The CIF State Track and Field Championships return to Clovis this weekend, and everyone is wringing their sweaty hands over the extreme heat.
With temperatures expected to nudge past 105 degrees both days, changes have been made to the schedule for the first time in the meet’s 98-year history.
Start times for all events (except discus) are being pushed back while new shade structures with misters are being erected, all in the name of athlete safety and spectator comfort.
“The health and safety of our athletes and the people who have come to watch them is on everyone’s mind,” CIF media relations officer Rebecca Brutlag said.
Those things have been on my mind, too. So much so that I thought I’d pass along a few ideas – ideas CIF officials and meet organizers would probably never think of without our help.
Shaved ice holders for distance runners – Shaved ice is a huge part of the state meet experience – for those in the stands. This year we’re taking that idea and running with it. Literally.
You know those around-the-neck holders some people use for beer and wine glasses, so they can drink at parties while making asses of themselves with both hands?
Come up with a beefed-up version, outfit them with flavored shaved ice (usually bubble gum, lime, cherry and fruit punch) and hand them out to everyone forced to run more than a lap.
Not only will easy access to shaved ice keep the runners cool – just dip your mouth and nose into frosty goodness – the added sugar rush will surely result in a few PRs.
Hang a wet sheet, a very large wet sheet – At first I was going to suggest meet officials erect a dome around Veterans Memorial Stadium. Nah, too unrealistic.
Then I started imagining a giant Venetian blind or some enormous solar capacitor that could absorb the sun’s rays and reflect them someplace else, like Madera.
OK, same problem.
Then I remembered an old trick used by rangers at Death Valley National Park, where it’s supposed to get up to 118 degrees Saturday. One-hundred-eighteen.
What do rangers there do when it’s hotter inside than outside? They hang a wet sheet in the window, so any air coming in gets evaporated by cool water.
Just commission the world’s largest sheet – thank goodness our Valley is a major cotton-producing area – soak in water and stretch across the stadium.
Presto. Now to figure out a way to keep it from drying …
Provide oven mitts for relays – Relay batons are made from metal, which tends to get hot when exposed to scorching sunlight. We need something to prevent sear marks on tender hands.
Better yet, instead of metal batons, make them out of icicles. Slippery exchanges would only heighten the excitement level.
Ban presidential candidates from the city limits – Fresno and the Valley were enjoying a mild spring, one of those rare years when winter didn’t roll straight through into summer. Temperatures couldn’t have been more pleasant.
And then what happened? Donald Trump came to town. Bernie Sanders came to town. Those two gasbags started talking and talking, so much of it utter nonsense, and next thing you know our region is full of hot air. (Like when Trump said our water problem was so easily solved “you don’t even have to think about it.” Yeah, Donald, I’m quite sure you haven’t.)
You’d think a week would be long enough to cool things down around here, but no. Now along comes Hillary Clinton to keep the thermometer pegged.
Pickle juice, lots of pickle juice – And you thought dill pickles were only snappy, crunchy treats? Nope. Turns out pickle juice has all sorts of neat-o health benefits thanks to two of its main ingredients, sodium and vinegar, which help rebuild electrolytes.
So if sipping a little pickle juice helps prevent cramping, just imagine the benefits of guzzling the stuff. Or better yet, plunging into a liquid-filled vat.
If all else fails, deflect and avert – Yes, it’s hot. There’s no getting around that. Just own up to it, while providing subtle reminders (on the video scoreboard, I’m thinking) to our out-of-town guests that it’s nearly as hot everywhere else.
Sacramento, 104 degrees. Riverside, 101. San Fernando Valley, 95. San Jose and Anaheim, both 92. San Diego … 78.
Uh, better scratch San Diego. Wouldn’t want anyone getting weather envy.