So I'm walking downtown and I notice something different...not so different that I duck and cover, but something is definitely amiss. I head on up to the butcher a block up from the main drag and suddenly it occurs to me. Down on Superior Street (a.k.a main drag) I am surrounded by physically fit people. It must be Grandma's Marathon!
See, when people come to a tourist town like Duluth and they are of a certain predisposition (they visit once a year, you can see every muscle and sinew in their emaciated frame, and their Duluth Pack gear is in pristine condition) these are the harbingers of Grandma's Marathon.
Now I have never been around the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon, but I am going to go out on a limb here and make the assumption that those cities are able to absorb the event easier than Duluth. Our downtown shuts down. Our buses are re-routed. Our restaurants over floweth. Our streets are jammed with bumper to bumper traffic. I remember on the one year that I volunteered for the medical tent, it took me two hours to make a trip that normally takes 10 minutes. In other words, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a runner, spectator, or a person lying by the side of the road (runner, spectator, or drunk? This is the only day of the year that those who make it a daily habit of lying down on the sidewalk are treated with utmost care and respect...until the cops or medics realize who it really is).
Now, I don't mind tourists, they serve as a delicious source of protein, but I have a latent claustrophobia. My condition doesn't usually inhibit me and I have only really freaked out on one or two occasions, but when I'm ass to jowl with people who WON"T GET OUT OF MY WAY AND OH MY GOD THAT IS MY BUS PULLING AWAY FROM THE CURB?! AND I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE TRYING TO TAKE A PICTURE AND NO I DON'T WANT TO HELP YOU TAKE YOUR PICTURE AND DON'T YOU DARE GET MY FAT ASS IN IT EITHER!!!
It can be a tad stressful.
My adventure will start tomorrow morning as I try to get my daughter to an art class in West Duluth by 9 a.m. I believe I will get up at 5:23 a.m and snow blow the tourists out of the way.
At least when we had the Beargrease Sled Dog Race we had the excitement of having to stop the car for the sled dog racers as they crossed the road and one of the sleds careened out of control and slammed into our car.
Don't worry though, the car was fine.
My kids were in the back seat making faces at the dogs who were suddenly plastered against the window as the driver tried to maneuver the sled back onto the trail and simultaneously hide the fact that he had defecated in his Stegers. Now that's entertainment!
Speaking of defecation and tourism, a friend of mine lives up the northshore towards Two Harbors where the marathon begins. Every year she has to chase people out of her bushes because they are using them as a pit stop. Nothing like pouring yourself a cup of coffee on the morning of Grandma's Marathon and looking out the window to see some naked white ass taking a dump on the potentilla. Don't these runners realize that manure needs to be aged before you can spread it on the garden? Idiots!
So, wish me well as I venture into traffic tomorrow. Maybe on the way home I'll sneak onto the route and follow a runner who is on their last legs. They will be bleeding from their nipples with crap running down their legs and puke stains on their shirt, and they'll look tremulously over their shoulder at the grill of my car and then they'll see it. The broken sled dog harness and tufts of fur from Balto that I've been dragging around for months. And then they'll know fear.