While watching the Olympics a commentator suggested that every event should have an average person running, swimming or throwing in their own lane. That’s so we could see just how phenomenal these athletes are collectively. So I started thinking about having a whole Olympics based on that idea: a competition that would be open to all while taking advantage of our state’s unique geography. A Texas Olympics.
Here are a few ideas:
First off: before each attempt at whatever the competition is, participants must say “Hold my beer.”
We would, of course, have a Marathon in Marathon, as they do every year anyway. We’ll make sure everyone says it as they do there: Marathen. After a two mile head start, cowboys will stampede some longhorns down the road to inspire the runners. That should give us some record times.
Trailer backing: Using a tractor you have to back a four-wheeled trailer stacked high with hay, 50 yards into a barn that is only two inches wider than the trailer and an inch taller than the stack of hay. Best time without spilling the load, or scratching the trailer, wins.
Truck rally: Race from Dalhart to Beaumont using only farm-to-market and dirt roads. No cell phones allowed. No Google, no digital navigation. Only a classic state of Texas paper map allowed. Map must be refolded properly when you cross the finish line. Human navigators are welcome.
Olympic cannonball competition: Biggest splash while doing a cannonball jump into an Olympic pool wins.So I say bring the weightlifters and shot putters to the diving platform. Judges will assess who is best by water displacement and proper cannonball posture upon entering the water.
Canoeing: An El Paso-to- Brownsville Rio Grande River slalom. Probably a three-week race. But outboard motors are encouraged as conditions permit.
Archery: Using only compound bows archers will compete to see who can shoot an arrow the farthest, downwind. Courageous judges, to mark distances, needed.
Mountaineering: Get to the top of Guadalupe Mountain peak as fast as possible. Starting at Pine Springs Trailhead at 11 a.m. in July (average temperature 105 fahrenheit). Hike, run or climb. First one to the top wins gold – and a six pack of cold Shiner beer. Silver and bronze win a nice view.
The Ryan Crouser shot put competition: Sporting cowboy hats and using 12-pound bowling balls and employing only traditional shot put form, competitors will compete for greatest distance, but the roll will count. Points deducted for those wearing old bowling team t-shirts.
Urban golf: To qualify for competition you must tee-off with your driver from the top of Bank of America Plaza in Dallas and clear I-35 on the fly. The competition itself will consist of three par holes from one skyscraper rooftop to another in downtown Dallas.
Trans-Houston Iron Man: Swim across a finger of Lake Conroe, ride a fast horse to Spring, run to downtown Houston, and ride a bike to Stewart Beach in Galveston down the Gulf Freeway frontage. First three finishers get medals. Hell, anyone who survives the Gulf Freeway on a bicycle deserves a medal – and will get one.
W.F. Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.