Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Big ASS Awards Banquet

Most of the major athletes of Big ASS Endurance met recently for the annual awards banquet. World renown reporter Jay Unver was there covering the event for the Lehrton Gazette. He was kind enough to send an electronic edition for me to post here, so below is Unver's article.

2013 Big ASS Awards Banquet
By Jay Unver
This past January 24, on National Anna Vanwinkle Day, Big ASS Endurance held its Fourth Annual Awards Banquet at the beautiful, scenic opera house in downtown Brazil, Mississippi. Not surprisingly, Zane Hodge walked away with the lion’s share of hardware, awards, and prizes. But first, there was a ton of interesting events leading up to Hodge’s coronation.

For the uninitiated, Big ASS Endurance is the umbrella organization comprised of the Association of Sports Swimmers, the Association of Sports Shufflers, and the Association of Sports Syclists. Big ASS Endurance oversees the three sports associations as well as sanctions triathlons and ratifies world records set in the various endurance sports. Once every January, the group meets to socialize, recognize its stars from the previous year, and emphasize its events on the upcoming calendar.

The athletes began arriving around 6:00 pm and were promptly greeted at the door and then seated by seven nubile young ladies who wore form fitting swim attire, pink nose tape, and color coordinated high heel sandals, pink of course. Several of the male athletes, after taking their seats, were caught sneaking peeks at the young ladies. Some even slyly snapped photographs with their phones.

The three long lumber tables, which seated the athletes and their families, were neatly covered with newspaper--The Lehrton Gazette-- and adorned with place settings of heavy duty paper plates surrounded by salvaged silverware plucked from various roadsides by Big ASS runners on their training and journey runs. The rustic nature of the bent and scarred spoons, forks, and knives lent a masculine quality to the atmosphere which went nicely with the theme of “Athletic Excellence for a Better Life.”

Complementary snuff adorned the outside end of each table, nestled against imitation copper cuspidors which were formed in the shape of upside down swim caps. Swim goggles with straps removed, also upside down, were filled with various sauces into which the athletes dipped their hors d’oeuvres. These pre-meal snacks included mustard sardines, Vienna sausages, and carrot sticks.

Security was high primarily to prevent Randal Beets, who was seated with his mother and brother Andrew, and Zane Hodge, who was seated with his wife, from fighting, which they have done in the past. Three armed police officers kept themselves positioned between Hodge and Beets ensuring an absence of fisticuffs.

At their own table on the dais sat the dignitaries the Rev. Jim Bob Dugan, a local pastor, Dr. Timothy Nomann, President of Big ASS Endurance, and Robin Bond, Big ASS athlete and the night’s featured speaker. After a prayer by Rev, Dugan and while the latest country music played over the sound system, the attendees feasted on deer steak, baked beans, and polk salad. Near the end of their meal, Bond took the podium.

For thirty-minutes, an emotional Bond recounted her experience crewing for Randy Beets at the 2013 Swim the Suck Ten Miler near Chattanooga, TN, a popular race that serves as the Association’s Open Water World Championship and for the third year in a row pitted Hodge vs Beets in an epic swim off. “We were ahead in the race for four miles,” Bond said several times during her presentation which included numerous photographs she took from her kayak. “They even swam side by side for a few minutes after Hodge caught us,” she recounted with tears trickling down her cheeks. “After he passed us, we almost caught back up to him. We almost caught him,” she repeated and then broke down into utter weeping and had to be ushered back to her seat.

Beets sat on the edge of his chair while Bonds spoke, and he also teared up as heard his partner describe how the world championship slipped away from him for the third year in a row. Just as Bond broke down, Beets’ mother, who also sat with wet eyes, cried aloud and fainted, causing a stir among the congregation. Beets jumped to his feet to come to his mom’s aid and tripped on a table leg and fell on his long face. Someone said Hodge snickered at Beets’ misfortune.

After composure was regained among the athletes and guests, Dr. Nomann ascended the podium and began presenting trophies and titles. Hodge was awarded the World Open Water Championship, for his defeat of Beets at the Suck; the Catfish Pond Swimming Championship, for his numerous defeats of Beets in the ponds; the World Triathlon Championship, for his defeat of Beets’ relay team at the Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon; the Half-Marathon Running Championship, for his defeat of Beets at the Hotter Than Hades Half; the new Anna Vanwinkle Award, for the totality of his victories over Randy Beets; and in addition, he was named Big ASS Swimmer of the Year, Big ASS Runner of the Year, and the Big ASS Athlete of the Year.

Beets, on the other hand, won his third straight Big ASS Loser of the Year award as well the Cold Water Swimmer of the Year award. In addition, Beets won the first annual Tallest Momma’s Boy trophy. Hodge was all smiles as the ceremony came to an end, and he was overheard saying to Beets, “Congratulations, big ass loser.”

Besides his trophies, Hodge was given prizes that included a cooler containing six ice-cream sandwiches, four cans of potted meat, and a line of credit with Johnny’s Used Jammers.

When asked for a word on the night, a jubilant Hodge hoisted one of his trophies overhead and yelled, “Life is good as long as I’m beating Beets’ butt! Yehaaa!”