Outdoor underachievers; mission massage; photo nots

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.


COLORADO: Somewhere, a chairless camper stands un-a-moosed.
Kurt Nolte

Outdoor underachievers, rejoice: There’s a foot race especially for you. Held recently in Missoula, the race was the eminently doable, poetically titled “Lard Butt 1K” — a mere .62 of a mile — which has the tremendous advantage of offering doughnut breaks instead of water stations along the way. Sponsor Krispy Kreme urged competitors to “stop and enjoy as many as they wanted.” And for those who eschew sugar, there were beer gardens at both the start and end of the race. Four friends who grew up in Montana came up with the idea, staging their first event in Seattle four years ago. Since then, they’ve taken the race on the road, holding two in San Francisco before coming to Montana this year. Eric Hanson, Dave Peppenger, Brent Baldwin, who still live in Montana, and Mark Peterson, who lives in Seattle, say their goal is to get people to have a good time outside in a “not-so-serious way,” reports the Missoulian. The run was inspired by the T-shirts the group designed and sold a decade ago, emblazoned with the artful logo, “Flat Tire Lard Butt Mountain Biking,” which proved so popular they created their own Lard Butt apparel company, “focused on below-average athletes,” said Peterson. Their Missoula run for weekend warriors featured three waves, the first inviting “showoffs” who actually had “the audacity to run.” Second was the “legends wave” for those weighing 250 or more pounds, followed by the “waddlers wave” for everyone else. Runners were encouraged to wear costumes; Hanson noted that “once a group of six people wore full body armor suits like knights.” Peppenger added that some people have asked if the 1K could turn into a relay, with doughnut stations the handoff point. There’s more than fun involved, he added; money from the race goes to a community center in a “community give-back.” Competitors were also encouraged to bring two or more items to the University of Montana food pantry. Hanson called the 1K one of those rare, stress-free events, the kind “where you leave happy, and you don’t want a doughnut for a very long time, usually.”

The Idaho Statesman headline caught the attention of reporter Dale Shrull — “Something interesting: PETA cries fowl over road name” — so he followed it up in Colorado’s Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, had written a letter urging the mayor of Caldwell, Idaho, to change the name of “Chicken Dinner Road” to one that “celebrates chickens as individuals, and not as things to kill, chop up, and label as ‘dinner.’ ” Reiman was completely in earnest, arguing that changing the name would show compassion for chickens as well as respect for other species. PETA would even help pay for a new road sign, she added. Shrull assured readers that he’d keep an eagle eye out for other signs PETA had a beef with. 

If you thought the Bureau of Land Management’s mission was to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations,” think again. The agency has dropped that sweeping environmental goal from its press releases, reports the Huffington Post. The language that appears at the bottom of press releases now stresses mineral development and the money it brings in: “Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of good and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017 … supporting more than 468,000 jobs.” There’s precedent for the scrubbed mission: In 2017, a few months after Donald Trump took office, the BLM changed the banner on its home page from an image of two boys hiking to one of a giant coal seam in Wyoming. An agency spokesman defended the change, saying that several photos would rotate on the site.

If you’re dumb, writes John Kelly in the Washington Post, “there are lots of good ways to have a bad time at a national park. … I’m amazed anyone gets out of Yellowstone alive.” Kelly asked readers to share their most bizarre observations, so Bridget Collins recounted how she’d seen a tourist stop his car and run across the road to take photos of a sleeping bison. “He was three feet away at most,” she later told a ranger. “If the bison attacked, I wanted to testify on behalf of the bison.” Another reader saw a family advancing on a herd of elk, video camera in hand: “I hear a scream, I look down and see a bull elk with a camcorder hooked on his splendid rack as he charged the tourists and chased them across the meadow. I felt bad for the animal.” Yet another described how a woman stepped off the boardwalk to pose near a hot springs for a photo. If she’d broken through the crust, “she would have been parboiled.” It’s not just Yellowstone, either. Maybe the scariest thing happened at Nevada’s Hoover Dam: A mother wanted a dramatic photo, so she placed her screaming 5-year-old on a wall with a 700-foot drop. Luckily, the child stayed upright.

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.

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