Dereliction of Duty
Who needed a headlamp? My pacer was lit.
I should have known something was awry when I spotted my pacer lounging at the Mile 30 aid station with a beer in his hand. ...
Illustration by Jeremy Collins
I should have known something was awry when I spotted my pacer lounging at the Mile 30 aid station with a beer in his hand. For purposes of this story, we'll call the pacer John Barleycorn. At the time, I thought little of John's revelry, since it would be several hours before he'd need to lace up his shoes and take me through 26 tough night-time miles.
"He's just kicking back," I thought.
Later, at 10 p.m., when I arrived at the aid station where we'd meet for his pacing shift, John laughed like a cartoon hyena, privy to a joke that only he knew. The punch line was hidden somewhere in a pile of empty beer cans. With headlamps on, we jogged into the chilly night. "Whooooo-oooooooo!" he howled like a fire engine, beginning with an all-out sprint, well ahead of me.
OK, it is my belief that alcohol and trail running can and do mix. Just last summer, I enjoyed an evening eight-miler with two pals, much enhanced afterwards by sitting on our warm car hoods, drinking Fat Tire while the day's last rays danced against sandstone slabs, and talking smack ("How did you manage to puke BEFORE a race, Joe?") and embellishing on the old days, when, of course, we were faster.