Monday, March 7, 2011

‘Running with the Reindeer’ among other things

I ran with a diverse crowd on Saturday.  Just what brings together Sweeney Todd, Santa Claus, Tarzan, and a penguin?  Not alcohol in my case.  (I can’t speak for the others, but I did smell alcohol on the breath of a few Steelers fans.)  A fundraiser (emphasis on fun) for kids, drew the Last Frontier Gardener out of her winter coma cocoon for a little exercise.  With ungulates.

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A relative newcomer to the Fur Rendezvous proceedings, Running with the Reindeer, as I explained to a fine employee of Subway later that evening, actually involves people running with the reindeer.  She thought it was just reindeer running down the street (and was confused when she saw a bib number on my shirt).  What’s the fun in that?  Potential goring or trampling has to be involved to get Alaskans riled up.  And undressed.

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If you are scratching your head about “Fur Rondy”, catch up here and here, and if you must, at the official Rondy site here.  A mere three or four city blocks of a sprint (is that like a 0.5K?) that would hardly wind a four year-old had me in stitches by the end.  And reindeer are most certainly not the hulking, angry bulls of Spain’s famous street runs.  They have actual fatalities and serious injuries there.  The worst we can claim is men clad in fur jock straps perhaps burning the retinas of spectators.  No one told me it was a costume party!  Next year, I’m dressing as a rutabaga.

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I didn’t see any scantily clad women, so I must conclude women are either 1. less tolerant of cold, 2. more modest in dress, 3. smarter, or 4. less juiced up.  I did, however, see a large group of male Aussies in nothing but fur thongs and tattoos (am I the only one left on earth without one?), a large group of men deemed “Spartacuses” by the crowd, and a loner in a postcard-sized green thong.  It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 7 Celsius.   

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One bad thing about the races, too few reindeer in proportion to runners.  Now the LFG is wily and cunning, so she weaseled her way to the middle of the pack and the middle of the street.  We women (there were three heats, men, women, and groups) were given a ten second head start by the DJ, and though the LFG was muttering under her breath about bigots, double standards, dark ages, and DJ’s, she got her medicine in the end. 

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I wanted to be touched by a reindeer.  After watching people run too fast, too slow, or not at all and hardly see a reindeer during their run, I devised my plan.  “Be pushy and practice some crowd threading to gain the place I wanted.”  As I am tall, I think I intimidated most of the people inclined to say, “Hey!” or worse.   I got into my best Apolo Anton Ohno speed skating stance, and 3-2-1, we were off. 

Shrieking from some runners, and the clopping of hooves.  Next thing I know a reindeer barrels into me, pushing me to the left.  Hard.  And then, another.  Success!  It may have been the adrenaline speaking, but those beasts looked shoulder height and about 2000 pounds.  They might have had fangs, too, I’m not sure.  

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The LFG husband is fired as head cinematographer/photographer.  After I finished my race and found him and the kids on the sidewalk (harder than it sounds, there were at least five hundred other tall guys with kids wearing red coats), he looked at me and said, not ‘you were great’ or even ‘I saw you get bumped!’  No, no, he said, “Did you already race?”  I regret to inform you no photographic evidence exists of my brush with death, but maybe I’ll smarten up next year and give the camera to my 10 year-old.

Seen any memorable costumes? Races?


Hocking Hills Gardener said...

LOL! Hi Christine. Well I would be like the one in the suit. Chicken! To try that stunt. Instead of the Running of the Bulls you have reindeer. Quite the cast of character in the run. Looks so fun to watch.

Christine B. said...

@Hocking Hills GardenerIf I don't dress as a fruit or vegetable, I might swath myself in a blue tarp with a duct tape eyemask. "Tarp Woman" has a certain ring to it....


Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Ha! What a fun day. I want to be 'touched by a reindeer' too. Love the pics.

Faith said...

Hey we should do the AK Run for Women. Dress as a flower or a vegetable.

Christine B. said...

@Kate/High Altitude GardeningHello Kate,
As long as it's just a touch and not a full on trample, it's rather fun! I was a bit worried about getting my toes squashed....

If the Run for Women is four blocks in length, I'm in! Otherwise, I sense some training on my part will be required. And how can you already be thinking of running? Aren't you expecting any day now?!



lifeshighway said...

Ah ha ha, Alaska is a fun place... who knew. Go spartacusii said...

You have more courage than me. Reindeer look big to me, at least bigger than the deer at the farm. And the farm deer can be a little ornery with those hooves. At least you got your thrill if not your photo taken.

Christine B. said...

@lifeshighwayI, too, was rooting for the half naked men with capes and shields.

I'm not courageous, I'm bored. Something needs to start growing soon or I may try to run with the musk ox or moose.


Benjamin Vogt said...

This is the strange kind of stuff that happens in Minnesota about this time of year--the snowiest month. People get cabin fever, nay, psycho cabin fever. And instead of resorting to alcohol, candy, fishing, or murder, you've got the running of the reindeer. I see how much worse it is in Alaska. Keep running south!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You gave me a good giggle today. Just thinking about reindeer with "fangs" cracked me up. I am glad you weren't the first fatality of the run. Too bad there weren't any pictures though. I would love to have seen the big bump or at least the look on your face.

Christine B. said...

Mr. Vogt,
We still have plenty of fishing, candy, and murder around here, sir!

No doubt the look on my face was one way out of proportion to the event: eagerness with a dash of terror. I hear it's healthy to feel scared for your life every once in a while.


Ilona said...

I think Vogt summed it up well. I kinda felt sorry for the reindeer though.

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Christine, What a fun race! I am still laughing at your account of it. P x

Chandramouli S said...

Running with reindeer????!!! Wow! Sounds fun. It's hard to see wild animals here :( Price you pay for urbanization!

Mike 'hazeltree' thompson said...

You Alaskans certainly know how to enjoy yourselves! :)

mike from dorset england
no reindeer, no tatoo

Christine B. said...

@Chandramouli SWe see rather too many wild animals here at times. The reindeer are part of a domestic herd that is trucked into town for this event.


Indoor Fountains said...

You all in Alaska are built tougher than we are. I live in Upstate NY and I am in continual whine mode this time of year when the temperature is not hovering around 50.


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