Monday, July 6, 2015

Move Yer A$$...

The weekend before July 4 was a movin' and groovin' one, that's for sure. I was up at 5am on Saturday morning, and out the door to climb the Incline. Sometimes you just know it's going to be a good day. I only had to make three catch-your-breath stops and PRed both up and down. Nice.

Headed to the farmer's market and then home to shower, change, and then Eric and I headed up to Denver to help a friend move.

The real action, however, was Sunday. Eric learned that Cripple Creek, a town about 2 hours away in the mountains, had what was called the "Donkey Derby Days" festival. Now, we're down for about anything called a festival, and have, in our past, attended such events as Apple Fest, Johnny Appleseed Fest (yes, different than apple fest), the Pickle Festival, Grabill Days, Greek Fest, River Fest, German Fest, the Peach Festival... well, you get the idea. Cripple Creek is an old mining town turned gambling hall town, with its own herd of semi-wild donkeys. These donkeys roam the streets of Cripple Creek, and are supposedly the descendants of donkeys used in the mines (which, by the way, is a horrible existence for donkeys!) People feed them, and they wander around at will. There's even a hotline you can call for the last known location of the donkeys. Anyway, Cripple Creek has a Donkey Derby Days festival, the funds from which go to support the ongoing care and occasional feeding of the donkeys (trust me though, they never go hungry.)

One of the highlights of the festival is something called "the Donkey Derby." Eric saw it online and didn't really know what it meant. "How funny," we thought, "If they would actually let just anyone run with the donkeys!" We didn't really think that was it though, and while I stuck a pair of running shoes in the trunk, it was more because I didn't know if I wanted to walk around town all day in sandals.

Turns out, we were right.

For $10, you and your partner can enter into a lottery to be eligible to run with the donkeys through a series of obstacles. The limit is ten teams, since they don't have more donkeys or room than that. The town uses domesticated donkeys for this event, although they did round up the "wild" donkeys for a "businessman's race" later in the day (e.g. business owners run down the street with a donkey, no obstacles.)

Starting back uphill.
We talked with the festival organizers about the derby (including asking "Do you have to know anything about donkeys?"  The answer was, "No.") Eric asked "should we do it?" I replied "Sure. When else can we say we ran with a donkey?" We put our $10 down and waited for the lottery.

When the lottery time came and went, it was overcast and raining. There was lightning in the area and they had to turn off the PA system. We listened hard. Team 1 was chosen: not us. Team 2: not us.

By team 6, we had pretty much decided that we weren't going to be running in the donkey derby, and I was ok with that. I mean, seriously, that could be a bit embarrassing, running with a donkey down the main street of some strange town, right?

Team 9: Meg and Eric.

Oh. Boy.

Ok. Here we go!

We lined up and strained to hear the directions about the race. There were several obstacles:
  • Run with donkey to a pile of bags filled with "gold." Find two bags with your team number on it. Place bags in donkey's saddle bags.
  • Run with donkey to pile of old sport coats. Find sport coat with your team number on it. Put sport coat on and run the rest of the race wearing the coat.
  • Run with donkey to a series of cones. Weave donkey through cones.
  • Run with donkey to bucket of apples. Grab apple and place in saddle bag. Don't let donkey eat the apple.
  • Run with donkey to saloon-girl. Get stamp of a big, red kiss.

All of this was to take place along Cripple Creek's Main Street, which is bow-shaped. You start at one end, go down hill, then go uphill. Did I mention that Cripple Creek is at 9,700 feet of elevation?

Look at that lead! There really were
9 others teams in the race.
We chose "Scratch," and had, as Eric called it "good starting position." When the gun went off (and it really was a gun, and if you think I wasn't concerned about getting kicked by a donkey at that moment, you would be wrong), we were fast down the hill and first to arrive at the obstacle. We completed our task and took off, and were again first to the second obstacle. We were leading the pack, and Scratch was running well. First through the third obstacle, but then slow off the end. Scratch needed some encouragement to keep moving, and we were starting to feel the elevation. We were passed by another team, and hit the apple grab second in line.

At this point my vision tunneled a bit, and I had to rely on Eric to know what happened around us. What I remember is being at the rear of the donkey, and having some guy dressed as a miner yelling at me about the proper way to steer a donkey's hind quarters. I think he may have smacked Scratch's flank at one point. It was a sprint-slow-sprint tug-o-war we played down the stretch. Some where in there, we regained the lead. We grabbed the red kiss and took off.


With a donkey.

Not knowing where the finish line actually was. It turned out that the race course was 1/2 mile long, but if you told me that I had run a 5K, I would have believed you. I distance run at a constant pace. I don't sprint.

The winning team.
My lungs were burning and my legs felt like lead. Eric was leading our little pack, and I was convinced that the rest of the field was right behind us. I ran as hard as I could, and Eric let out Scratch's rope lead. Scratch galloped ahead with me clinging on to the rear, pumping my legs as fast as they would go.

We crossed the finish line like no one else was in the race.

Seriously, did we just win?

We did. By a lot. Holy cow! We just won a donkey race.

We collapsed in laughter (and lack of oxygen.) We gave our name to race organizers and posed for photos. People came up and asked us questions. We were, no kidding, interviewed by the local paper. We fed Scratch his apple. We were given instructions for the award ceremony (we get an award??) We congratulated the other teams.

At the award ceremony, we were presented... with one big a$$ trophy. No joke, this thing is seriously three feet tall. On top? The rear end of a donkey.
This is now sitting in our house.

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