Time once again to look back at the year in recreation, rewarding those who engage in the sporting life rather than watching others get paid to play. Forthwith, the Reccies, an unjuried presentation of imaginary awards to folks who deserve real ones.
Pirates of the Yaharabbean Trophy: Team Survivor Madison's Dragon Boat Team
Local boatwright Jim Caldwell crafted a 40-foot, 600-pound dragon boat so this team of area women (all diagnosed with or surviving cancer) could train in a proper vessel. Buoyed by their hot new boat, these women paddled their way to a third-place finish in the Survivor Challenge Class at the 2008 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival - plundering bronze-medal booty. Avast!
Gilded Running Shoe: Ronald Mexico
He may not always be the fastest guy in the hyper-competitive 30-39 age group, but he is the most consistent and persistent. Entering 17 of the 19 races in this year's Madison Area Running Series (at distances ranging from one mile to 20 kilometers), Mexico racked up 169 points for a 10-point margin over the next-highest total among more than 150 men and women of all ages who registered for MARS 2008.
Commodore's Cup for Career Accomplishment: Iceboating great Bill Mattison
After some 70 years of the punishing sport, Mattison, 80, announced his retirement earlier this month and started clearing out his boat-building garage. It was there that he crafted many of the fastest iceboats in the world, pushing the evolution of the elite Skeeter class with his design innovations. Between 1962 and 1986, he cemented Madison's claim as the world's ice-yachting capitol by racing his boats to 11 International Skeeter Association titles - three more than anyone else in the sport's premiere event (though the runner-up is still racing). Having filled his trophy case with scores of other sailing championships on waters both frozen and unfrozen, Mattison leaves his friends and admirers in the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club to carry his legacy forward.
Spirit of Competition Medal: Trek Urban Assault Ride participants
While a few teams of two raced their bikes from checkpoint to checkpoint in an earnest effort to finish under two hours and vie for the title in their division, many reveled in the goofy fun of such challenges as bicycle limbo, the two-wheeled newspaper-delivery toss and navigating a course on ultra-ultra-mini bikes. The constant variety fused the thrill of participation and (with apologies to the late Jim McKay) the agony of helpless laughter with the human comedy of athletic competition.
Golden Spoke: Bicycle Benefits