The Saga of the Sacred Spoon


Some of you may know me, others may have heard rumors about me, but this story is for anyone who has ever wondered, "So, what's with the spoon?" (Actually, this is to spare my friends from having to listen to yet another recitation of the following tale while we are out running together.)
My name is Rick Jensen and I am "The Sacred Spoon Bearer." I am a long-distance runner and I also have the good fortune of being a volunteer pace group leader for the Portland Marathon Training Clinic. I am not unlike many other runners, except for the fact that I run with a spoon hanging from my neck. This dubious distinction often leads people to ask me about the significance of the spoon.

I respond by saying that The Sacred Spoon is the symbol of an "ancient tradition" of the Oregon Road Runners Club. It all began one fateful day in August during the 1997 Hood-To-Coast relay race. It was my second time running this race, but my first time running as a team member of the Oregon Road Runners RRoad RRatz team, captained by former ORRC president and current RRCA Oregon State Rep., Daniel Brewer.
I was running Leg 9, so I was in Van Two. Using our captain's strategy, Van Two was "watering" the runner from Van One so that Van One could go ahead to the next exchange point. We had completed "watering" the current runner and driven to the next exchange point to await our runner's arrival. (There exists some theological debate as to exactly which exchange point the following event took place, but we will not entangle ourselves in that argument here.)

I was standing in the gravel along the shoulder of the road near the parking spot for the exchange point when...
(please read the following in a voice like Charlton Heston's in The Ten Commandments)
"a shaft of light descended from heaven and shone upon a shiny object lying upon the ground."
A voice called out, "Pick up The Spoon."

Now, being a long-distance runner (and a "brain donor") I was not averse to listening to a strange voice, so I picked up The Spoon. I immediately ran over to my teammates and proclaimed, "Behold, The Sacred Spoon. It will watch over and protect us as we run this race." There was some initial reluctance to accept this proclamation, but, from past experience, my teammates figured it was safer to go along with my lunacy than to resist it.
At this time, Van One had the current runner on the course and, fortunately for me, Van One also had another runner almost as crazy as myself -- Bruce Fleming, one of "The Flatulating Fleming Brothers." Bruce agreed to accept the honor and responsibility of becoming the Sacred Spoon Bearer for the current rotation. From this point forward, The Sacred Spoon remained with the van that had the current runner. When Van One arrived at the first major exchange point, where Van Two would begin its first rotation, we (Bruce and I) performed the ritual Exchanging of The Sacred Spoon. We would repeat this observance at each of the major exchange points. This began as a solemn, reverent ceremony akin to something from the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with the new Bearer kneeling to accept The Sacred Spoon and its associated duties. However, the closer we got to Seaside, it degraded into something from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

In spite of this cheapening of the sanctity of The Sacred Spoon, the RRoad RRatz managed to safely and successfully complete the race and achieve our goal of having fun. During the subsequent weeks, since Bruce and I were (still are?) crazy runners, we would attend at least one race every weekend. He and I would continue to perform the ritual Exchanging of The Sacred Spoon, with one of us keeping The Sacred Spoon until the next race. We were having lots of fun... until the day I transgressed.

It was the weekend before the 1997 Portland Marathon, and the race was the Canby Communications Classic 10K. (Ironically, this was also the last year that this fun event was held.) My sin was one of omission... I forgot to bring The Sacred Spoon! To my chagrin, Bruce (rightfully so) would not accept an ersatz, surrogate plastic spoon as a temporary replacement until such time as I could produce the real thing. The following weekend, I ran in the Portland Marathon with The Sacred Spoon. Shortly thereafter, Bruce and I lost touch with each other due to differing running schedules and events, and I ended up becoming the Sole Bearer of The Sacred Spoon.

In the time since The Sacred Spoon was discovered, I have run with it at: the Portland Marathon Training Clinic runs; the Portland Marathon; the Chicago Marathon; the Saint Louis Marathon; the Skagit Flats Marathon; the Seattle Marathon; the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon; the BenDistillery Marathon; the Sunriver Marathon; the Capital City Marathon; the Crater Lake Marathon; the Trail's End Marathon; the Newport Marathon; the BenDistillery 50K; the Blue Lake 50K; the Autumn Leaves 50 Miler; the Circle the Bay 30K in Coos Bay, Oregon; the Goat Mountain Gallop and other half-marathons; every Hood-To-Coast since 1997; the Rainier-To-Pacific relay; and numerous other races, even once at the Bare Buns Fun Run at the Kaniksu Family Nudist Ranch in Spokane, Washington (but that is a story for another day).

So, if you are out running and you happen to see a crazy guy running with a spoon hanging from his neck, give a shout out, "Hey, Spoonman!" and come over and ask me for a Sacred Spoon Blessing. But, please, please, for the sake of my friends' sanity, do not ask, "So, what's with the spoon?" Thank you, and may The Sacred Spoon watch over and protect you as you run through life.

--- Rick "Spoonman" Jensen
Washougal, Washington