Of Miles and Mustaches...
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Of Miles and Mustaches...

Fellow runners...
Gracious volunteers got in the mood...
A look in the mirror and I realized, “I look like Dad.” After a few days of growing out and then enhancing a mustache with the help of some pencil, I had all of the trappings of my father as I remembered him when I was younger. A mustache firmly planted on the upper lip. It was all so bizarrely familiar.

Unlike my father, whose charitable contributions included not killing my brother, sister, or me, I was sporting this mustache as part of the “Movember” movement. The concept is an Australian initiative to grow a mustache during November, showing solidarity for masculine health issues.


Paris joined the bandwagon last year, hosting the first of what will hopefully become an annual race each November, called Les Bacchantes, which raises money to battle prostate cancer.

The only rule? Wear a mustache.


No mustache left behind...
They're off!
Symbolically, the organizers scheduled the race on November 11, Armistice Day, when the unshaven French soldiers returned from war and were given the nickname, “les poilus” (the hairy men). This French spin on an Anglo-Saxon concept helped attract over 1000 runners this year, who ran an 8 kilometer race through the Bois de Boulogne.

And each runner, male, female, and in between, boasted a mustache. Some were natural. Some were very much not. But each and every runner got into the spirit. As the gun fired off at 10AM, a sea of orange shirts sprinted down avenue Foch towards the Arc de Triomphe, a welcomed sight for anyone returning to Paris after a long time away at battle.

My dad, mustache intact, used to run from our house and down a street with one of the slowest speed limits in the neighborhood. It was hilly, but long and straight, and he would run towards the fire hydrant by the elementary school, maybe a few miles. It was the little details of this run that I remembered, like the part where the sidewalk actually ends and where the abandoned railroad tracks were paved over with asphalt.

Had I been running alongside my dad during Les Bacchantes, we would have blushed together at the lady with the pushed up bosoms sitting in her van, awaiting her next customer. Instead of dodging morning newspapers on the sidewalk, we’d be silently jumping over muddy puddles and the occasional broken booze bottle. The details might change, but the runner’s high remains the same.

Post-run...it didn't last too long...
Confused dog...

























The race, maybe because of those little details that fleshed it out, was a huge success. Thomas, co-founder of Jogg.in, kept me going at a good pace as we dashed through the woods and trails, bringing us to the finish line in around 35 minutes.

And just like dad’s run, there was a homemade meal of sorts waiting for us at the finish line. Hot soup and quiche were served alongside bananas and fresh coffee, revitalizing the runners. A but different from dad's turkey sandwiches, but very much appreciated as I had a second helping of the creamy soup.

Next year, maybe I’ll drag my dad across the ocean and show him how we run in Paris. He’s got a year to regrow his mustache, and at least I know he knows how to do it.

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