Stern emerges as DYOG 3 champion
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 03 October 2012
“I’m gonna crush this race”
“I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria… The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t… I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate…”
—excerpts from Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Doc Ellis’ recount of the no-hitter he pitched on LSD in 1970
A stacked field of local athletes lined up Sunday afternoon on top of Kebler Pass for the Dig Your Own Grave 3 (DYOG 3). In attendance were outspoken rollerblade enthusiast and 2010 champion Milo Wynne, 2011 champion and noted sharpshooter Zach Marquis, a couple of rising stars, veteran competitor Thomas Whitehead, as well as two-time last place finisher Elliot Stern.
But, Stern was on a mission this time around. You could sense his focus during the four-hour pre-race ceremonies.
Suffice it to say, the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games have got nothing on what takes place prior to the Dig Your Own Grave.
Milo used the prolonged build-up putting the finishing touches on his tree bark/chip seal shims in his rollerblades, tightening up his power straps and straightening his tie. Not to mention practicing his crabwalk. The crabwalk blends the in-line skating technique of 50-time world champion Chad Hedrick and the artistry of Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
“You’re ready for anything,” explained Milo. “You got your downhill and you got your uphill to see what’s going on behind you because it’s all behind you.”
He added, “For everybody else, this is Sunday. But it’s my Monday, and I’m here to get down to business.”
The two rookies, Brad and Josh, were taking turns honing their craft and paying homage to the star canoe of locally produced film No Canoe, trading off a succession of deft skateboard moves off of and over the now famous canoe.
Meanwhile, Thomas Whitehead was cleaning his rifle in preparation for one of the most important aspects of the DYOG, the target shoot.
On the surface, the DYOG is a modern day biathlon mixing skateboarding, or in the case of Milo rollerblading, with target shooting. Metaphysically, it’s much, much more. Metaphysically, the DYOG is a test of man versus self, versus another man and himself, versus another man and himself and so on.
It begins with a “cold start” into a two-mile skateboard, or rollerblade in the case of Milo, down the west side of Kebler Pass negotiating through random patches of single lane asphalt, cars, trucks, potholes and gravel. At the two-mile mark, the athletes hop off their skateboard to sprint 100 yards uphill to a target range. Or, in the case of Milo, sprint uphill on rollerblades to the target range. Fire at a target 30 yards away and once hit, return to the road for a sprint finish two-tenths of a mile long.
Choice in firearms varied from an SKS semi-automatic rifle to Milo’s Red Ryder BB gun.
After making a quick course inspection and setting up the target range, nerves were at an all-time high, though you wouldn’t know it from Stern’s resolve, proclaiming, “I’m gonna crush this race.”
Milo exuded equal confidence as they set their targets up.
“I got a dozen copperheads in there,” stated Milo as he prepped his Red Ryder. “Full metal jacket.”
Other athletes voiced the palpable tension in the air.
“Ready, babe?” asked the significant other of one competitor.
“After seeing the course, not so much,” was his reply.
Milo took a commanding lead on the opening downhill registering a max speed, according to his iPhone, of 42.8 miles per hour and came into the target range with a one-minute lead.
Stern was in second place but suffered a horrendous crash on Hi Country curve dropping a spot to noted small-wheel Gunnison Valley land speed record setter Brad.
Brad came into the range 50 seconds off Milo and Stern 15 seconds behind Brad.
But, as any veteran biathlete will tell you, races can be won or lost on the range and such was the case, again, at the DYOG 3 on Sunday.
Stern made up the difference on the range taking just two shots to hit his target. Brad was close behind him and the rest of the field followed suit as Milo struggled to sight in his target. As racers came and went picking off their targets in two, three or four attempts, there was Milo pumping his Red Ryder 15-20 times between each miss.
In the end, Stern held off Brad in the final .2-mile sprint finish to take the DYOG 3 title.
“I said it right here last year, I’m gonna win this race next year,” exclaimed a bloodied, battered but blissful Stern at the finish line. “I’ve been training since February.”
In the spirit of communal sportsmanship, everybody was awarded a commemorative DYOG 3 skateboard deck made of only the finest Canadian hardwood and crafted with a custom DYOG 3 warp in the empire of China for their efforts and across the board the athletes agreed, “Best day of the year.”