Tuesday, January 02, 2007

There's an episode of Family Guy in which the ubiquity of fruit carts in chase scenes is parodied as a dispatcher directs dozens of fruit carts to the site of a high-speed chase. Today's 27th annual Hair of the Dog, a nine-kilometre race partly on the boardwalk in Toronto's Beaches, brought this cliche into real life. The same unusually balmy temperatures that let me run in a T-shirt and shorts induced an inordinate number of dogwalkers, slow-moving geriatrics, fast-moving toddlers and everyone in between to amble along the boardwalk. The race, of course, had to wind through this crowd thanks to a generous noon-hour start.

I was the quarry for this chase, having gone from seventh to second in the middle stages of the race. I was a minute behind the eventual winner but had just moved into second-place ahead of an inebriated, shirtless jock who later told me that he wasn't wearing a shirt because he simply didn't have one. There were maybe a couple of kilometres to go when we gave up the paved trail, mostly free of walkers, for the boardwalk, full of walkers, because that's how this race is supposed to be run and that's that. It was actually right here that I passed him. However, every time I built up a gap, I would run into, literally, someone or their slow-witted dog who would, in better times, cheerfully pursue me like a squeeze toy. I fell behind when, like Ron Dayne, I failed to see a running lane and ran into some parka-clad lollygagger. Eventually, though, I guess I must have put enough dogs, toddlers, wagons and kalkalash vendors between myself and my pursuer that I was able to gain ten seconds and scamper through the finish line in second place, four spots better than last year. I was also able to turn a profit on my $20 entry and $4.20 in tokens thanks to the shirt that I won.

If only the vaunted "integrated mesh inlet/outlet ventilation to channel airflow" could somehow be reproduced for our feverish planet.

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