Karhu Originals Tours, Day 2: The Running Business of Killing Ants, by Jon Gugala, note by Larry Eder

As our Airstream living journalist, Jon Gugala opens his second day, the Airstream is engulfed by sophisticated ant colonies. Gugala and his two partners, Joe Moore and Jyrki, had to cull thousands of ants, before they could do much in the day. Nature always reminds us that it still rules. 

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Joe Moore, Ant Killer....

Karhu Originals Tour, Day 2: The Running Business of Killing Ants

Jon Gugala

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Morning has broken in Texas, a morning with ants....

DALLAS, Tex. - At 7:30 A.M., 2012 Olympic team trials marathon competitor Joe Moore knocks on my tent and says, "Hey, I got a story for you. The trailer is completely infested with ants."

You could tell that this was a moment of duress because Joe and Jyrki, the two men selected for this portion of the three-month road trip, have been expressly instructed by Karhu PR to refer to the white-and-blue Twinkie they're towing across the country as an "Airstream," and not a trailer (see Day 1 for the CEO's one and only joke regarding that).

Joe says, "We're going into town to get stuff to kill them."

And so I fumble around for my pants and hike up to the Airstream (I cannot stay inside because there is just not enough room to sleep three, which under the circumstances I am thankful for), and sure enough, on the bench where Joe spent the night is a pile of seething, pulsing ants. 

But it's not just the bench. Oh, no. They are everywhere: wandering the walls, in orderly lines across the floors, investigating historic, priceless shoes on display on the counters.

So we take out our combined valuables, which consist of Jyrki's iPad and computer and fancy camera, and pile in the car to drive to Walmart. It is now 7:45 A.M.

This is when I get the whole story.

Joe was sleeping on the bench in the front of the Airstream (what would turn out to be Ground Zero), and felt an ant or two throughout the night. He would swat them away, but did not think anything of it.

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Joe Moore, fartlek workout...

But somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 A.M., in a highly organized maneuver suggesting critical thinking, the ants attacked en masse, and Joe, revolted, leapt from his bed and grabbed a broom.

"I probably swept about 50,000 ants out," he says. He would sweep and stomp. 

Meanwhile, Jyrki, a heavy sleeper, rolled over.

Eventually Joe gave up. He texted Meagan Nedlo, the Karhu national field marketing manager and a 2:41 marathoner, to get clearance for the company credit card. Her boyfriend Jordan Kinley, a 2:24 marathoner also with Karhu (though none of us are sure exactly what he does), texted back, "Do whatever it takes."

And that was good enough. Joe was unable to stop the war rhetoric for the rest of the trip to Walmart ("arsenal," "skirmish," "counterattack"); even Jyrki, a mild-mannered Finnish political scientist during the school year, used the phrase "final solution." 

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Karhu Airstream, a morning with ants...

"That's what's about to happen to that race of ants," Joe said.

"Apt," Jyrki said. 

We don't have any running store stops today, which is good, because if we did, we'd have to cancel while the Airstream dries out. All the shoes were emptied out--around 50 pair--as was everything else, and then we deployed a volley of three different bug-killing devices, including a full-auto spray bottle that should only be legal in Texas. 

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Jyrki, with Karhu Airstream...

While the ants were dying, Joe found an 800-meter loop around the campsite to do a fartlek while Jyrki ran the singletrack for the next hour. And I am hiding in the car, swatting ants, guarding the exposed shoes, and hoping that the park ranger doesn't give us the boot due to obstruction of traffic--we have several size-runs of shoes encroaching on the road. 

The park ranger already stopped by once, asking Jyrki, shirtless, "What business you boys in?"

Jyrki said, "The running business."

Yes, we are. Today, killing ants is just part of the job.


Joe Moore, with Chicken head...

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The Karhu Original Airstream

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