Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Brian gets nostalgic for marathon weekends past“It was so inspirational to see those athletes as they made their way toward Duluth, it made me want to take up running so I could participate in the next year’s race — but then I was offered a smoke and I got over it.”
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
It’s Grandma’s Marathon weekend. Time for those Canal Park restaurants and hotels to raise their prices faster than Barbara Reyelts raises her eyebrows.
I kid, I kid. Canal Park restaurant and hotel prices are already high. And Barbara hasn’t changed her expression for at least two years. (Oops, I meant Barbara “Spry Pelts.” … Sorry, “Bobbin,” I just got the memo.)
I used to get really excited about Grandma’s Marathon weekend.
For many years, I worked in the local media in a variety of prestigious positions: floor crew for Channel 6 (ask me sometime about giving Felix Humphrey time cues for the weather … fun!) and continuity for KDAL radio. (Not sure why they called it “continuity,” but it probably had something to do with writing the same commercial for Sonju over and over again.)
At one time, the local media outlets were a big part of the marathon and gave it complete coverage from start to finish.
Over the years, that TV and radio excitement has dimmed.
Oh sure, we continue to get the Friday night pre-race TV news stories about spaghetti feeds and race preparation, as well as Josh Zenner standing live at the finish line from one of the other 46 races that run in conjunction with the main event.
Oh, and don’t forget the always-entertaining Sunday night TV news stories about how the clean-up went in Grandma’s parking lot.
Very informative. Apparently, the Boy Scouts pick up beer cups and throw them away.
But on the actual race day, there just doesn’t seem to be the excitement in the media there used to be.
I remember many years of waking up at 4 a.m. to meet Kerry Rodd at KDAL and head down to Canal Park to start setting up.
It was always kind of cool to know that as you were taping down phone lines and lugging heavy equipment up scaffolding, the race had actually begun up in Two Harbors.
That first race I worked, I recall that I started to panic when I heard the runners were off and running and I suddenly found myself out of duct tape.
“What are we going to do?” I screamed at Kerry. “I’m going to have to run back to the studio. That’s the only possible solution. They’re on the way! Ahhhhhhhh!”
Kerry, a veteran of Grandma’s Marathon race-day radio coverage, simply looked at me and shook his head. “Bri, unless Superman and the Flash are runnin’ this year’s race, no one’s gonna be here for at least two hours.”
On the TV side, I got to be in the middle of the race one year, which was very cool. Channel 6 had a live shot set up at Knife River.
I was running the camera and Leonard Lee and Laurie Dahl (two of the nicest and most talented folks I ever worked with) were the reporters.
I still remember the feeling of awe I experienced at being plopped down in the midst of this famous race.
After the first couple of elite marathoners came by, there was a bit of a lull, followed by a continuous throng of runners.
It was an enormous amount of people; a giant, sweaty snake of runners that ran, walked, skipped and limped around that bend of Highway 61.
It was so inspirational to see those athletes as they made their way toward Duluth, it made me want to take up running so I could participate in next year’s race — but then Leonard and Laurie offered me a smoke and I got over it.
I kid, I kid. Leonard and Laurie didn’t share smokes with the floor crew.
Only “Spry Pelts” did that.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February of 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, which is in the final weekend of “American Buffalo” by David Mamet. Call 213-2780 or check out www.rubberchickentheater.com for more info. In case you haven’t noticed, he also enjoys shameless plugs.