Caren Ware's Blog

June 6, 2010

SHOOT. WHY GUNS DON’T GO OFF AT THE START OF OUR ROAD RACES.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 8:27 am

This VW Van took us places!

We timed FOUR events today. Fontana Days 5K and Half Marathon, Granview Gator Run, Hawthorne 5K, and the Huntington Beach Playa del Run. That’s a lot of prep.  A lot of races. So four starts went off today. No Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.  A high pitched horn instead. But there were guns going off at the start of the  Hawthorne race this year.  I arrived at 4am to find the side road at the park barricaded with police cars. Lots of them, and caution tape.  Helicopters were flying.  Swat vehicles were rolling in and the German Shepherds were rolling out…barking with teeth barred.  I stepped out of my truck and was bellowed at to get back it.  Gladly.  The dogs were ready to pounce. The focused task force wouldn’t afford me the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, guys. Can you move your stake out somewhere else?  You are parked on my finish line.” Busy pinning down a gun man, they had no idea that over a thousand runners were about to start arriving to run right through their stand off.  

There was no way to call off the race.  People were on their way.  So we set up a finish scaffolding and chute in the opposite end of the park and redesigned and re-coned a NEW course on the spot.  That took a lot of cooperation from the city traffic control.  Yeah, we did it and the 1000 got to enthusiastically run.  That was a first!  We all wonder if the police, their dogs ,and the swat team got the gunman.  We were too busy racing to find out. We didn’t even notice is shots were fired.  Only gun we heard was the starters horn of our race.  

We started using a start horn instead of a starter’s pistol from an incident that happened over 17 years ago.  I am not sure how many of you remember the infamous 1970 Flourescent Pink VW Van…the original start up vehicle of PRIME TIME ? Couldn’t miss it. It was PINK!!   Well, the police  didn’t either.  They pulled us over…constantly, expecting  hippies or druggies or some hoodlum driving it.  Instead, there was an infant and a toddler and a mom or a dad at the helm and a whole lot of timing equipment.  At the end of one long race day, I, the mom, was driving the slumbering kids back to the mountains.  It was right at dusk and as I bounced over some stray rubber of f of someone’s tire, a headlight went out.  Such the way with VWs!  At least you could always push start them or duck tape them together.  

So a Highway Patrol car pulls me over.  It took teh officer a long time to approach the vehicle. I could feel his stout presence at the side of the driver’s door.  He sternly ordered me to give him my vehicle registration.  I unhooked my rusty seat belt and leaned across the passenger seat a fumbling in the glove box with one extended arm.  Very immediately I was being pulled through the driver’s window, flung on the ground, foot in the back of my neck, and I am positive by the adrenaline pumping in my veins that a gun was drawn at my head.  Too fast of a situation for me even to react. My face was ground in the gravel. I couldn’t even mutter.  

Simple scenario.  As they had pulled me over, the passenger in the back disappeared.  (That had been my toddler son whom  I panicly told to sit back down in his car seat that he had wiggled up out of).  The poor police had seen a head disappear and thought an adult passenger was hiding.  Then to heighten their situation, as I fumbled for the paper work in the glove box, my body was turned.  They did not know I was a female…nor a mom with an infant and toddler in the funky van.  As I fumbled for the paper work, the butt of a hand gun appeared concealed in the glove box and I was reaching for it.  That is what they are trained to react to…instantly.  I was out the window and on the ground in less than a second. That gun was in actuality a ‘starter’s pistol’  only able to shoot blanks .  We used it to start all of Southern California’s road races back then.  How were they to know that.  I completely forgot it was there.  I never even envisioned it to be received as dangerous.  It was a starter’s pistol I learned to have respect for! 

I am so immensely thankful. Not only are the Highway Patrol, but any other officers for that matter,  are highly trained to react, but not overreact.  They could have pulled the trigger in a seemingly and justifiable self-defense situation.  And my young kids would have had a very different upbringing.  So if you hear loud air horns at your races this is the reason we introduced them instead of starter’s pistols.  Bet you did not know that.  Race trivia. BANG. BANG.

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