Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ragnar Relay

It was a glorious January day yesterday, blue skies, sunshine and a fresh cool breeze that kept humidity far away and temperatures below 70 degrees (18C). This was the view from Bay Point, Mile marker 15 looking east toward Sugarloaf Key with the Overseas Highway barely visible to the left.I dropped my wife and Therese off at the gym and took Cheyenne for a walk at Baby's Coffee. I had been thinking about taking my dog to Key West for a city walk but I found the way blocked by interminable lines of traffic inching down the Highway. By Mile marker 15 I'd had enough and I pulled off to walk around Baby's Coffee, where there is also a children's playground, prohibited to good citizens like Cheyenne. Go figure.We wandered off around the grassy open space and I saw this woman straining to talk to me, so we obliged and ambled over to engage her in conversation. Actually it was her 5 month old puppy who wanted to harass Cheyenne and so they got together while the woman and I exchanged pleasantries. Not what riepe means by pleasantries, because she was a nice visitor from Michigan and I limited myself to giving her some useful tips about where she might walk her rambunctious dog to let off steam properly.Apparently having lived in Fort Myers for a summer she decided Florida was too hot a place to live and she fled back up north to the Rust Belt. I started out explaining how Ft Myers, where I tried living for a while until the Fundamentalists chased my sorry atheist ass out with pitchforks, is hot and sticky whereas the keys aren't nearly so tough. Then I thought better of it- no point in encouraging people to come is there? Not even babes with cute dogs.However yesterday was not a day to be churlish and everyone should have been in the Keys enjoying a glorious day. As it was there were thousands out on Highway One cluttering up the roadway. They were racing the Ragnar Relay, some sort of benefit for multiple sclerosis according to their website. There were 325 teams of 12 runners and three volunteers, which if my mathematical calculations are correct amounts to about 5,000 people sweating and being supported in their sweating on the public roadway.It seems they left Crandon Park, Key Biscayne (in Miami) between 7am and 5pm in series of staggered starts and the idea was to run all day and all night to Key West's Southernmost Hotel on Duval Street.Cheyenne and I were happily ambling around smelling this and that.Others were rather more intense in their movements.And they are going to be busy next week too for the seafood festival in Bayview Park in Key West January 15th. I went last year and got bored standing around in line to eat seafood, widely available anyway, standing up. It wasn't my idea of fun but lots of people love it.Galloping around the Keys in running shoes is apparently lots of people's idea of fun. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I would rather eat crushed glass than be seen motoring around looking like this:Teams called Soul Mates, Dim Wits, Breastees and Testees and so forth were all listed as running the race. Silliness in a good cause.This is more my idea of travel through the Keys, though I would look really stupid with ape hanger handlebars. I've never considered airing my armpits to be one of life's little pleasures.
Runners kept dribbling through, following the bike path where they could. Considering how many thousands of people were on the road they were amazingly organized and out of the way. The slow traffic had more to do with doofus drivers slowing down to stare.
I like to think of Highway One as a colorful and picturesque ride but the idea of running it, even in relays of three to eight miles each seems overwhelming. This cluster at Sugarloaf Middle School was one of the checkpoints, and they did stop cars from time to time with flaggers but they were astonishingly unobtrusive and kept the traffic flowing.Running may not be the brutal lifestyle for everyone involved. I would rather like a chair like this for some of my less strenuous dog excursions.
On the other hand life in the Keys continued at it's own imperturbable pace.Some people continued to fish, others conferred after running their stint:
The relay wasn't over till it was over, and every finisher got the promise of a t-shirt to commemorate the event.
I thought this cyclist was particularly brave in light of his ride against and in the face of, the foot traffic.Pounding the asphalt on Cudjoe Key.
According to the Ragnar website they hold relay races like these all over the country from the District of Columbia to Las Vegas.
This time around it was the turn of the Florida Keys.I was pleased to see the pink socks, but unhappily they clashed horribly with her orange shoes.
She seemed serene and unaware as she banged her way past the Summerland Key post office. The forty-foot tall Niles Channel Bridge would have given this runner a glorious view over the sparkling waters:
And here on Ramrod Key more vehicles waiting for their runners.Finally I turned off onto my quiet backwater of a street, glad to be away from the hurly burly of runners and traffic and all that hustle. And then I found these dorks blocking my narrow single lane street with their work van.I was polite and patient, but as you can see they had tons of room to park off the street while they collected their gear. It occurs to me from time to time that I should wonder how some people get out bed and mange to pull their pants on without assistance.