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Monday, 10 December 2012

#36: One Saturday in July — Part One

AS dawn broke around 4am on a sleeping Westmont Road, a solitary flyer – upon which the words 'Cam', 'blog' and 'unmissable' could just about be made out amidst the dust and dirt – fluttered across the tarmac, riding a rare waft of wind.

Tranquility reigned supreme in this remote spot on the periphery of Horseshoe Bay.

It was a veritable calm before the storm of nervous energy and excitement that would soon be swirling in and around a mass of athletic bodies, as they prepared for the start of the 20th Anniversary edition of the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run – known affectionately in these parts as the Knee Knacker.

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Ninety miles away in a suburb of Langley, Abby the Antelope had his gas foot to the floor of his Mazda Protege 5, speeding through the Fraser Valley countryside in an effort to reach Surrey by 4:15am and pick up Johnny the Albatross from his penthouse apartment in the posh (sic) part of Whalley.

The Antelope screeched to a halt with seconds to spare and used one of his horns to honk The Albatross into action. Minutes later, JA had swooped down from his third floor balcony and the pair were on King George Highway, heading for Horseshoe Bay via Vancouver, where they would collect Kiwi Campbell the Coyote en route.

Keen to mobilize some fatty acids to use as fuel for the trail running journey ahead – and help himself wake up – Abby veered into the Surrey Central McDonalds Drivethrough, confident that the pitstop (given it was 4:20am) would be a slick affair; in-and-out like a gagging British expat-to-be crossing the US border in a bid to activate his Permanent Residency.

As the Protege 5 turned into the home straight (Orders lane) however, there was a car already in pole position. What were the chances? But we all know how Sod's Law works.

After the pair of slightly inebriated chancers in front had dithered somewhat before making their request to soak up 15 pints of stale ale apiece with five Big Mac meals, Abby pulled up outside the Orders window.

An immigrant of Venezuelan origin (let's call him Vinnie) stuck his head out of the hatch. "Wadda wudda yew liiiyka?" (I think he was Venezuelan; going by that he 'sounds' Italian).

"A large cup of coffee to takeaway," replied Abby.

"We noh havva coffee."

"What, you're kidding me!" cried the Antelope, now more than a little agitated.

"I'ma, sorry, Sir," Vinnie countered weakly, trying to cover up the fact he'd had a long night and couldn't be arsed making up another vat of instant coffee. Well, it was either that or he was feeling slightly disturbed/queezy after taking an order from a talking, driving, coffee-drinking antelope.

"OK, forget it –­­ don't worry about it," snapped The Antelope, before attempting to reverse back out of the Orders lane, and around one of the tightest corners in McDonalds Drivethrough history.

Unfortunately, as he ripped the gearstick into reverse, another car drove in behind, so the Mazda was now the meat in a MD sandwich.

Abby and Johnny let out a synchronized "D'oh!" that reverberated around the Lower Mainland – and was reportedly also picked up by a farmer out feeding his cattle in Prince George.

Seeing the predicament Car No. 2 was now in, Vinnie suddenly screamed: "We havva coffee now!", as the Protege trundled, sheepishly, back alongside the Orders window. "I getta yew a coffee... and it issa ona the howwwssa!" It was a miracle.

After taking 10 minutes to make up five Big Mac Meals and thread the multitude of bags and trays through the collection window, there was finally light at the end of the ordering lane tunnel.

Abby sped up to the next window, where a Super-sized cup of takeaway coffee was already dangling off the end of a South-American arm. He grabbed it, shouted a relieved "Thanks!", then wheelspan his Mazda P5 back onto King George Highway – miraculously avoiding spilling a single drop – and headed for Highway One in overdrive.

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Over in East Vancouver, Kiwi Campbell the Coyote was pacing up and down his plush pile, nervously anticipating the day's events – and trying to keep alter-ego Cameron the Chihuahua in check.

Campbell knew if he allowed The Chihauhua to come to the fore in time for the 6am start, he was liable to 'shoot his load', so to speak, far too early – and end up crawling to the finish from Cleveland Dam in a second-half of cramp-dominated hell.

The Coyote practiced various visualizaton techniques; mostly involving shutting out the yapping attention-seeking of the pocket-sized hound – the Mr Hyde to his Dr. Jekyll.

Packing a fat wad of shiny new weblog flyers into his backpack, The Coyote had a wily final swig of electrolyte-flooded agua and headed out the door to wait for The Antelope and Albatross on the corner of Prince Edward Avenue & Broadway.

Meanwhile, not a million miles away, El Toro – or Bushnell the Bull, as he was also known – was tearing across Lion's Gate Bridge in his state-of-the-art minibus, ferrying Susan the Hawk and Sukhi the Sabre-toothed Squirrel to the Knee Knacker finish at Panorama Park in Deep Cove (from where they would pick up one of the trio of shuttle buses to the start), along with a 15-strong family of Romanian refugees, who he was dropping off at Lonsdale Quay en route.

The Romanians were planning to take a Slow Boat to Surrey – though El Toro didn't have the heart to tell them the Seabus didn't quite go that far.

There wasn't much conversation flowing between El Toro, The Hawk & Sabretooth; they were too focused on the phenomenal 50k foot journey that lay ahead in just over 90 minutes' time.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the clock-hands had fast-forwarded to within sight of 6am and three shuttle buses had negotiated the 30-min journey from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay, off-loading around 150 Knee Knacker competitors.

They joined the other 50-odd anxious trail runners in a graveled parking lot just off Westmont Road, from where Race Director Kelsy Trigg would soon set them on their way.

Within what seemed like minutes, ‘passengers’ had been released from respective ‘foyers’ in a hive of portapotty activity; backs had been slapped; good luck messages swapped and nervous energy expended. The 2008 Knee Knacker competitors were all bottle, belt and back-packed up. Ready to kick some serious KK ass.

In the race-within-the-race, Bill the Bionic Beaver (3B) – who did a couple of laps of the course as a warm-up – was one of the Bookies’ favourites, along with El Toro, The Hawk and the Antelope, the latter having galloped into the reckoning with a surge of impressive front-running in the final few training runs.

Of course, the wily Coyote and road-running Albatross couldn't be counted out... nor Sabretooth, who had fired himself up by listening to the theme from Mission Impossible and, providing his refueling strategy consisted of more than just a solitary cup of water at The Dam, was capable of scampering into contention in the latter stages.

The countdown began: 10, 9, 8....3, 2, 1... & BANG! They were off.


1 comment:

Nancy T said...

"Sukhi the Sabre-toothed Squirrel"!! Love it! I hadn't heard his nickname before.