"My Best Bonk" Contest Entry - Steven Howard
By: Steven Howard (2005/03/01)
This is a bonk story with a twist. You see, I wasn't the 'bonkee', but rather a concerned onlooker (don't worry, the bonkee said I could submit this story!). It was the fall of '94, and Sue and I had driven to Canadian Forces Base Bagotville (near Chicoutimi, QC) for the Canadian Forces Regional Running Championships, along with our friends Don and Joyce. What you have to understand about running in the Forces, at least in those days, was that you had to qualify at the regional championships before you could run at the CF Championships, which was the selection race for the CF team sent to race at the World Military Championships. So there we were. The actual race was held on the corporate exercise paths at the local Alcan aluminum smelter, with not a tree or any other form of shade in sight. And it was hot, unseasonably hot, like around 30 deg C. And there were forest fires in the area, so the air had this really nice yellow, smokey hue to it. I know we had breakfast that day, and I know we 'tried' to hydrate properly ... The race was a mass start (men and women and masters) 10 km event on these asphalt trails. I finished my event, cooled down, then jogged back along the course looking for Sue. First woman I saw was Joyce, winning the women's event as she usually did. I expected to see Sue about a minute or so back. 2 minutes, no Sue. 3 minutes, no Sue. Finally, wobbling along in the distance, who do I see? Sue - totally depleted. I mean, she was wobbling from side to side, barely able to put one foot in front of the other. However, she was adament that she was going to finish. So there I am, jogging beside her, giving her directions, like, 'no Sue, a little more to the left', and 'only a few hundred meters, you can make it', all the while thinking to myself, 'I hope to hell she crosses the line before she falls over!'. Well, she finished (2nd!). And dropped like a stone. Luckily, another friend who was also there is a doctor, and he managed to get her onto a stretcher and wrapped in soaking wet sheets to cool her down. Then we started pumping her full of liquids, and eventually solid food. Unfortunately, an IV was out of the question, because then she would have had to spend the night in the base hospital, and we had to get back to Ottawa that day. I'll spare you the gory details of the drive home, suffice it to say that as much as Sue needed nutrition, it wasn't willing to stay down and caused several roadside stops along the way, plus a memorable moment when we couldn't make it to the side of the road in a Montreal traffic jam!
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