24-hour relay or a 24-hour delay?

June 11, 2001 12:00 am
Matt Jager, a junior at Baker High School, wowed the crowd with a trampoline demonstration during the 24-Hour Relay Challenge. Ten teams walked the high school track from 9 a.m. Saturday through 9 a.m. Sunday to raise $5,000 for the youth of Baker County.  (Baker City Herald photograph by Mike Ferguson).
Matt Jager, a junior at Baker High School, wowed the crowd with a trampoline demonstration during the 24-Hour Relay Challenge. Ten teams walked the high school track from 9 a.m. Saturday through 9 a.m. Sunday to raise $5,000 for the youth of Baker County. (Baker City Herald photograph by Mike Ferguson).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

Its an old adage that the race does not go to the swift.

But some of the participants in this weekends 24-Hour Relay Challenge may have taken that sentiment a little too far.

At least three teams and with names like Lazy Bones, the Procrastinators and the Couch Potatoes, the teams were not hard to identify engaged in a spirited contest to log the fewest miles during the fundraising event designed to support the youth of Baker County.

In the end, the Lazy Bones by virtue of an innovative, slow-motion, side-to-side meandering pattern across the Baker High School track logged a less-than-impressive 11 miles for the 24-hour event.

By contrast, the Presbyterian Youth Group (yes the PYGs) burned the cinder track for 121 miles over the same 24 hours.

The Lazy Bones victory was their second straight over the Couch Potatoes, an all-women team who, true to their name, rested on couches in between their snail-paced laps and passed a can of Pringles for their baton.

While putting in their lengthy shifts, the Couch Potatoes strolled along the tracks outer lane, studied womens magazines as they ambled and, of course, munched on snack food all the while.

Like most women, we never get a dull moment around the house, said Linda Schmeits, explaining the Couch Potato concept. Every year, this relay affords us that opportunity.

Its a social time for us, she added. Were resting from our weary lives.

As she scoped out the competition particularly Josh Lineberry of the Lazy Bones, who did enough wandering to stretch his one and only mile to about 4 1/2 hours Couch Potato veteran Sharon Defrees called her team trendsetters.

All of a sudden, a lot of teams have taken up our cause, she said. They want to beat the Couch Potatoes at their own game.

For his part, Lineberry vowed not to speed up until hed been lapped by several Couch Potatoes. Last year, he said, the Lazy Bones had to resort to members crawling the track. One Lazy Bone even wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and rolled his way around the track.

Both delay tactics were outlawed this year, so Lineberry merely brought his Gameboy along and traced the longest route between two points a serpentine line, a seemingly endless trek from lane 8 to lane 1 and back again.

Much to the disgust of the Couch Potatoes, judges determined that the Lazy Bones new strategy was within the rules.

Fifty-five minutes into his shift, Lineberry had barely crossed the starting line.

I figure Im on pace for a 16-hour mile, he said with a smile.

The relays real winners were the youth of Baker County. The event raised $5,000, money that will be spent during the year on projects suggested by the groups that participated in the relay. Participating groups must apply to a committee, which awards grants up to $500 per group annually.

Each of the 10 teams raised a $500 fee to enter the relay. Area businesses sponsored everything from food to sound equipment to door prizes to T-shirts to portable bathrooms.

You just have to ask, and people in this community always respond, said Master of Ceremonies Mark Boothby, a teacher at Baker Middle School. This is a wonderful event. Its a closure to our school-year activities and a kick-off for summer.

When they werent walking or running, participants and their chaperones played trivia for door prizes, took in a massage, watched all-night movies, enjoyed donated meals and snacks or just visited around the makeshift tent city that has sprouted up each of the past four years now.

A few lucky participants even caught a couple hours of sleep.