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One year ago today, I published my first post here on Anyone Can Enter.
In the 12 months that followed, I’ve stuck to my mission of competing in at least one offbeat, obscure, wacky, or just plain ridiculous event each month, so long as anyone can enter. Along the way, I have succeeded (winning a national championship in egg tossing) and failed (in nearly everything else). More than anything, I’ve had fun at every step. Even when I was earning the title Last Ass in a pack burro race in Colorado or listening to my friends crack on me for failing to complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The way I see it, this occasion deserves a professionally baked cake. It may seem crazy—buying a cake to celebrate the anniversary of a blog—but is it really any crazier than jumping into a freezing cold lake on New Year’s Day or throwing yourself down a hill after a wheel of cheese? I don’t think so.
Plus, this blog is responsible for more than a series of wacky adventures. Back in that first post, I set a few additional goals. One was to lose about 20 pounds. The other was to run a marathon. I’m happy to say that I have exceeded my weight loss goal and that in four days, I’m running in the Tobacco Road Marathon.
As for next year, I doubt I can stand to lose 20 more pounds and I’m not sure I can continue competing in one event each month. But I do plan to maintain this blog. Sometime after the marathon, expect a more sentimental retrospective, complete with a year-in-review video and a more detailed plan for the future of Anyone Can Enter.
For now, let’s take a look at the first year of Anyone Can Enter by the numbers…
11,975—All-time blog views (not including my own views)
8,667—Miles traveled to and from events
1,776—Stairs climbed at the CN Tower Climb
650—Approximate number of people who endured my attempt to holler at the National Hollerin’ Contest
365—Days my awesome, beautiful wife Carie has had to put up with all this nonsense
350—Most blog views in one day, largely thanks to @darrenrovell
349—Second-most blog views in one day, largely thanks to Penn Holderness
335—Comments you’ve made on the blog
253—Miles I’ve run since October, when I started training for the Tobacco Road Marathon
149—Votes I lost by to the eventual winner of the News & Observer’s Ugly Sweater Contest
86—Percentage of people who voted for me to shave my head for the Warrior Dash
62—Feet between Mike Hepp and I when we completed our winning toss in the National Egg Toss Championship
50—Approximate number of people who jumped into a freezing cold lake with me on New Year’s Day
42—Stone skips registered by Russ Byars at the Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Tournament, 27 more than my best effort
25 (and counting)—pounds I’ve lost since starting this blog
15—Trees we planted during the Asheville Idiotarod
10.5—Doughnuts I managed to eat at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, 1.5 less than the necessary dozen to complete the challenge
10—Men, including me, who entered the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
9—Men who finished ahead of me in the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
4—Orange habanero peppers I ate during the Bailey Farms Chile Pepper Eating Contest before bowing out to the Toothless Pepper King, who ate 14
3—National champion coaches who declined my request for advice leading up to the National Egg Toss Championship
1—National championship won without the help of national championship coaches
If you’re a regular follower of Anyone Can Enter, you know that Cheese Rolling holds a special place in my heart. You may also know that the annual event was cancelled this year due to public safety concerns, what with 15,000-plus spectators ascending on a narrow English hill meant to handle roughly the capacity of a typical double-decker London bus. Cheese Rolling organizers hope to resolve their safety issues and hold an official event next year, but that didn’t stop hundreds of cheese rollers from gathering at Cooper’s Hill today for an unofficial cheese rolling.
A few of my favorite snippets from the local coverage of the event:
–(Six-time champion Chris) Anderson said he visited the site last night to clear the hill of branches and stones.
How awesome is that? Can you imagine Alex Rodriguez showing up at Yankee Stadium the night before the World Series to rake the infield? I think not.
–Diana Smart, who makes the Double Gloucester cheese used for the popular event every year at her farm in Churcham, said: “People have been in and bought cheeses, but of course I don’t know what they bought them for.
“I had my suspicions about one chap who came in. I know he’s won cheeses in the past and was very disappointed when the event was cancelled, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was going to use it for an unofficial cheese roll.”
This is equally awesome. Although the article doesn’t specifically say this, it leads me to believe that Anderson bought the cheese for the unofficial event.
From the BBC
–Here’s an alternative to chasing cheese, especially if you prefer going uphill, rather than downhill. In the Tetbury Woolsack Race, men carry 60-pound sacks of wool up a steep hill. And just like Cheese Rolling, there seems to be no good reason for doing this. Cheers!
From The Daily Mail
–For unofficial women’s champion Eleanor Walpole, winning the cheese is worth every bit of nearly losing her shirt. (Scroll down halfway for pictures.)
The view from Cooper’s Hill is worth every inch of the steep crawl to its peak, rewarding climbers with a spectacular panorama of a sleepy English countryside dotted by farmhouses.
That’s assuming you’re not sandwiched between a drunk Australian dressed up like a sumo wrestler and a kilt-wearing Scotsman on the UK’s first bank holiday in May, preoccupied by the haunting vision of your ankles snapping in a chaotic race against an enormous wheel of cheese.
Lucky for me, I managed to survive the 2006 Cheese Rolling by sliding down mostly on my tush, soiling my Levi’s to such extremes that I later packed them in our motel wastebasket rather than my suitcase. With my strategy in place—a combination of cautious sliding and hesitant somersaulting that I’d call smart but my lovely wife still calls wimpish—I never had a chance of wrapping my grass-stained mitts around the 7-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese awarded to the winner. I had something much better, after all—one of the most memorable weekends of my life and a newfound respect for aged dairy products.
Given my Cheese Rolling experience, it should come as no surprise that I was disappointed to learn this week that the event will likely be cancelled this year. Then again, it seems fitting that it’s in the news. Starting and maintaining this blog is the realization of a dream born on that old hill. A dream to force myself into awkward situations I’d never experience if I’d stayed at home and watched a Family Guy marathon instead. A dream to publicly humiliate myself on a regular basis. A dream to chase the cheese, no matter how stupid it might seem.
It’s a dream that for too long has been tucked away in the back of my mind, something I occasionally pull out at parties or mention in passing as that one great idea that got away. But that ends today. Starting this blog is my affirmation, my promise to myself and the blogosphere that this idea will no longer sit idly in the dusty recesses of my brain.
If you’ve ever run with the bulls, competed in a bratwurst-eating competition, represented your country in the Nude Olympics, or just been fascinated by someone’s motivation to throw himself down a hill in the name of cheese, consider Anyone Can Enter your new home for stories and personal accounts about some of the strangest, quirkiest, and ridiculous competitions that allow anyone to enter. My mission will be to compete in one event each month and chronicle every step of the way right here.
Sure, I have delusions of grandeur just like anybody else would. In my wildest dreams, Anyone Can Enter becomes a hub for anyone who’s ever dreamt of winning a wheel of cheese and ruining a fine pair of slacks in the same day. And, yes, it would be incredibly awesome if this spawns a book deal, a TV show, a movie, and a Jon Page action figure that accompanies your kid’s McDonald’s Happy Meal.
But, Mom, if you’re the only one still reading this, so be it. Anyone Can Enter isn’t about having the fastest time, winning the most prizes, or striking it rich. It’s about having fun and trying something new, if only for the sake of trying.
For me, it’s also about living a better lifestyle. On April 6, 2011, I’ll turn 30. I’d like to do it a bit faster, stronger, and about 20 pounds lighter. To help me get there, I’ll be adding some normal races into my routine and I’m shooting to run a marathon sometime near my birthday next year. I should probably mention more about how I haven’t gone for a run of 3 miles or longer in about six years, but I’ll save that for another post. We’re talking baby steps here. In fact, my first event—a potato decorating contest at Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh—required no athletic aptitude. Next month’s CN Tower Stair Climb in Toronto, however, is sure to kick my butt. Again, more on that later.
In the future, also look out for posts in which I track down former winners of the events I’m entering. I’ll need their advice to guide me through the early rounds of the National Hollerin’ Contest and coach me on how to finish the Krispy Kreme Challenge without regurgitated doughnut glaze on my running shoes.
Along the way, maybe I’ll inspire you to chase a silly dream of yours, too. Either way, it should be a fun ride.