Stories and reviews from events in the USA from 2003 to 2008.
Leave it to the racers to find the best garbage around
No, that’s not a smack on Detroit, it’s just what happened, in a recent partnership between Adventure Racers for the Environment (ARFE) and SMAC. SMAC’s Paul Piorkowski made the decision to participate in ARFE’s “Best Garbage” competition, which is held at various races around the nation. At 2004’s USARA Nationals race, teams vied for the Best Garbage prize by bringing in items are varied as goose decoys, a 16-foot rubber hose, and some other rubber items of the less savory variety.
Piorkowski was not to be bested. During the pre-race briefing for both the 8- and 24-hour races (SMAC holds them simultaneously, each year during the last weekend in July), he noted that he hoped that his racers would do better than ARFE had ever seen. In fact, Piorkowski, who work with automotive giant General Motors, noted that he hoped to see engine blocks. And refrigerators. Rumor has it that the stalwart racers were not fazed.
On Saturday the race directors had fantastic weather for the noon start of our 24 hour. But by Sunday morning, high winds, lightning, and heavy rain delayed the start of our 8-hour race. Even after race start, SMAC was forced to close several sections of the course due to severe lightning. Piorkowski began to think that the ARFE competition would be a wash.
Then, from out of the rain and lighting came the first submission: a clear plastic bag filled with what SMAC officials quickly dubbed the "vice goulash": condoms, whisky bottles, magazines and cigarette wrappers. It held the lead for over two hours. As racers came in to the TA for the next stage Piorkowski pointed to the vice goulash as the current leader and said it was likely to be the winner if for no other reason than from a strictly artistic interpretation.
Soon Tim Buchholz and Anna Nummelin of team Guybrush Threepwood (a 24hr team crawled into the TA, lugging a prize that had Piorkowski, a self-professed “truck guy,” swooning: a complete passenger door from a ’72 Chevy pickup. Piorkowski says that racers gathered around and swooned at it, but, as a responsible race director, he only had eyes for the team, who were about 7 hours overdue off the bike stage. “I was starting to get a little worried,” he said. “We will never know how they managed to carry the door or the exact location they found it but what is known is that they carried that darn door all that way and found all the mountain bike checkpoints!”
Not to be outdone, Mark Crews and Tim Watkins of tesm WETSU came in with a12" iron drainage pipe over 5' long which they said “we almost didn't make it after carrying it 2.25 miles to the TA”. When they asked if they were winning the ARFE award, Piorkowski, gallantly playing the bringer of bad news, had to tell them it was a pretty nice pipe and all, but the truck door was just a better quality piece of junk. A petulant Team WETSU stomped back into the dense Michigan bush only to emerge a few hours later with more CP’s and other ‘goodies’ which included most of an automotive exhaust system.
Another honorable mention was an all-alcohol container submission everyone called "The Party Pack," an unusual collection of back pocket liquor bottles, wine bottles, and beer containers. It seemed to make a statement and for a moment Piorkowski pondered its true meaning.
By the time the first teams were coming in for the finish, Piorkowski was forced to direct racers to drop off their trash next to the box van that we were using for scoring. Piorkowski reports a true pile of junk by race’s end.
Team Guybrush Threepwood, with their fabulous truck door, came out of the winner of this particular competition—they get a swanky new set of ARFE jerseys from Canari--but Piorkowski notes that he’s truly impressed with everyone that participated. Is it a new dimension of adventure racing? Perhaps. Perhaps the only thing that truly matters is that racers are taking a new look at the lands they race in—and expressing a true desire to leave it better than they found it.
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- Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:52 am
- Location: Michigan
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