The Saga of the Sacred Spoon
Some of you may know me, others may have heard rumors
about me, but this story is for anyone who has ever wondered,
"So, what's with the spoon?" (Actually, this is to spare
my friends from having to listen to yet another recitation of
the following tale while we are out running together.)
RICK AND THE SPOON
My name is Rick Jensen and I am "The Sacred Spoon Bearer."
I am a long-distance runner and I also have the good fortune of
being a volunteer pace group leader for the Portland Marathon
Training Clinic. I am not unlike many other runners, except for
the fact that I run with a spoon hanging from my neck. This dubious
distinction often leads people to ask me about the significance
of the spoon.
I respond by saying that The Sacred Spoon is the symbol of an
"ancient tradition" of the Oregon Road Runners Club.
It all began one fateful day in August during the 1997 Hood-To-Coast
relay race. It was my second time running this race, but my first
time running as a team member of the Oregon Road Runners RRoad
RRatz team, captained by former ORRC president and current RRCA
Oregon State Rep., Daniel Brewer.
I was running Leg 9, so I was in Van Two. Using our captain's
strategy, Van Two was "watering" the runner from Van
One so that Van One could go ahead to the next exchange point.
We had completed "watering" the current runner and driven
to the next exchange point to await our runner's arrival. (There
exists some theological debate as to exactly which exchange point
the following event took place, but we will not entangle ourselves
in that argument here.)
I was standing in the gravel along the shoulder of the road near
the parking spot for the exchange point when...
(please read the following in a voice like Charlton Heston's in
The Ten Commandments)
"a shaft of light descended from heaven and shone upon a
shiny object lying upon the ground."
A voice called out, "Pick up The Spoon."
Now, being a long-distance runner (and a "brain donor")
I was not averse to listening to a strange voice, so I picked
up The Spoon. I immediately ran over to my teammates and proclaimed,
"Behold, The Sacred Spoon. It will watch over and protect
us as we run this race." There was some initial reluctance
to accept this proclamation, but, from past experience, my teammates
figured it was safer to go along with my lunacy than to resist
At this time, Van One had the current runner on the course and,
fortunately for me, Van One also had another runner almost as
crazy as myself -- Bruce Fleming, one of "The Flatulating
Fleming Brothers." Bruce agreed to accept the honor and responsibility
of becoming the Sacred Spoon Bearer for the current rotation.
From this point forward, The Sacred Spoon remained with the van
that had the current runner. When Van One arrived at the first
major exchange point, where Van Two would begin its first rotation,
we (Bruce and I) performed the ritual Exchanging of The Sacred
Spoon. We would repeat this observance at each of the major exchange
points. This began as a solemn, reverent ceremony akin to something
from the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,
with the new Bearer kneeling to accept The Sacred Spoon and its
associated duties. However, the closer we got to Seaside, it degraded
into something from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
In spite of this cheapening of the sanctity of The Sacred Spoon,
the RRoad RRatz managed to safely and successfully complete the
race and achieve our goal of having fun. During the subsequent
weeks, since Bruce and I were (still are?) crazy runners, we would
attend at least one race every weekend. He and I would continue
to perform the ritual Exchanging of The Sacred Spoon, with one
of us keeping The Sacred Spoon until the next race. We were having
lots of fun... until the day I transgressed.
It was the weekend before the 1997 Portland Marathon, and the
race was the Canby Communications Classic 10K. (Ironically, this
was also the last year that this fun event was held.) My sin was
one of omission... I forgot to bring The Sacred Spoon! To my chagrin,
Bruce (rightfully so) would not accept an ersatz, surrogate plastic
spoon as a temporary replacement until such time as I could produce
the real thing. The following weekend, I ran in the Portland Marathon
with The Sacred Spoon. Shortly thereafter, Bruce and I lost touch
with each other due to differing running schedules and events,
and I ended up becoming the Sole Bearer of The Sacred Spoon.
In the time since The Sacred Spoon was discovered, I have run
with it at: the Portland Marathon Training Clinic runs; the Portland
Marathon; the Chicago Marathon; the Saint Louis Marathon; the
Skagit Flats Marathon; the Seattle Marathon; the Humboldt Redwoods
Marathon; the BenDistillery Marathon; the Sunriver Marathon; the
Capital City Marathon; the Crater Lake Marathon; the Trail's End
Marathon; the Newport Marathon; the BenDistillery 50K; the Blue
Lake 50K; the Autumn Leaves 50 Miler; the Circle the Bay 30K in
Coos Bay, Oregon; the Goat Mountain Gallop and other half-marathons;
every Hood-To-Coast since 1997; the Rainier-To-Pacific relay;
and numerous other races, even once at the Bare Buns Fun Run at
the Kaniksu Family Nudist Ranch in Spokane, Washington (but that
is a story for another day).
So, if you are out running and you happen to see a crazy guy running
with a spoon hanging from his neck, give a shout out, "Hey,
Spoonman!" and come over and ask me for a Sacred Spoon Blessing.
But, please, please, for the sake of my friends' sanity, do not
ask, "So, what's with the spoon?" Thank you, and may
The Sacred Spoon watch over and protect you as you run through
--- Rick "Spoonman" Jensen