Besides, I’ve birthed an eight pounder myself immediately following the 2008 Detroit Marathon and it barely made news. Of course, mine didn’t provide a tax break and wasn’t nearly as cute, I’m sure. His name – Nutty Cornhead – might have turned some folks off too. (That’s why I left him in the Port-a-John. He wasn’t a keeper.) So, big deal, right? Everyone shoots something out of their posterior post-race.* I just feel bad for the folks who were not only ‘chicked’ but also ‘birthed’ (and possibly ‘episiotomied’?) at the finish. How’d you like to get beat to the finish line by a rush of amniotic fluid among everything else?
No, I don’t really give a crap about Preggo Runner and Her Fabulous Birthing Adventure. There was another marathon story playing out elsewhere in the world on the same day that was far more interesting. I give a crap about running innovation. I’m not talking about the current minimalist fad.** I’m talking about true innovation. Take, for example, Rob Sloan. Rob Sloan knows that running marathons are hard. It’s a looong way, after all. Hell, 26.2 miles is basically like running two half-marathons consecutively. Two of anything back-to-back is ridiculously hard. Ever eat at two buffets consecutively? See two Twilight movies back-to back (when even one is more than most can take)? Give attention to both of your kids in a row? Grueling.***
So Rob knows that marathons are difficult, taxing, and dangerously anaerobic. And maybe he has a bit of Thomas Edison in him. Maybe a dash of Steve Jobs. Was he satisfied with reading by candlelight? No, he invented his own electric light. You see, Rob got to mile 20 of the Kielder Marathon. Rob was exhausted. But Rob still wanted to finish. He wasn’t going to continue using his legs, lungs, and basic human decency like a fool. That’s not how an innovator works. Rob searched for another way…another solution…a better method to achieve a goal for the common good – or his own personal glory – whichever came first.
Inspiration rarely strikes like a lightning bolt from the sky. Usually, it slowly, imperceptibly, engulfs you like…fumes from an idling bus. A true genius recognizes the signs (and smells) and follows the path. Rob got on that idling bus on Sunday. Rob rode it to a point near the finish. Rob found a solution to avoid having to use his fatigued legs and lungs and his challenged moral compass. Rob emerged from the bus and hid behind a tree in a wooded area near the course finish like true champions must do. Rob must have felt like Steve Jobs emerging from his garage with the key to future technological advances rattling around his head. Rob had immediately redefined what it meant to “finish” a marathon. Rob waited for the first and second place runners to pass by. He wanted glory but he wasn’t an enormous egomaniac. His ego was merely over-sized. He waited for the one position that would attract the least amount of attention while maximizing his rewards: Third place. Third place would be his Macintosh!
Rob Sloan, executing the strategy only he invented that day, slunk out from behind the tree, rejoined the marathon and finished third! And then, in another brilliant move, decided not to slink away quietly with his ill-gotten gains. Instead, he stuck around for photo ops and interviews in which he proclaimed the course “unbelievably tough”. For those of you who have run a marathon, three cheers to Rob Sloan! In post-Sloanian days, can we really be expected to run 26.2 consecutive miles any longer? No one reads by candlelight anymore. We don’t go backwards in our advancements (see, it says ‘advance’ right in the word advancement.) We don’t take our shoes off again once we start wearing them. We don’t go back to spears once we invented guns. Heck, we won’t go back to guns once we invent laser guns. It’s called progress. And the new standard for completing a marathon is to run until you are fatigued…and then hop a bus to the finish. There’s something charmingly Amazing Racish about it.
But did we embrace this advancement? No. The heartless race organizers stripped him of his medal. He was deemed unworthy. His innovation for completing a marathon was tossed into the dustbin of history. He must feel like the inventor of Betamax. Rob Sloan, unrecognized champion of the everyman marathon runner:
The people's champion!
We salute you.
It does lead me to wonder…if an innovation like the bus-aided marathon isn’t embraced, how are folks going to accept my original concept, the Segway marathon? Time will tell. I’m sure Edison and Jobs had the same apprehensions.
In the meantime…
*That’s where babies come from right?
**I know, I know, it’s not a fad. Rock n’ Roll and TV are not a fad either even though everyone thought they were at the time. And, sure, eyeglasses are just a human made attempt to correct the natural sight of the eye – FAD! – when we all know that the best way for the eye to see is through its natural state. It cannot be improved upon. Throw down your glasses and crunch them under your minimalist shoes! While you’re at it, throw down your hearing aids and insulin pumps and crush them under a Five Fingered heel! Colostomy bag? Remove that and….gently deposit that in the garbage please.
***Believe me, Chutes and Ladders never gets more fun the MORE you play. I started to see Slides in my nightmares. Thankfully, my kids have outgrown this adult torture game.