Last Saturday’s Soulstice Mountain Trail Run featured unexpectedly gorgeous fall weather and a marauding Sasquatch, an epic postrace raffle, delicious hot dogs and free beer. A new entry category, “noncompetitive long course,” proved popular, drawing a dozen runners willing to get up early to enjoy 11 miles of up-and-down trail at a more mellow pace.
However, people will remember the aggressive yellowjackets the most.
In an informal mid-raffle poll captured on video, more than half of those standing by answered race director Neil Weintraub’s question, “Did you get stung today?” with a resounding cheer.
High country runners are a tough bunch.
Who else but a runner floating on post-race endorphins would cheer about being stung?
Elise Rumpf was one victim. “I got stung four times,” she said. “Three in the leg and one in the ass.” She said the stings felt “like needles,” but only the leg attacks still itched two hours later -- no doubt making her drive home more comfortable.
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A later query on Facebook netted more stories of multiple stings, but everyone maintained a positive attitude. Jay Mathias’s response was typical. “They got me five times in the hamstring and ankle on the left side, then twice in the butt on the right. I’ve still got a lot of swelling, itching and redness, but it makes for a great story.”
Thankfully, nobody seems to have suffered a severe allergic reaction requiring a trip to the emergency room, although everyone with a known allergy (and many whose status is unknown) will undoubtedly carry an EpiPen next year. Tom Monroe wrote, “Four stings? Still itching and burning. I'd take on any Sasquatch over hundreds of buzzing, pissed-off flying things. Still one of the best events I've taken part in.”
That’s right: Even angry wasps can't stop our party. Neil’s probably already lining up sponsors to supply Benadryl at next year’s packet pickup.
I was among the rare few who escaped a sting. When a helpful volunteer gestured up toward a steep hillside covered in fallen branches, rocks and leaf litter and suggested I detour around wasps just ahead, I wasn’t eager to comply. I’d just done 8 miles of hard running and still had 3 miles to go, after all. That hesitation was immediately overcome by the screams of the runner ahead, who had commenced leaping from one side of the trail to the other like a crazed rabbit, each leap accompanied by a loud, “Ouch!”
All in all, a memorable Soulstice. I imagine David McKee is already at work on next year’s shirt and poster designs, but I think the choice is obvious.