Sometimes running isn't about running at all. I mean how can it be about running when it's 145 degrees outside with 102% humidity? How can it be about running when every square inch of your clothing is bathed in your own salty sweat and your soaked socks weigh 50 pounds? How can it be about running when faced with a climb up a 30% grade on the sun baked slope of an exposed mountainside? How can it be about running when old Sol's angry rays are baking the back of your sweaty neck and blistering your overloaded retinas as you trudge across a giant solar oven made of bare, merciless, prehistoric granite? It can't. It just can't be about running.
What IS the Drool Deer all about then, if not the running? There's not a single answer to that question that I can give, but here are a few things that *I* think it is about.
The races put on by the mad genius race coordinator, Derek Cernak, are just plain fun. Miserable, sweaty fun, but FUN. Like the Rabid Squirrel race, there are parades, proclamations, prayers, and plenty of props at the start of the race. During the race, there are anagrams to figure out (try that with a hard boiled brain!), rocks to stack, and songs to sing at various checkpoints along the way. I've honestly never had so much fun being so miserable.
No matter how much I cursed the heat and humidity, there were enough drop dead gorgeous vistas along the way, that even as my brain boiled inside my baking skull, I had to stop and look. And smile. Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the whole state. To do anything there, even suffer mightily, on a glorious Summer day, is a gift worth appreciating.
There's no better way to be miserable than to be miserable with friends. Laughing about the sheer stupidity of intentional suffering somehow makes the suffering so much more bearable. I mean how bad can you feel when you are high-fiving a friend and actually get splashed with sweat? The hilarity of that sloppy smack can wash away the misery of the moment. More sweaty high-five. More laughs. More smiles. More cheers. More "thank you!" to the awesome volunteers. More runner fellowship.
Ok, it's not all sunshine and happiness. There are stairs in the Drool Deer. Lots and lots and lots of stairs. Evil, nasty, painful stairs. Merciless, brutal, gut busting stairs. If the finish line is heaven, you have to go up stair hell to get there. If someone finds a sour stomach, or some trashed legs, or a shattered soul near those stairs just before the finish, they are probably mine. Please mail them to me. I'll be needing them for next year's Drool Deer.