by a tall lean
figure and correctly deduct this must be the race founder and director,
Kale Poland. He greets me with a smile and a firm handshake. I meet
another female competitor who asks me if I know Kale and I say I do
not, I mention that I only learned of this event sometime in the summer
and it sounded kinda fun. (I think I heard her sigh softly) I thought,
does this mean it isn't fun? (Men always try to read things into the
little noises women make.) She explained that Kale had once done a quad or
a quint IRONMAN, just for the fun of it. I asked for a further
explanation, cause what I thought this meant surely must be different?
She confirmed that Yes, Kale had once swum 2.5 miles, biked 110 and
then had run a marathon for 4 or 5 consecutive days JUST FOR FUN!
This news re-engaged my basic flight or fight instincts and I almost
went with choice number one and got to hell out of here. This event
surely was way out of my league, thinking I am 54 years old and a
marathon runner and there is nothing much more extraordinary about me,
plus I can't swim very far, and although as the saying goes it's like
riding bicycle, it had been awhile since I actually had.
Suddenly a band of people wearing Halloween and other freakish masks
come from the building. These I later learn are TMBs whose main
purpose in life this day is to make ours hell. As in any race I study
the runners to see if there are any ringers. (You can always tell who
the fast people are.) Most of the competitors are wearing headlamps and
backpacks are all seem to be carrying a lot of stuff. I am still obsessing
about the forewarned swim part and borrow a floaty thing from the nice
women parked next to me. I had polished off my coke and eaten my banana
and had a swig of water that I had purchased from the quick mart cougar
earlier. I thought, I should be able to run 30 miles without eating and
drinking as I had done so a few times in my life with no real ill
We suddenly lined up and were off. I fell into line behind Kyle, the
winner from last year. I thought, he is wearing a headlamp and he must
know the course. The pace was easy enough but my worn out lunar racers
slipped on the wet mud of the dirt road we were running on. It had
rained overnight and there were big puddles to maneuver around. The
headlamps illuminated the puddles and give them an oily shine. We had
gone less than a mile and suddenly Kale was there and directing us to
duck under a metal railing (note: railings are usually added to keep
people out or from falling off something) into a tangle of blackberry thorns, dense
brush and alders, Kyle was still leading and he banged is way into the
brush with the vigor of an amazonian explorer being chased by a 18 foot
anaconda. I heard him cry out, arrrggh! and then silence, followed by
more silence and then splash. I scrambled over to the edge of the abyss
were I last saw him and looked over the edge and there he was laying,
half in the water and half on rocks. To me it looked like he had fallen
about 15- 20 feet. I said are you OK? He said he was bleeding. I could
see that his leg was badly gashed and he said he didn't think he had
any other major injuries but that he was out for the day. We continued
and my new running partners turned out to be Susan and Keegan. We were
instructed to follow the river. The bank was very steep and extremely
slippery not to mention the waist high tangle of brush and thorns. I
was leading our trio and asked about the trampled brush. Susan said it
was probably from Moose. (These creatures can get weigh over 1000 lbs
and are not very smart or very pleasant at times) We had gone maybe
another 1/2 mile and came upon a pile of very big bones as if a
dinosaur had died recently. The air smelled of death. ( If this was a
dead dino I thought, perhaps a meteor would hit Aroostook County and
make us go extinct too?...One could only hope!) Susan again added that maybe
a bear had killed it. I thought , Oh GREAT! Bullwinkle will trample us
to death and/or a Bear will maul us. I picked up a huge bone that I
called the Moose's femur and we continued running. The bone still had
some meat on it, it smelled really bad and it was slippery. It weighed
about 7 lbs. We'd go about 10 paces and then fall ,10 paces then fall.
Finally, we came to our first aid station. WRONG. These people were
not here to help us and one screamed get down in the mud and do
push-ups...NOW! I placed my Moose bone down beside me and quickly
complied with the instructions being barked out to me. I felt by body
rebel to the difficult exercises being force fed to us by freaks in
masks. These contortions were as foreign to my body at this time of
day, as the the French Canadian language used by many who live not far
The punishment ended almost as quickly as it began. The dungeon masters
who made us do burpees and whooping crane and whatever else all that
contortionist crap was, seemed satisfied to send us on our merry ways
without so much as a good job. I tend to talk when I run and the four
letter words were flowing faster than the slow moving waters of the
Aroostook River. It was getting light now and and I could finally see,
which was a plus! The three of us quickly became two as Keegan got
quiet and then faded. Funny how when a runner gets quiet it is sure
sign that the end is near. Perhaps this is why I talk almost non-stop
when I run, perhaps because I know that if I get quiet I too will go
over the edge? I wonder, did I learn this or is this some kind of hard
wired, built-in basic survival instinct? I also wonder, if I do this
involuntarily then perhaps I also do so as a sign to others around me
that I am fine even when I'm not? It even could make them fade and me
not, was I actually born to run?! Who knows? Who in heck cares! I just
love to run! My thoughts are certainly no deeper than the shallow, slow moving,
brownish river located just to my left.
I can feel my right arm pumping up from carrying the 7lb Moose femur.
My secret plan that I hatched to carry it for all 30 miles starts to
fade. My dark maroon toga outfit is surprisingly comfortable to run in.
I love the off the shoulder feel. I wonder, do I look fat in this
dress? Does it make by butt look big?
I take a look at my right arm (the one carrying the femur) and yes, I
can see more veins popping than a Fort Fairfield Junkie (a nearby town,
that I know nothing about , but it goes well in my race report . I
have no idea if they have any junkies there or not?)
I reluctantly toss the bone by a Stop sign just as we cross our first
paved road. I placed it there like a dog who hides a bone fully
intending to go back and find it to take it home with me. I never did
go back but unless they have really big squirrels or that cougar gets
loose it should be there next year. Susan seems nice and we run along
thru woods and past potato fields with a nice rhythm suddenly a freak in mask
rockets up besides us and orders us to the ground. Now Bear crawl over there and back she
orders! Ican't see her face but her shoulders make me obey without further
comment. Now plank! Now up! Down! Crawl! What a bitch I think, but at
the same time I love everything about this event including being
treated like absolute garbage. It is nice change as races today all
coddle their participants. Gu stations, Cheerleaders, Music, Shirts,
Medals, 3 Flavors or energy drinks, Massage tables, Mylar blankets and
even an app that will call home and alert mommy to how you are doing.
None of this was found at this event and I hope it never is.
Susan is a total riot and she and I hit it off and quickly build an alliance, we decide to act like we are hurting more than we are so the TMBs will think we're more dead then we are and they might even leave us alone.
We also deduct that if they are trying to mess with our heads then we can mess with theirs, kind of reverse psychological warfare. I think of the Survivor the TV show that challenges people to outwit, outlast and outplay each other. I once sent in an audition tape for the show back when it first came on TV. I tell myself the only reason they never called me back is because they damn well knew I would I have won or maybe it as because I used Martha Stewart to introduce me on the video tape? Martha and I go way back (really) boy would she love this event!
"Today, we're up in Aroostook County, Maine and we're going to paint
some houses some quite lovely and different shades of pastel and its VERY good
thing!" I can hear her now.
(Wait, she has been up here, I actually saw some houses she must have painted!)
Most races go something like this. The faster runners get a lead and eventually they do one of two things, they either win or they don't. The Aroostook Dirty Thirty is a little different. By now Susan and I had become close. Not close like kissy face close, but the inseparable closeness that only athletes get when they are working hard and working together. We didn't say much, and didn't need to, but you could feel it in the air. We were leading and every step was getting us closer to our destination, the finish line. Suddenly, there they are again the TMBs. One who I would later learn is Boyd ordered us to stop and he started screaming at us, DOOOOO IT NOW! Get on the effin ground you dirties! You see the TMBs didn't seem to like it that we were the race leaders and that we seemed to be having fun, so they exacted their wrath on us. I quickly deducted that Boyd either drinks too much coffee or he is just super hyper. He had us sprinting in place...HIGH KNEES, DOOOO IT FASTER! Drop to the ground. COME-ON! Up down, Up down...hey, wait a minute I'm not a yo-yo but this guy seemed like he might be!
He shouted with the force of a boot camp drill instructor. I wondered was he one? ( I would later learn he is US Border Patrol. Remind me to not try and sneak into the USA!) I'd pay to see Boyd terrorize some border jumping Al Qaeda dudes with his extreme Jane Fonda workout. They'd go invade someone else pretty darned quick.
This however, was war on race leaders. It was time to jack in some more bullets into our physiological shotguns. Susan and I didn't say it but we knew what we had to do. If we made this crazy person seem like he was hurting us it would likely only give him impetus to hurt us more. In the middle of one nutty exercise. I shouted, DOUBLE TIME! Boyd looked me square in the eye and screamed back, DOUBLE TIME? DOUBLE TIME! NOW! in his best Marine Corps rebel yell.
They held us there maybe 20 minutes into the following pack caught us and then we were allowed to run on. We had maybe gone only 2 or more 3 miles when we were stopped again by Boyd and his happy band of dominatrixes. (They were on bicycles) This time they stopped us near a wooden bridge where an old car tire laid in the mud. It didn't have a steel rim, just the worn out tread of many miles covered. I wonder how a old tires get out in the woods? Do kids who are making out get a lot of flats? Anyway, the TMBs made Susan and I play catch with the tire. Not catch like we were gently tossing an egg but catch like we were throwing heat in Fenway Park. Every time we made a successful reception they made us step back. Now, throwing a car tire hard at a pretty girl goes against every basic instinct in my body. The tire would loft toward her and she'd hook her bare arm thru the center and somehow stop it's momentum. I could see her arm getting red whelts from the repeated abuse.
We made about a dozen successful catches then pretty boy Boyd shouted, THE FIRST TO DROP IT IS OUT, wait, they way he said OUUTT sounded like Hedi Klum sending a wanna be designer packing on Project Runway? Cool! Reality shows are all the rage. Suddenly this event felt quite real. I dropped the tire with a failed but valiant diving effort to save it. Boyd suddenly was hovering over me and quickly had me doing leg raises, SIX INCHES! he shouted, meaning he wanted me, laying there in mud, to hold my legs out in front of me, exactly a half a foot off the ground. I have the tightest hamstrings on any living homosapien. If archeologists ever find my bones, as I did Bullwinkle's. They'll probably say this one clearly suffered much abuse over his lifetime. What they will never know it that I loved all of it! You see, I can't really straighten my legs as they just don't bend that way. My legs are always cocked into a grasshopper like ready to spring running position. Boyd didn't seem to enjoy my best effort at leg raises and yelled even louder, YOU CALL THAT 6 INCHES! he bellowed.
Suddenly the storm ended almost as quickly as it began and Susan and I were allowed to run. Thank God! What a freak. After a few miles Boyd showed up again and asked us to sing and started asking us a battery of questions as we ran. I quickly figured out he was trying to befriend us so he could then further destroy us and hopefully cause our exit from this event. The TMBs don't really want participants to finish and if they do they want to make damn sure you earned it.
Susan and I turned right and suddenly we were on pavement. I wondered what the passing motorists thought of a spartan and an an attractive woman both covered all in mud running down the road so early in the morning? The paved road felt good under foot. It was a happy time to place your foot and know it would stay exactly where you placed it. Susan and I ran along with an upbeat bounce in our step. I could feel the pace pick up. Kale drove past and gave us a thumbs up and traded directions with Susan who seemed to know where to go next. The road pitched up and we climbed in silence. I had met Susan once briefly at a July 4th Relay event held on Mount Desert Island. This event also encourages costumes and fun. Her team was the Maine Road Hags and mine was Crow Athletics. I wore a rock star outfit that I had used in an all night 200 mile team relay from Woodstock NY to NYC (Yes, that Woodstock!) My get-up featured plenty of black eyeliner. Susan wore a sheer skirt. We got along perfectly and climbed the long grade ahead not worrying about what might be waiting for us at the top.
Kale and another TMB gestured for us to take a left turn off the pavement and up thru a gravel parking lot. A motionless ski lift ahead snaked up thru the trees. It was not a good sign that the course was going to suddenly turn flat. It resembled a strange apocalyptic iron insect, frozen in time. A TMB riding ahead reached the sharp incline just before Susan and I and she got off her mountain bike to wheel it as it was simply too steep for her to pedal further. I thought perfect, we can pass her and then she can't torture us any more! I leaned into the grade. That sucking sound ringing in my ears was my own breathing. I sounded more like a teenager on prom night than the athlete I sometimes pretend to be. Susan ground to a walk and soon after I reached my red line and shut my engine down before I exploded. People who are in touch with their bodies know when to back off and when to push and this was not one of them. We climbed using our hands to help lift our heavy legs like awkward puppeteers. Grab, swing, drop. Grab, swing, drop.
We eventually started to run again once the grade lessened and passed the object of our disgust, the TMB up near the summit. She told us to go thru the woods. Susan seemed to know where we were and I followed diligently like a wayward dog, good boy! pant! pant!
Gravity is a wonderful thing and the momentum of running downhill made the memories of the brutal climb seem like it happened in whole other life. We glided downward through the forest on soft grass. Life was good. What made it even better is that I kept expecting to hear the whiz of a derailleur coming up from behind and there was none to be heard. We had successfully ditched the bitch on the bike! They were no yellow brick roads or flying monkeys but it was hard not to hum, ding-dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead!
It was only about 15 minutes later that she reappeared. Where were you?, she scolded. I let Susan do the talking. We had been moving now for over 3 hours and there were hints of what was coming. I thought this will be interesting. As we descended into the Nordic Ski complex. I heard other TMBs talking about how spectators would enjoy watching us be made miserable.
The TMBs rolled up their sleeves and dished out a veritable feast of pain for us, some of it went down fairly easy and some of it tasted really horrible. They ordered us around like convicts at Club Med.
Take this railroad tie and carry it up those steps!
Now, wheel this steel roller up that ramp and back!
Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
Now, stand on this steel car trailer and hold that cement block, Susan you pull it around the parking lot!
Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
Now, you pull Susan on the heavy trailer!
Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
Now, jump up on this box! Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I told then TMB that I could feel the little remaining cartilage in my knees tearing if I continued and she graciously, professionally and quickly ordered me into another exercise of pain, one that would preserve my running career.
Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
Now, carry something heavy up there. I grabbed a loaded bicycle and started up the ramp. I contemplated letting the air out of the tires about half way up. I justified this thinking if they could mess with us why couldn't I mess with them! Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
Now,bear crawl up that hill, get down on all fours and crawl! The hill was about 75 yds wet grass and mud and very steep. I could feel my fingers digging into the slop for traction like claws. They were gradually and successfully turning us into animals.
Now, turn around and crawl backwards up the hill the TMB shouted!
Now, crab crawl down! Now on your stomachs and crawl head down. This is the point where I started dragging my hind quarters like sometimes happens to old black labs. I started screaming that I was a paralyzed dog. I think in times of physical and emotional distress we all reach a hysteria limit and this was mine.
Now, do a lap around the field! (about a half mile loop)
It all ended as quickly as it began without warning or apology, RUN, the TMBs ordered. About now we had no idea how far we had gone or how far we had to go. The past hour which I would later learn was called hell hour was all that and more. I was sore in places I shouldn't be sore. It felt good to run. We were going downhill and we started singing made up verses to jingle bells. The creator and director of the event Kale suddenly appeared beside us on a bicycle. We keep on singing. I think he must have decided we were either flipping crazy or that we would likely finish. You see the AD30 tries to make you not finish as opposed to the mamby-pamby treatment at other races that is intended to make the event fun. There were no bands, cheerleaders or aid stations here.
We run for maybe another 30 minutes and I stopped a small rural gas station ahead. The rules of the event said you needed to be totally self sufficient. Many carried fuel belts, head lamps and backpacks. I carried nothing but the $10 dollar bill I had tucked in my shorts just before the start. Just as the Beatles have reminded us, money can't buy you love but it sure could buy me and Susan a Coke. I explained to Susan that Coca Cola is an old-school energy drink. Prior to sports drinks we used it with great success. It has caffeine, sugar, liquid and is easy on your tummy. The rules (what rules? ) did not say we couldn't stop. I strode thru the door confidently and the surprised cashier, a youngish rocker looking women wearing an ACDC shirt with her dyed jet black hair, greeted me like she sees mud covered Spartans in there all the time. Best of all were what I presumed were her two daughters. They said, Nice dress Mister! I explained that I was running the Aroostook Dirty 30 and they seemed to know about it or at least they nodded appreciatively like they did. At the end of my transaction I handed each girl a dollar bill and said, now when you go to school Monday you can tell your friends and teacher a guy dressed as a Roman gave you a dollar. They said have fun and I headed out the door.
I gave Susan her Coke and we both gulped them like there was no tomorrow. I had a brief vision of one of those schmaltzy Coke commercials with singing overly enthusiastic people getting all orgasmic over a freakin bottle of Coke!? Then we were off and shortly along comes Ms Wicked Witch of the East on her bicycle. I didn't ask where ToTo was but thought it. She asked how far we thought we had been? Neither Susan and I cared to guess because we had been moving now for over 4 hours and whatever we guessed wouldn't really change the fact we weren't finished until they decided we were.
Many more miles passed and I think we had to play catch with the tire again but I'm not sure I can remember if we did the second time or not? You see our bodies have a wonderful way of blocking traumatic things that happen to us.
We arrived back at where we had started in the dark many hours before after maybe another 30 -45 minutes of steady running. No jumping jacks, burpees or humiliating positions one can only learn by reading the Joy of Sex, just plain old running. Was that it? Are we done? The TMBs standing around causally did not indicate if we were finished or not. We valiantly looked for a sign and none was to be found. Suddenly 'Mr Pain in the Ass TMB Schwarzenegger' handed me a couple of weights and shouted stand in the iron cross position with these at arms length and hold them there until I say stop. My arms shook like a Miami retiree visiting Fort Kent in January. Finally after a few agonizing minutes he said weights down.
Then he ordered us to come stand by the road and alternately raise and lower the weights as if we were praying to mecca over the passing cars. I'd still love to have been in one of those cars to hear the comments.
After a few more exercises we were told to run. So we weren't done after all?. Susan and I had been running together for hours we had bonded and we were going to finish this thing together...so we thought. Guess again. Suddenly without warning Kale said, Gary go right Susan stay straight and that was it. We were separated like whispering school kids. The result of this was at first devastating to me. I thought maybe I have to run further, maybe I am getting extra abuse because I have taken every and any opportunity and made fun of some of the TMBs? I simply couldn't figure it out. Kale was with me and asked you can swim right? I paused and said yes but not great and if I could find a plastic milk jug or a log to help keep me afloat I'd be more happy.
The river bank was steep and I entered the water tentatively. Now growing up on a island would lead one to believe I'd be the next Michael Phelps or something around water. To the contrary when the water is ice cold, all year-round you don't get in it very often or only when you have to. I conjured up my best Australian freestyle and thrashed my way across. As If swimming alone doesn't challenge me enough, doing so with shoes on and with arms and legs made heavy from a days worth of abuse made it extra fun and dragging cape made me feel like a herring seiner. I didn't drown though!
Back up the bank and then more running. Soon I saw Susan coming my way and when we met we stopped briefly and embraced and just as quickly we continued onward without a word. I sensed we were heading back to were we started now so I started speeding up to get the misery over. Once back there again not a person gave me any indication that I was done or not. All they did was point and say to keep-on running. This was hard as we had been now in motion for over 5 hours. We repeated the lap we had just completed and I had to do my best Johnny Weissmuller intimation once again. I actually felt a huge cramp this time halfway across and wondered is this what happens when people drown?
I used the mental game that there was shark right behind me to inject a final shot of adrenalin that carried me back to dry land. Fatigue is a funny thing and the railroad ties I was running on made me dizzy. My brain couldn't process or coordinate where I was supposed to put my feet on fast moving grind of railroad ties. Toss in the strong smell of creosote used to preserve them and this was a tough stretch for me. I crossed the finish line to applause from the TMBs but I worried I was not yet done. Only when someone asked me how it felt and I said, "I'm going to effin' Disney Land" did I fully realize it was over. This event will demoralize, exhilarate, test and terrorize anyone who runs it. I hope to see you all there again next year, after all I am the defending champion!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
There are a few things all Dirties are required to come to the starting line with on September 22. A real tire from a car or truck, a Little Debbie Snack Cake, and a badass attitude. If you have yet to submit a letter for entry into The Apocalypse Edition of AD30, it's ok. You have 2 weeks from your submission to send over a picture of your tire. I shall accept pictures of something humorous, in the true spirit of AD30.
Monday, March 12, 2012
I love this race.
The way it starts in the dark, and the feeling of dread and nervousness at the starting line. Can't say I've ever sensed excitement from the Dirties.
The way every year's race flier looks like a 3 year old with 5 missing fingers created it.
How, at the start, no one, including me, knows how the day might play out.
The way the sun rises upon the Torture Crew on their bikes, who welcome it as a sign of warmth.
The way people who have never run a marathon decide to just jump in because on paper, it looks cool.
The text messages I get from other Torture Crew saying that so-and-so has had enough and has dropped.
The point of the race where you can tell that the Dirties still in the race want to(or have already) told you to go screw yourself.
The fact that if you are out of shape, you are in for a very, very long day.
The fact that even if you are a good runner, you are still in for a very, very long day.
Most importantly, there's a point during the race for every runner that has finished where flight changes to fight. Their feet turnover a little quicker. Posture get straighter.
I love when they think they are done.
And that's the time that I love most....when they drop down to do more pushups.
September 22. Let's go.