Ask the Goat: Javelina Jundred race report 2 of 3

Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series. Part one was published on Nov. 7. Part three will be published on Nov. 27.

The Tuesday before Javelina, I picked up the camper from my buddy Gordon and began packing it with gear.

I had VESPA, DripDrops, TrailToes and a box of my books to put out. I also had some camping gear and running supplies I was transporting to AZ for some friends. I docked the trailer in front of my house and began the initial practice run through its correct erection.

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

As I was adjusting one of the leg-levelers on the street side, I saw a pair of shoes saunter past, pause and then resume their way. I rolled out from under the camper and made eye contact with a young kid –maybe 16 or 17 years old. He looked a bit squirrely and dressed like a punk, but with a past like mine, I try not to judge. But something did seem ‘off’ as we made that initial eye contact. He continued his swift way down our block and I finished leveling the final corner of the camper. It was then that I discovered that my keys were no longer in the camper entry lock. That punk had not seen me under the vehicle, and had removed the entire key-ring from the door. That’s why he looked so unsettled when he saw me.

On that chain were keys to my truck, my wife’s car, our house (with every lock and deadbolt), our gate, our shed, our fence, my work (a gymnasium/shoe store), a lockbox and the entire borrowed set specific to the camper. I had to find that kid. He had between a 5- and 10-minute head-start on me.

I only knew the direction he was going, and we live in a very convoluted community that twists and turns around a protected dry-creek bed system. I unhitched the truck from the camper, and began a slow and deliberate reconnaissance of the neighborhood. He had to be local, or he would have bypassed this area. There are no short-cuts through Hidden Creek.

While patrolling, I had Kristine call the local police department. I figured having something on file might help with the inevitable future issues resulting from this theft. In San Antonio, one often hears rumors of kids stealing keys and selling the entire ring, along with the residential address to cartel members. Later, often months, you’ll return home to a gutted vehicle or looted building. I already began mentally making a list of what locks we’d need to change. I didn’t need this the day before we were leaving for a six-day trip. I had to find that punk.

He was gone. After 30 minutes of trolling through every haunt, hiding place and cut-through (and I know them all as a local runner), I had to abandon the search. The punk had won. Kristine called me back and said the police weren’t even coming. They just committed to a call back that evening for a report. A call, I might add, that never came.

I parked the truck and started unloading everything of worth into the garage for the night. At best, this kid would be a complete moron and try to loot us tonight. I would simply stay in the trailer on watch and be ready to snap his legs at that time. After stripping the truck, I finished erecting the camper and went inside the house to take a break. I kept enduring a worsening headache and my stomach was in a knot. Stress –Javelina; Kristine’s parents in town; Stolen keys. Had to be the stress. I drank more water with electrolytes and continued packing.

As sunset approached, now several hours since the punk stole my keychain, I went for a quick walk to clear my head. Twice I had a fairly violent bathroom episode, and I just wanted to relax a bit. I hadn’t run in almost three days and I knew that was a contributing factor to my inability to manage situations out of my control. I decided to do the half-mile block I always use to walk the dog. Not coincidentally, it also was the most probable course that the thief used. I began at a fairly brisk pace, but slowed down dramatically as I recounted our interaction.

The kid was young and impulsive. He didn’t have any of the mannerisms of a professional. He was definitely shaken by seeing me appear before him. He already had the keys, and at that point couldn’t put them back. He had to know that soon I would notice them gone –and that my first assumption would be that he took them. Was he brave enough to casually walk away with the evidence on him, or did he cut his losses and stash the keys somewhere for pickup later? Or was the scare enough to just toss them and bolt?

Two of those three instance involved getting the keys away from him ASAP. As I neared the corner of our block and made the turn, I began scanning the neighbor’s grounds. Confederate Jasmin, ivy and thick bushes cover their entire yard. I even checked his recycle bin; still sitting out at the street from the morning pickup. Nothing.

I searched for 20 minutes. All up and down the side street. He’d have thrown them down here if anywhere. This was the first available avenue where I wouldn’t have had a chance to see him. Unless… Unless he didn’t wait for the turn. He could have panicked and tossed them into the thick foliage on the border of mine and my neighbor’s yard. It would be risky, but it could have happened. I back-tracked and almost immediately saw the shining edge of my metallic orange beer popper under the neighbor’s shrubs. My keys had been thrown not 10 feet out of my yard.

I don’t think the kid even had plans to come back for them. He seized an opportunity and then lost the nerve. Can’t say I’m disappointed. At least that disaster was averted.

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on PeeDeePost.com.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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