First, shout out to the queerfitters getting down and dirty tomorrow at the Spartan race: Shae, Miyoshi, Jocelyn, Mairead, Zoe…who am I missing?  Four miles of running through mud, crawling under barbed wire, climbing over walls…Git! It!

Then a deep, hinging-at-the-hip, fist in hand amituofo bow to the baddest of the bad asses of all time, Harriet Tubman, whose presence in this world we celebrate on Sunday, the 100th anniversary of her passing. We all know the basic facts – that when Tubman was a child, she was hit on the head with such force that she suffered seizures and narcolepsy for the rest of her life; that at 29, she escaped out of slavery, and then turned right around to bring her family up north to Philadelphia with her; that for the next decade, she made thirteen trips back south to lead enslaved people into freedom; that she helped John Brown raise his army; that she served as a spy for the Union Army.

What doesn’t get talked about much is the sheer physicality of Tubman’s work. How tough was each of those thirteen excursions? Well, you can start by doing the Spartan race. Then instead of drying off and having a complimentary post-race beer, do it again twenty times. Then pick up a dozen people and turn around to head back north over the same course. Do this in the dark. In the winter. While being pursued by teams of pissed off white people on horseback.  With guns.

When Tubman was 43, the Civil War in its third year, she organized and led an armed attack designed to inspire enslaved men especially to escape and join the fight. Preparing for the raid had required months of recognizance, which consisted of Tubman mucking around in the Carolina marshes and swamps to get a bead on where and how best to attack. Tubman selected a series of the low country plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina and on a fine morning in June, three Union steamboats full of Union soldiers followed Tubman ashore and set fire to the plantations’ buildings. Over 750 enslaved men, women and children ran to steamboats, which carried them down the river to Union controlled Beaufort. As the 5 foot-nothing Tubman cleaned her pistol and got ready to return for more action on the front, nearly all of the freed men promptly joined the Union army.

Two more feats of physical wonder. At the age of 54, Tubman and her new husband adopted a child. Then at age 75, she underwent brain surgery without anesthesia, biting down on a bullet as the surgeon sawed into her skull.

Just typing this makes me need a small nap.

So Saturday, go Spartan racers – get down and do us proud. Those of you not Spartan-ing, come out at 10:00 to our usual spot just north of the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station and we’ll get our HarrietTubmanFit on. It’s going to be a gorgeous 50 degrees and sunny.  See y’all tomorrow!