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Fall Steeplechase Report

MMC Steeplechase HQ

Attending: Karol & Dennis Mason, Donna & Brian Bogardus and Jennie & Thomas Hodges. With a guest appearance from Tom Varallo and a special drive-by appearance from Chip Cunningham.

Tom had set up an awning and a table the night before when he was over at the track finishing up for his Sertoma duties for the big day. The Hodges pulled into the driveway of the Bogardus Estate a few minutes early and the Masons pulled in 20 minutes later.  As with any Club event, even the ones not involving Miatas, there were several minutes spent standing around and chatting about how everyone’s Trust Funds were performing and which local gala charity balls we would be attending this particular season.

The three guys hopped into the Mason’s truck to drive over to the field and set up the second awning and the grills, plus unload the coolers and decorations. On the way over, Dennis apologized for their late arrival and blamed it on Karol. The three ladies walked the short mile over to the track, and while I was not there, I bet Karol blamed their late arrival on Dennis.

The weather was forecast for cool and cloudy, giving way to mostly sunny and warmer. The clouds missed the memo and hung around, low and gray all day except for maybe three or four 10 minute intervals. While almost everyone was dressed for the cool start, we really weren’t prepared to spend all day that way. Add in some fairly steady 10-15 MPH winds and the only time we were warm were those few minutes of sun or when we were standing really close to the small charcoal grill the Mason’s had brought.

Between the first and second races, a gust of wind picked up the Mason’s awning and sent it airborne. It was an amazing spectacle. It looked like a cross between a huge metal spider and a monster from the Cloverfield universe as it flipped and fluttered across the the two empty spaces next to us and landed feet down on top of the Honda minivan in the third spot. Somehow it managed not to scrape the vehicle at all. The only real damage done was to the now bent and slightly broken awning and the psyche of a small girl from the landing spot of said awning. We are pretty sure she didn’t get hit by the awning, but she was so scared that she cried in her mother’s arms for the next 15-20 minutes.

We re-propped the damaged awning back up and several next-door neighbors asked if we wanted some stakes to keep it in place. We politely declined as we actually did have them, but somehow the three heads of the set-up guys never thought to put them in, even though it was already quite breezy and Tom’s awning, which we put it up right next to, was obviously staked in. The women chastised the men about their bone-headed oversight and the men tried to deflect by telling them that it was obviously the women’s fault because they didn’t tell them to put the stakes in. One thing is sure though, there will be one woman in the set-up truck next time…

Because Mr. Varallo’s spot in the fall is on the outside rail right after a fence, we get a first hand view of the most exciting part of the steeplechase experience, jumping. And it really is fun to be up front for all that action until, in the third (or might have been the fourth) race, a horse and jockey takes a somersault 20 feet from where you are standing. The medical teams, both human and animal, were on scene within moments. The jockey bounced up fairly quickly, but horse did not. They held it down for about 5 anxious minutes while it was checked over, before he was let up and was walked off. Phew.

There was just one more bit of excitement left for our six participants on this day. The truck riders and walkers home arrived at Boardman Road at about the same time and when Donna entered the code on the remote garage door opener – it didn’t open. Thinking she may have fat fingered a number, she tried again. It didn’t open. She waited about 15 seconds, cycled the cover open and then closed before trying the code again. Still nothing. Brian then tried it and got the same no response. We even told Jennie and let her try. Time for Plan B, open a regular person styled door with a key. Well, Brian carried his Miata key chain but it has no house key. Donna’s key chain does have a house key, but she didn’t take her purse, it was inside the house. Spare key hidden outside somewhere? Nope (that is a whole other story.) Fortunately a local locksmith was happy to come out and do the rescue.

One last lesson learned on Saturday, Brian needs to bring his real camera to these kinds of events, the cellphone just doesn’t cut it.

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