Laz's post race poetry...
it takes a few days.
it takes a few days after the barkley to sort of let things settle in my mind enough to give a recap.
it takes a few days to stop needing to take a nap every two hours.
it takes a few days to have most of the gear packed away;
some of it added to the gear for the next race
and some stowed until the next barkley.
and you know what?
even after a few days it is difficult to put the whole experience into words.
instead of a straight narrative
or a clearly defined picture
the impressions of the barkley are a muddled melange,
much like the forests in the second night.
a mixture of images of startling clarity
fleeting images of uncertain provenance
and outright hallucinations.
the clearest image is that of how men can band together against a common foe.
in this case it is the capricious mountains of frozen head,
and the seemingly malevolent spirit of the barkley
which lurks in the darkest recesses
(both of the mountains and in our minds)
waiting to come out during the night
and wreak havoc on the hapless runners.
it was a relief from this contentious world
to be a part of a band of brothers
united in a single cause.
everyone wants to see a winner.
sure, everyone comes hoping it will be them
but when the trickster barkley breaks each runner's race
they close ranks to support the survivors.
we all want to see someone
beat the beast at its own game.
a fleeting image of unknown provenance.
it has no corporeal body.
it cannot exist as a thinking, acting being.
yet what explains the varied fates that befall the runners "out there"?
the failed headlamps, the inexplicable wrong turns, the easily found books that somehow are not there?
what magic does it take to snatch a single page from its bag and blow it off a cliff in the rainy night?
or to remove an entire bag of pages from your pack,
to make compasses vanish and trekking poles snap?
what explains the mercurial weather
that can turn on a dime?
the way it teases the runner with perfect conditions,
and then lures them out onto loops that are going to turn into pure misery?
the barkley is just an imaginary thing
it cannot be a cruel force, out to make runners fail ...
there are the hopes crushed.
how did we get from a field so strong
that we wondered starting the second loop
if 5 or 6 five loopers would tarnish the luster of a barkley finish
to staring hopefully into the blackness
desperately searching for a flash of light
as the final minutes ticked off the clock on round 4?
we did emerge with some shreds of success.
5 runners conquering the fun run.
the latest best hope for a woman to complete the whole thing.
we had a lot of capable athletes
seemingly on track until some mishap,
some random error
sent them crashing back to earth one by one.
we left with nothing
except hope for next year.
the hope that flickered out this year
still left embers that can be fanned back into flames by next year.
the barkley won....
but the humans will be back.
we never give up.