I'm sure that after team Birdstrike got back from our total domination of the Speed Project 341-mile relay from the Santa Monica Pier to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, many Oiselle fans expected some sort of wild re-cap of the event from the mouth of (well, hand of, as I'm typing this) Jungle Chicken. I didn't write anything for a couple of reasons, both legitimate and lazy. First and most importantly, several of the other runners and crew members wrote beautiful, moving, emotional and eloquent accounts of the event, so there was nothing much left for me to add. But there was also another reason... no one would have believed the real story.


I wrote a short quip afterwards about "What happens in Vegas... doesn't even happen in Vegas" about how totally exhausted we were after the event. All talk of tattoos and wild parties and weddings in Elvis chapels went by the wayside in favor of twelve hours of restorative sleep and a couple of day-old donuts (it was all one long day since we didn't sleep, so "day-old" may be a relative phrase). I implied that nothing much happened other than a long, arduous trek across Death Valley. That isn't exactly true, but I was sworn to secrecy as to the true events of those miles... until now. Everyone has her price, and Oiselle just paid mine. Just so we're clear on this... what happened between Santa Montica and Vegas no longer needs to stay there. It's here, and I'll let you in on just a little bit of it, woman by woman, secret by juicy, ugly secret...



Cathleen is a quiet, stoic type. She didn't reveal any weakness either psychologically or physically. But around noon on the second day, I realized what made her so tough. I was running alongside her, trying to help by carrying her water bottle and regaling her with my hysterical stories of alien abduction (foreshadowing!), when I decided that I myself was a tad parched. So I took a little sip of her "water" bottle--have you guessed where I'm going with this? Straight vodka. Dang. This girl really is tough. And oblivious to the pain or fatigue of running or of the pain or fatigue of my stories. The secret apparently is to just stay a little drunk all of the time. But she could run that painted straight line down the median of the road for miles and miles like she passed sobriety tests for a living. Maybe she does.



Look, Devon's story is that she entered the event already suffering from some sort of injury, and then she also managed to become dehyrated from her first and only leg of the relay. But did anyone really believe that story? Devon runs 100-milers in her sleep; she knows how to run on injuries and to prevent the common maladies of the ultrarunner! No, sorry folks, if you bought that story then you were a little gullible, weren't you? In fact, Devon suffered her injury as a result of a pre-race cage fighting match with Jungle Chicken. You've heard of cock fighting, right? That horrible, sadistic backwoods or nasty basement fighting of two roosters. It's abhorrent--those birds have no choice in the matter. Well, Devon and Jungle Chicken were looking to make a little extra money in Los Angeles before the event got started, so they fully willingly agreed to face off in a cage prior to the relay. Odds makers had Devon at 50:1 over me. Devon is taller and stronger and a far better athlete, but Jungle is scrappy and has a a surprising amount of rage, so... you do the math. Both fighters left the cage apparently unscathed, but Devon had that one nagging injury, and Jungle must have had some significant head trauma, because she later made some very bad choices of her own....



Bard looked perfect for the entire 341 miles. She showed no outward signs of distress, her hair stayed perfectly curled and was in some sort of fancy bride-like up-do, complete with a flower at times, and she didn't seem to sweat. I thought, "How can this woman keep up this image after all of these miles, this extreme heat, these brutal conditions, this lack of sleep?" The answer, my friends, is that Sarah Bard is actually a robot. She is, sadly, not a real human. I snuck up behind her in the 37th hour of the relay when she was least expecting it and stuck a knife into her perfectly sculpted bicep. Just under what appeared to be her "skin," I hit metal. So I guess that disqualifies our team. Sorry. Oh, wait--there were no "rules" for this unsanctioned event. Only "opportunities." Well, then, our "opportunity" meant that Oiselle sent a robot in one woman's place. Fair enough.




Sarah, like Cathleen, seemed at first to be fairly quiet, a go-about-your-business type of gal who simply ran, and ran fast. She didn't make waves on the actual relay, but once we got to Vegas things changed. Last we heard she had been hired by Cirque du Soleil and was one of those performers who gets dropped down from the rafters on a silk banner and does all sorts of weird acrobatics. We should have seen it coming when she was stealing and then tying everyone's compression socks together and attempting to attach them to the roof of the RV... but we just assumed that she was in a state of extreme fatigue and possibly a recovering kleptomaniac. We're an accepting, inclusive flock, so we let her do her thing. If we haven't seen her by this time next year, I'm personally going to Vegas to bust her out of that creepy circus life.




As much as I'd love to talk about what went down with Nora.... Look, if you watch the documentary you'll hear her talk about some woman who was trying to stay with her and then suddenly that other competitor was nowhere to be seen.... You will never get any of us to talk about what happened to that other woman from the rival team. We're birds of prey. Not everything that happened was as pretty as Sarah Bard's hair. Don't look back. Don't cry. Don't apologize. Trust no one.



Did y'all know that Collier hails from Reno, Nevada? You know that Johnny Cash song "Folsom Prison Blues," when he sings, "I shot a man in Reno... just to watch him die." I don't know about the timeline concerning when those lyrics were written and when Collier entered this world, but I do know that it's not a coincidence. Collier didn't say a word the entire trip--I'm not sure if she speaks at all, or maybe she doesn't speak English--but I do know that when women are quiet, many people give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're shy or unassuming. I'm not buying it. Collier is guarding a secret, and it's a big secret. And though she doesn't appear to speak, she sure can sing, and I think she may have been using the whole relay as a free way to get into Vegas without having to fly (becaue she wanted to avoid security). Much to our surprise, she now splits her time between working as a bouncer at a casino in Caesar's Palace and singing back-up for Celine Dion! She's so talented, I don't care if she did kill a man!



So back to the cage match with Devon. Erin fared better in the match than she had any right to expect, and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief, because we really needed every helping hand and driver that we had. But after about 24 hours it became apparent that Erin wasn't entirely well.... First of all, she started singing to Chumbawamba's rock anthem "Tubthumping" very loudly. Secondly, she hopped up on the roof of the moving vehicle and danced like a madwoman. No one at this point had real concerns, however, because Jungle has been known to do these things and worse at every Oiselle party that she "attends" (and by that we mean "crashes"). I think it was maybe when she wandered off into the desert for what seemed like only a brief moment and returned with a large tribal facial tattoo (think Mike Tyson and "The Hangover") that the crew started to get actually concerned. And then she laid an egg...



Though we all know by now that Lauren Fleshman is pregnant, what most of you don't know is how that pregnancy came about. Funny how Lauren didn't tell anyone that she was pregnant until after the Speed Project! You know how UFO sightings are always in the middle of some desert, serendipitously far from anyplace where anyone can corroborate the story or take a decent photo or discount the two eyewitnesses who were also hallucinating because they'd just spent forty-plus hours running a relay or driving an RV? This is the story that I feel the worst about breaking to the world, because there is an as-yet unborn and innocent child involved, but friends, do not be surprised when and not if that baby turns out to be an alien. I'm sure she'll be beautiful and perfect and smart and athletic and fast, just like her two perfect "parents," but I'm here to tell you that I'm not buying that story. That is an alien baby.



Our Meg got in a little hot water this past week or so over something she posted/tweeted/hashtagged/InstaFacebooked, but it didn't surprise me one bit. Here are the things that she was either arrested for, acquitted of, jailed for, or just simply did without prior authorization and without regard to proper safety measures while on the trip:

1) Counting cards at a blackjack table.

2) Impersonating an Elvis impersonator.

3) Swinging down from a silk banner from the rafters at a Cirque du Soleil performance without wearing a helmet.

4) Giving Jungle Chicken a facial tattoo without her permission, while JC was, in fact, asleep and/or passed out in a donut coma.

We were all fairly lenient with Meg about each of these behaviors individually, but as a body of work, it really is quite impressive. But at least she didn't bandit a race.... That, my friends, in an unforgivable sin punishable by death, by Collier--in Reno.



Oh, sweet Claire. At the beginning of the trip we took a little poll, and among other categories, we voted on "Most Likely to Become Licensed to Perform Weddings While Dressed as an Elvis Impersonator." That's our Claire. And so she did. So next time you're in Vegas and wake up next to someone you just met but with whom you nonetheless just got matching facial tattoos, take him/her on down to the Graceland Chapel and ask for Claire. Mention Birdstrike or the Speed Project or Oiselle or Polartec and you'll get 20% off of your soon-to-be-annulled wedding!



Look, I know this isn't politically correct. I apologize. Meghan Manaois and Robyn Hefner were paired up as driving buddies (we all paired with another crew member for the rotation of drivers), and I just can't tell them apart. They are both so amazingly beautiful and fun and kind and perfect that I cannot for the life of me tell one from the other. I'm aging myself here, but do any of you readers remember the commercials for Doublemint Gum, featuring the Doublemint twins? That's all I could think of everytime I saw these two. Sparkling white teeth and tandem bikes and perfect hair blowing perfectly in the perfect breeze, while wearing matching red-and-white checked dresses and carrying adorably wiggling twin puppies... by the end of the relay I just gave up and called them either Regan or Mobyn. Or Thing Pretty and Thing Gorgeous. I hope I never see either one of them ever again in my life, because they make me feel like a troll. Except that I like them. It's a real problem. They're the kind of people who don't wake up with an unexplained facial tattoo or an alien baby. Sorry, I should retract that second statement: Lauren, it's not your fault. You were abducted. It's totally my fault about the facial tattoo--probably. I can't really remember. I blame the donuts.



Seriously. So damn pretty. I think she must have grown up on a dairy farm in Sweden. One night I swear I heard her (or Megan, whatever) yodeling, and one or the other of them also churned butter.

So there you have it, my friends. I wish I had made the documentary of the real, behind-the-scenes events of Birdstrike. It was pretty epic. For our encore performance we're either going to run the entire Tour de France course (we're waiting on some funding opportunites, which keep falling through) or see if we can actually fly. We are, after all, the Flock of Oiselle. Anything is possible. Especially on the way to Vegas.

Head up. Wings out. Stay safe.*

*Buy insurance against accidental alien impregnation. Facial tattoos you can live with.


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Allyson Ely