Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Sticking Together By Staying Apart


My practice continues for patients at risk, including diabetics, ulcer patients, infections and post-ops.  This puts me at some risk even while following all the mandates, rules and dictates from those in charge.

When I saw a fellow PSU Track Alum and Health Care Provider chipping in by making masks at home, I asked for a couple.  Thanks to the never-ending skillset of Jake Bartholomy, I have a nice mask I wear when out and about and over my N95 at the office. I use UV lights to sterilize it regularly.  My wife has another for her work in Harrisburg where she is more at risk.  Thanks Jake!



 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Triumph Against All Odds


Lego Ron Moore has done what very few people have.  He has finished a Fun Run at the Barkley Marathons as a Virgin.  That means in his first year as an entrant he managed 3 complete laps in under 40 hours.  See the Wiki for all the rules.

Ron actually completed the 3 laps in 36 hours and 29 minutes.  He had a hard time on Loop 3, with some rain and darkness causing a navigation error and a backtrack adding nearly 2 hours to his time.  When he returned to camp he had donned his Alumni Singlet as well as his "Harry's Boys" wristband and PSU Track cap!

After downing another heaping helping of my specially prepared Dinty Moore Stew and the peanut butter concoction I had to hide from the dogs, I caught him falling asleep.  With his triumph of a Fun Run under his belt, Ron reluctantly decided to call it a race and let the real Ron Moore have a shot at the Full Monty next year.

After taps was played by Laz himself, Ron was presented with an enormous trophy (there are no trophies or medals.) to celebrate his achievement.  Laz's dog Big and Ron's Dog Barkley were gleeful audience members.  Both dogs are rescues from within the Frozen Head State Park itself.

A fitting way to end our tale on a high note.


Thank you to Ron for playing along with this whole thing.  Hope to be with you next year when you make it all come true.  Ron adds, "A Fun Run is still a DNF!"

Monday, March 30, 2020

Call Him Ishmael


As Ron Moore continues his quest to finish the Barkley Marathons, he must not only navigate the course but tear pages out of a book to prove his navigation.  The pages required are always the bib number he is wearing, which is a new one each loop.

The books are hidden in a clever way and clues are given to help the runners find them.  Some of these are clever and some maybe not.  Ron has been given the job of placing books 1 book in the past. My bet is that his clues were clever! Lazarus writes all of the clues.

Here Ron looks for page #51 from a copy of Moby Brick, the worst novel ever written in the Lego world.  By the end of it, you don't care if he finds the damn big white brick or not.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ron Moore Is On Loop 2!


It was a very nice day in Frozen Head State Park yesterday.  At least us sedentary types. Ron Moore got an early start on the first of hopefully 5 loops of the Barkley Marathons.  He seemed very confident at the start which was an hour before first light.  That would give him sunlight for the first circumnavigation, a luxury I assume.

With an average time of 11 or 12 hours expected for each loop, that gave me a great opportunity to finally formally meet Race Director Lazarus Lake and ask him questions that the other "journalists" never do.  It was a lively give and take, which I will detail at a later time.

Laz being interviewed by me with his dog, Big.


I also had time to follow the marked trail to catch a glimpse of Ron as he topped the Rat Jaw Climb to the Fire Tower and the only aid on the entire course.  One self-service water stop.  And that means none if the weather is below freezing!


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He finished the first loop in 11 hours and 39 minutes.  He had all of his pages from the 11 books along the way and was cleared to begin the second loop.  He stopped briefly and changed his wet shoes and had a meal of Dinty Moore Stew and a peanut butter concoction dreamed up by me and also relished by all the dogs. 

Ron took a total of just 20 minutes "in camp", made sure he had extra batteries for his headlamp, filled his hydration backpack,  and got his second bib number from Laz at the yellow gate.  And he was gone again!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Lego Barkley Is Underway!


The start of the Barkley Marathons is an elaborate affair.  Once all the registrants have paid their dues and checked in, they then settle down in their tents awaiting the start of the race.  No one but Lazarus Lake knows the time of the start.  It can occur from any time from Midnight to Noon the next day.

Everyone pretends to take a nap and relax, but apparently, no one is really able to do that.  With the strain of what is ahead of them, the runners are excused if they can't quite relax. Even the invited Press are on edge.  Ron Moore and I talk about the similarities and differences in our time at PSU, and he pretends to dose a little

An hour before the start, Lazarus puts out the siren by blowing on a conch shell.  Then all heck breaks out.  All the runners must carefully adorn themselves with everything they need for the ordeal, keeping in mind that all 4 seasons may greet them in each 12 hour period.  The weather tonight was rather warm and a high of 75 degrees may scorch the runners tomorrow. No rain is expected until possibly tomorrow, but each peak and valley of the Frozen Head State Park can have their own weather pattern.

The conch blew at 5:00AM today.  All the runners gather at The Yellow Gate for the start.  This occurs when Laz lights up a cigarette.  And The Game is Afoot!

Ron Moore poses for me at The Yellow Gate start/finish line.

Lazarus Lake signals the start by lighting a cigarette.

Friday, March 27, 2020

We Made It To Frozen Head State Park And I'm Hungry For Chicken


After picking up Ron Moore at his Eastern Tennessee home, we both headed to the Frozen Head State Park in Podd 2.0, my "rolling home on wheels".  All the amenities of home, but all coming from the Dollar Store (no kidding)Barkley, Ron's dog joins us with Odie and Spott.  They seem to be getting along just fine.  They hope to meet Big, Lazarus Lake's famous dog.

First up today was the elaborate check-in and registration.  Each Barkley Virgin, like Ron, owe Laz a license plate from their homeland.  He displays each one every year as a fine backdrop for the Press, like me.  Ron's plate reads Pennsylvania plate  PSU TandF!  That will make a great display for future Nittany Lions who make the magic 40.

Each year, runners who make another Barkley field must bring an item of Laz's choosing.  He usually sees what he needs and asks for that.  Socks, t-shirts, dress shirts have made the list recently.  This year he chose a case of Moxie Soda, which I happen to love.  The soda from Maine is famous and quite the medicinal concoction made for an event like this.



All the runners have a chance to peruse the official map of the course for this year.  Every year, the course changes somewhat.  The runners do not receive a copy, but may make one on their own from glancing at the official one belonging to Laz.  There are numerous "stops" along the way where each runner must tear a page out of the book hidden with clever clues matching their bib number.  Be careful if you get bib #1, as Laz considers this person a sacrifice, unlikely to ever finish even one of the 5 loops.

As everyone has checked in, frivolity visits the bedraggled camp, as the Annual Chicken Dinner is served.  The namesake of the race has donated all the frozen chicken to Laz for this feast over the years. He passed away recently which prompts a moment of silence in the camp.  It has been said that in years past Laz wasn't the very best of chefs, with some of the chicken being severely over or under-done!  Someone new has been designated as chef lately, but Ron usually stays clear of the chicken, especially this year as he has to hopefully run more than a hundred miles soon.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Carbo Loading Is An Essential Element In The Barkley


For the last number of years Ron Moore has been at the site of the Barkley Marathons as either a Crew for one of the runners or on the Weight List helping out.  He has even made the climbs to place some of the books at various places on the course according to Lazarus Lake's instructions.

This year, as an invited runner, his normal pre-race routine has become a vital part of the recipe for success.  Before Ultras, Ron usually heads to Jet's Pizza for a 8-Corner Super Special.  This year he has to settle for delivery from Dominos, but at least he has a nice bottle of wine and some hot sauce to go with it.


And I am on the road, I-81 to be exact, winging my way toward Eastern Tennessee in my Podd 2.0.  Gas prices are well below $2.00/gallon now, so I am saving money with every mile.  See you soon, Ron.

Jet's 8-Corner Super Special

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Just In The Nick Of Time


Lego Ron Moore has received his Foot Care Kit For Lunatics (registered trademark of Apple Hill Podiatry Associates PC) in the mail today.  Which is good because tomorrow he must make his way to the Frozen Head State Park for check-in and registration for the Barkley Marathons.

Once he sees the benefits of the products inside, he will be a sponsored spokesman for the product's unveiling at next year's Real Marathons.  I hope to sell 39 of them next year so as to recoup lost revenue from this year's canceling of the event.  There is even a roll of toilet paper in every kit!




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ron Moore's Lego Minifigure Is A Metaphor For All Of Us


Why would a grown man play with Lego?  Why would he represent real people in miniature toy fashion?  Why would he forsake the real world for a world of plastic (soon to be plant-derived plastic!)?  Take a look around.  We all have real problems and dilemmas on a daily basis.  This is just a way to bring a little mirth to the situation.

But by doing so, I hope to highlight an Alum and his extraordinary accomplishments, as an athlete, a scholar and as a man.  Ron Moore is a thankful fan of what Coach Groves gave to him, just as I am.  Many of us were given such a gift, even those who were not directly coached by him.  All of us are better off because of the Program legacy Coach Groves helped create.  He helped all of us to climb mountains we never thought we could scale.



Here's Ron Moore in training for the Barkley Marathons, to be held in Lego fashion only this weekend.  He is at the top of Rat Jaw, one of the more famous climbs in the Frozen Head State Park.  This is a powerline-cut over the top of a mountain.  Notice that it is cleared.  But what you don't notice is that the first plant life to return once a forest is cut is the briars and thorns.  Now imagine running up this on a night without a full moon.  Or worse yet, running down this at night with only a flashlight or headlamp!  Don't forget those extra batteries too...

Monday, March 23, 2020

Now For The Hard Part


Well, Ron Moore is in the Barkley Marathons this year.  Not the real one (at least until next year!), but the Virtual Lego one we have created in order for everyone to get the feel for the hardest race in the world.

He negotiated the nebulous entry format and received his acceptance in the form of a condolence letter several months ago.

But all along, he had an inkling he would make the grade this year, as he was the last person left off the line last year and has spent the last 3 years on the Weight List, as it is called by the initiated.

That means he had to train all year for the chance to perform well on the mountains of rural East Tennessee.  And so he has.  This training has not just been general aerobic running, but long treks in the woods and up and down mountains.  I suppose he even had to do some of this in the dark, as 40% to 60% of the race would be in the dark, depending on when Laz decides to start it.  Luckily for Ron, he has been able to do some of this training on the actual climbs in the Frozen Head State Park.

Ron is in good shape, and so is his Lego character.  Which is a good thing, because he has to get there for this Friday, ready to go!  My Lego character will also be there as invited Press to bring excitement to our vast swarms of readers.

Ron in training with his hydration backpack.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sorry, But You Made It

The Barkley Marathons got real for Ron Moore when he received an email with condolences from Race Director Lazarus Lake several months ago. Somehow, he was happy after being the next runner up in last year's Weight List. Although Ron will have to wait until next year to really run the race, our Lego version of Ron soldiers on... 

Following the cumbersome and demanding application process, runners are informed of their acceptance into the ranks of Barkley runners via a condolence letter. In the olden days it was via snail mail, but nowadays Lazarus uses email to inform of the "Good news."

The letter also includes details of when the race is being held. Yeah, the race is held on a day only Laz knows. It is usually a weekend somewhere around Apri Fool's Day. This is never published as far as I know. Word of mouth spreads it far and wide, but is frowned upon by members of the Inner Circle.

Runners who completed 2 or more loops the previous year are invited, as long as the application process has been adhered to. Most reapply and are at the yellow gate the next year.  
Error: Only runners who complete all 5 circuits are guaranteed entry the next year according to Ron Moore.  I was wrong.     More on that gate later.

The condolence letter comes in enough time to sorta kinda prepare, but training had better be well under way in order to have a chance at a good performance. 



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Even The Application Process For The Barkley Marathons Is Difficult


In order to be included in the "lucky" 40 people chosen for the most difficult race in the world, a labyrinth of procedures must be done on a time schedule that is unknown.  That's right, in order to get into the race, you must apply on a certain day, at a certain time which is unknown.  I have been hooked on the event for several years and I only have an inkling when that is.  In order to know, I conjecture you must immerse yourself in the culture until someone lets slip when that is.  And that is a best-guess estimate.  Much like predicting the bottom on the Stock Market, good luck!  My guess on when to apply to be among the Press allowed in Frozen Head State Park during the race was wildly off.

The application itself is an essay on why you deserve to be included in the ranks of the runners in the nearly impossible race.  I have never come across any of the essays, as secrecy is better among this gang than that seen with other secretive groups like the Masons or maybe even the Illuminati!  What Lazarus Lake does with these essays is also a secret.  There are occasionally other requirements which can change willy-nilly and are not standard.

The entry must be mailed in with the $1.60 entry fee, which is non-refundable.  As far as I know, the entry fee has remained steady since the start of the event in 1986.

Also included in the registration is a written examination of 5-6 esoteric questions ranging across the spectrum of human knowledge,  math, Physics, chemistry, history among them.  Grades for the exams are never given or results divulged except when a perfect score is achieved.  This has only happened once in the past 5 years. One question has been repeated each of at least the last 5 years.  Apparently, it has never been answered "correctly."

With the track record of accuracy on this blog, I am hoping that Ron Moore will correct any errors, which will be transparently amended. 


Here, Ron Moore fills out his written examination for inclusion in the Barkley Marathons.  This happened sometime in late 2019.  Ron must not have received a perfect score, but there was a Physics question he aced!
 
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