The following article originally appeared in an earlier issue of iRun. This week, we asked the ATB Grim Reaper if we’d see him at this year’s Around the Bay Road Race: “Sure, will. Will you make it as far as me?”.
In the words of the the Around the Bay Grim Reaper:
How can anyone not appreciate the great thanks that people shout out as they go by – or, better yet, the fear in some people’s eyes – as they see me?
The Grim Reaper returns, year after year, to goad, taunt and tease runners foolish enough to try to get past Him at the 28k mark of the Around the Bay Race.
Some runners get as far away from me as possible when going by, others yell “not this year!” Some even come over to give Death a high-5. Amazing.
A brief history of Death
Poor memory makes it difficult to remember how long this has gone on (the dead have failing memories), or when this all started, but some time ago (maybe in 1999 or 2000?), there was a crazy runner who injured herself, and being the dedicated person she is, had to come up with some way to ensure she could still be involved in the Around the Bay race.
If I remember correctly, Pat Peters hurt her leg in training for the Bay, and for some strange reason came up with the concept of a dead guy, standing by the grave yard on York, to cheer people on.
By the next year, Pat was ready to try the race again and needed someone to pass the cloak to, so I obliged. The Grim Reaper was reborn.
I have enjoyed being the Grim Reaper, and will continue as long as possible, unless of course someone else wants to take up the sickle for a year or three.
Reaping the rewards…and some souls!
Where else can you have people saying that they come back every year to tell me that they can still beat Death? I know that one of these times someone will kick it at my feet. Maybe I should have a first aid kit ready or have 911 standing by. There certainly have been a few that looked ready for the short walk to the grave, and some have in fact sat down near me, out of breath, head between their knees, wishing I would take them. Fortunately the Grim Reaper is not so nice! It is much more fun to tell them they still have 2k left to go.
And for the ones that are just smiling and chatting or seem to have much too much energy, well, I tell them that the race has been changed to a 50k race. Hahahahahaha….
Besides looking forward to seeing my beautiful cloaked face, runners can enjoy the rather amusing signs that prepare them for meeting Me, reminding them that they will soon be within reach of Death’s dealer. What runner doesn’t want to be reminded that I am near? Unfortunately I can only chase them for a few steps before I have to look for more possible victims, but they know that I am behind them, pushing, and hoping they don’t die before crossing the finish line.
Until the very last gasp…
I try to stay out until the last runner or walker has passed by, which can often take more than 4 hours. But it is the last ones, being followed by the cleanup trucks, that really need a hand, close as they are to Death’s door. So there I am, waiting, hoping, pondering. And yes, another post race party missed. Damn!
Ah, isn’t tradition wonderful? The Grim Reaper has made it on the unofficial race maps, is part of the memory of the race for thousands of runners, and been included in last year’s online video story.
The Grim Reaper wants to thank Mark Collis for the signs, loud speaker, and music. Mark made the signs years ago for Pat, and has remade them when the original signs gave up the ghost.
And Pat Peters, thank you yet again, for the cloak and the absolutely fabulously sick idea!
Remember, the Grim Reaper is out there for each and every one of you.