Once a year the hashers of Chiang Mai come together for the annual Ball Breaker – a special run where bodies are pushed to breaking points, mental willpower is tested, resolve is broken, and only the toughest survive – oh and yes… BALLS are BROKEN! Let me get straight to the point, before wallowing in the details – a huge thanks to the haring trio – it is a huge undertaking, a lot of work, and the result was well worth it – a great run, a great challenge, one that truly lived up to the remit of breaking our balls. I survived it, I am a happy man tonight!
The build up to the ball breaker wasn’t so inspiring… There were many voicing concerns about it, and very little information forthcoming from the hares. Every time I spoke to Graven or Sheep Shagger they seemed to want to disown it, claiming they knew nothing about it, and they had no idea if there was any trail. When I spoke to Frozen, he seemed confident things would come together, but not in a way that inspired any confidence. With less than a week to go, logistics were up in the air (neither GM in town), who would bring beer? how about food? what time? I zoned out and assumed it would come together… The hares had talked a lot about struggling to find connects, but largely they had succeeded, or spent a lot of time and effort re-establishing trails.
I arrived ready for a 1:30 runstart, but the songthaew was late, and then runfees had to be collected, and then there was a photo op, and then there was an extended harebrief, where perhaps we might have to sign indemnity forms before we set off. Finally we were released, and set off over the dam wall. I was promising myself I would take it steady, and it seems everyone else also wanted to take it steady, which was good. Gone were those crazy 6 min km runs of recent weeks and we settled into the 8-10 minute range. Being somewhat familiar with the start of the trail, I figured we had to head over to the trail, and turn left, but the hares put in a bit of a loop around the field. Good for them – but Brownie and I headed across to the paper, and most of the pack followed. I hit the road, and the only benefit it gave me was getting to see Graven hiding behind a tree at a False Trail. Damnit!
We started up the hill, for the first time. Nobody really putting much effort in – I think Angry Inch was leading for a while here, but eager to step out of the way to let Brownie take over. It wasn’t much of a hill before a circle check and mass confusion. Trail started again very quickly, but we were all scrambling across shitty shiggy. The kind of shitty shiggy that hares hope we will have forgotten about before the end of the run. The only funny part of that was when Angry Inch cut across and came running down the hill to where I found another circle and suggested he turned around and went back up. The trail went down and Taste My Buns led us for a while as we found a nice trail that came back down the hill (presumably that is why the hares forced us through the shitty bit?) We were all together and the trail was clogged up. I was itching to run, but it was probably good for me that I couldn’t. At the bottom, of course we turned right, and then right again to go back up the god damn hill. This time the trail was better, and Brownfinger lead the way, but he led it gingerly – he was in no mood to break away this early.
We climbed and climbed and finally got to a ridgeline. Inevitably there was a check there, but I was already breaking left, and on trail. Nice trails along the top, from time to time overgrown with shiggy. Scooby and I took turns at the front as we tried to spot the paper. The small pieces in places weren’t as easy as they could have been, but it was perfectly followable. The trail abruptly broke left down the hill, and I immediately called for a false trail. I reluctantly followed Scooby to the inevitable, and we climbed back up to where the rest of the pack were heading off after Poo who had slipped through to the front. A large pack, all closely together. Another check, and order was switched up again. I somehow got to the front, in time to see yet another FUCKING false trail! Turning back, I also managed to find the true trail before the rest and led the way back off down the hill.
That was until a circle check. I got there first and looked left and right where there were precipices both sides. There was a nice enough trail going straight on, but why a circle here? You couldn’t go left or right without a risk of death. I suspected it was back up a bit and there was another way down, but as I was first there, I had the duty to check down the hill. I did so, over 100, before finally HRA called from somewhere – I had no idea where. I just didn’t really want to have to climb back up the sodding hill. I tried to get a clue which way to go and Poo helpfully suggested I cut around the hill – which way? to my right? I tried, but it was a cliff… I tried carrying back down the trail I was on, hoping I could cut across, and then came to the realisation that I had made a very grave error. I had no choice but to go back up and follow trail (as we should always do). I was way behind, but there was a long way to go, so I told myself to take it steady and I would get back sooner or later.
When I got back to trail I found Knock Out, and she was the first to be surprised to see me behind her. Next I caught Foxy Cleopatra, and then ABB – each time a surprised reaction. Next I caught the hares as they were busy putting in a short cut. WTF? Now I had to run further in the wrong direction and go back again?! I told them there were hashers following me, so they waited at the junction. I continued, and it was really pleasant, setting my own pace, running on really nice trails – really nice trails. There was a bit of a hill, and I was already hating hills, but finally I met with Pussy Whisperer, and rather than being surprised, he tried to talk me out of running, reminding me how much further there was to go! Down the hill I joined Toe Sucker and then ran along with Blows Herself for a while. Blows Herself is unimaginably positive, what an awesome life attitude!!!
Back down the hill and a mainish trail and suddenly Brownfinger, Sloppy and “Just” Bob appeared in front of me.. It took a few minutes for me to realise what had happened, a false trail, some confusion, again, and somehow I was back with the pack. Around the corner, up a short hill and there was Graven, there was “Beer Near” and the first beer stop. I had 9KM. I went to grab a beer, but somehow found soda manao, and my hand seemed to overrule my brain. Soda manao it was. Frozen pranced around fishing for information – who did what? who deserved the wings? who loved my run? Quickly the pack regrouped and set off again and there was a km or so of hardtop before another check. I walked over the two dams, trying to process the fizzy drink and by the time I got to the checks, I was a bit behind. I was quite happy with this, and set off with the goal of staying around 100m or so off the front of the pack, so I could avoid the work…
There was a hack up the hill, but all perfectly serviceable, and when we hit a flat trail, I had a good idea where we were again. I jogged gently, and caught Sloppy who seemed to be starting to feel the pain. Suddenly the pack came running back towards me calling false trail. To the right it was a steep cliff up, to the left a steep cliff down. Nothing obvious either way. I’d been going steady and looking around at the terrain and hadn’t seen anything promising. So while the rest of the pack went back on trail, I carried on, and spotted evidence that humans had passed to the right. I started climbing and found the paper. ONON. I was exactly where I didn’t really want to be… Climbing the hill, but at the front! I remembered there were some trails up there, but didn’t really want to be doing this climb. It was steep, and when I got to another circle I was really lazy checking off to the right. Brownie found it, and led us down to a trail. He went right, and was right, so Greasy and I were slow getting to the next check. I stepped off trail and took a moment to enjoy again the taste of that soda manao, in reverse…
And then was “the hill”. This was steeper than the previous hill. OK so the top wasn’t as high as the previous ridgeline, but we started the climb from lower down and it was a 150m elevation climb, steep. Brownie lead the way, and as I scrambled my way up I passed hashers on the verge of quitting. Sloppy and Angry were discussing whether there was a viable short cut. Sex Pistol looked in terrible shape begging for the next peak to be the final one. Finally I broke the top and set off back down the other side. Those ahead were gone, I was alone again, just pushing on following nice trails downhill. I caught Blows Herself again, and she muttered words of encouragement. At the bottom we were back on roads and I could see a sea of hashers ahead of me. Comfortable running, so I jogged along blanking out the pain. Somehow we turned into a field and somehow I got to a circle that wasn’t yet solved, and miraculously there was Graven, who showed me the way to a hidden trail that lead us down and out to the road. Brownie and I jogged down it together and we had survived to beer stop #2. I didn’t even have the energy or mental capacity to open up the back of Frozen’s pickup. While we weren’t finished, there was a plethora of hashers that had taken a ride from B->C, itching to go on. Whoa! Holdit peeps!?
It was hardly a beerstop… I didn’t even finish my manao soda. I barely dared to. But they were off again… AAAAARGH! My legs were starting to rebel, they didn’t want me to keep going. It wasn’t physical anymore, now it was mental. You will keep going. I walked, and lost ground. Even Tiptoe and his harem of ladies were gaining meters on me. But I am a stubborn fuck. Turning into the kings project I gifted the guards my empty can, and trudged on. The trail turned right, and a nice trail. Again a good km before a check, so everyone had dispersed in front of me. I heard the odd ONON, but couldn’t place them.
Then I got to “THE V” check. The hares had done so well so far, and then to fuck up monumentally at this point?! When I got there it was of course already kicked out. But it was kicked out wrong. Torn from the right, meaning go to the left, but when I followed the trail to the left, I found a check back, (very clear) and a confused Bob. We cut across to what we presumed was the other trail, but with the check being kicked out wrong I then had to climb back up to correct it. I made a clear arrow and headed back down the trail, only to find an even more confused Bob coming back saying there was no more trail. We looked to the right and found a circle. No trail leading to it, but it was kicked out in straight towards where trail started immediately. Hmmm… It didn’t seem right, but we could head On calls from various directions. We went on for a bit, but it just felt wrong, really wrong. The paper was stapled the wrong way, and now it didn’t have BB written on it anymore. I finally determined it was the CSH3 run of the day rather than the BB, and turned back up the hill and persuaded Bob we had to go back to the V check. On the way back we recruited Sex Pistol and had a new pack of FRBs.
Back at the V check we finally found the OTHER trail and reset the paper yet again. This time our new FRB pack gained Poo and Knock Out. I was feeling good again… Energised… We found unbroken checks, and we were the new kings! We were the FRBs! The others had screwed up, and we would be heroes! The adrenaline rushed through my body and my mind went numb. Nothing would stop me completing the trail now, because I had to do it! I bumped into the hares and gave them an update while the drove a merry HRA, daughter, Foxy and Pussy back to the A drinking happily. I got to another circle, looked around a bit, and found the trail, going back to get the paper from the circle. A malevolent Sloppy caught up asking why I was calling, but his attitude changed in a moment when he realised we were the FRBs. Suddenly he turned into a racist and was up for a fuck – yes, he wanted to fuck with me…???!!!??? We compromised on working together, and carried on.
Another couple of checks and then suddenly behind me there was Brownfinger. I had just called “Checking” off a circle check and he appeared saying “I’m checking tooooo…” in the creepiest scariest voice! Excellent work for that group that after going so wrong at the V check still made the effort to come all the way back and do the true trail. That took some balls that clearly hadn’t been broken quite yet, as if I was that close to home and beer, I would probably have made a different decision! We were into the last throws of the challenge. The hills were now gentle. The trails were good, and while they were running trails, our weary bodies were doing our best to move through them. While there were fantastic checks all through the run, the hares left some great ones till the end, and the lead turned over again and again. We were all delivered the highs and lows of changing emotions – I’m on (high), I’m off (low), he’s off (maybe high), my legs hurt (low)… We went over a dam, and I just thought it was the wrong lake, My car is by a lake, why isn’t it this lake??? Another circle, and Brownfinger’s final demise as he headed left with several following. Who would emerge as the leader? Greasy Gorilla solved the riddle and called us on through the last couple of checks and somehow I came jogging in with 3 1/2 inch floppy and Bob… When I say I came jogging in, in reality I was just happy it was downhill for the last 100m or so – I wasn’t jogging, I was just doing my best to control gravity…
An excellent set, my balls are truly broken and I’m sure many more are across Chiang Mai. The logistics worked, and everyone was safely able to complete as much as they were able – great job hares!