Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Born To Run Ultras - Festival, Celebration, Shenanigans, Magic

State flags over the start/finish line
at the Born To Run Ultras 2014
As my ultra running friend, Patrick Sweeney, would call it... this year's Born To Run Ultras were nothing less than a Shenaniganza. But shenanigans aside (oh don't you worry, I'll get to that later), there was something stellarly different about this year's event. Maybe it was the costumes - I watched the marshmallow man run the beer mile and danced with a chicken. Maybe it was the fact that this race was bigger than ever with close to 600 runners registered. Or maybe it was the fact that a few well known names like Jenn Shelton and Billy Barnett came down to the Ranch to run. It could have been the Tarahumara themselves who were there in person partaking in the event, running and selling specialty items handmade in the copper canyons - I finally found a special belt to hang my hundred mile buckle from, which I think was fate.
100 Miler Buckle and Tarahumara handmade belt
My new belt handmade by the Tarahumara
Or maybe it was the raunchy but so entertaining Metalachi who serenaded our camp and seduced the women on stage - ok - so I may have been one of those women grinding with the lead singer/guitarist, but after a few beers or a couple of tasty cookies how can anyone resist getting up there? Apparently, not me. The fact of the matter is, this year's event was a different animal. It seemed to take on a whole new vibe. There was something way more magical and celebratory about the Born To Run race this year. This year, The Born To Run Ultras were re birthed into the official festival and celebration that it was always meant to be, and in part, because we, as runners, made shit happen.


Cuz we do that - and we did. 

Metalachi - Best mariachi band ever!!
Photo courtesy of Chris Rios.
When I say we make shit happen I mean it. We all pooled our money together into GoFundMe accounts to bring Tarahumara runners Miguel Lara, Horacio Estrada, and Isidro Quintero to the Born To Run Ultras this year and import the radness that was Metalchi inside the gates of the East Creek Ranch. If you've never experienced a heavy metal mariachi band in person you can thank me for adding one more piece of awesome to your bucket list. And the awe of being able to include the athletes from Mexico who have welcomed deluges of runners into their own town for the Ultra Caballo Blanco is beyond words. That was such a beautiful act of kindness and you could tell that Luis Escobar, the race director, and many of those who have run the Copper Canyon Ultras with the Tarahumara had a deep respect and love for these shy and quiet men.

Friday night scavenger hunt with these crazy runners
Its the people that run these ultras that lure me in every year - well... the people AND the party. But the people I've met at these races are consistently good-hearted, life-embracing, truly loving, fun people. Luis Escobar, himself, has a way of drawing in these people and allowing them to create their own experience. His ultimate message to runners at this race is "... Be kind. Be respectful. Be open-minded. Be responsible" but you gotta grin when you see him post that "... the only rules of Born To Run are that there are no rules. Do what you were planning on doing and do it big." That's Luis.

Runners on top of the ridge at
the East Creek Ranch
Three years ago I packed up my camping gear and drove down to the race not knowing a soul, offering to reluctantly pick up a stranger on the way, and arriving at camp ready but slightly questioning my ability to complete my first 100k. The people I met that weekend instantly became my ultra family, pacing me and cheering me on as I completed what I considered to be my first REAL DEAL ultra. I wrote about the magic of this race here, and its why I keep coming back.

The magic.

And it happened this past weekend, but it was a different energy altogether. This race is evolving in a good way and, as I learned while co-hosting an interview with Luis Escobar about the Born To Run Ultras along with Eric Schranz of UltraRunner Podcast this past week, even Luis will admit he doesn't have much control over the shenanigans of this race. This race seems to be what we as runners will create out of it. We want a beer mile? We organize a beer mile - with almost no rules of course. We want to wear crazy, wild, no-stretch-of-the-imagination costumes? We do it - and we do it with confidence. We want certain music? We pull together the funds to make it happen and get the raunchiest most rated R band asking to see our "Chi Chis." We want an archery hunt run? Voila. Go run ten miles and learn to shoot with a bow and arrow. We want to bring inflatable pools and skinny dip? Well, as long as you don't mind taking a dip with little cow pie floaty bits, you're golden. Luis creates the backdrop for our weekend shenanigans and does a damn good job running the show as the sheriff of East Creek Ranch for the weekend.

Don't mess with the sheriff
Beer mile start

Thursday night jam session
Rarajipari bola races

Sit your tired ass down...

 
Chillin from the Zaps lounge

Me and my friend Maggie
Zaps Threads booth and shirts
This past weekend I remember standing back by my booth later in the evening after running my 50k that morning and seeing all the camp chairs surrounding the stage in an ampitheater-esque fashion and noticing that NOBODY was sitting down - EVERYBODY was dancing, or jumping, or hula hooping, or waving glow sticks, or laughing, or participating in some physical way in the musical shenanigans of the evening. 

The Red 11s performing Marshmallow Man
And the thought occurred to me...

These are ultra runners.

THESE ARE ULTRA RUNNERS!

Many of those people just put thirty to sixty miles or more on their legs and now they are dancing with as much or more energy and enthusiasm that they put into their race that day. And you could tell, they were enjoying every single moment. The laughter and the joy was contagious. How could you not want to participate in that?

Luis Escobar crowd surfing
Photo courtesy Patrick Sweeney
And when Luis himself trustingly got up on stage, took a dive, and crowd surfed, you knew it was officially a party.

Nobody got hurt, lost, or died this year and the event was way beyond successful. Runners are still posting their shenanigans to the BTR group facebook page.

Dancin! Where's my face?
Photo courtesy Tom Norwood

And my chill zone seemed to be a great hangout success as well with complimentary Stone IPA brew, jello shots, whiskey, and comfy bean bags, van chairs, and intertubes to sit back and relax on. I got to chat with new people and visit with old friends. I got to dance on stage, hula hoop, participate in the Rarajipari Bola races, run in a scavenger hunt, stare at an awesome starry night sky, listen to Luis and his volunteer posse jam together on guitars, and run an awesome 50k race where I felt great the whole time, except for the bit where I bled like a stuck pig, but honestly not even that mattered. My weekend was beyond good times.

My little ol' booth and chill lounge
My BTR amulets

And this year, I got to tell Akabill (the artist who makes the finisher's running amulets) that I wore his amulet for my 100 miler and it brought me good luck. And this year, not only did I get a finisher's amulet but Akabill gave me another amulet unglazed and made from a special clay stamped with the symbol of Leah (my Hawaiian spelling is surely lacking here) who represents "women's joy" or "women's pleasure spot." Yup. If my running amulet brings me good luck I can only hope that combining the two amulets together around my neck can bring me running luck and LOTS of pleasure... or maybe even a running orgasm if I'm lucky. Let's hope my friend Matt isn't with me on a run for those antics.

Speaking of antics. I promised to get to the shenanigans. Well... these can only be best described in pictures... so...





















I already can't wait for next year!
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6 comments:

  1. You nailed it! I had been in contemplation about writing a race report, but now there's no need ~ you said everything I was still trying to wrap my head around. :)

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  2. Thank you, Mamacita, for sharing your beautiful story of our weekend of complete mischief, mayhem, merriment, madness, laughter, and SO MUCH love! May your passionate spirit, forever run, dance, and play Happy and Free! Peace and Love always, La Mariposa

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  3. Your chill-lounge was perfect for this brain-dead re-enactor. See ya next year!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed my lounge :-) I plan on being back next year so be sure to stop by and say hi again.

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  4. Ok, now I definitely have to make it out there for this event next year!

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    1. Of course you do John! Costumes, beer miles? Its got your name written all over it!

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