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July 24th, 2009
Run with Moe: Watch out for Longhorns

Run with Moe: A column
By MOE JOHNSON
San Marcos Runners Club

With the very hot temperatures, it is difficult to run unless you get an early start.

Runners adapt to the hot summer months and will get their miles in one way or another. Some of these runs are runs that often make for memorable runs that will go down in the log book of your run or that you will share with other runners at races.

My wife and I were on an early morning walk when, over the hill, three runners come running from the other direction. Covered with perspiration and running at a brisk pace were Doug Framke, Ros Hill and Tim Bayless. All of them are good runners, and, lately, have done very well at area races. As they ran by, Ros yelled out, “I’m telling them about Jupiter.”

Jupiter was part of a memorable run that Ros and I did probably 20 years or more ago. Jupiter was a longhorn steer that, at the time, had to be the biggest thing I had ever encountered on a run. We were running on the Freeman Ranch Road that leads to Wimberley and it ran through open range for a herd of longhorns. Jupiter was standing at the edge of the road as we approached.  Jupiter was not about to move for two mere mortal runners on his range. As we passed by, Jupiter raised his head and looked down on us.  Now, Ros is a good 6′ 4″ in height and at that height there are not a lot of things that look down on him. Jupiter was one such animal and the whites of his eyes looked at us very closely. His horns were huge. If he had turned his head, one horn would have reached across the road and we both would have been picked off. I am the shorter of us, and I think, maybe, the horn would have passed over my head. I had a very heightened awareness of the cattle and I had a somewhat faster heart beat after passing by Jupiter.

I have to admit I was a bit jittery after that experience. A short distance down the road, we approached a young steer that did not have the horns of Jupiter, but was a young longhorn eager to challenge these two intruders on his turf. When you see a steer start to paw the ground and lower his head, I was informed that he might charge.  I was not about to wait around and see if he was going to charge. I wanted all the head start I could get. I turned and headed off to the side away from this young steer that seemed so menacing. Unfortunately, my foot caught the edge of the dirt mound at the edge of the road. I went sprawling into the dirt just off the road.

Also, unfortunately, the dirt had a number of those small cactus plants that have those little stickers on them. I tried to get up and continue running, but my legs would not stop churning and kept pushing me forward on a four-point crawl of hands and feet through this dirt and cactus. You might ask what Ros was doing at this time and his reaction to my attempt to get away from the danger. The steer was so astounded by my actions that it stopped and I am sure was puzzled to see this human crawling through the cactus. Ros noticed that the steer had given up the attempt to run after us and watched me.

This is when you find out how close your friends are when you are in trouble. He was laughing so long and loud that I quickly recovered my senses and stood up and we continued the run without further incident. After the run, I tried to pick the needles and thorns out of my knees and hands. This was not a matter of a few minutes, but several weeks of time to find and try and retrieve all of those thorns out of my skin.

I saw Ros the next day after he mentioned the story he told Doug and Tim during the run at the gym. I wanted him to see the results of our Jupiter run that day. I showed him a small spot on my knee that still itches and is slightly callused from all of those thorns and needles that were planted in there. Looking back on that memorable run, I can now laugh, and can only imagine the sight Ros witnessed as I was in a state of panic while crawling through the dirt and cactus. I think I would have laughed just as loud and long and still chuckled at the thought of my inexperience at dealing with longhorn cattle.

I should mention that there was more than one occasion when the steer actually did charge and we had to head for the barbed wire fence off to the side. I am still amazed at the speed and ease at which we cleared a barbed wire fence and later went on about our runs.  Longhorn steers can certainly bring out the best – and worst – of you on runs.

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