Marathoner Abducted by Aliens!
by Rodney Pygoya Chang, disqualified runner in the New Las Vegas Marathon, 2006

Blog version submitted by the Webists




The New Vegas was supposed to be my 19th marathon. I trained all year for my city (Honolulu) marathon, which is on the same day as the Vegas. As it turned out I spotted the New Vegas online and then choose it over Honolulu to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Vegas. Big Mistake! She lost big time in the casinos with MY credit card and I too lost, as if abducted away by aliens to a parallel dimension from the full marathon course!

Let me explain.

I wore my Roswell t-shirt ("Take Me!") and baseball cap, being a big fan of the Roswell Incident American myth (attended the '06 UFO Festival; completing my 'Roswell Encounter Gallery' novel for this May). I told my wife "I'm running this one for Roswell, forget Hawaii" (I'm bored with that course, having done it 14 times). She said "You'll be sorry; this UFO crap will bring you bad luck in Vegas." Guess it rubbed off on her too as she experienced no Mega-Buck elation. Instead we left town poorer - and short on the January mortgage payment.

I gambled and drank (carbo-loading) the night before and you know what - hey it's our wedding anniversary!). That night I should have also reviewed the course map in the registration pick-up packet. But I figured with 16,000 runners, how could I get "LOST"?

At the start of the race I did find myself swept along in the throngs of runners as I put my hung over body into automatic pilot. The Strip was exciting and it helped this over 60 yr. old "go with the flow," even with the headache and replay of our wedding night. BUT coming through the sensory overload downtown covered mall (Christmas music on blasting loud speakers, flashing casino frontage lights, sexy ladies in front of some of the doors, largest spectator crowd during the course, crammed and excited runners cheering while passing the downtown casinos), I never saw the split junction for my full-marathon group and the "halfers." Someone later asked me, 'Didn't you see the fat lady holding the sign?' Guess not, with my eyeballs blitzed by the glitz of casino neon signs and blinking and racing disco lights, all competing for attention.

It wasn't until I saw the Finish Line after the bend in the road that I realized SOMETHING WAS WRONG! There MUST be a routing of the full marathoners, I thought to myself, as I dreadfully approached the overhead finish banner. There wasn't. I became disoriented, confused, shocked and abusive as the young volunteer attempted to strip me of my shoe computer chip. Among other things (which I regret saying to this poor volunteer), I yelled "I don't belong here!!! I need to go back! I'm a full-marathoner! I paid the full price! Don't put that '1/2 Marathon Finisher' medal on me!" She sternly commanded, 'You can't go back to rejoin the other group, it's over 5 miles away. And you already stepped on the Finish Line so YOU'RE DONE! That's the rules! No, we DON'T have an emergency shuttle. Now STAY STILL so I can take the chip off from your shoe! Stop your complaining, I'm just a volunteer!'

I just couldn't believe it - all this planning - the  l  o  n  g  flight both ways from Hawaii, the high costs, wife in tow, mother-in-law along with wife waiting 17 miles out on the course route (where her residence is)- for hours, before/without breakfast, in the chilly wind - worried, and then pissed, when she found out her son-in-law screwed up- again. I waited 3 hours in the chilly air at the Finish Line until they came and got me at the agreed upon predicted time of arrival at the Finish for the (full) marathon. I didn't take my cell phone on the run. No extra space on my gel-pack belt. I remember the feeling of homelessness in that vast Mandalay hotel parking lot, helpless without money in my running shorts, nor the promised food at the Finish Line, with the sting of the relentless, vengeful, windy chill (I left my jacket at the starting check out), and lack of  a cell phone to send a SOS. When I finally spotted them searching apprehensively for me among the runners coming in, I tapped my wife on the shoulder from the back. She was startled to see me standing behind her among the spectators and replied, 'Where did you come from?' I sarcastically replied, ”Roswell.”

I flew back feeling abandoned, my full-marathon manlihood shaken, a total loser for having trained after all these months for nothing. When I sent Admin email to inquire if I was the only idiot that missed the split, I never got a reassuring answer. Nice. Later I did get email  inviting me to return and do next year's race in order to “come back and finish up."  No word about a complimentary discount. 

I thought to myself, Heck no, never again, ... I've always lost in Vegas.  But my wife suggested I should. “I think this time both our luck will be different. Just don’t wear that Roswell shirt again!”