Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Umstead Marathon Mascotolgy

It's that time of year again, when we provide our expert prognostication and rank the potential candidates for this year's upcoming Umstead Marathon mascot.

As you know, the mascot changes every year, and is kept secret until the day before the race. For details on how the mascot is selected see the post from last year.

2010 - Year of the Bunny
  • That year, we thought the best choice would be a deer. 
  • But we deduced that "The Conclave" was working their way through the animal kingdom and the next logical animal would be an opossum
  • This prediction did not pan out, as 2010 was the Year of the bunny.

2011 - Year of the Tick
  • Last year, we considered  opossum once again, as well as a snake and a horse. 
  • We went with Deer as our odds-on favorite due to its park presence.
  • SometimesBareFoot Josh proved to be the expert mascotologist by correctly naming the Tick to be the 2011 mascot.
Here we are approaching the ninth running of the Umstead Marathon, and we have eight mascots behind us: Horse Fly, Flying Squirrel , Turtle, Fish, Turkey Vulture, Frog, Hare, and Tick. No obvious pattern has emerged, so we are left to judge potential candidates based on the following parameters::

Park Presence - How common is the animal in the park?
Runspiration - How much does the animal inspire a person to run?
Silhouettability - How well could the animal be made into a plaque?
Logotimidation - How cool would the mascot look on a t-shirt and a pint glass?
Intangibles- Has something similar been used before? Is it representative of the Umstead Experience?

Each quality will be judged quantitatively and scored on a scale of 1-10.

I took an informal poll on facebook and got a list of 10 candidates which I will review:

Presence  In the summer? Oh yes. Not so much in the winter8
Runspiration Getting a face full of spiderweb can put a damper on a trail run.2
Silhouettability  They managed to do the legs pretty well on the tick,
but I'm not sure about another one with pipe cleaners 
Logotimidation  Could possibly usurp The Tick for coolest race shirt.
I look forward to the day I can use these phases:
"Today I'm breaking out The Spider-Shirt"
"Pour me a cold one in my Spider-Pint"
We just had an arachnid last year.2

Total Score26

Presence When you think about animals in Umstead, Deer are the first to come to mind.
In 2008, the marathon briefly came to a halt as a herd stampeded across Graylyn.  
RunspirationA deer flying through the woods is the ultimate trail runner9
Silhouettability  It would be difficult, but if they could carve the antlers it would be freaking awesome.6
Logotimidation  A majestic deer with a huge rack posing with his head turned? Or maybe leaping across the front of the shirt? Could be an instant classic.7
I was told by a member of the conclave that a deer would NEVER be the mascot because it had long been a symbol of The Uwharrie Mountain Run.
However it seems the last few years, the Uwharrie folks have abandoned this. Is it open season yet on Deer mascots? 

Total Score32

Copperhead Snake
Presence Depends on who you ask. I have seen a lot snakes in Umstead, but don't think any were copperheads.  Others will say that they are slithering through the trees a foot deep like in the Egyptian tomb in Raiders of the Lost Ark6
RunspirationI have witnessed more than a few people running through Umstead screaming "COPPERHEAD!"9
SilhouettabilityThis is tricky. If it was long and stretched out it be a pretty fragile plaque. On the other hand if it was coiled up, it would kind of look like a pile of poo.. 3
LogotimidationA snake would be a pretty intimidating logo. All wrapped around the lettering? I'm sold.8
They could put any snake on the t-shirt. A common water snake or rat snake. Or even a cobra. But in NC, it would still be a copperhead. Just like all soda is "coke". 5

Total Score31

Image stupidly stolen from the LawyersUSA website.
Presence Apparently they do appear on a sign enumerating the park wildlife, but I don't think a bear has been seen in Umstead in a long time.3
RunspirationYou can't outrun a bear. Play dead.3
SilhouettabilityYes it would be easy to carve and recognize, but it would look like cheesy mountain-cabin-gift-store kitsch. 6
LogotimidationIt seems that bear imagery belongs to more  mountainous locations. Plus even if they didn't put a ranger hat on the bear, I think I would still see Smokey.3
There is already a race called "The Bear"3

Total Score18

Presence They are elusive, but Shannon and I have both seen them in the park.6
RunspirationIf you can't be the deer, be the coyote chasing him!7
SilhouettabilityGood, but might be hard to distinguish from a dog. 5
LogotimidationSomething like the image above would nice change from the meek mascots we have had so far. Finally, a predator! Or they could go the Wile E Coyote route...7
Even if they are in the park, "coyote" has a more of a Southwest vibe to it. It would seem out of place on an Umstead Pint.3

Total Score28

Horse Dung

Presence Hard to miss.10
RunspirationHard to imagine something less inspiring 1
SilhouettabilityThe plaque would be easy to carve, but it might take some explaining when you show  it to people.5
LogotimidationI think this would be a very polarizing topic, between those who appreciate irony and those who do not.  Split the difference.5
Nothing says Umstead Bridle Trail like a pile of road apples.8

Total Score29


Presence I'm sure they are in there somewhere, but runners aren't likely to see them5
RunspirationMaybe if it was a 20 foot mutant crawling down the trail. Hey there are those PCB's in the lake...2
Silhouettability  Yikes2
Logotimidation  Would look too much like an ad for a seafood restaurant2
Crustacean would be a good subphylum to cross off the list, and we are due for another aquatic creature.5

Total Score16

Presence Rarely seen during the day, though I have heard of runners encountering them on the trail.7
RunspirationTheir slow, comically waddling gait hardly inspires running...
except for maybe ultra-marathoners
SilhouettabilityNot sure if the silhouette would we be easily recognizable, and the tail would be problematic. Got to give it a 3...
UNLESS... the tail was a rope!  And the plaque hung by it! Can you see that?
LogotimidationA snarling, beady-eyed Opossum with its long bare tail would be pretty bad-ass8
Come on! Marsupial is due! On the other hand, we pick this EVERY year. 8

Total Score32

I'm not going to dignify this with a response0

Total Score0

Other nominees:
  • Cicada - Might be too soon for another bug, I think.
  • Turkey - Just had Turkey Vulture in 2008
  • Beaver- Hmmmm. This seems plausible, but this post is already way too long.
  • Raccoon- This would be another good one, but maybe too much like a Squirrel 
  • Duck - Would be disappointing

Finally, the Running-Down pick for the 2012 Umstead Mascot is... 

Drum roll, please...


Presence Watch carefully at dusk.6
RunspirationAgghh! There is one stuck in your hair! Run, run!4
SilhouettabilityWould be the most coveted plaque ever.10
LogotimidationBats are just fricking cool, period.8
I can't say why but I when I look at the previous mascots,
it seems like a bat should be next. On the other hand we did already have a flying squirrel. (Though it looked more like road kill.) Too soon for another flying mammal?

Total Score33

Just barely edging out the perennial Opossum pick and the tainted Deer by a single point, the Bat comes out on top in our expert analysis.

On Friday, March 2nd, the Conclave will reveal their mascot choice.
So come back here on that day to read our gloating, told-you-so post celebrating the Year of the Bat!

UPDATE 3/4/2012
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner:

Now, the mascot for 2013 will be...