Friday, February 17, 2012

Atlanta Mattress 500

OK - so it's a Friday afternoon in the fall and my phone rings.  It's  Patty Russart (Executive Director of the Atlanta Community ToolBank) and she invites me to join their team for a race on Saturday - yes the next day.   I proceed to ask for details and find out it's the Atlanta Mattress 500 which is a bed race benefiting the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta.  Bed Race? you ask??? Well... I will get to that later.
Not really knowing what to expect, I agree as the Furniture Bank is another local charity I support and combining it with The Atlanta Community ToolBank, how can I go wrong.  I go to bed early as I will need to be up and moving promptly at 8:00 A.M.  in order to make the 10:00 A.M. start time.  Fortunately for me, shortly after my head hits the pillow I am in dream land.  Upon waking, I  
complete my usual Saturday morning routine,  then I am off to Atlantic Station for this inaugural event.  After I find a place to park,  I look around to find my co-participants.  Once the "team" is all together we register and then gather all the supplies which Patty and the others from the ToolBank have brought. At this point I am still not sure what the Atlanta Mattress 500 is and why we need the supplies,  but I am a good sport and ready to have fun.  After a short welcome and introduction they announce the start of the first contest, a decorating portion of the competition (ah that is what the supplies are for!).  Instructions are given that we have 20 minutes to use the supplies we brought to make our beds "fashionable" and then adorn costumes to correlate with our design. We are directed to the street on the other side of the restaurant to our south.  As we round the corner of the building we see approximately fifteen beds lined up along the blocked off street where cars are normally parked.  Each single bed has been equipped with wheels and as soon as we find the one tagged for the Atlanta Community ToolBank we begin our frantic attempt to decorate it. 
How would one decorate a bed you ask?  Well,  since we are representing the Atlanta Community ToolBank our theme is tool shed disaster.  We begin by positioning orange safety cones on the four corner posts.  A blue tarp is used as a blanket and hospital corners are emulated as a small detail to our design. (actually there was no real design - it just sounds good)   The final touch is wrapping the bed with yellow caution tape giving fair warning to anyone in its path that this team is not to be reckoned with.  Once we have the bed made,  we scurry through the supplies to create costumes to compliment the tool shed disaster ready to makes it way down the track.  With hard hats, orange jackets, knee pads,  tool belts, and safety goggles we are dressed from head to toe ready to run a fair race.  Soon the short 20 minutes is up and we are able to look around at our competition.  Super heroes, school girls, bed heads, butlers, prom attendants and nursing staff are all represented.  They each have dreams of being crowned winners of the 1st Annual Atlanta Furniture Bank Mattress 500 which is ready to start momentarily.  "Bed's 1 and 2, please proceed to the starting line at the end of the block for race #1" is announced by a boisterous voice with a blow horn.  Before the first gun fires,  the master of ceremony instructs each team of the rules:  one of the five team mates will ride on the bed during each heat,  each of the four remaining "pushers" must be touching the bed at the finish line,  you must stay in your lane - even around the corner, the winning team will advance in the brackets, and most importantly each team will participate in a minimum of two races down the street.  Ready - set - BANG - and they are off...the first two beds begin speeding down the street which is closed to traffic and lined with onlookers cheering loudly for their favorite racers.  At the end of the 3rd block the course takes a left turn for the final half a block and soon the beds are around the corner and out of sight past the buildings.  This heats winner is easily observed as the second bed struggled to maneuver the corner at the end of the 3rd block allowing the first bed to disappear around the building surely crossing the finish line first.  

 Soon it is our turn and we are called to the starting line.  Unfortunately I have not been chosen to ride on the bed so I will have to endure the struggle of pushing.   We position our four wheeled bed up to the starting line in the outside lane.   Ready - set - BANG and we are off.  Wind gushing through our hair as we push on the four posts of the bed. It begins to accelerate down the street which at this point is lined with spectators cheering us on.  Prior to starting,  we had been a little worried about going too fast and maneuvering the corner at the end of the 3rd block but by the time it actually came,  our push was out and any momentum we could maintain was appreciated. (Pushing a bed three blocks is a lot of work!)  Around the corner and to the finish line we pushed and pushed some more only to be defeated by a bedpost.  Yes - in the blink of an eye our dreams of winning this day were smashed.
Disappointed we pushed the bed back over to the waiting area and began to plot for respect in the losers bracket.  We watched as teams raced down the street,  some of them at top speeds,  some of them petering out half way, and others not making the corner very gracefully.  It was a great day full of fun and excitement as I am sure the spectators enjoyed the event.  Well,  it was soon time for us to head back to the starting line in preparation for our second and final race.  Since we had not trained enough to win the grand prize, we hatched a plan to leave the event with respect.  Ready - set - BANG - and once again we are off with sun glistening off the sweat that has begun to form on our foreheads.  A block and a half from the start we yell - DROP - and the four bed pushers simultaneously drop to our knee-padded knees and continue pushing the race bed.  The other team begins to pull ahead and I can see one of them turn around to attempt to figure out just what we are doing. 

 We have decided,  since we are not the fastest team here today we would gladly take style points and do something a little different.  After a short distance of pushing on our knees we yell UP and get to our feet to finish the race.  Wait -- we have one more trick up our sleeves.  To seal the deal on style -- at the corner we complete a 360 degree turn before continuing to the finish line.  By the time we cross the line we are all amused with ourselves and begin to laugh.  We are not sure if anyone else realizes what we have accomplished and we really don't care as we have restored honor to the Atlanta Community ToolBank at least in our minds.  It is now time to watch the last few races and then wait to see who is crowned best in costume, best in bed fashion and which team is the winner of the race. 

After the final race, all the participants head over to the lawn area at Atlantic Station and enjoy sandwiches from this years sponsor Chic Fil A as we wait for the winners to be announced.  In the end team "Atlanta Community ToolBank" captured 2nd prize in fashion for our tool shed disaster and we award ourselves a win in style points.  Most importantly we left the day with great memories attached to supporting a wonderful cause!

Here is to competing in the Next Mattress 500!

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