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"My Best Bonk" Contest Entry - Chris Pella
By:  Chris Pella   (2005/03/03)

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This is an ancient bonk story. Perhaps paleobonkology is the term to use. Before the advent of sports drinks and carbohydrate gels. Dehydration was what you did to make food for camping trips. I ran cross-country and track for LCS in Sudbury ( I was barely aware of cross-country skiing, although I had a pair of wooden skis made in the Soo which I shuffled around on back of Laurentian U on skidoo trails). I should preface this by saying that I hate exercising in the heat. I had collapsed in the NOSSA 3000m after coming in with a 20 second advantage over my competitors, because of the 30 degree temp. -20 c is no problem for me, but +30c is.

The setting is late 1970s, perhaps summer 1978. There was a half-marathon distance road race taking place around Massey,ON, which is west of Espanola. I had been training in the cool of the evening that summer because I was working construction. Conditioning wasn't an issue. I was more worried about being chased by a bull moose. A team-mate and I drove to Massey, with my girlfriend in tow to cheer us on. It was bloody hot... sauna hot, and humid. The gun went off and I ran alongside my team-mate because we were pretty much equal over that distance and had been doing long runs together. Something didn't fell right pretty soon after the start, but I thought I could just run through it. After about an hour or so - it was hard to tell because it felt an eternity - I was feeling dizzy and weak and my stomach hurt. There were no refreshment stations, as I recall (remember, pre-enlightenment times).

Was I hallucinating the heat-waves coming off the pavement? I started walking. There was nobody around, so I stuck my thumb out. An elderly farm couple driving an old Ford pick-up (love those old ones with the gear-shift on the tree) picked me up. I explained my predicament in a not-so-lucid stutter. Feeling sick... back to Massey... Oh, we're heading that way, hop in. They were really gracious, but being laconic farm folk probably were thinking that I was an escapee from the Sanitorium ( a former tuberculosis hospital where mental patients were kept) in Sudbury and didn't question my motivation for being out there. We got back to the high school where the race was held and I puked my guts out in the washroom. Somebody else drove back to Sudbury as I sat in the back feeling very badly.

Did I mention that I hate the heat?

 
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