It was with great surprise when I read that Burt Hoovis finished 175th in the Red Rose 5 miler this past weekend with a time of 36:39. It wasn't because that time was fast...or because that time was slow...mainly I was surprised because Burt Hoovis is dead. Maybe i should explain.
Sometime in the late '70's to early '80's an unnamed collegiate cross country team rented a house in a small Pennsylvania town. That house remained the cross county house up until around 2000 when it was torn down and turned into a parking lot.
In the interim, the site became renown for ( and not necessarily in order) great fitness, drunkenness, debauchery, and the loss of much virginity...both male and female I might add. My brief time living there included chasing off a burglar, being attacked by a bat in the living room, and waking up underneath of both a pool table and a 200lb shot put chick...both at the same time....and I was only there for a long weekend.
Some time in the early 80's someone from the house signed up for Penthouse. Rather than use his real name, he used the name Burt Hoovis. Where he got the name no one knows...but amazingly there is no legal record of anyone ever having that name. There have been Bill Hoovis', Bob Hoovis', but extensive research shows that Burt Hoovis may have been the most perfect fictitious name ever created. Anyway, soon after this Burt started ordering magazines, 13 tapes for a penny, and various marital aids. As Burt grew bolder he started ordering stuff to be billed later, then eventually signed up for the phone and electric bills. In the end, Burt may have defaulted on more mail order items and utility bills than anyone in the history of Western Pa.
By the late 80's the number of bill collector calls and certified letters was getting unmanageable. Something drastic had to be done. And after a team meeting with much discussion and hand wringing it was announced that ...tragically...and much too soon in his young but fruitful life....Burt was dead. There was, of course, a full wake, many tears, and a couple of virginities sacrificed out of respect.
But out of the ashes a Phoenix bloomed and it bloomed in the form of the Burt Hoovis Memorial Run and Chug. This annual event was a 3.1 mile run around the town with stops along that way the required the participants chug 8 pony bottles of beer. The course was a figure 8 making to participants do a double chug half way in the court yard filled with spectators. The event, understandably was also decorated with copious amounts of vomiting. I had the pleasure of participating on one occasion and despite not being much of a runner finished in the top 12 due to my advanced chugging abilities and my willingness to continue running while vomiting all over myself. I was, however beaten my two men dressed in panties and bras, and by one competitor who purposely ate a huge bowl of chili at the start and who stopped to admire his own handiwork at chug station 3.
I still wonder what normal townspeople must have thought when they were driving their kids to soccer practice only to periodically pass men running full cry down the street in bra and panties and other men vomiting all over each other. I mean, if you live in a college town you must see quite a bit...but that's still got to be a challenge to explain to little Jonny.
So over the last 15 years the house has gone...I hear that the Run and Chug has taken a hiatus...and most of the guys who were involved in the whole thing are now in their 40's, fat and balding. But every once in a while you'll open the paper, or see something on the net, and it will bring a little smile to your face and a little song in your heart...
" Burt Hoovis is everywhere, Burt Hoovis is everything, Burt Hoovis is everybody, Burt Hoovis is still the king"