June 26, 2018
Gunning for the Whiskey - The World Cup has a cup, but we have the whiskey.
The World Cup has a cup. We have the whiskey.
Though I have not yet seen a World Cup match, I have seen the World Cup. It was in 1998 in Vietnam. I was in my office which was on the main road leading to the Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) airport when I heard motorcycle cop sirens. It was a familiar sound since anytime heads of state would visit they would receive police escorts into town. The sirens would blare like mad and the procession was as long as the Head of State was important. I was curious on this day because I didn't know a state visit was happening.
There wasn't one. It was something bigger, bigger at least for the average Vietnamese citizen who is as nuts about soccer (football) as any South American.
I looked out my window and saw a red Cadillac convertible with the top down. In the back seat, riding on a pedestal, perched the actual World Cup trophy for all to see. There were a couple motorcycle cops in front and some on the side, but hundreds of motorcyclists were following as close as possible. They were weaving in and out to see the Cup from as many angles as possible. The Cup was on its world tour. Though only 32 countries can actually play in the World Cup, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) does its best to let as many people in the world see the actual World Cup trophy. I was one of them on that day.
It's a bit taller than a soccer ball. It's made of gold, and it's not a cup. The design has two human figures holding up the earth. It's easily the most famous sports trophy in the world.
The Greater Yellowstone Adventure Series (GYAS) also has a famous trophy for its champions. Maybe not world famous, but it's certainly Montana famous. It's maybe even marathon famous, at least I've never seen or heard of something similar. Like the World Cup, the GYAS trophy is also a bit taller than a soccer ball. It's golden colored, but, unlike the World Cup, this gold can be poured into a cup. You can drink it. And it tastes amazing!
For the third year in a row, Willies Distillery is providing the champion trophies for all six GYAS events. It's a personalized bottle of their Private Reserve Bourbon Whiskey. For the Master's winners, My Home In Montana has produced specialized cutting boards with the race logo and champion's title engraved into the wood. For the runners-up in all the categories for all the races, the G Bar provides $20 gift certificates. All three of these businesses are on Main Street in Ennis. Please cater to them when you're in Ennis. They have fantastic products.
Their products are part of the Southwest Montana community. They are part of what makes Madison County and Ennis so unique. This is no surprise.
"I don't believe in coincidence," said Robin Blazer, co-owner of Willies Distillery, at the annual spring barbeque that followed the Water to Whiskey 5K. The Willies Distillery team fed close to 1,000 people for free. The "coincidence" that Robin was talking about was community. How did 1,000 people from all walks of life gather together and share a meal? This wasn't coincidence. It was made by the people who showed up. Prior to the free BBQ, 150 of them ran in the Water to Whiskey 5K. That was also community. They showed up and decided to do it.
This past week, in increments of 90 minutes plus stoppage time, community has played out around the world. This morning I marveled, and all of Argentina wet their pants, when Lionel Messi in a full sprint caught a 40 yard pass on his thigh, rolled it onto his foot, and then gently placed it on the ground. He then took three strides at full speed and smashed the ball past an extremely talented Nigerian goalkeeper to score Argentina's first goal. They went on to win and advance to the next round of the World Cup.
I was actually cheering for Nigeria, but goddamn that was a beautiful goal.
Sports is beautiful. Community is beautiful. Madison County, and the GYAS supporters like Willies Distillery, G Bar, and My Home in Montana, are beautiful.
On July 8, the Madison Duathlon is on. It's a bike/run race from Ennis to Virginia City. It's the second of six GYAS races this summer. Please sign up. Take part as an athlete or a volunteer. Join the community. Make it happen.
It's time to do something like this. If such a thing could be measured, the hate and general meanness that is flowing around America these days would be off the charts. It's sad and disgusting. It's not who we are.
So, let's take a break. The antidote to lessen this flow, at least for a day or two, is in our hands. More precisely, it will be in the hands of a child who will bang an ancient gong to start the 7th Annual Madison Duathlon.
Take a break from the hate and bad feelings towards others who think differently. Chill for a day and focus on community. Go for a bike ride. When that's done, go for a run. After that, join everyone and share a meal and some drinks. Join the GYAS community. Do it because you can. And if you win, consider sharing the gold!
Stay Happy, Healthy, and Keep Running Forward and Building Communities. Do it because we can. Do it because it's who we are.
The Inaugural (so far!) John Colter Club Members
Join These Guys!
The John Colter Club
The John Colter Club is a members-only club for athletes who are or have been:
An inaugural athlete in one of the six GYAS races.
Earned a podium finish (top three) in the overall men and women's category of any GYAS race.
Are a three-time returnee to a GYAS race.
We want to recognize those who went first, those who finished well, and those who just keep coming back. For a membership fee of $30 per year and immense bragging rights for getting in, members receive the following:
A personalized water bottle with the GYAS logo, your name, and the club's name.
Early access. Members get to sign up for the GYAS races before the March 1 opening.
A discount of 15 percent off the entry fee of the race you sign up for.
Do the math and you can figure out that your $30 comes back to you pretty quick. If you qualify and if you want to join an exclusive club of athletes named after Montana's most famous total bad ass, send me an email. Tell me how you qualify. I'll confirm it all and send you the application.