i dont know if there is quite any adequate way to describe the joy that is midnight to dawn on the third day of big’s backyard.
the center of activity is the timing tent.
where the glowing red numbers of the digital clock slowly tick off the seconds.
inside, the timer on duty sleeps in a chair,
bundled up against the cold,
the big tops next door are mostly empty
and tent city is filled with gaps
where the early departures have pulled their tents.

walking around to the campfire
embers of mostly burnt logs glow dully thru the ashes.
a couple of lawn chairs hold the blanket wrapped
bodies of a couple of sleeping crew members,.
adding a couple of logs keeps the fire putting out a little heat.

back to the timing tent
to wait in the cold for a shuffling, limping runner to touch the timing mat
and hurry to their tent for a few minutes out of the cold.

finallly it is time.
blow the whistle
wait and try to focus on the clock
then again
and repeat.

nothing stirs.

take the bell and stand next to the clock’

finally you can call out “30 seconds”

then then the three runners emerge
and hustle up to stand forlornly in the corral.

count down from 10 and ring the bell.

watch the deathmarch head down the driveway and out of sight on the road.

then go to try to do an update
while trying not to fall asleep on the keyboard.

in an hour do it all over.