THE BET

There's nothing like friendship to ease the pain of those training miles. For more than a quarter of a century friends have gathered near the Humboldt State University campus on Sundays to participate in the ritual "long One." In early 1997 the five runners pictured below began serious training for THE AVE. Inevitably the jovial banter on these runs began to center on who was going to do what to whom at the Ave, who was running like a wienie, what who would say what when they put away another, and the like. Naturally the subject of betting was broached. Eventually all, or some, agreed, sort of, that a bet was in order. But what kind of bet? It was clear that not just any ordinary bet would do. Finally, after much debate, mixed with a liberal dose of whining, an agreement of sorts was reached. The second place finisher would buy dinner for the winner; the fourth for the third; and the last place finisher would buy beverages for all. Questions of "where to eat" and "quality and quantity of food and drink" were tabled for later discussion; for at this point the major concerns were "criteria for determining whether the third place finisher had really tried, appropriate punishment for such an offense, and appropriate levels of humiliation to heap on the losers." These matters consumed the running conversation right up to the start of the race (and of course bored others unlucky enough to be running with these five silly." And so it was that the combat began.

THE PARTICIPANTS

Ells Pence Age 59: Broke 3 hours at age 52: Bothered by injuries off and on: Forced to mix training with work and a budding theatrical career. Training seemingly going well: Considered to be one of the favorites.
Bill Daniel Age 52: Veteran of 20 Aves: PR of 2:47: Victim of nkees gone bad: Workouts "iffy": An unknown quantity.
George Crandell Age 64: One of only two people to complete each of the previous 25 AVE's: PR 2:44+ at age 45: 60,000+ miles of training and numerous summers of hard fishing beginning to take its toll: Workouts slow, but steady: Fierce competitor: Who could say?
Yoon Kim Age 38: First "real" marathon: Completed first sub seven minute mile and first "20" in March: Because on inexperience, not expected to win, but anything could happen at this level: Where would he place?
Dave Howell Age 46: Completed one marathon: Soft spoken, but fierce competitor with good leg speed: Looked strong in workouts: Out for a PR: Along with Ells, a consensus favorite

THE RACE

The epic struggle which took place that day was something the ancient bards would have memorialized for the ages. Having exchanged best wishes and parting shots, each set about implementing his own strategy. Pence and Kim took the early lead, followed by Daniel, Howell and Crandell. By mile 3 Daniel was in trouble; and as Howell went by, he uttered these words of encouragement: "You're DOG MEAT, Daniel." Howell then proceded to move up on the leaders, taking the lead prior to the 7 mile turn around. Daniel passed Kin at about the 4 mile mark. Crandell was lurking, biding his time. Thus at 7 miles the order was Howell, Pence, Daniel, Kim and Crandell.

Though no one knew it at the time, the first two places were already decided. Pence would make a valient effort, but Howell grimly hung on and was able to fend off every charge Pence made. Howell would get his PR, finishing in 3:39 to Pence's 3:41.

(Meanwhile, in the back of the pack:) By 5 miles, Daniel was beginning to feel sorry for himself. The irrepressable Kim went by him at 9 miles. He suffered even more humiliation as middle aged women who referred to themselves as slow old farts began to pass him. Then, near the 15 mile mark, came the ultimate downer; Old Man George went by, uttering the classic greeting; "I didn't want it to happen this way!" Suddenly some strange and wonderful happened. Memories of a classic Crandell-Daniel duel from twenty years ago (which Crandell won by three seconds) began to surface. The 50 yard lead Crandell had built began to diminish. The pace quickened. Crandell was quicker out of the aid stations, and thus was able to maintain his lead. Near the 19 mile mark Crandell passed Kim. Surprised, Kim shouted "SH&#%! SH&#%! SH&#%!" (Korean for "You're running extremely well today!" When Daniel went by only a few seconds later, all Kim could muster was; "SH&#%! SH&#%! SH&#%! SH&#%!" Mile after mile the epic struggle continued with Crandell refusing to relinquish the lead and Daniel refusing to surrender. Daniel made one last desperation move; refusing to stop at the last aid station he put everything he had into the "uphill" at 25+ miles. The gamble paid off. He was able to pass and barely hold off Crandell, finishing in the high 3:49's to Crandell's low 3:50's. Though their times were an hour slower than their duel twenty years earlier, each agreed they has put just as much effort into this one, and perhaps enjoyed this one even more. Kim, with a smile as big as Texas, cruised across the finish line at 4:03. And so at last, the struggle was over!

THE AFTERMATH

The battle ended, the training discussions turned to the, "Whens" "Whats" and "Wheres." The winners, Howell and Daniel, gloated; while the three "losers" whined. A high level "diplomatic summit," compleat with Bar B Que, beer and sushi, failed to produce any concrete results. Some five months later, the pay off was consumated. Toasts were given and approiate insults were hurled. The combatents began to strategize for the next round.




THE POST RACE PHOTO OP

These five participants have something to celebrate. Their ordeal is over.

(Left to Right) Ells Pence, Bill Daniel, George Crandell, Yoon Kim and Dave Howell