I had heard of this interesting event from a friend a few months back so I registered for $60 online for the alleged “craziest day of my life”. Fortunately I have had many a crazy day so far in life and that catch line didn’t really get my hopes up, but I was eager to see what the Warrior Dash was all about.
So I entered the main overcrowded street in Mountain City Georgia, for the second time home to the event. By now the locals have figured out that there is a pretty penny to be earned so they sat in their driveways with signs posted on their property selling parking for $10. I had this idea that somehow I will find a welcoming homeowner who will allow me to safely store my bike with all my belongings for the few hours while I participated. And sure enough after a single 5 minute circle of the neighborhood I spotted an elderly man working slowly but contentedly in his front yard. I parked my bike by the mialbox, took off my helmet and introduced myself to the kind looking grandpa. In his 80s and moving slow, with a slight deformation to his left cheek which was, as I later learned, a consequence of an automobile accident that left the old man now with a glass eye, he greeted me warmly. His posture was degraded as can be imagined from a man with so many miles under his shoes, and the skin on his capable hands was beaten and rough, each wrinkle a chapter in the man's biography. Before I finished my question, Mr. Lamar Holcomb quietly approved and assured that the bike will be watched for. As I changed into my shorts and Vibram five finger shoes, the quiet grandpa took a seat by the garage and lit a cigarette he rolls himself, observing me and asking a few questions here and there, about the bike, and about the rider. I parked the bike by the side of the shed and was promptly off to the park a few minutes walk away.
The event itself was disappointing. Although the crowd was healthy in size, and the costumes at the start line were interesting and funny, the race was simply not challenging enough for me. It took me 22 minutes to complete the three mile course finishing in the top percentile, and the obstacles were not very challenging at all. After all the event is geared toward anyone and everyone, and even though the organizers try, it really isn’t supposed to be a true test of ones physical ability for anyone in modes physical shape. I flew through the course wanting more challenges and crossing the finish line I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and almost tricked, as well as amazed at how great (and lucrative) of an idea hosting an event like this really is. The race was finished and I received my wristband for three free beers which didn’t really help the some what boring atmosphere after the race. Perhaps the good party happened the day before, a Saturday. And perhaps it is possible to have fun at events like this so long as you bring your own group of friends, which completely kills the whole point of the thing for me, hence the goal is to get everyone inebriated immediately after the race. The take away is that the event was not very interesting although the potential is there, didn’t really deliver although the money was paid, and ended up being just another one of those thing that makes you say “ at least I can check that one off the list”.
In any case, I returned to the motorcycle to find grandpa Lamar diligently working on his large backyard garden. I was eager to interrogate the old man about it all; I get a certain pleasure out hearing stories from someone who certainly has stories to tell, guessing by virtue of his age. We spoke about his construction years in Detroit back in the golden days, about his booming, vegetable garden, about the weather and about fishing. I was eager to hear more because by then I had made a friend out of the old man so I shamelessly asked if it would be OK for me to pitch a tent in his back yard for the night knowing full well that he will once again approve before I even finished the sentence. And so it was, and so I spent my Sunday evening. Lamar and his lovely wife Suzanne brought me a plate of her homemade chocolate cake and then they walked through their open back yard for mass at the Baptist church a stone throws away. I set up camp, prepared my dinner and waited from Lamar to return so that we could smoke a cigarette together. Which we did, slowly letting the daylight slip behind the hills as I puffed away listening to his fascinating stories from his soldier days in Korea at age 17 and other interesting experiences any fortunate person that gets to that age has to posses.
At around 5:30 in the morning gramps woke me up with the sound of the lawnmower; it was fascinating to see that this old man still has energy to get up so early and push the thing up and down his property twice a week. I packed as he smoked and observed, he gave me a paper with his address so that I make sure to visit again, we said our goodbyes, both probably feeling that it is likely the last time we saw one another, and I was southbound to Atlanta.
UPDATE: I sent letter to grandpa Lamar on at least two occasions and never received a reply. I sure would love to hear from the old man again.