The Goon Race – Vancouver

An extract from the book – Sports the Olympics Forgot.


This sport has been played on Vancouver’s North Shore mountains for a hundred years. It was invented when some local ice hockey players decided that an extra element should be introduced into the comparatively peaceful sport of biathlon. Skiing through beautiful countryside with vistas of mountains and forests just wasn’t enough. Some violence had to be introduced. It was only in 2004 that the sport was christened the Goon Race.

In this event, the biathletes can take out with a single punch any skier that is in front of them. The instigator has to be behind the victim when hitting them, hence the Goon Race. The intended victim mustn’t know that the punch is coming otherwise they would be able to defend themselves and the organizers wouldn’t want the entertainment to be spoiled.

This biathlon is run over 10K and 20K but always on a circular course with at least two laps in the race so that the faster skiers can still be punched by the goons when they are overtaken.

The winner is normally the first conscious person to cross the finishing line. No teams are allowed and competitors can’t rig the result by combining against another individual or individuals.

The great ice hockey player Red Desjardins won the Goon Race the most times with eight victories between 1947 and 1963. His notable victory was in 1953 when he knocked out all the other competitors in the 20K race, which was held over four laps of the Grouse Mountain trail. He flattened six competitors on the first lap and then ambushed all bar one on the second lap – the only person who skied past was Scooter Pruitt the fastest cross-country skier in the country that year. Desjardins now had to stop Pruitt on the third lap and pulled the unconscious bodies into a line so that Pruitt had to stop to find a way through. Desjardins then threw himself into the snow and played dead under Scooter came close. The unsuspecting Pruitt skied up to the barrier and then saw that his path was blocked; as he was lifting a ski over a smaller body Desjardins came up behind him and cracked home a massive right hand to the jaw of Pruitt. Scooter was poleaxed and Desjardins was able to ski around the course without a hand being laid on him. Afterwards Desjardins spoke about his tactics “Well, buddy, I am not the fastest skier in the world, but I can punch a bit, eh? So I played to my strengths and picked my shots when the opportunity came. I knew Scooter would be a big problem as he’s so quick, you know, buddy, and I thought the only way to stop him was to cause him to stop, eh? The bodies fell right and I was able to drag them you know? I’d like to thank the Association of BC Dentists for sponsoring the event.”

Surprisingly there have been no fatalities in the race. Scooter Pruitt did win the 10K race six times during his career without finishing a race – a record – this was because the judges decided that other competitors had connived in his demise and so they were disqualified leaving Pruitt the winner even though he was on his way to hospital at the time.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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