Every year since 1836, two challengers have been chosen to meet in the spirit of competition for the ABQ Summer Octathalon. The age-old tradition has maintained its status as the city's most beloved distraction, weathering dynamic history, the invention of the television and the Kardashians.
Josh v. Rob: Dawn of Stupid
But in 2011, the games received a blow that they've never recovered from: the simultaneous arrest of both contestants for public lewdness while performing in the popular “Fill-a-Diaper” race. While this was in no way atypical of the games—historically, most have ended in some form of altercation or incarceration—it happened to catch the attention of burgeoning hacktivist group Anonymous, who published a series of documents unmasking the grislier side of the Octathalon. “Operation Desert Drill” would expose such unpleasant events as “Kick the Habit” (1993) and “Human Shield Archery” (1975).
Marred and suddenly under scrutiny, Albuquerque's most anticipated yearly sporting event was canceled indefinitely and has since become little more than a historical footnote in the minds of the public.
However, Alibi's own graphic artist Robert Maestas and staff writer Joshua Lee have joined forces to bring back this amazing custom that once gave so much joy to our fair city. By returning the games to their roots and bringing back the original event lineup, these champions hope to give the Summer Triathalon back its good name.
In events across the city, both men faced off with a singular goal: the coveted title of Burqueño General.
Undisclosed location in the North Valley
Now, that’s how you hide a body
As everyone knows, the most abundant natural resource in this state isn't natural gases, coal, minerals or wind power. It's sand. For hiding things.
This was a timed event. The contestants each had 30 minutes to dig as deep a hole as they could manage.
Technique played a major role in the outcome of this competition. While Robert dug an almost cone-shaped pocket into the earth, trading lateral space for a deeper penetration, Joshua spent most of his time insulting his opponent's looks and singing bawdier versions of songs from Grease.
Lee: 27 inches
Maestas: 46 inches
Most Cringe-Worthy Comic Question
Astro-Zombies (3100 Central SE)
Working in a comic shop will try even the most hardened fan's soul as they face a daily barrage of inquiries from a public ignorant of the subtle nuance of comic book lore. For this event, competitors were given a short amount of time to construct a question that would hopefully push a funny book hawker over the edge. These questions were presented to expert judge Joe Annabi, manager at Astro-Zombies.
Robert: “I've been hearing about this great artist, Rob Liefeld. Do you have any of his stuff?”
Josh: “Is it true that they made a comic based on that Deadpool movie?”
Lee: 9.0 “It's annoying when people don't know the source material.”
Maestas: 7.5 “He doesn't know who Liefeld is? Everyone should be so lucky.”
Wildflower Park (San Mateo NE)
Climbing trees is simple when you weigh less than a hundred pounds and can fit into a breadbox. But throw in a couple decades worth of stiff backs and weight gain, and it becomes a serious challenge.
For this event, a proper tree was found at Wildflower Park. Josh took point, scrambling a good 18 feet up before getting tangled in a scratchy mass of branches and mewling like a cat. Robert tugged on the first branch, testing it for weight before looking up at his opponent and saying, “Fuck this. You win.”
Invite-only ditch in the South Valley
Chilling doesn't come naturally. Like all great art, it must be coaxed into form by a professional who understands the intricacies of the medium. The greatest chillers make it look simple, of course, like a magician sawing someone in half. Presto! But behind the seeming passivity is years of practice and hard work.
To prove how chill he was, Robert not only allowed every muscle to go slack, spreading across a bench like a human liquid, he even let his judgmental attitudes loosen up, expressed by the classy move of forgiving Lee for hating David Lynch movies. “Everyone deserves love and forgiveness,” he said.
“Wow,” exclaimed Josh, “That is so chill, dude. So what are we supposed to be doing, again?”
“Oh my god. Are you high?”
Worst Musical Taste
Charley's 33s and CDs (7602 Menaul NE)
Albuquerque is known the world over for its terrible taste in music. We still play Mike Jones on the radio! To find out which of our players is hiding an ugly musical secret, both were let loose for 10 minutes at Charley's to find the worst record that they sincerely enjoyed. The guy behind the counter was asked to be an expert judge, but he soundly rejected the idea on the principle that taste was subjective. To fill the space, a wandering customer was chosen at random to judge the event.
Lee’s choice: Neil Diamond's Moods
Maestas’ choice: Genesis' Spot the Pigeon
Winner: Tie (“Ew!”).
Best Sunset Epiphany
Coors and Montano
Seeing the sun dip behind the peaks of the volcanoes, washing the world in amber and crimson, it’s hard not to be inspired. But who’s most inspired? What better judge of inspiration could there be than Maggie Grimason, Alibi’s Arts and Lit Editor.
Lee: In many ancient cultures, the western lands were the lands of the dead. They believed that because they watched the sun go there to die every night. These days, our fear of death drives us to wish for eternity, to see the high noon of our lives go on forever. I think we've forgotten that the sun is most beautiful at the end--that for light to be appreciated it has to be finite. For the sun to be loved, it has to die and give way to darkness.
Maestas: Damn, man. I just draw because my identity doesn't exist. I want to scream but I don't have a mouth, I'm too much of a coward to say things outright, so I draw man. Oh this is your fourth failed relationship? Who cares, just draw loser. Oh you're broke, right? Just draw loser, don't save money, buy paper, yeah the expensive kind. But even that, I can't even scream with that because in a 1000 years not even McDonald's will be relevant so what chance do I have. It's just like, dance clown, draw clown, dance clown! Your unhealthy tobacco-ridden heart only has 500 seconds left so dance, clown! Dance until you scream.
But I never will.”
Lee: “That’s what she said.”
Lee: 8.5 “It was definitely succinct.”
Maestas: 9.0 “Josh’s was good, but Robert delivered a better dramatic performance.”
Roosevelt Park (Coal and University SE)
One of the most dangerous events on the list, the downhill rolling races can be detrimental to participants’ health. Nevertheless, our contestants displayed no fear as they looked down an imposing slope at Roosevelt Park.
While Lee’s technique of curling tightly into an egg shape managed to pick up a surprising amount of speed initially, its erratic course whittled away at his velocity, making his descent stop short. Maestas’ board-like posture and tightly retracted limbs, on the other hand, gave him a devastating lead.
Putt-Putt Fun Center (5100 San Mateo NE)
Under a light drizzle, the two champions entered into the final stretch of the octathalon. Gone were the friendly jabs and light-hearted locker-room talk that had dominated the previous events. In their place rose a palpable tension swaddled in anxiety. The miniature golf tournament was supposed to be a time to cool off and blow off the remaining steam. Neither participant had anticipated a tied score so close to the end, and signs of mental strain began to appear.
Maestas held a commanding lead for the first half of the course, but met with resistance when he over-powered one of his swings, sending his ball in an arc off the green, where it bounced off of the eye of an oversized frog sculpture and went careening into a clump of bushes. Lee called, “Moroccan rules," claiming that the shot counted and would have to be played from where it landed or a two-stroke penalty would incur. (Editor's note: Later investigation yielded no proof of any existing "Moroccan" rule variation.)
But even with a major setback, Maestas managed to maintained a one-stroke lead before the final hole. Grimly, he eyed the putting surface, hunting for natural faults or distortions to be avoided or utilized. He lined up the putter, swalllowed audibly and exhaled fully.
Then his phone rang, interrupting the shot. On the other end was none other than Renee Chavez, Alibi editor and officiant of the games, with dire news. Both contestants had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.