I could hear them as I stepped from the cold air of the ship out onto Deck 15 and made my way to the track. The red “track”, 8 laps or so to the mile, of hard concrete, right in the middle of chairs that soon will be filled with people looking to get their burn on in the hot, summer, Mediterranean sun was wet with either the spray from the ocean or the crew that had cleaned it during the night. Careful steps and navigation were in the back of my mind as I sat down on a damp sun chair and put on my socks and laced my shoes.
The music was pumping and people were yelling and dancing by the bar that neared the second corner of the track. Chairs were strewn about covering the red lane. I started my Garmin and began walking toward the noise. Cresting the little hill on the course, I rounded the first corner and could see the group in full now. Six guys and two women had clearly shut every bar down on the boat that evening and were maybe waiting for the sun to come up or waiting for their hangovers to grip them properly and tell them that their tanks had finally hit E.
On the straightaway, I tried to quickly assess my chances to make it through the party unscathed and what would be the best route. Do I ask them politely to move the chairs so that I can keep going in circles for the next 90 minutes on the red track? My mind running with the response that maybe more than one of them will try to join me for several laps? Or do I go around them, close to the bar and kind of zig zag around?
My answer was quickly given as one of the more sober ones looked up, said, “Hey, we got a runner here, “ and quickly moved to take the three chairs that were on the “track”. While that was occurring, another one had the bright idea to say, “Hey, let’s do a tunnel”.
And just like that, several of them, got on either side of the “track” and formed a tunnel, cheering, for me to go under as I stayed between the lines of the red lane. Flashbacks of forming soccer tunnels for my son and daughter came to mind, but this one smelled of alcohol, smoke and the area was littered with broken glass.
As I passed by, shaking my head and slightly smirking, I wondered how many laps would pass by like this. Certainly, this could be a pleasant distraction from the mind numbing laps of the last several mornings. My second time around, there was another tunnel, but not as many participants and the cheering had subsided. The shininess of being a runner interrupting their party had worn off I guess.
Nothing lasts forever, and I believe the party was asked to either go to bed or go somewhere else after one of them decided to pick up a life preserver and wave it around. I am sure a safety violation of some sorts.
Without the drunken tunnel, I had to find a new soundtrack.