The 10th annual TATUR Christmas party was last Wednesday at My Studio (where Laurie Biby and Beyond Ordinary Life Photography operates.) It seems hard to believe that we've had our year end celebration and awards ceremony for ten years. As trail and ultra running has grown in popularity and our membership has grown into the hundreds, the level of talent now rivals that of the well known trail running meccas. We have our own ultra elites, and the group runs to the Wichitas and Ouachitas are identifying these trail systems as destination areas for trail runners nation wide. Suffice to say, I am proud of our group--proud of my friends.
We catered in pizza from Hideaway, and not knowing for sure how many TATURs would be there, I ordered 14 larges all loaded. We ended up with less than half a pizza left. There was, however, a ton of yummy side dishes and desserts leftover. A couple of pecan pie offerings made it home with me, but John Nobles took most of the rest of the desserts. We were well fed.
Brian Hoover is usually the MC of this event, but he got an early Christmas present from the Grinch--a bad case of the flu. So Stormy and I shared the awards presentations and the usual blah blah blahs. Tammy Cryer took this picture, and Facebooked it saying I looked like a peacock speaking to my flock.
The Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series was a huge success this year. The way the point series works is like this:
1. The Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series is free to enter. No strings attached.
2. You get points for finishing races, and also for volunteering in races.
3. You get 5 points for the first race you do, then 10 points for the next, then 15 for the next, and so on. There were 13 races in the series, so if you did them all, you would get 65 points for the last one in the series. Total all those points and you'd have 465 points even if you finished last in every race. Again, volunteering also gets you points.
4. You get bonus points for top ten finishes. Win a race, and you get 60 bonus points. Finish 2nd and you get 55 points. 3rd place gets 50 bonus points, and so on. Finish 10th and you get 15 points.
5. Pumpkin Holler--our signature race awards bonus points for the longer distances (100K, 100M, and 135 Mile.)
6. Men compete against men, women compete against women.
7. Early starts and dropping to a shorter distance counts but those are not eligible for bonus points.
Below is the schedule for the 2016 Series. There may be another addition and a date change, so stay tuned.
We had over 275 participate this year, and a few runners either ran or volunteered in EVERY RACE. Those crazies are SueAnn Bement, Jason Bement, Jeremy Wiley, Mike Rives, and Ken TZ Childress. They were awarded antique brass compasses.
Those in the top five in the standings were also recognized and awarded brass compasses as well. Those in the top five in the points standings were Jenny Bailey, Tammy Cryer, Jana Graham, Krystal Brown, Zach Harris, Victor Brown, and Daniel Jennings.
And the winners of the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series were Travis Jennings, and Sue Ann Bement.
Since our first Christmas party, we have awarded the amazing Silver Spud awards for TATUR of the Year, Most Imp[roved, and various other categories. This trophy is often given the most prized position on a runners trophy shelf. I myself have one to show, and no one visits my living room without having my shiny Mr TATUR staring them down.
Winning the Rookie of the Year was Tammy Cryer. Tammy is a cheerleader for TATUR. She like to stir up trouble and stirs us competitiveness like no one I have ever seen. She has completed everything she has set her mind to--which just shows she's stubborn. That will get you to the finish line nearly every time.
Winning Most Improved TATUR was a tie in the voting. Clint Green and Daniel Jennings both took home Silver Spuds for this honor. Daniel finishes in the top 4-5 in nearly every race he enters--often just a few minutes out of the lead. Clint has gotten back into running with a vengeance. He spends 98% of his spare time on the trailz--often heading to the Wichitas or Ouachitas, or Black Mesa, or Albuquerque, or Arizona. That's beside running a ton of our trail races.
Most Inspirational was an easy vote this year. Mike Rives is a decent guy--does a lot of races, volunteers a lot. But a green gremlinish looking creature lurks around him--sometimes hiding in the shadows, sometimes riding on his shoulder, and usually reeking havoc. This creature--Meego--gets into people's heads and makes them think they can do things that sensible people would NEVER do. Meego is bad at whispering things about races in your ear while you're at the computer and before you know it, you've signed up for a 100 miler. He hangs from the tents in aid stations encouraging you to take another shot of Fireball--or TWO!! It's no wonder that his bib number is 666. So this year, I say Mike had better share his Silver Spud with this little monster--or he might let the air out of his tires.
Jbob Jones won Most Beast-Up Feet. This trophy can be awarded for one who has endures massive blisters or toenail mutilation in a race, or for logging a LOT of miles, or for doing a significant string of races (which can also lead to blisters and missing toenails.) Jbob lined up six 100 milers in six consecutive weeks--and then went out to haul in the belt buckles,. He finished the first three with flying colors, but had an injury take him out of the Ouray 100m (a race that has a crazy amount of altitude to deal with.) Since then, he has been Mr Volunteer, and late in the year jumped in and ran well in a couple of races.
Best Performance in a Race went to Justin Franklin. My money is on Justin every time he toes the line in a trail race. Justin won two very impressive races in Kansas this past year. He ran Prairie Spirit 100, and won it in 17:24--a 10:44 minute/mile pace. Then he ran 109.8 milers in the KUS 24 Hour race easily winning it. His performance at Prairie Spirit earned him the Silver Spud.
Female TATUR of the Year went to Jana Graham. Jana does nearly every race we have, and is usually top three. She is also a faithful volunteer when she is not racing. It was an easy vote.
Male TATUR of the year was a complete draw. Travis Jennings and Victor Brown both nabbed Silver Spuds for their outstanding years. Victor is a vibrant force in any race he enters, always finishing in the top two. ;-) He also is an ambassador for the Dirtbag Runners. He and his buddies John Nobles, and Justin Walker have worked hard at keeping the trailz blazed in the Ouachitas.
Travis Jennings started his year taking third in the TATUR Six Hour Snake Run. He already had the trail running bug, and did every race in the series after that. He also spent HOURS volunteering. Pumpkin Holler 100 was his target, and he trained diligently for it--running long doubles every weekend. At Pumpkin Holler, with 90 miles under his belt, he stopped to rest at East of Eden and warmed himself in a chair beside as camp fire and went to sleep. He woke up and stood up--and one of the aid station workers said he didn't look so good to which Travis replied that he didn't feel all that good either. Then he fell face first into the fire. Aid station volunteers quickly snatched him out of the fire and smacked out the burning embers that had melted to his jacket. He had a minor burn on his chest--and the incident woke him up and he belted out his remaining miles in quick fashion.
Both were deserving, and the vote was a draw. Happy to see them both win the honor.
Philip Berry then awarded another prize. He spoke of a volunteer who served selflessly at many an aid station, who rang a cowbell like no other cheering tired runners on, and spoke of an award that was five years in the making--and then called his girlfriend Sarah Crowley to the front. He summarized her accolades and as he fished a small box out of his pocket, said he thought he'd just ask her to marry him.Sarah was speechless, knelt down beside him, and by the kiss and embrace, I am sure there was a yes in there somewhere.
Friends--it's been a good year. I'm sure we'll have a hard time topping it in 2016--but it'll be fun trying.