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A Dutch pair of tossers has won the 2011 World Egg Throwing Championship in England.
Unfortunately, my co-champ and I failed to secure a sponsor to send us to today’s event. So instead of competing for a world title, we played a backyard game of Russian Egg Roulette.
Watch the video to see what happened.
Scribbled in all capital letters atop the first page of a new moleskine notebook, it was less New Year’s resolution, more life mission statement.
No. A destiny.
MAKE IT TO THE WORLD EGG THROWING CHAMPIONSHIP IN ENGLAND AND RAISE A BUNCH OF CASH FOR WORLD HUNGER
Clearly, as 2010 made way for 2011, I wasn’t just hoping to drop a few pounds or learn something new to expand my mind. I was aiming for global domination in a sport (if you’ll humor me and call it a sport) in which I am the reigning U.S. national champion.
An epic plan was hatched. My co-champion (and good friend) Mike Hepp and I would seek corporate sponsorship to send us to Swaton, England, for our world title shot. Along the way, we’d raise money for hunger-related charities. The sponsor would get some positive press coverage, hungry people would eat, and Mike and I would finally have an excuse to get WORLD CHAMPS tattooed on our chests.
Everyone would win.
Our efforts to attain sponsorship included the production of an epicly awesome video pitch, a website (thanks to my beautiful wife/web designer Carie), and a cleverly packaged direct mail campaign (egg cartons filled with plastic eggs stuffed with reasons to sponsor the champs).
The immediate results were impressive.
During that first week, the video racked up more than 700 hits on YouTube. Jason Jennings, a local TV sports reporter, blogged about our pitch, saying that we are “never short on tongue-in-cheek creativity.” We even received the ultimate pat on the back from Darren Rovell, a CNBC Sports Business Reporter who tweeted:
Unfortunately, most of the corporations we targeted for sponsorship didn’t quite see it the same way. The ones that actually responded were nice enough, but only before assuring me that they prefer to spend their time and money on actual charitable activities. Not egg tossers.
We did manage to flirt with the North Carolina Egg Association, but only after proclaiming that we might actually just pay our own way to England. Problem was, once we actually thought about shelling out more than $4,000 to fly ourselves and our wives to England to compete in an egg tossing tournament, it was easier to see what some of our potential sponsors were thinking.
That’s part of the reason why we have officially decided not to attend this year’s contest.
It’s a sad thing to finally type that.
For nearly the first five months of this year, I’ve been somewhat consumed with this idea. Now, here I am admitting that it won’t happen. That I’m giving in to the silliness of it all. That I won’t be meet World Egg Throwing Federation Andrew Dunlop in person this year.
Then again, I have no regrets about pursuing such a ridiculous adventure. If anything, I regret that I didn’t try harder to make it happen. That I didn’t follow through on booking that last-minute flight to Illinois to start a rally at the quarterly American Egg Board meeting. That I didn’t mail just two more egg cartons. That I didn’t tell enough people about the brilliance of such an insane idea.
Fortunately, Big Boss Brewing Company just dropped another tossing contest into my lap. Instead of eggs, I’ll be tossing coasters this Saturday for a chance at a Pan American title.
Plus, there’s no reason Mike and I can’t start saving up to make it to next year’s World Egg Throwing Championship.
Yeah, I think that might be a nice goal.
Or a destiny.
(Blogger’s note: If you are an e-mail subscriber and received a post that appeared to be a draft, please accept my apologies. I’m just getting the hang of of blogging on the iPad and accidentally published a draft.)
After one year of pursuing some of the oddest contests I could find and traveling all over the country to reach them, Carie and I did something completely insane last week: We went on a vacation focused solely on rest and relaxation.
It was fantastic to go away without an agenda, but I did spend a fair amount of time thinking about and preparing for future events. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store in the weeks and months ahead.
– Co-national egg toss champion Mike Hepp and I are still plotting a path to the World Egg Throwing Championship in June. We’re still wooing potential sponsors, but we’re confident that we’ll make it to England to defend the honor of American-laid eggs. Unfortunately, I’ve had to waste some time monitoring the Wikipedia page for the National Egg Toss Championship. Last week, some hackers erased our names and added the names Wells Winegar and Yaj Jacobs as the winners of the 2011 championship, which has yet to take place. Wells and Yaj, if you’re reading this, and if you want to challenge the champs, drop me a line. But please, respect the sanctity of our Wikipedia page.
– While it wasn’t an official contest, I recently tried an incredibly fun new sport. NBC 17 morning anchor Penn Holderness invited me to play a round of speed golf, which is just like regular golf, except you run between shots and combine your total strokes with minutes played to tally your final score. I’m not yet sure when Penn will air the story, but I’ll keep you posted and write more about our round later.
– I’ve been challenged by a reader to compete in his upcoming 999 Challenge, in which competitors must eat 9 hot dogs and drink 9 beers during 9 innings of a baseball game. Although I keep saying that I’ll never compete in another eating contest, especially after my miserable failure at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, I simply cannot turn down an invitation to drink beer and watch baseball. It would be un-American.
– On May 21, Carie and I will compete in the National Potato Peeling Contest in Elizabeth City, NC. Of course, I said the same thing last year and we never found two more teammates. But this year we will not be denied. If you think you’ve got what it takes to join our team, so long as your name isn’t Wells or Yaj, let me know.
For now, I have a Wikipedia page to monitor.
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
On a gorgeous North Carolina day, your 2010 U.S. National Egg Toss Champions officially began practicing for the World Egg Throwing Championship. No, we don’t have a sponsor yet for Tossing For Hunger, but we do have a few positive leads.
Mike and I are admittedly somewhat rusty. Just ask Mike’s company truck, which took the brunt of a long, errant throw on my part. After that bad toss, we looked pretty good. Our final throw measured more than 90 feet, about 30 feet longer than our winning throw at last year’s national championship.
The best part about practice, however, is that we saved a few eggs. Which means I’m eating eggs for dinner. And breakfast, of course.
When you’re simultaneously training for your first marathon and campaigning for sponsorship in your pursuit to win the World Egg Throwing Championship, you have to assume you’re going to hit a few roadblocks along the way.
Knowing that, however, doesn’t make it any easier to overcome rejection. On Wednesday, Tossing For Hunger received its first official rejection from a supermarket chain that shall remain nameless.
(By the way, if you haven’t been to the website yet or watched our YouTube video, check it out now.)
Sure, I was expecting to receive plenty of rejection letters until the perfect sponsor comes through, and the e-mail I received was pleasant enough, but it still hurt to know that a potential sponsor didn’t see the true beauty and potential of our plan.
Or maybe I was still too upset about the events of last weekend.
Last Friday night, I mapped out an 8-mile out, 8-mile back run on the Raleigh Greenway trail—a route that would be my longest training run leading up to the Tobacco Road Marathon on March 20. When I awoke the next morning, however, I nearly coughed up my right lung. Clearly, I had received an unfortunate gift from Carie, who had picked up bronchitis on a recent business trip. Or maybe it was nothing at all. I convinced myself that it was an aberration. That if I filled up my Camelbak with Gatorade and hit the trail, I could literally run away whatever sickness might be festering in my body. Plus, it was a gorgeous day. There was no way I wasn’t going for a run.
Three miles in, I was perfectly fine. Four miles in, I passed another runner who seemed to be in better shape than me. I imagined conversations I would have with friends and coworkers on Monday. “Yeah, I was starting to get sick,” I would tell them. “But then I just ran it out of my system. Infection has no chance against the mighty Jon Page. In fact, next time you get sick, don’t even call your doctor. I’ll come over and take you on a run. Forget medicine, I am your prescription for relief!”
At the halfway point, however, I faced a cause for concern. Normally, on long runs, I don’t start tapping into my water supply until I’ve run at least 6 miles. And no matter how far I go, I usually finish the run with more than half a tank. But 8 miles into this run, my pack felt extremely light. Two miles later, the Gatorade was empty. Worse, I had to stop running to wait for traffic. Once I could cross the street, my legs refused to resume their previous pace. I decided to walk until I was comfortable enough to run. A mile later, I was still walking. After another mile, I considered napping in the grass.
With 4 miles back to the car and absolutely no energy, I finally decided that I should probably call for rescue. I had my phone with me, so I considered calling a cab, but I had no money. I would have called Carie, but she was on a road trip with her mom.
Instead, I surrendered to running failure in the most humiliating way possible for a nearly 30-year-old man—I called my mommy.
I explained my predicament, nearly in tears. Here I was, exactly one month away from my first marathon, and I couldn’t even finish a 16-mile run. How in the world could I expect to run 26.2 miles?
Worse yet, I was calling my mom to rescue me.
When I finally made it home, I slipped into hibernation for 15 of the next 18 hours. Clearly, I was sick. And exhausted.
A week later, I’m happy to say that I’m completely recovered. I’m happier to say that I just finished a 16-mile run, and that I easily could have run another 10 miles. And more than ever, I’m determined to find a sponsor for Tossing For Hunger.
Even if I have to ask my mom for help.
Today, I’m officially launching one of my most ambitious pursuits yet.
Along with my good friend and co-National Egg Toss Champion Mike Hepp, we’re seeking sponsorship to help us attend the World Egg Throwing Championship this June in England. Along the way, we’re also hoping to raise money for hunger-related charities.
Part of our pitch to potential egg-related sponsors is www.TossingForHunger.com. Right now, the site is merely a shell of our vision. With a sponsor’s help, we hope to make it a full-fledged site, complete with a fundraising page and blog.
We realize it may be a long shot, but we’re tossing everything we’ve got at this project. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be reaching out to potential sponsors and asking them to help make this dream a reality. Of course, we’ll also be eating eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. At least two each day.
Enjoy. And may God bless America and her delicious, nutritious eggs.
A big announcement is coming next week from America’s top tossers.
I consider myself an open-minded person. I love traveling down out-of-the-way roads, immersing myself in strange cultures, and meeting new people. This week, I even tried eggplant for the first time in my life.
But let’s say you came to me a few months ago predicting that I’d soon be whipping my mother-in-law’s ass up and down her front yard—at my wife’s suggestion—while a TV crew films the entire graphic display. It’s impossible that I would have believed you, and I might have said something like this.
“How dare you? That’s incredibly offensive. And, hey! Is that peyote you’re smoking? And are you drinking cough syrup? You totally need to get some help, man!”
Little did I know.
Of course, up until recently, I never imagined that I’d be preparing for a pack burro race in Colorado. Or that I might win a national championship in egg tossing. Or that several days later, something even crazier would happen—the media would start calling.
The first person to contact me was WRAL sports reporter Jason Jennings. I was excited, but nervous. As a writer, I’m used to controlling the stories I tell. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to relinquish that power to a TV reporter.
Plus, my last appearance on the CBS affiliate was a disaster. It was a 1998 edition of Football Friday, a weekly high school football wrap-up show. That night, the Broughton Capitals stomped my Leesville Pride. I threw four interceptions, and a WRAL cameraman was there to capture all of my pathetic bloopers. The deep voice of longtime WRAL sports anchor Tom Suiter still haunts my dreams.
“Jon Page … drops back … gonna’ be … INTERCEPTED!”
Fortunately, reporters are much more friendly when you’re a national champion—even if it’s for egg tossing. Jason was incredibly nice, and the feature he filed on Raleigh’s newly crowned egg tossing champions was equally hilarious and professional. (Although, I’m pretty sure that the champions’ wives stole the show.)
I also heard from a media relations assistant for the Hagerstown Suns, the minor league baseball team that hosts the National Egg Toss Championship. This was especially funny considering that I was calling Suns officials months ago to interview them for my blog. Back then, I had to wait a few weeks before anyone would return my call. But after winning their contest, they were calling me. Even better, the media relations assistant kept calling me, “Sir.”
Yesterday, we were featured in the print and online edition of the News & Observer in an excellent story by staff writer Mark Hensch. The N&O’s sister paper, The Myrtle Beach Sun News, even picked up the story! I haven’t even been to Myrtle Beach in years, but I now feel like I owe the good people there a visit.
And this morning, NBC 17 viewers in the Raleigh-Durham area ate their corn flakes and sipped their coffee to the site of me and morning anchor Penn Holderness running with donkeys.
Of all the interviews I did in the past two weeks, this one scared me the most. Mainly because it was my first training session with the donkeys, and also because of something Penn said to me just before the interview.
“You know we’re kind of going to make fun of you, right?”
Sure, I get that. I make fun of myself on this blog all the time. And we were, after all, standing in a pasture on my mother-in-law’s farm, getting ready to film a segment in which I’d run a leashed donkey in circles to prepare for the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race in Colorado. This wasn’t exactly Dateline material, and I’m not exactly Lance Armstrong. Of course Penn was going to poke a little fun at me. I just didn’t know how far he might take his ridicule.
When I run in the pack burro race in Colorado, I’ll be renting a trained donkey with racing experience. The miniature Sicilian donkeys I began training with at Noah’s Landing, however, had never even been harnessed before last Friday morning, and I wasn’t even capable of catching them. Carie’s mom had to lasso the first one just so we could get him harnessed. Fortunately, Penn and his cameraman arrived a few minutes late. At least they wouldn’t experience the joy of filming my ass wrangling incompetence.
Not that it mattered. I had absolutely no control over my ass. I could smack him on the back with the lead, but he sprinted wildly, often in the direction of a mud pit or a pile of waste. My troubles were confounded as I wore a wired microphone and Penn interviewed me as I zigzagged across the pasture. Imagine trying to have a worthwhile conversation with someone while an animal jerks you around like a rag doll. Oh, and the local news is there. If actual pack burro racing is anything like what I tried that morning, I’m in deep trouble.
Somehow, I made it through the interview without diving head first into a pile of donkey chips. A few minutes later, Penn ran with his own donkey. Later, he even interviewed me standing still. I was starting to think that maybe he’d go easy on me. That maybe he was starting to get what I was all about. That this isn’t just one big joke.
After the interview, I was feeling upbeat. But as I started walking to my car, I overheard Penn whispering to his cameraman.
“Let’s call it Donkey Man,” he said.
“Penn! I totally heard that!”
“It’s just the file name Jon. Just the file name!”
In the end, I think Penn produced a great feature.
After all my nervous anticipation, I’m proud to say that the worst thing Penn said is that I spent my Fourth of July training on my mother-in-law’s donkey farm.
Ha! I’ll have you know that even Donkey Man watched fireworks.
Many thanks to Dave Telep, National Recruiting Director for Scout.com, whose tweets of our egg-tossing prowess caught the eyes of the local media. And many thanks to the assorted members of the local media who took time away from reporting actual news to tell my story.
HAGERSTOWN, Md.–As soon as I release the egg, I know it’s a rotten throw.
I’m certain it’s destined for a premature, shell-splitting, yolk-splattering death 62 feet away in my best friend’s right hand. When you’ve been throwing eggs twice a week for the past two months, you develop a pretty good feeling about these things. Except that this is a terrible feeling—the worst feeling an egg thrower can experience. And it’s happening in the final round of competition on the greatest egg throwing stage in the nation. This is inexcusable. This is a complete letdown of monumental proportions.
Normally, such a weak, short toss wouldn’t have been a problem. My partner simply would have run closer to the egg to make a clean snag. Problem averted. But now that we know the official rules—that you can’t cross that line—running over it to secure a better position is not an option.
Little do we know, this rule is about to reward us with a glorious second chance.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
As national championships go, the National Egg Toss Championship (NETC) isn’t exactly on par with the Super Bowl. The NETC takes place on a Sunday and the winners receive trophies, but that’s where the comparisons should stop. Unlike most national championships, which are held in massive arenas, the venue for the NETC is Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Md., home of the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball club. Willie Mays played his first professional game there in 1950, but the seating capacity is only 4,600. And unlike most national titles, which require years of training and rounds of qualifying, anyone can buy a ticket to a Suns game, show up with a partner in right field after nine innings, and compete for the national title. Most of the contestants are Little League players. As far as I know, ESPN has never covered the event. Erin Andrews has never interviewed the champions.
This didn’t stop Mike Hepp and I from approaching this contest like professionals. While our wives, Carie and Jodie, also planned to compete in the NETC, they rarely practiced. Mike and I, however, shared a standing, twice-weekly date in his front yard. There, he had spray-painted marks in 10-feet increments so we could measure our progress. The first practice wasn’t impressive, but we rapidly improved. One evening, we each completed throws of more than 90 feet—a distance that would have been good enough to win by 50 feet last year. On the Friday night before the contest, however, I worried that our confidence was morphing into cockiness.
“When we win this thing, I bet we can get you on the radio,” Mike said.
“Whoa, buddy,” I said. “Let’s slow down. We need to win it, first.”
“Whatever man, we’re going to be national champions. I’ve even got a perfect quote ready when the newspaper interviews us after we win.”
This was exactly why I had decided to reach out to a few national champion coaches the week before. Figuring we needed to maintain a strict mental focus, I solicited advice from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (a four-time national champion), North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams (a two-time national champion), and Alabama football coach Nick Saban (another two-time national champion). Unfortunately, none of the coaches could spare some time to offer a couple of egg throwers some words of wisdom. If they had, they probably would have advised against a booze-filled binge the day before the championship. We had a mini-reunion with our good friends Dave and Diddy, and our new friends Tracy, Paul, and Lisa. After watching the US-Ghana World Cup match in a bar, we caught a yawner of a game at Camden Yard between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. Later, we dined and drank at a nearby watering hole. Mike and I also had a few more drinks at the hotel bar before going to bed. Certainly, Coach K wouldn’t have allowed this spree of debauchery.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
On the morning of the contest, my shirtless reflection in the Marriott bathroom mirror told a pathetic tale of excess and laziness. A hairy, expansive gut and flabby chest begged for less beer and fewer second helpings of garlic bratwursts. A wiry, undefined pair of arms cried for attention, for nothing more than an occasional visit to the gym or the fleeting rush of squeezing a stress ball. Multiple zits wondered what they were doing on the face of a 29-year-old.
This, I thought, was hardly the body and face of a national champion. More like a champion doughnut eater.
My self-doubt had some company. As we walked to lunch, Mike revealed that he was nervous.
“Don’t be,” I said. “This is all just for fun.”
“I know, but what if we don’t win, and I’m the weak link?”
Not only were we lacking confidence, we were feuding. At dinner on Saturday night, we stumbled into an inevitable road trip pothole: an epic argument. Pointless road trip arguments of the past have included the following who-could-actually-care-less topics:
-Who’s going to be the better pro: Vince Carter or Corey Maggette?
-Who would you rather take in the NFL Draft: Michael Vick or Drew Brees?
-Was Tiger Woods faking his knee injury at the 2008 US Open?
The argument du jour was whether or not current NBA and NFL stars could be world-class soccer players if they had started playing soccer at an early age, instead of their respective sports. Long story short, Mike said yes. I said not really. An entire restaurant was lucky enough to hear the entire spat, blow for worthless blow. It even spilled over to lunch on Sunday as we waited for our plates at Jimmy’s, a diner in Fells Point.
“Hey Page,” Dave said. “Are you ever going to try and qualify for the US Open?”
“I don’t think I’d have a prayer,” I said. “I think you have to have an incredible handicap just to sign up.”
“I think it’s 1.4,” Mike said. “Dave, what’s yours?”
“I think it’s something like 8.”
“So you’d have to be 8 times better than Dave,” Mike said.
“Well,” I said, “maybe, when I was younger, if somebody had put a golf club in my hands instead of a pen, I’d be in the US Open.”
Everyone laughed. I smirked. My vocal jab felt good. But Mike wasn’t going down without a fight.
“No,” he said. “You’d still be just as bad a golfer as you are a writer.”
Everyone laughed again. Louder this time. I was pressed, but he had yet to knock me out. I had one more comeback in me.
“Right,” I said. “But everybody knows you can’t read!”
Ha! He didn’t respond, because it’s true. Mike would rather poke his eyeball out with a toothbrush than read a book. That’s what movies are for. When he sees how long this story is, he probably won’t even read it. The only problem was that nobody laughed this time. It was clear to everyone that this argument had escalated beyond playful ribbing to uncomfortable needling. I felt like a bad friend. And a terrible egg throwing partner.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
During the drive to Hagerstown, my phone buzzes. According to the Twitter stream for the World Egg Throwing Championship (which is held in Swaton, England, on the same day as the American contest), the newly crowned World Egg Throwing Champions are two 12-year-olds. If the best egg throwers in the world are 12-year-olds, maybe Mike and I are past our prime. Maybe we aren’t cut out for this event.
Fortunately, there is a bit of good news waiting for us at Municipal Stadium, when we arrive in the fourth inning. With the Suns losing 4-0 to the Hickory Crawdads, many fans are already leaving. Fine with me. Those are just potential competitors walking out the front gate. And there aren’t that many people here in the first place. The announced attendance is an ambitious sum of 1,162.
I barely watch the game. I’m far too busy calming my nerves. I chat with my Uncle Jim, who drove up from Frederick to join us and film the event, but I’m a lousy conversation partner. All I can think about is the upcoming competition. Near the end of the game, a Suns employee is carrying the trophies around the stadium. I can’t help but daydream about holding it. Next, I envision a series of never-ending perfect throws and receptions.
After the game, there is another small contest in which fans attempt to throw tennis balls from the stands into hula-hoops at various spots on the field. The closer the hoop, the smaller the prize. Landing your ball in the center field hula-hoop, however, is worth $100. Mike and I take aim for the top prize. We come close a few times, but we nearly throw out our arms. It’s clear that this game is rigged. Hopefully, the NETC isn’t.
Finally, it’s time to throw some eggs.
The contest officials instruct one member of each team to stand behind the right-field foul line. Ten feet from the foul line, they stretch out a roll of yellow caution tape and instruct the other partners to cross the line. To complete one round, the partner behind the foul line must successfully complete a throw to the partner behind the caution tape. Then, that partner must successfully complete a throw back to their partner. The egg can be tossed or rolled, but stepping over the foul line or caution tape will result in disqualification.
Mike and I carefully choose our spot on the field. The main objective is to put a few contestants between us and our wives, who claim to have a secret trick that will lead them to victory. Due to their lack of practice, they really have nothing to lose, and I don’t want them distracting us. Losing to them would be a crippling defeat. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love my wife and respect everything about her. She’s amazingly talented, smart, and beautiful. But I can’t imagine the shame of practicing so hard, only to lose to someone who barely trained.
Our egg throwing neighbors are a pair of 10-year-olds and an 8-year-old and his dad (or possibly his Little League coach). I like what I see. Of the 20 teams, most of them are small children. It all seems innocent enough until the dad/coach next to us speaks to his young partner.
“OK, buddy. Don’t be too upset if we don’t win again this year.”
What? How is this happening? In an effort to get away from our wives, we have positioned ourselves right next to the defending national champions! And one of them must be a precocious phenom who will probably win the next World Egg Throwing Championship. We’re just a pair of speed bumps en route to his reign of global egg flinging domination. Flustered, I drop Mike’s second practice throw. The egg doesn’t break, but it’s clear that I’m rattled. Determined to overcome this adversity, I tell Mike that the drops are out of my system.
We trade in our practice egg for the real deal. The first few throws are perfect. As the officials move the caution tape back 3 to 5 feet after each round, some of our shorter competitors start dropping their eggs.
In the fifth round, at a distance of roughly 30 feet, I notice Carie and Jodie walking off the field. They had a nice run, and I am truly proud of them, but I breathe a deep sigh of relief. We won’t be losing to our wives. Even better, our biggest competitors are now our biggest cheerleaders. Well, our only cheerleaders.
The defending champs fall in the next round. I guess that kid isn’t a future world champion, after all.
Mike and I remain perfect and the field thins out. By Round 9, it’s down to just two teams. Our final opponents are older than us. One of them is a Little League coach. Half his team is here, cheering him on and yelling, “Drop it! Drop it!” every time we make a throw. We match each other in Rounds 9 and 10.
In Round 11, at a distance of 62 feet, Mike throws me a perfect strike. Our competition counters. This is where I make my colossal error. My throw is far enough to barely get over the line, but not far enough for Mike to get in proper position without stepping over the line. Forced to make a shoestring catch, the shell cracks and Mike is clinging to a fist full of yolk. For weeks, we’d been talking about the one bad egg that could ruin our dreams. I just threw it. I can’t watch. I turn around and walk deeper into the outfield. My only hope now is that our opponents will also break their egg.
I turn to watch a perfect throw and catch. The receiver raises his arms. They are the champions. Not us. They are taking trophies home. Not us. It’s all my fault. I’m the weak link. Not Mike.
But wait. Mike is pointing at the foul line. The wives are screaming. “His foot was over the line! His foot was over the line.” A contest official verifies their claim. We’re still alive!
So, now, I scream. “It’s a toss-off!”
(Later, after reviewing the video, I see several instances where our competitors stepped over the line in earlier rounds, meaning we should have never even gotten to this point.)
After noticing the Anyone Can Enter branding on our shirts, I overhear one of our competitors grumble that Mike and I must be getting paid for this. My bad throw aside, we do look the part of professionals. But seriously? Come on guys. There’s no swoosh on our shirts. I consider setting them straight. But why bother? If these guys want to think that we’ve got corporate sponsorship, let them think it.
Each team receives a new egg. In our final practices, Mike and I had trained for this exact situation. We weren’t preparing for a toss-off, but we were confident in our throwing/catching ability from this distance. After making it to 80 and 90 feet a few times in practice, we wanted to see how much farther we could throw an egg if we started at 60 feet instead of 2 feet. All the impact from those short and medium tosses jeopardized the structure of the egg, we figured, making it harder to complete long throws after so many shorter ones. The strategy worked. On the Friday night before the NETC, we each completed a throw of more than 120 feet.
In another twist of good fortune for us, our competitors commit another costly mistake. Their first throw lands 15-feet short of the receiver and bounces end-over-end, kickoff style, into his hands. The egg is still intact, but it clearly takes a beating.
Mike throws me another perfect, high-arcing egg. I make another perfect catch. The opponent near me is up. His throw can’t look any sweeter. It’s long enough and it’s right on target, but that egg has just been to hell and back. It probably isn’t going to survive a landing in a dumpster full of pillows.
SPLAT! The egg breaks in his hands! All we need is one more throw and catch.
My mind is completely empty. Nerves? Nowhere to be found. Pressure? Totally absent. A crowd of 20 people remaining, many of them small children heckling Mike? Invisible. It’s just Mike and me out there, playing catch with an egg in his front yard. Just like we’d practiced dozens and dozens of times in the past two months. By this point, we’re totally over our road trip feud. Who cares if Julius Peppers would make a good soccer player? All that matters now is that we can be national champion egg throwers.
With one deep breath, I deliver another strike to Mike. The Little League hecklers are nearly in his back pocket.
“Drop it! Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!”
Undaunted, he welcomes it with another soft landing in his cushioned hands and flips it to the kids.
It’s over! We are national champions! I am shocked, and I don’t want to disrespect the runners-up. Just a minute before—just for a moment—they thought they were national champions. So, for no good reason, I walk up to the opponent on my side, shake his hand, and say something sort of weird.
“Congratulations,” I say, even though I am the victor, not him. I have no idea what I am saying. I am dehydrated and possibly delirious. Next time, I think, I’m hiring a water boy.
Minutes later, Mike and I are each holding our own national championship trophies. Assuming you exclude all those participation trophies you receive in youth sports just for showing up to the games, and unless you count the sportsmanship award (which was actually a plaque) I received my senior year of high school (for setting records in both interceptions thrown and sacks taken) or the trophy I made (the one and only time I won our Fantasy Football League), this is the first trophy I have ever actually won. It feels good. No, it feels incredibly awesome.
The only thing that might make it better is a champagne bath and President Obama on line 1.
President Obama: Congratulations, gentlemen. Your country is truly proud of you today. You have performed with great courage, honor, and integrity. I look forward to hosting you, your families, and your friends for a steak and egg dinner in Washington sometime soon.
At least, that’s probably how it would have gone.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
In the parking lot, Carie turns to me. “So, do you want to know the secret tip or not?”
She’s been dying to tell me.
“Oh yeah,” I say. “What is it?”
“The people who set the Guinness World Record said they shook up an egg for two hours so that the yolk would thin out and wouldn’t slam against the sides of the shell.”
“Oh,” I say. “Did they ever win a national championship?”
I don’t actually know the answer to this question. I don’t care. All I know is that Mike and I are national champions, and we didn’t need a secret tip to make it happen. We didn’t even need a coach. All we needed was practice.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
On the 6-hour trip home, our heads swell with pride.
“What a great week for Raleigh,” Mike says. “First, John Wall is the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Now, we win the National Egg Toss Championship.”
Later, we plot our egg throwing futures. We wonder aloud which of us will be the first to sign an endorsement deal. I realize that no matter what I eat for breakfast the next day, it will be a breakfast of champions. Because I’m a champion. Therefore, I could eat cat food and call it the breakfast of champions.I decide, however, to avoid this idea.
“So, Mike,” I say, “are we going to come back next year and defend our title?”
“Maybe,” he says, “or we could retire. Go out on top.”
Then again, there’s always next years World Championship in England. It would be a shame to retire without a world championship title to our names.
Those 12-year-olds better watch out.