Partygoers brave picnic hazards at 2007 Up-the-Hill Races

It may be true that "life's a picnic," as claimed in the theme for the 28th annual Up-the-Hill Races and party. However, during the relay race, the mesa road was littered with reminders of how a nice meal outside can go awry. The F&A, SERE/ASP, and ESSL/CGD teams posed as ants, and several members of the ESSL/MMM team—including division director Greg Holland (see photo below)—dressed as lightning-strike victims, with shirts torn and glasses askew.

Man with burnt t-shirt and ruined eye glasses

The stormy world of weather and climate research has apparently taken its toll on MMM director Greg Holland. (Photos by Carlye Calvin unless otherwise noted.)

In keeping with the summery theme, relay racers had to ferry a cup of jelly beans atop umbrellas while using giant inflatable golf clubs to push a beach ball uphill. The winning teams were judged by a typically complex formula involving percentage participation and number of beans preserved as well as race time. Coming out on top was F&A (for the first time in recent race history), followed by the multidivisional ESSL collaboration "ACD + HAO = FUN" and SERE/ASP. The "most fun" title went to the storm-tossed MMM team.

relay race

Cécile Hannay and Bette Otto-Bliesner, both ESSL/CGD, during the relay race.

The weather was ideal: mostly sunny, with temperatures in the upper 70s Fahrenheit. "What a beautiful day it was!" says Julia Lee-Taylor. As one of eight participants who completed in both the foot and bike races, she placed second among women in each contest, with times of 15:30 and 10:32 respectively. "I love the camaraderie among the participants and the support from the spectators," Julia adds. She hadn't been training on the mesa road since ESSL/ACD made its move to FL last year. Thus, she says, "I wasn't expecting to record great times—I just went out to have fun. The fact that I placed was a bonus."

The men's foot race saw John Tribbia (ESSL/ISSE) well ahead of the pack with a scorching time of 7:33, only 5 seconds shy of the record set by Andrew Crook in 1989. Mark Mulholland (UOP/COMET) and Tom Hopson (SERE/ASP and RAL) placed second and third with times of 8:40 and 8:46, while Jen Kay (ESSL/CGD) led the pack among women runners at 12:17 and Paty Romero-Lankao (SERE/ISSE) placed third with 17:14. It was the first race for both Jen and Paty. "I enjoyed the support and encouragement I got from every single person I saw during the race," Paty reports. Jen, an NCAR newcomer whose nickname is "jenkay10k," says, "As someone who really enjoys running, I'm really happy to work at an organization that has an up-the-hill race."

Man running

John Tribbia cruises to a first place finish.


Woman running

Third place winner of the women's foot race, Paty Romero-Lankao.

Rory Kelly won the men's bike race for the second consecutive year, matching his 2006 time of 5:22. In a fierce three-way battle, Todd Munson (F&A) and John Weatherley (UOP/DLS) placed second (5:53) and third (5:54), while 23-year race veteran Alan Hills fell just behind Todd and John near the end of the race, finishing at 5:56. "I extracted fourth place out of second," says Alan; in a reference to previous hard-fought victories, he adds, "maybe it was payback time." Katy Ginger (UOP/DLS) took the women's bike race with 8:47; Cecile Hannay (ESSL/CGD) came in third at 11:22.

Man sitting on bike

Second place winner of the men's bike race, Todd Munson.

The race and party were organized by the Employees Activities Committee (EAC), whose volunteers proved their mettle. For instance, Becky Ruttenberg (RAL) participated in both races and carried out scoring as well. The party co-chairs were EAC members Aneka Finley, Pat Steinkamp, and Bob Tan, who joined UOP director Jack Fellows in toasting the race winners (and presenting them with giant inflatable toys) at the post-race party. The EAC also gave away its remaining stock of Dining Dollars in a random drawing. Meanwhile, Food Services kept partygoers in the picnicking spirit with a spread that included fried chicken, vegetarian beans, potato salad, strawberry shortcake, and a wide variety of brats (including a veggie option). Unlike most picnics, this one was a zero-waste affair: the accoutrements were completely recycleable, as with all EAC-organized parties since 2005. To see more photos from the race check out the Up-the-Hill 2007 Photo Album. -Bob Henson

Group of employees dressed as ants

Team ASP. (Photo by Ilan Kelman.)


On the Web

Race results

Up-the-Hill photo album