Up-the-Hill races feature the fast, the slow, and the toga-clad
To dust off a venerable phrase, the 23rd annual Up-the-Hill races
featured the best of times and the worst of times. And not all
contestants aimed for the former.
The 13 September event saw some near-record-breaking
performances, such as SCDs Blake Caldwells breakaway
sprint on his bike, as well as the dramatic first-place finishes
of two stalwart veterans: RAPs Deirdre Garvey and ESIGs
And yet the worst of timeslast place, that
isalso seemed to hold a peculiar fascination. How else to
explain the biker who pedaled at the very back of the packand
yet could claim, with some mathematical plausibility, that his
time was every bit as good as Blakes? And then there was
the relay race, in which two teams, disregarding traditional competitive
norms, staked claim to the seldom-coveted position of last place.
The theme of the event, sponsored by the Employee
Activities Committee, was the UCAR Olympics. Accordingly,
relay racers ran with sawed-off toilet plungers held carefully
upright to represent Olympic torches. And many participants wore
togassome of which, it must be said, were quite fashionable.
They're high end, straight off of Fifth Avenue,
the latest in rubber wear, explained Athena Quinopolus (a.k.a.
Loretta Quinn) of the trash bag togas she and fellow JOSS colleagues
Others dressed in more conservative bedsheet togas, although,
as SCDs Scot Colburn noted, "there's significant drag
at high speeds."
The weather cooperated, if begrudgingly. Early-afternoon
thunderstorms gave way to sprinkles and a few breaks of sunshine
by 3 p.m., permitting a timely start to the 2,000-meter races
up the hill to the Mesa Lab
The bikers went first. Blake led the pack with
a winning time of 5:06, followed by ESIGs Jeremy Hackney
at 5:37 and HAOs José Garcia at 6:06.
This marked Blakes third consecutive victory,
although his time was a few seconds shy of the course record he
set in 2000 of 4:59. The 18-year-old, one of the nations
top young bike racers, has been competing across the United States
and overseas since the spring. A lot of traveling and a
lot of racing has worn me out, Blake said after the race.
But, he added: This race is always fun.
On a per capita basis, veteran racer John Clyne
of SCD more than held his own. John, a star of the event in the
early 1990s, finished with a time of 8:45even though he
towed a trailer with his five-year-old daughter, Michaela. Thats
pretty good, John pointed out when he heard his time. Divide
it in half.
Pulling up the rear was first-time bike racer Ned
Riedel of ACD, who was towing two childrenIan, 6, and Sean,
3. If my time was sub-15, Im claiming victory,
a grinning Ned declared by the finish line. His time, as it turned
out, was just about 15 minutes.
RAP staffers dominated the womens cycling.
Deirdre Garvey finished first with a time of 7:15, trailed by
Beth Chorbajian (7:47) and Kay Levesque (8:08). For Deirdre, the
bike race was just a warmup: she promptly headed back down the
hill to compete in the foot raceand again scored first among
the women with a time of 11:42. Taking second among the women
in this contest was ACDs Julia Lee-Taylor, at 12:20, followed
by F&As Betty Valent, at 12:38.
Deirdre had been a dominant figure in both the
bike and foot races in the early and mid 1990s, last leading the
women in both events in 1996. But then she took several years
off following an ankle injury. This is fun, she said
after winning the foot race. Its really nice to be
Taking first place in the mens foot race
was another veteran: ESIGs Rick Katz. Rick had won the first
two Up-the-Hill foot races in 1980 and 1981. But the 54-year-old
scientist had last won in 1996, and he said he hardly expected
to win this year considering how old I am. Ricks
principal competitor in recent years, RAPs Andrew Crook,
took the year off because of an injury after winning the
race five times in a row.
Trailing Rick were in a tight race for second place
were José (9:12), fresh from his third-place finish among
the bicyclists, and MMMs Carl Schmitt (9:16).
Then came the days last event: the relay
Nonathletic staffers, take note: the Finance and
Administration relay team for years has run at the back of the
packand bragged about its slowness. Just last year, F&A
star Bob Roesch declared: No one steps on our heels.
This year, however, the race appeared to shape
up slightly differently. While ACD, MMM, and HAO vied for first
place, a plodding EO team slipped behind F&A with an unassailably
slow time of 10:37. Unable to claim victory, EO attempted to claim
We just outslowed them, exulted EOs
Linda Carbone, who eased her way across the finish line behind
everyone else. A true team player, Linda pointed out that the
last-place finish was definitely a group effort, "We have
a lot of slow people with a lot of enthusiasm."
A despondent Katy Schmoll, F&As final
runner, conceded the lack of defeat. Im bummed. Tradition
has been broken.
Ah, but nothing is simple at a scientific institution.
The Employee Activities Committee determined the winner of the
relay race with a complex formula that weighted such factors as
the level of participation and the number of runners wearing togas.
And under that formula, EO actually moved up to the number-three
spot, behind first-place HAO (which had the third-best time at
7:31), and second-place CGD (6:59).
Preferring first place over last, HAO team members
basked in their victory. HAO is proud that its overall mediocrity
has finally been recognized," said Craig Hartsough
With the jostling for last place behind them, everyone
headed to the ML cafeteria for the post-race festivities, featuring
first-rate refreshments served up by Food Services. UCARs
Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) played a role at the event
as well, administering first aid to a bicyclist who fell and bruised
her leg after the race. David Hosansky and Ellen Leslie
Check out video clips here:
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