Monday, February 21, 2011

Quitting Booth 2011

A little over a year ago (from the writing of this blog post) I ran in the SF Kaiser Half Marathon. It was my first (and as of yet, only) half marathon.

Somewhere near the 10 mile marker, amongst all the spectators clapping and urging the runners on, there was this one guy sitting in a chair next to a wooden table. The table had a hand-made sign that said "Bacon Station". And sure enough, there were several pieces of crispy-looking bacon just calling out to me. I am pretty sure I would have puked had I taken a piece, but I was sorely tempted to stop and have a piece of 'the candy of meat'.

The idea of the Bacon Station really stuck with me over the year. I liked how the little bit of temptation actually helped me solidify my resolve to finish the run. If the Bacon Station could work for me, couldn't I build on that idea in shenanigan-style and bring that playful, tongue-in-cheek motivation to a bigger audience? Sure, why not!?!

And hence was born the idea for "Quitting Booth 2011". Since I wasn't running that same half marathon again this year, I figured that would be the best time and place to make homage to the Bacon Station of 2010.

I (dis-)organized with a couple of friends. We chose to be just past the 10-mile marker so the runners would pass our station with just under 3 miles to go. The majority of our pranksters chose to go with the angel/devil costume theme.

We brought a bunch of tasty (and not-so-tasty) treats: homemade cookies, scones, McD's cheeseburgers, BK breakfast sandwiches, 1.5 dozen doughnuts, 3lbs of bacon (cooked the night before), and 2+ cases of beer.

The intention was to set up a booth right next to the course where we'd try to entice people into quitting. We'd taunt them with food and drink and cigarettes and beer and even massages. Unfortunately the terrain didn't cooperate, and we just ended up standing along the edge of Great Ocean Highway, yelling our offers to the running crowd. However, looking back, I feel that everything worked out as it needed to.

The biggest surprise for me is that we actually had runners take us up on our food offers. (Even the 12-hour old McD's cheeseburgers!) I thought all the pranksters would have to divvy up the leftovers, but we gave out all our supplies within an hour and a half.

As one of our Preachers noted, 'The reactions ran the gamut from completely ignoring us, to "you guys suck" and "you guys are awesome".' Most everyone who said anything to us did so with a smile, making me believe they 'got' that we were there to encourage them.

Here are a couple of other interactions that really made my day:

Ed had the foresight to download 4 running-related songs, which he played through one of the ever-present (amongst pranksters, at least) bullhorns. The runners really got a kick out of "Chariots of Fire" especially.

At one point after we had run out of doughnuts, one of the runners jokingly asked for a doughnut. Someone yelled back "We had some earlier. You should have run faster." This became our default answer to anyone who asked for a specific thing that we didn't have.

Sandra, who was dressed as an angel, got quite a few runners to interact by yelling "I put out for quitters!"

Here's a couple of videos of us 'working our magic':