Friday, July 30, 2010

A Day of Aiding and Abetting

Two Saturdays ago my day began early in Central Park, volunteering for the Central Park Conservancy Run for Central Park. I was pitching in for the team that I’m training with,the Running Club, although I’m not in contention to race yet. But people on the team need to guarantee a certain number of volunteers for various New York Road Runner events, and so I was helping them.

The Run for Central Park is only a 4 mile run/walk, and yet the behind-the-scenes machinations are still fairly elaborate: teams of people pick up water and post-race goodies at warehouses at 3:00 a.m. By 6:00 a.m. or so long tables are put in place for water along the route, and after the finish line cases of apples and bags of pretzels. The starting line and finish lines themselves are set up, as well as the volunteer tent, check in table, medical tent, lost and found.

It’s all a well-run machine, staffed by hundreds of “professional” volunteers, many who work for the city in different capacities, supervised by a small staff of paid Road Runners staff.

I checked in with my team at the volunteer tent, and was given an orange safety vest and emergency phone numbers badge.

My little subgroup was assigned to the pretzels table after the finish line, which comes after the water table and just before the apples.

5,000 runners were signed up. It was 93 degrees at 9:00 in the morning. A little crazy to be running in such weather. But more than 3.500 people finished, and every one of them had to pass by my station at the pretzel table.

The elite male runners came through very fast, DROWNING in sweat with all the humidity, followed a few minutes later until the first women came through. Then the second tier guys. And then, a sea of humanity. It was quite a sight, thousands of runners finishing in that ungodly heat.

I was struck by the range of the legion going by: truly every shape, size, height, width, age. Everyone struggling to different degrees, but united in the struggle, and that was the beauty of it.

I was also struck by the range of interaction, from people who say thank you and then politely asked for a second bag of pretzels, to other who literally grab bags out of every volunteer’s hands. Small behavior moments that I’m sure scale up to much more important issues.

Then I Was an Accomplice

Only because Neil Patrick Harris told me to. He played the one in New York and went on to produce the one in Hollywood. What is Accomplice? “Is it a Show? A Game? A Tour? It’s an Experience” says the website.

Another way to describe it is The Game (1997 Michael Douglas/Sean Penn movie) meets “Dead Man’s Treasure” (season 5 of The Avengers), striving to be Scorsese’s After Hours.

It’s a RL game of sorts, think scavenger hunt with a plot. You buy a ticket---so it’s like a show. Then you are called the day before and given the first place to meet. Once there, someone contacts you with your first clue, and you’re off and running.

Our first meeting place was South Street Seaport. We were 4, so we were paired with 6 strangers. The first clue was a series of cropped photographs of nearby places that we had to figure out, which then lead us to the next clue. Along the way we meet actors who move the story along.

The plot of the show is broad and kinda cheesy. The interesting moments depend upon the improvisational skills of the actors, which varied: some were much more adept in the impromptu exchanges than others. There were a couple nice fake-outs, and we were all taken in by the ending. Don’t want to say more. In general, the Downtown NY game is not as sophisticated as you might want it to be, but it’s still fun. It’s ideal for out-of-town guests: the downtown loop is a nearly 3 hours of walking, and you cover a good chunk of ground.

Maybe an actual car rally, like “Dead Man’s Treasure” is in my future. Now, if I only had a car . . .

Clue 1: The vaults at Mithering
Clue 2: Swingingdale, get a move on!
Clue 3: The village of GALDING Mr Smith's Hammer


eve said...

did you mean to type DROWNING instead of DOWNING?

Anonymous said...

I made a typo myself and should have written "drowing". How easy it is to mistype.

M.A.Peel said...

Yes, I meant DROWNING. Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.