Interview by: Ira Inmybra
July 24, 2010
Baton Rouge: It's official. The Dirty Mama's are one race away from being able to compete in New Orleans at the Gulf Coast Adventure Series Championships in November. This past weekend they racked up another handful of points in the series and are moving up the ranks as they begin to get serious about their racing. Having heard about their escapades at the Spillway Race in June, I decided they would be worth following again to see how they fared in their home town of Baton Rouge. I was interested to see how their racing strategy changed from one race to the next so I decided to tag along on their journey.
I asked them about their strategy for this race and how it differed from the last. "This is our hometown, and I work in the downtown area. I think we've got this race covered," Here said smugly. Canada and Coug exchanged glances and simultaneously knocked on the table. "We've tried to think of every location that we might get sent to. We've decided that Here has the best knowledge of the campus and downtown, so... against our better judgment, we are going to let her navigate," Canada winced. Coug looked pained. "We figure that the LSU lakes are wide open, so we don't have to worry about going down the wrong fork of a river with this race. We're gonna give her another chance." Again I caught them exchanging worried looks. It didn't seem to phase Here as she seemed to have a confident air about her.
And then it happened - there was a sudden rush of racers speeding through the parking lot on foot as the start of the race was announced. I watched the Dirty Mama's keep pace with the pack and remembered that just one month ago they were still standing at their van when the last race began. I was proud for them as I realized that they were learning from their mistakes.
I knew that there was no way I could keep up with the athletes during the race to witness their performance, so prior to the event I spoke with the race director to get some confidential information on how the race was set up. I then requested that volunteers keep their eyes open for the Mama's so I could monitor their race third-hand. At various points in the race these volunteers reported back to me what they witnessed.
"Oh my God! I was like watching them from the minute they started to run up the stadium ramp! I couldn't believe they would go out like that in public! The race had just started and they were like all sweaty and stuff. It was oh so awful! I just don't know why any girl would let themselves be seen like that! It was bad enough that I had to stand out there in the heat and punch those silly little cards they called passports. I don't even know why they call them that. I've never seen a passport that looks like that. I bet you couldn't get into Mexico with that thing."
I tried to probe for more information on their actual performance when Eleanor saw them, but had a difficult time determining how they were doing. "I couldn't focus on anything but the sweat coming off of them as they ran. They looked like those big sweaty race horses at Evangeline Downs. All lathered up and frothy. Do you think they do steroids? I heard that women in sports do that to make themselves look like men. It's so awful. Oh my God, I bet that's it! I saw them popping these little white caplets at the water fountain. Roids! That's what that was! They should be disqualified!" Before I could finish interviewing her, another sorority sister came and ushered her away, whispering something about how she shouldn't be seen around such types of people with her letters on.
At this point the word has gotten around that I am looking for witnesses to the Mama's race, and volunteers are coming forward by the dozens. One lady tells me that she saw them strip down to their bras in public and stand in a fountain trying to saturate their shirts with water so they could squeeze it out into a bowl as part of another mystery event. She said one of the women seemed to be an expert at filling up her mouth and used this skill to capture more water than her teammates.
The fastest teams are starting to come in at this point, and I wonder where the Mama's will finish in comparison. Another hour or so passes, and I see a blur of
They pass through the finish chute and immediately go through the food line. I laugh to myself as I can't think of a better ending for their race than large amounts of food being involved. We sit together while they eat, and I can see their satisfaction at their performance.
"How was the canoe?" I ask. "Much improved, but still needs work," mumbles Coug as she swallows a bite of jambalaya. "Here, earned a place back at the helm, at least for a little while."
"She earned a new nickname too," says Canada. "She is now the Rock. She held steady, navigated well, and was solid throughout."
"I still think she needs a better nickname," argues Coug. "That just doesn't flow off the tongue."
"I'm just glad you let me paddle." Here seems satisfied.
I expected drinking, celebrating, and chaos after the race. Instead I was told the party was over. Everyone had to get back to their kids and spouses, clean house, and hopefully get in a nap. I thought to myself how fitting their team name was. As a final request I asked for their "Lessons Learned" list. This is what I got:
1. Next time we will invest in a real map holder that can be worn around the neck on a lanyard. It looks more professional than a Ziploc bag with a carabiner shoved through a corner with a shoelace attached.
2. As much as we want to document the race with pictures, we are finding that with each race our level of competitiveness becomes heightened and our level of photography becomes lessened. We fear that by November it will be all about using the imagination to re-tell the adventure.
3. Amazingly all three of us have IRON stomachs, even though only one of us is truly an IRON woman. There is nothing we can't eat pre-race.
4. We talk a big talk, and load the cooler with liquor for every race, and never touch it when it's over. Next time we will not fool ourselves and just pack ice water and Capri-Suns and accept that we are old.
5. Reading the map and instructions out loud to each member of our team just might keep us from missing a checkpoint in the future.
6. Red, Purple, and Green slushies that are ingested in under three minutes could make a pretty rainbow on the sidewalk if one is not careful when running.
7. A male tiger weighs 400 pounds, and Louisiana became a state in 1812.
8. When your navigator makes a decision, back her or disagree quickly. Otherwise it just slows the team down. Strong direction is needed when navigating. It is not a job for the timid.
9. Strawberry Banana flavored Goo sucks, especially when it is hot.
10. Salt tablets work wonders on hot humid days.