The Report from Finn McCool

14 Sep

The trick is to not hesitate. Don’t think, don’t consider, don’t waiver; just follow the person right in front of you. When the girl I was trailing took a grill full of bottom-churned Cazenovia Creek, a loud wet smack as her face pancaked, I never even slowed down. She misjudged the water depth, lost her footing and sprawled. I jumped higher to avoid her, put my ankles and knees together in a perfect PFL, and rolled forward through the waist deep water towards the creek, barely losing my stride. A high stepping splash through the knee-deep rocky channel, past the Buffalo Dive Team rescuers on stand-by, up the bank, and then we were off to the next adversary.

Last Saturday, the WNYMedia team completed the four mile Finn McCool odyssey in 39:57, a decent time that combined eight minute miles with obstacle induced delays. Answering the bell were Ryan Bowers, regular WNYMedia reader and occasional Sabres-related commenter, and Adam Zaremski, our industry colleague at start-up WNY.fm and friend of the site. None of us are star athletes, but that wasn’t point.

The colleague, the writer, and the reader

The Finn McCool of legend slays fire breathing fairies and sucks his magic salmon-laced thumb for wisdom. We had it comparatively easy – faced with a choice between sticking my own spear in my forehead and braving a slip and slide, I’ll take the latter. We also climbed rope walls, scaled cargo netting, dove through pipes, endured the creek twice, and leapt over hurdles. We laughed and joked with our “competitors,” who nearly universally were more interested in having a good time than beating the clock. We took finishing as a team seriously, but breezed over the rest. We drank beer, celebrated our victory, and hung out at the Irish fest. We forsook costumes, but we were in the minority – an impressive number of kilts and shamrock socks made an appearance.

The moment of truth for every runner came at the end. It’s a mud race, so you know the infested pit is coming at some point. But is it a low crawl under barbed wire? A waist-deep wading pool? It lurks out of sight the whole race, the final enigma, until you turn the last bend and it lays before you in its sloppy glory. Lined on either side by camera-toting fans and recent race finishers, the cheer goes up when they see a new willing victim approach. I searched for the best route through – watery soup? Chunky clumps? Not a shred of firm ground remained in the stew.

My foot hit the edge of the swampy pool, a spray of hot muck shot into the air, and the four year old in my squealed with delight. Someone to my left yelled “Dive!” You know the rest. 

See you at next year’s event – I guarantee I’ll be there.

3 Responses to “The Report from Finn McCool”

  1. RaChaCha September 14, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    You guys put the COOL in Finn McCool! Hope to be able to join you next time around.

  2. Ryan Bowers September 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Great job on the article, Brian. You capture the key element that made it work: the fun atmosphere. The clogs at obstacles were mildly irritating, but everyone took it as a chance to make dry-cleaning jokes. When we encountered the creek that second time, I enjoyed that the Buffalo Dive Team looked at the backlog of people hugging the wall and cheerful supported our swim/ford the water approach.

    Also, If I believed in having a tombstone “Ryan Bowers – Reader” would be my epitaph. 

  3. Adam Zaremski September 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Nice article, Brian. I felt the same way about the mud and remembered acting that way in kindergarten. It should be done more often. Keep me in mind next year if you run again, it was a great time.

    And Ryan: I think the Dive Team was supportive because they knew there was a giant boulder in our path… I’m hoping for a cool scar.

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