The race that round-abouted Sagg on Saturday caused all kinds of excitement. It was as though John Cage were put in charge of traffic flow and, mystifying and irritating its effect, there was the possibility that you were forced another way, and saw smiling families gathered streetside. There were more people than you have ever seen streetside in Sagaponack, save the good old days of Mary Spellman’s cooking, or, before that, the Bridgehampton Road Rallies.I wasn’t counting on the detour, and my truck was nearly out of gas. It was a dilemma: If I go the way they want me to, I’ll be stranded in Wainscott. So I cut across lots, down an old headland of a farm field that is about to be developed; we used to farm it. Frankly, I never thought it would get this bad. I make it to the pavement, then to an intersection where a blocked driver is arguing with a cop. I can make a left, and I’m home safe.
The race serves as good entertainment for eyes that see pretty much a people-less routine of field and farm crew. (Not to say the crew isn’t people—what I mean is, it doesn’t change.) The variety of runners, their postures and the colors they wear stopped all of us in our tracks. There is a reason Greeks did this naked: clothes don’t matter, and they serve to distract.
But, as a recovering runner myself, I can attest that the hobby, or habit, of running is but an attempt to distract your energy and mind. It’s a civil way of keeping in check. It’s also a way of getting “in shape,” and in some cases, and not a few, it is a form of self-flagellation.
Still, as the accidental spectator, watching the dashing parade of so many shapes and sizes, I am unable to stop watching. Nor do the crowds of runners stop coming. They are splashed in neon, and many now wear knee-high socks with very short shorts. There are no rules in running gear, and from a fashion standpoint it’s pretty close to clown school—eye candy against the backdrop of a warm morning and flowering trees.
It’s been a long, nigh bleak winter, and the brightness, though plenty of it is Spandex, is a burst, a surprise, and indeed a distraction.