It had been a busy, trying week for both of us. Sunday provided the distraction we so desperately needed. Laura and I took part in the Bulldog Fun Run with the Upstate Minis.
We’ve been trying to take part in more activities with the Upstate Minis. Too often we have conflicts with the various events, but when we’ve been able to participate it’s been a blast. This is the fifth year for the Bulldog Fun Run, an event to benefit Greenville Animal Care. That’s where today’s event would start, but, this being a typical Mini event, there would be lots of driving.
With things so up in the air about Laura’s mom, and with other craziness going on in our lives, we were last minute getting registered for the event. That would come into play later. However, we were one of the first to arrive, so we were at the front of the line. We parked and walked into the main entrance. Participation in the event was by a donation to the center, either cash or supplies needed by the center. After we registered and made our donation, we were given a tour of the center. As I feared, Laura wanted to take home ALL of the cats. Fortunately, this is a no-kill shelter.
More Minis arrived and lined up. As others were taking tours and getting registered we greeted friends and wandered among the cars. It’s always fascinating to see how others have customized their vehicles. There were lots of red Minis, and I was surprised at the number of red convertibles like ours.
In all there were forty-six Minis in line – thirty-six participants and ten volunteers. Bill Hightower used a bucket truck provided by the county to take an aerial shot of the massed Minis, first with, then without drivers. This would be the last time all of the Minis would be massed together.
Organizer Jeff Goodman held a drivers meeting to go over the rules and to introduce Debbie, the PR director for the center. He displayed the trophy for the event, which is passed along each year to the next winner. Jeff emphasized (several times) that this is NOT a speed event. It’s not a race. We would drive to a stop, participate in an “British”-related event and earn points at the stop, but no points would be awarded for the speed at which these were completed.
Jeff then passed out our drivers packet. Since we were one of the last to register, we were at the end of the line for packets. However, since we were parked at the front of the line, folks would have to wait for us to get started. We let some get ahead of us, but soon enough we were underway. Abhay Bharadwaj was stationed at the entrance to the center to photograph each vehicle as it left.
Laura, as navigator, pulled out our assignments. We were assigned our first stop, but then could do the rest of them in any other we wanted. Different cars had different first stops so that we would be spread out and there wouldn’t be lines for the various stops.
Our first stop was at the Century BMW/Mini dealership on Laurens Road. Bill and Mary Lou Hightower had us experience a “London Fog.” One partner would “drive” a Mini through an obstacle course, trying not to hit icons of British culture. Points would be deducted each time the driver touched one of the obstacles. Here’s the catch – they wouldn’t be able to see. The other partner had to direct the driver through the obstacles.
The Mini we would drive was actually a cardboard cut-out, as were the obstacles. The “fog” was a paper back decorated like one of the Minions from Despicable Me. We watched a group ahead of us navigate the course while we waited our turn.
For this event Laura was the driver, and I was the navigator. We had a time limit of five minutes, but we were able to complete the course perfectly in four minutes and five seconds. We were awarded the full 30 points.
Next stop was County Square. Jeff and Sherry Goodman had cordoned off a part of the parking lot for another obstacle course. This event was entitled “British Airways”, and we would actually be driving our car this time. Each part of the course had something to do with flying – pushing back from the gate (putting the car in neutral and pushing back from the parking space), flying through clouds (balloons on sticks in a slalom course), air mail (grabbing mail from a box), pilot napping (navigator steers through a slalom from the passenger seat), autopilot (driving hands-free through a straight series of cones), and holding pattern (driving tight circles.) We did well, but I missed one of the cloud turns. We got 21 points for this event. This one kept us so busy that I didn’t get any photos.
We decided to head on up to the farther points north of town. The next stop was at Poinsett Park just north of Furman off of US 25. Paula and Chuck Gucker had set up a James Bond themed activity called “Goldfinger.” The different actors who portrayed James Bond were set up on stakes as targets. We were provided Oddjob’s hat (black Frisbees with a stovepipe top), which we were to throw at the targets. For each hit we would score points based on the number of movies in which that actor had starred. David Niven and George Lazenby were only worth one point, but Sean Connery and Roger Moore were worth seven.
Laura threw first and missed. After my practice throw fell flat I decided to switch to my sidearm disc golf technique. First hit was David Niven for one point. My second hit bounced off of Timothy Dalton and onto Daniel Craig, so I was awarded points for both. Our total for this activity was seven points.
The next stop was the farthest from our start. We would be “Storming the Castle” at Pleasant Ridge Park with Scott and Cindy Collins. This was a Monty Python themed event where we would use a catapult to sling bean bags at a cardboard castle. We would get points if we hit it, and more points if it actually went inside.
Laura was up first. Her first shot went right through the front door. The send shot hit the castle, and the third overshot. I hit the castle with all three of mine. I think we got twelve points, but I don’t remember. I kept expecting French taunts from Scott, but I was disappointed.
The last outlier stop was at the Greenville Parks and Recreation office on Old Spartanburg Road. Don and Rosalyn Western had set up “King Pong.” One partner would put on a crown and sit on a throne, while the other would attempt to toss ping pong balls into cups placed in the crown, a la beer pong. Alas, there was no beer, and I failed miserably. We got zero points.
Last stop – Fitzpatrick’s Irish Pub on Laurens Road. Final task – a 90 second talent display for “Miniacs Got Talent,” followed by dinner and awarding of prizes. Everyone had the drive to plan out their talent. We stopped by the house, and I was tempted to grab the banjo. However, in the end I decided to sing.
The talents were a mix. There were some good ones, and some so-so. An afternoon is not enough time to prepare unless you’re a seasoned performer. I’m a seasoned performer, and I felt a bit…off. At the last minute I decided to sing “Almost Like Being in Love.” I’ll admit to doing a crappy job, but at least I projected above the bar noise and got lots of applause. Some of the other groups could hardly be heard, especially as the crowds gathered.
While we awaited completion of the talent show and tallying of the points, we had dinner. I must point out that Fitzpatrick’s Irish Stew was MUCH MUCH better than the Playwright, and it strikes me as a more authentic Irish bar. Playwright’s stew just had a bit of beef broth and a can of VegAll. This was the real deal.
Prizes were awarded for first through sixth place. There were several ties. Sadly, our point total didn’t even come close. I don’t think the judges liked my singing. Here are the results via a summary email from Jeff:
1st place: Doug & Liz Allard
2nd: (tie): Danielle Broome / Chris Saddoris and Michelle Collins / Emma Broome
4th: (tie): Chrissy Posner / Allison Cook and Alan & Bev Miller and Brandon Davis / Meredith Manley
Best stop: Storming the Castle (Scott & Cindy Collins)
Best club participation from a distance: Appalachian Mountain MINIs
Biggest winner: Greenville County Animal Care
Our donation this year is just over $2400 in cash, checks and supplies for the animals.
Even though we didn’t win a prize, it was a blast, and I know we’ll try again next year. I’ll have that much time to plan a better talent. My thanks to Jeff and Sherry Goldman for organizing the event, and for all of the volunteers for putting together and running the activities. This was certainly a worthy cause, and a great event.