This year I was given the responsibility of 'Straggler' timer---giving a time to the runners
that were unable to complete their leg in the scheduled time and arrived after the next leg had
started. In other words, my job didn't start until the leg was over.
------But, as I tend to do, I digress.
For a bit of history for those that haven't been around that long, in 1988, 3 years after the
Gonzo Runner started the Rum Runners Relay , some of us thought a relay around the Cabot Trail
would be a good idea also. To make a long story short (which I hate to do):
-the event began with 6 teams (17 legs) and has grown to 65 teams (1,105 runners)
-after 5 or 6 years a group of local Baddeck people were convinced to do the administration,
marketing, etc., while the Gonzos continued to come up and run the race, providing timing,
safety, finish lines, music, etc. from the time the gun goes until the finish in Baddeck 27
Now to the present, our tech group of 14 people, led by Bill Campbell and Perry Abriel, included
Jeff Warnica, Ron Kaszor, Nancy Holland, Mike Pettipas, Marie Leppard, Shari-Lynn Hiltz, Mark
Stein, Ross Mitchell, Chris Hollebone, James Balcolm, Grant Walker, and Micheline McWhirter left
Halifax Friday morning following a time honoured tradition:
-Rendevous around 10:00am, selected Timmies and on the road.
-Lunch at Antigonish, after scouring Sobeys for little grocery bags of goodies to mainatain
personal sustenance over the next 48 hours.
-Late afternoon arrival at Baddeck, get the electronics wired up, properly load the various
vehicles with signs, flags, lights, finish line gear, etc.
-Supper at Pizza joint, Official teams meeting, a few brewskies, and to bed
5:00am muster call to get gear, and bodies, to the start line, for a 7:00am sharp start of Leg #1.
From this point on there is no stopping the 'train' of hundreds of vehicles and runners,
basically each leg starting in 2 hour +/- intervals as we move the start and finish lines
along the Trail
Everyone has their own responsibilities which they handle with professionalism--Jeff drives
the lead vehicle, how much more important than that, Mark takes care of the announcing and
music--everyone knows he's the man, Perry is selling Timex watches like hot cakes--everyone
loves him, Marie signs in all the runners for the next leg(s)--all 1,105 runners get to talk
to her over the race, Grant and Phil drive around in their BIG van, lights flashing--seen by all,
and the rest, in their bright vests, are marshalling, putting up road signs, providing a safe
course to the adoration of all.
As the time of each leg comes to an end, Mark starts the next leg, and everone is gone, the
runners, the fans, the vehicles, the noise, the PARTY.
That is, everyone but the 'straggler' man--remember him--or more exactly, remember me? My job
is to give a time, with my 'little' electronic timer---The BIG Electronic Chip Timing, sort
of, 18 wheeler, having gone to the next leg, to the runners that could not maintain a 10 minute
per mile pace. I would later take this time to the BIG Timer so they could put in the results.
It is very quiet at 2:00am, 3:00am, 4:00am, sitting on a stool by yourself in the Margaree
Valley, alone except for a few people in cars waiting quietly for their runner.
Maybe 99% of the race didn't see me, but I was a hero to these runners, I received hugs, high
fives, and big, big, smiles, along with:
-thank you so much for staying!
-it is so nice to see you here.
-I was afraid I would be all alone.
-What's my time? They wanted to know their time! It was the first time they had run over
10 miles and they were proud!
You that know me might wonder why a person with all my background, knowledge, expertise,
professionalism, personality, and general good looks would be doing this job? I always say
it relates to the time I was lead vehicle driver a few years ago, when I and my un-named
co-driver------Jerome-----fell asleep at Joe's Scarecrow. But Perry tells me they needed a
'mature' man to do this job--which is probably the truth.
BUT I had so much fun with these slower, but very serious, people that I have already 'demanded'
that I have the job again next year--I have lots of good ideas to greet these 'runners.'
The last leg finished in Baddeck at 10:00am, over to the rink for lobster, steak, coffee, and
then a quick wash up and:
-Into our cars---14 sleep deprived people climbing into cars for a 5 hour drive after 27
hours of NO sleep.
-Not just the tech crew, but many of the runners heading home or to the airport, or to NB,
-One might say a successful Cabot Trail is no one getting killed.
-drive to Wycocoma, switch, Causeway, swith, Antigonish, switch, New Glasgow, switch, Truro,
switch-----if you can convince someone else they are awake.
Oh yeah, there was a race--the team from Maine (the Mainiacs) beat our 'golden' boys ------again.
Everyone had a great time.
-That is everyone except the one girl, who, at 2:00am in the morning, when she missed the
cut off time by, not 1, not 5, not 10, not even 20 minutes--she missed the cut off time by 30
minutes---dropped the F bomb upon crossing the finish line--the cut off time meant nothing to
her--she missed her 'personal' goal by 3 minutes--the other 1,104 runners, and/or the race meant
nothing to her---SHE had a goal.