For the last five years, (I think, maybe more.?), the Afton Fat Ass has become a tradition. I'm all over traditions. Scott Wagner (Thank you Scott, for starting this tradition and for all you did for the Minnesota Ultra Community) began this tradition and called it the Afton Fat Ass. The Saturday after Thanksgiving a group of us would run upon the deer trails of the Afton State Park. Most of us have no idea where we are running as these are not the designated trails on the maps or the trails used for the Afton 50K. These are trails deep within the park, in the woods, which I believe, only Scott and John Storkamp and the deer know about. After a run upon the trails we always finish the fun with a pot luck and visiting.
This year and last year John took the torch from Scott and has held the Fat Ass. He does a fabulous job. This year he and Pierre were out in the dark before 6 AM pulling coolers, stashing sparkling cider, cheese, oreos, grapes, water and other delights upon the trail for us to enjoy. It's truly amazing.
19 of us headed out upon the deer trails yesterday morning. After only a few miles we were removing gloves, ear bands, hats and jackets. The sun was out and the temperature climbed up into the 30's; much warmer than I anticipated. With gloves, hat and a neck gaiter stuffed into my pockets and a jacket wrapped around my waist, I felt like a burrow making my way through the forest.
I trekked up hills, climbed rocks, scampered down into ravines, went across water on suspended trees; all the while with a laugh in the throat and a smile upon my face. It was fantastic and I couldn't help from saying so-over and over. I kept on thinking: how fortunate I am to be out here, in the woods, running upon beautiful trails with a group of people in which I have so much fun and have so much in common with. Wonderment.
John led us deep into the woods, upon the trails, a group of 19. The front runners would stop every so often, waiting for the whole group to arrive. We'd talk and drink, heading out again. It was enjoyable to find a different spot in line, a different group of people to speak with for a while, then again, finding myself in another place, with someone else to speak with. What a great way to catch up with what is going on in someones life.
At one point we were climbing down into a ravine; Maynard decided to take a skinny tree across the ravine. I didn't think it would hold him. I was afraid he'd end up with a broken ankle in the rocks below. Thankfully he was able to scamper across and make it to the other side, safely. He promptly lifted his leg and said "PSSSSSSSSS". My mouth fell open and I then shrieked. It was the funniest thing I had seen! He is a member of the Dog Pack you know, so, upon doing something risky, or reaching an accomplishment, or what have you..he lifts his leg and psssssts. It was hilarious! I've run many hours with the Dog Pack guys but had never seen one lift his leg before! You know that I will now be watching out for it, you Dogs.
Later on in our run, at about 4 hours, we were running along the St. Croix river shoreline. We came to a campfire where John dug a torch out of the woods and started a fire. He then pointed to a milk jug well into the river and stated that he needed someone to fetch it for him. The someone that did would receive a free entry to the Chippewa 50K AND the Afton 50 K. Luckily I told Wynn I would volunteer for Chippewa so I didn't even think about submerging myself into the freezing cold water. However, Maynard, Valeria, Karen, Helen and Pierre were going to take the plunge. They began to remove outer layers and shoes. God, I was cold just watching them. Helen just finished IM Arizona last weekend; she is the swimmer of the bunch so my money was on her. They began to enter the water before Valeria was ready so she stayed on shore. Karen and Pierre began but came back and Maynard and Helen were off to the buoy. Oh man, out they went and then Maynard looked like he was going to reach it first, but Helen did and she dove under to retrieve the anchor (!), they both arrived safe and sound to the shoreline, dripping wet and cold. Good Lord. Maynard was steaming himself near the flames, Helen stripped out of her base layers and back into her outer layers. Brrrrrrrr. Way to go, Helen!
Of course, I asked Maynard if he was going to lift his leg..this was lifting the leg worthy..he agreed; and did so.
Back we went to the Vistor Center to change ourselves and enjoy conversation with all. It was fabulous. Hot coffee, a hot fire and plenty of food for everyone.
Thank you so much, John :)