I’m sure you’ve all had painful experience with Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong–and at the worst possible time.
Well, I’ve got good news. Murphy met his match on Sunday, at the Redhook 5K in Portsmouth, NH. Bested by a guy named Andy Shachat.
If you’re a runner in Eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Maine, you know Andy. He’s the race announcer at many beloved races such as the Mt. Washington Road Race. You probably don’t think about him when you hear his voice over the Public Address system.
But what if you didn’t hear his voice over that PA?
On Sunday Murphy did his best to stop that voice, but he couldn’t stop Andy.
Here’s what happened:
Nearly 2,000 runners were packed together at the starting line, jogging in place… checking and rechecking our watches and Garmins…waiting for the race to start. I’d arrived an hour earlier and had heard Andy frequently over the PA: relating some history of the race, cautioning us not to remove the timing chip from the back of our bib numbers, letting us know where to find the Porta Potties…all the essential information we runners need to know. And of course every few minutes he gave us an update:
“10 minutes until the start of the race. You should make your way now to the start line.”
“5 minutes to the start of the race. You should be at the start line NOW…!”
Now we were all at the start line, and I saw Andy lift a microphone to his mouth and say something. It was working fine a moment earlier. But now I could barely hear him.
The PA was dead!
Unperturbed, Andy flicked a switch on the microphone or shook it. Then he raised it again and spoke.
I could hear him saying something about the national anthem…but that’s just because I was near the front of the pack–close enough to hear his voice. The loudspeakers were silent. Most of the runners couldn’t hear a word he said.
I looked at my watch. The race should be starting now.
It was hot and there were nearly 2,000 of us, packed together like commuters on a Green Line trolley. We were all sweating…and we hadn’t even started running yet!
But I didn’t see Andy sweat.
He just handed the mike to someone (not a runner) and said, “This mike is dead. I’ll be right back.”
And he took off at a pace I’d be proud of in any 5K.
A minute or two later he sprinted back, carrying a new mike and perhaps a hundred yards of cable. If he looped that cable into a lariat he could have roped a steer. But he just plugged it into an amplifer and lifted the mike to his lips.
“TESTING. TESTING. ONE. TWO. THREE.”
They could hear him clearly at the back of the pack. They could probably hear him in the parking lot, a quarter of a mile away.
“Tomorrow is Memorial Day,” Andy continued. “Before we start the race let’s all take a moment to listen to the national anthem, and to think about those who gave their lives for our country.”
He handed the mike to a fellow who sang the national anthem. The words rang out clear and true through the air. Then Andy told us to run and we ran.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Ken Skier. All rights reserved.