Category Archives: Wrap Up

Grand Marshal’s 2016 Wrap-up

Hello, Marchers!File_000 (1)

The 2016 March is now over! We did it! All 8 of us!

Hahaha, yeah, we only had 8 marchers (and two lovely MaST members). But there is a sort of poetic symmetry to this number. 8 is the number of original marchers on the first March in 1999. Additionally, we had a classmate of those original 8 marchers show up for the first time this year. Lastly, the high temperature was almost exactly the same as that march 17 years past. In a certain sense, it seems we are returning to the mean.

File_000In other words, eight is great. We had one team (just like last year). We got to democratically elect the new Premiere. We also were all able to finish within an hour and a half of each other. We all got to have lunch together at Eagle Rock and the banquet was well attended; we had 8 previous Marchers (and that Chancellor of Banquets) in attendance. There’s that number again! For the banquet, we returned to our old haunt King’s Mongolian BBQ. But with a final count of 14 people at the banquet, I am reminded why we moved on from that venue.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. It really is amazing how much easier the March is when it is not 107°F. The funny part was that the Valley side was much cooler than the ocean side for some reason. The last hills did give us some punishment, but since we were still in good form from the opening half of the March, it wasn’t really a problem.

The theme was followed by a few marchers. I dressed as the Man With No Name. One marcher had a shirt and backpack dedicated to Blazing Saddles (RIP in Peace Gene Wilder). And one marcher had a space cowboy outfit planned for last year, but couldn’t make it! This year, the costume debuted and still worked with the theme!

File_000There are two new achievements! Take 6 pictures of Pokémon on the trail and do the March with a medical implant. Yes, Pokemon were found all up and down Topanga State Park. Not to mention, actual animal sightings included a snake’s “footprints” and a little baby horny toad.

All in all, we had one of the more enjoyable Death Marches in recent memory. I’d like to thank everyone for coming out and look forward to the Seasonals coming up! I have held off on assigning seasons as the new Premiere does not live in Southern California. But stay tuned, info will be coming soon.

One more thing! Next year’s theme is The Cold War. Oh man, we are going to have fun with that one.

Until Death, We March,
Your Grand Marshal
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Grand Marshal’s 2015 Wrap-up

11940716_10152922965441364_586373160602708426_nWell, the March definitely lived up to its name this year. It was hot.

Now, I’ve said that previously. In fact, I’m pretty sure I mentioned how hot it was the last two years. As well as I should, the two previous years were the hottest Death Marches on record for their respective years. But each one was hottest by 1 or 2 degrees. 2015, not to be outdone, broke the record by 9 degrees! It was 107°F.

And man, did we feel it.

So when we gathered (and as I looked at RSVPs), I noticed that were were going to be a small march. We managed about 18 marchers, of which 1 quit. So we have been losing members at a rather steady rate (15 or so per year). What remains to be seen is why. My three hypotheses are:

1. It is just too hot
2. We are getting too old for this shit
3. Most people will only do the Death March once or twice and our recruitment has been shitty

In any case, like I said probably the last couple of years, a smaller Death March is never a bad thing. This year was a good example of this. We all formed one massive team (The Heat Strokes) at Eagle Rock so we didn’t repeat the fighting over who gets to decide things. We democratically elected a new Premiere. It was all very orderly and good. There were plenty of burgers and beer. And, most importantly, even though it was the hottest year ever, we managed to get everyone out.

I call that a win.

The theme was mildly followed. I ended up winning best dressed. Despite that, I think that having a best dressed award is a fun thing to do at Eagle Rock or the Banquet and I hope to continue it. There was also a really tubular Personal Punishment.

Additionally, we all left at about the same time.

This leads me to my next rumination — the banquet may be a fossil.

So aside from a couple of folks who left early, the great majority of the march hung out at the beach (and Gladstone’s bar) until the last marcher arrived. At this point, we all then packed up the cabana and headed for the caravan. It felt so good to all be together at the end. I can’t remember this sort of thing happening since some very early marches.

And then almost everyone went home.

I will admit, the banquet location wasn’t the best choice. What it had for it in being open late, it lacked in coziness for weary marchers. Banquets are generally about sitting around and reminiscing about the March. I also had to leave somewhat early… so I’m not sure exactly how successful it was as I wasn’t there for most of it.

While I have a grand idea to reinstate the glory of the banquet for next year, I can’t help but wonder if it is even worth doing too much planning. Banquets are hard beasts and I think it may need a few more tries at something new to match the joy that was Mongolian BBQ or The Pasadero House. Or the March will soon be the size appropriate for Mongolian BBQ again.

Onward! Our Lt. Marshal is in charge of the Autumnal March this year (as he puts on the best Seasonal Marches AND we’ve yet to have a single documented Autumnal March). Out Vice Lt. Marshal is in charge of Winter, and the Premiere is in charge of Spring. Next year’s theme is “The Wild West” which should be relatively fun and easy.

Hope to see you all soon at the Autumnal March!

Grand Marshal’s 2014 Wrap Up

Once upon a time, there was a path. This was a dusty path, but not too unkept. This path was wide at parts and fairly well maintained. But as the years went by, the surrounding vegetation began to grow upon the edges. This made the path ever so slightly narrow and more difficult to pass, but it also defined the edges and kept people on course.

This path, my friends, is the Death March.

Welcome to the State of the March. I am your Host and Grand Marshal, Antipope Jesse I, Grand Marshal and Herald of the Death March, Ranger of Dai Gurren Dan, Protector of Japan, Transubstantiator, Flagbearer, o.g.

This year was different than every other year. Why? Two reasons. First, this was the hottest Death March ever. Yes, the official recorded high at Van Nuys Airport (which is my basis for measuring the temperature of the March) was 98 degrees. The last two years both tied the hottest as 97. While, subjectively, I did not feel like it was too hot, the data doesn’t lie.

Or does it? [displayname name=”Bamboo Dong”] mentioned that our methodology might have some issues, so I’ve decided we will have to do some monitoring live on the March next year. For now, I will go with our baseline.

But how were we okay, despite the record temperatures? This brings me to the second difference this year: we shrunk. Seriously. For the last two years in a row, we have lost more than 10 people as compared to the previous year.

That being said, we had PLENTY of Ride Corps members. More than 50% drove. This is about the same as recent years, but it is still a good thing. Also, there were only 7 new marchers. That’s really not that many (21% to be exact). That means that there were 4 people who had experience on the Death March for every 1 n00b. That is unprecidented.

Those are the main two differences. But there were two other things that really stuck out in my mind after this March. One good and one bad(ish).

One) More people helped! We had a Timekeeping Corps of 5 people! And they bought things for the marchers to nom on when they got to the beach. This is epic. I am so impressed with the fact that there are so many people interested in greeting the marchers at the end. The timekeeping went smoothly, AND many prople waited at the tent for their team members who lagged behind. Unbelievable. In recent memory, I have never had a march where I didn’t feel guilty when I arrived at the beach. This year, my team captain was chilling and calm, despite waiting for an hour or more.

Two) More people failed. Yes, we had six people who started and did not complete the march. I expect this with beginners. And yes, two of the new people did not finish. But a full four marchers who knew totally well what they were getting into did not make it. Why? The reason I call this development bad-ish is because many of them knew they weren’t going to finish. My Dad planned only on doing half, and so left a car at the midpoint. Therefore, he was able to take some other people back at that point. This isn’t a bad thing. People knowing their limits is more than I can hope for. So really, I’m not that upset about this new variation.

Eagle Rock and the Hub were their usual grandness. Despite trying harder than last year, we did not make it to Eagle Rock until after 12noon. I was shocked. I have no explanation for why it normally only takes one and a half hours, but his year it took two and a half hours. But, in the end, the racers weren’t in any huge rush and calmly waited for the start signal. The only real problem at Eagle Rock was that not very many people brought any alcohol. Seriously folks, bring a couple tall boys. You will be loved if you do.

After that march, we had a great banquet at MacLeod Ale. While the food truck never showed, we had no problem ordering some food. We also had a sort of by-constitutional crisis when a fast group of mostly newbies claimed to have been faster than the fastest recorded team. In the end, I judged that since the fastest “team” did not realize they were a team at the ocean, there is no reason they should receive the dog tag. However, the team that realizes that they were a team because they 1) marched together; and 2) drove back together, was the “real” fastest team. Therefore, they get to decide next year’s theme. I await with bated breath. While I was proud of the compromise, both teams were left somewhat disappointed.

The last thing that I am a little sad about is the exchange of money. I am the worse offender, soliciting money for both Tommy’s Burgers as well as the domain name. I wish I could implement a gift culture, but it is hard to tell people to bring stuff for other people. At least the Timekeeping Corps were on the ball.

Whatever the case, I still enjoyed the march. I mean, I always do. Really, this video sums up my experience. I hope it sums up yours as well.

Grand Marshal’s 2013 Wrap Up

group-2013Man, another Death March, come and gone like the dust in the wind.

This year was an interesting year. Why? Things went according to plan and we shrunk.

Yes, this was the first Death March since 2004 that we had less marchers than the previous year. I’m fine with that. In fact, one of the lessons I had this year is that even if things go completely according to plan, it doesn’t mean it will be a spectacular event. In fact, it will probably be pretty similar to how it always is.

Another thread of thought that strikes me this year is that of Tradition. There is definitely something comforting about tradition. The knowledge that despite the millions of ways life has changed over these 15 Death Marches, the Death March marches on. That being said, we had a very interesting make up of marchers. I’m concerned about how few women were on the march. We also had some exuberant first timers. One team was unconnected to any previous marchers and found out about the march from Twitter! And most of the folks from the team that brought us the ABC theme won again and have given us “Papal History” as a theme for next year. Love it.

superheroesSpeaking of the theme, I thought this would be the theme that would turn the whole march to cosplay. So I was a little bit disappointed that one two folks were in full costume. But there were lots of capes and masks and superhero t-shirts, so how sad can I be? This is also entirely typical. Some of us like to dress up, some don’t. I’m okay with that too.

rearguardSome more info about this year! We tied hottest Death March ever. This is now a 3 way tie. And boy was it a scorcher. Down by the beach, this gorgeous, creamy marine layer beckoned us on, but by the time anyone arrived at the ocean, it was gone. The sea breeze seemed to lose out to an off shore flow for the majority of the hike. Hydration levels seemed to be pretty stable. People took their time at Musch Camp and refilled their water. It was funny, however, that there was a big sign that said, “No water at Musch Camp” right at the campground. I was dying. I ran out of water at Eagle Rock. But once I realized the water was flowing, I gave myself probably 30 minutes of just solid drinking. This and a refilled hydropack let me finish up without any issue.

I waited too long to write this. All my memories are jumbled. I brought my son this year along with my father. 3 generations on one march. (I should note my mother rocks the Death March nearly every year, and we now have an achievement for bringing your mother!) My son and father only did the first half (getting picked up at Trippet Ranch). One is 4 years old and one is recovering from heart surgery. As the youngest marcher, my 4 year old was also the slowest. This established early on that I would be doing the new Punishment Rear Guard. I must also admit that it will likely be my last as well. Rear Guard, as noble as it may be, is really tough. Towards the end I caught up to the Twitter folks and showed them the way. I caught up to some members of Team USA who were feeling ill. And we finished slowly and together. I’m glad I did it, but it also meant I missed the celebration at the ocean.

stomatalites2013We had some folks going for major achievements this year. One of my favorite memories is coming upon the Stromatolites and everyone stopping to take pictures with them. Tom (I’m guessing, because I thought he had the spray chalk) wrote “they made our air” next to them. Mike started going on about blue green algae and them Bamboo started in about how some were nitrogen fixing. I love this group.

Eagle Rock went well. I was worried about showing up too late, but no one was itching to start the race yet. So there was time to have a beer and a burger and enjoy. And as the race began, someone began playing the Eye of the Tiger!!! Brilliant.

The banquet was good, but as is the trend, we had less people show up. I’m not sure what went wrong. Were people not properly informed? The cake was delicious and fun was had making doughnut burgers.

So in the end, no matter how much the event may shrink or lose its shine, there something enjoyable about it. And if we can survive the pain of the march itself, I imagine we can survive any pain of losing popularity.

We will march on.

The Grand Marshal’s Death March to the Sea 2012 Wrap Up

2012 was a hell of a March. Although the temperature matched 2010, this felt like the hottest march ever. Seems like there was a lot of fun, but a lot of suffering to be had. This is natural for a Death March, however. That’s the point right?

Things started off well. I was able to get doughnuts as the Caravan was assembling. The Valley Caravan left Starbucks at a decent hour.

We got to the end point to find 2 folks had already started the first ever Double Death March. Wow. But things got a little hairy as it dawned on us that there wasn’t a lot of organization as to who would be taking who back to the start. It’s a tricky business, but as we had a comparable Ride Corps compared to last year, I think it was more worry than substance. (Note for next year, 12 doughnuts was just about right for a nearly 30 member Ride Corps.)

I waited for George to show up (he was running late) and when he arrived, we piled into the old Civic and headed back to Topanga Canyon. There, we found Travis in trouble. His car wasn’t handling all the people very well, so I drive one volunteer back to get one more car. In the end, we saved Travis, but it also meant we didn’t get to Tommy’s until 9:30am. Arg.

So, after buying Tommy’s (note for next year, $40 worth of Tommy’s was too much. Shoot lower next year and avoid hot dogs, no one seems to want them), we headed to the Staring Point… we were late. So late, in fact, that we kind of rushed the Opening Ceremonies. Joel came up and wanted to play the National Anthem. I’m not sure what happened, but it got kind of confused halfway and everyone started singing different parts. When the music seemed to reach some sort of creshendo, I yelled “March on!!!” However, I didn’t get a start time for the March because I forgot to start my GPS. It seems to have been around 10:30am.

I did an initial count at the first hill (I should have taken a video, I still don’t have a great idea how many men and women there were) and got 59. That’s 2 more than last year. This is very similar to the change between 2009 and 2010. Does that mean that 2013 will be more like 100+? We’ll see. I’m thinking we might be burning through all the slightly nerdy hikers in the LA area. Prove me wrong, LA, prove me wrong.

Immediately, I heard about someone quitting after the first hill. Ouch. Shortest Death March ever. But then as I wandered through the ranks, I noticed lots of upbeat talk about how awesome the hike is gonna be.

The hub has been remodeled! No more is there that small board and a porta-potty. There is now a little structure and a more permanent looking toilet. Very nice.

Eagle Rock was nice. Beers were a tad hard to find and burgers were not quite in demand like they normally are. A note for next year, point out that beers and burgers are needed for the titles! Maybe it wasn’t quite known. Also, beers need to be cold. Too many warm beers with this year’s hot temps.

The picture taking didn’t go great. While the whiteboard was a good idea for later identification, it slowed things down considerably. I was unable to get through everyone this year, even after switching from individual pics to group pics. Maybe next year there could be some sort of picture checkpoint pre-Eagle Rock.

There also was someone running who I counted on the initial hill who we never saw again. Someone said he continued on all the way without stopping, but then got lost and finished in the 10s. I can’t figure out who it was. REMEMBER FOLKS, your race to the sea will not count if you do not visit Eagle Rock and wait for the go sign. Also, there was confusion over if that was the start or the start was the start. Something else to try to clarify.

After announcing the race at 12:45pm (this was exact), I stuck around to take the pictures of some non-racing members and then proceeded to walk with the Lt. Marshal and Vice Lt. Marshal for a while. Ace suggested a sweep to make sure that there are no stragglers, but we didn’t seem motivated to really pass a bylaw about it at that time. I think a Rear Guard position would be fantastic, but it would have to be a volunteer position staffed by a long time member who knows the route. Might be a good idea to suggest this pre-2013 March and see if anyone is interested.

At Musch Camp, lots of people were taking a nice shady second break. One guy was furiously searching for a geocache. People seem to be having lots of fun with the achievements. They seem to have become a major part of the March, despite only being the second year for them. I was already feeling pretty slow, so rather than stick around too long, I offered some burgers, I drank until I sloshed and headed off alone. Lonely Death March is lonely.

When I got to the next water (I always forget that there are two water fountains pretty close to each other) near the Altar of Freedom, I waited for the next group to catch up and lead a party up to the Altar. We took our pictures there and headed off to Trippet Ranch.

At Trippet, they were building a new shade structure. It appears half completed. This is the halfway point, but I kept telling people it was the latitude. I’m surprised by how little I specifically remember about the hike. Each year begins to blur into the next.

The last section was variously leaving people behind and being left behind. I’m trying to remember just how many hills there are, but this last section is tough. I think the second to last hill is the worst (long and steep), but most people seem to think the last hill is the worst.

I was alone once again for the Los Liones Trail and was appalled by how much trash there was. I gave up my trash collecting when I found someone had “Become Two With Nature” and then wiped with Starbucks napkins. I almost vomited. Next year I’m bringing a trash picker and a bag. Think about it, the Death March could really have a positive impact if we all picked up something.

The last new improvement (all of which seem weird in the tough budget climate) was a gateway for the Los Liones trail head. Lovely! Of course, that isn’t the end. The long lonely walk to the ocean is nothing to laugh at.

But at the ocean, I was so happy to find that Baker was still there taking times AND that people had gathered around the shade structure! It was like coming home. Touched the ocean and completed my 13th Death March.

But no rest for the weary. My team had already been waiting 2 hours, so I had to hop in Jose’s car almost immediately to go get things for the Banquet. After getting extremely car sick, it was nice to be in my own (borrowed) car once again. I drove to Trader Joe’s to pick up some goodies and won a bag of treats for wearing a kilt (I think).

The banquet at the Fuller Compound was fantastic. Waves of people arriving and eating and resting. Many who couldn’t make the March this year arrived to congratulate. The cake was delicious and really cool looking.

Again, back to work! Started running the rank numbers and found that Mike had been passed up by George for 3rd place. But George wasn’t at the Banquet! So we called him up and he passed it on to Mike as long as he got to keep his rank points. This is completely bylegal, so Mike gets to serve another year as Vice Lt. Marshal.

Next, went about congratulating Foot on being the new Champion of the Sea and trying to figure out what team was the largest. After polling the people in attendance, it appeared that Howland Reed’s Moving Castle was the largest team, making Supriya our new Premiere!

After that, I went about assigning Seasonal Marches (Supriya is Autumn, Ace is Winter, Mike is Spring) and then took a load off.

All in all, a great March. I’m sad to see it over, but look forward to the first bylaw mandated Seasonal March this Autumn.

Thank you for all your help this year and making this a Great Death March.

Awesome Climb The Griffith Everyone

6 people showed up for last weekend’s Climb the Griffith spring march. I know. 6 people. Actually, 9 showed up at Eagle Rock Brewery and 3 were just there for the beer.

In the end, we walked 12.7 miles. It took us 6 hours and 33 minutes. We walked at an average speed of 1.9 mph, 2.7 mph moving. We gained 2829 feet of elevation, and found 1 geocache. The hike was half in day light, half after night fall. It traversed quite a few peaks and really challenged us!

Some said this event was poorly planned. I wouldn’t say that. I planned a fantastic hike through LA’s central park. But the lack of transportation seemed to spark these claims. I specifically didn’t plan transportation. I took the bus. You can too. Some people carpooled. You are an adult and should learn to move around your city.

All of the marchers had previously done a Death March but two were not current! They both earned 2011 Absentee March points. Welcome back to the ranking!

I hope that this leads to more such hikes. I know I am ready to explore Griffith Park even more now.

Here are some links to pictures:
Jesse’s Pictures

Thanks for the great hike everyone!

The 2011 March is Over

Hey everyone! Are you sore? I swear, every year the March itself seems to get easier and the recovery seems to get worse.

First off, thank you!!! We had the LARGEST March ever with 57 counted Marchers (yet only photographed 53???). Many people dressed to the theme and we even had one man march after losing his keys in a storm drain… Now that’s dedication.

If you did not fill out a form (I printed 20 copies… and got 5 back), please fill it out! If you don’t believe in Google, you can also download it (pdf or png) and email it to me at moc.liamg@iihsej. Or you can just list your info in the comments section. I’m looking for your titles, your team, your achievements, and whether or not you drove!

Also, I am currently making updates to the officers, the team, and the achievement pages. Please let me know if I missed something.

Also, any pictures you may have, please let me know where they are and whether or not I can use them for this site! Thanks!!!

Thanks to everyone who came! I hope to see you at the next event!