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? 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.