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Four Play. Yes, it certainly can’t be at the forefront of the homophone to four play. Even the word homophone is making some people in Richmond nervous. And let’s not even talk about anything tongue-in-cheek. Earlier this summer there was the brouhaha over a fun, cheery and slightly cheeky poster that came out of the  i.e. series sponsored by the Greater Richmond Chamber: Get off in Richmond! I attended the initial session where several posters were born though I wasn’t a part of this group. It, even in its early stages, got the best response from the crowd which did not include any grumps, I might add.

The Offending Poster

Because this is Richmond, within 48 hours of a version of this going up on a billboard at 95 and 64, it came down. The innuendo was apparently not appreciated by the powers that bring down billboards in Richmond. Oy vey. Something tells me my latest idea just might get a rise out of  the same folks.

As I’ve written before, I just might be the only person who has done my made-up triathlon, Tri-RVA: I’ve rappelled the SunTrust building as part of Over the Edge Special Olympics, run the Richmond Marathon and rafted the James River through downtown. We could call it RVA Triple Play–and when the Flying Squirrels some year leave Richmond because they can’t get a new stadium built, it could be a typical, living in the past Richmond reference to the good ole days of when there was baseball here.  But that is all a moot point because now that there’s a fourth sporty addition to the scene, Martin’s Tour of Richmond, a Gran Fondo with a 102 mile option that takes cyclists from Henrico County into Richmond and then into Chesterfield, Goochland and Hanover counties on Oct. 6th.

So let’s call it RVA Four Play! I’m doing it–in public. Let’s get it on!

Who needs words when Jamie Betts’ photos from Virginia Special Olympics’ Over the Edge extreme fundraiser are here?! My second time rappelling down a 24-28-storey building, depending how  you count, just about 400 feet high, was more eventful than last year’s trip because the wind was gusting 20-30 miles an hour.

Nutzy, Kate Hall and I

Nutzy isn’t the only one who is nuts, but once you’re up on the top of the SunTrust Building in Shockoe Slip, the view is so spectacular, it’s easy to forget why you’re there.  Ostensibly it’s to raise funds and awareness of Special Olympics Virginia and the good work they do year-round. I’m all for that, but let’s face it–there are some of us who like doing  something that most people wouldn’t consider doing. As we were waiting our turns, Kate Hall, of RichmondMom.com asked if we could look over the edge before we rappelled. We were of course, tethered in, but kneeling near the lip of the building and looking down was the only thing that made my innards get all wobbly. There was no ground in sight. Even Paul Woody, who went ahead of me and who wasn’t that far gone, was out of sight. I backed away right quickly. Once it was time to do the deed, I was nervous only about making a better start than I had the year before when my quads froze and I had to sit  on my rear to push off from the building. Not my finest momemt, but there was no photographer to witness it, so why am I telling you now?

All went well this time around, and I even have the photo to prove it.

Hanging out in Richmond

You would expect that the writer of Insiders\’ Guide to Richmond would bubble with enthusiasm about good ole RVA, and most days that is certainly the way I see this town–rivery, artsy, quirky, historic, architecturally interesting, and quite tasty. Walking all over town on our Real Richmond food tours, I get the chance to tout what’s going on and what’s coming up.

I’ve been high on Richmond for a while, and rarely turn down the chance to go over the top in my search for unique experiences. Hence this shot atop Monumental Church while I was writing the book–ok while I was researching the book. My hands were gripping the treads pretty tight to get much writing done up there.

Angle of repose?

So when I say something’s coming up, I really mean it. One of my favorite things coming up Oct. 20th and 21st: Over the Edge. Last October I had the distinct pleasure of rappelling down 25 stories of the SunTrust building on E. Cary St. in Shockoe Slip for Over the Edge–Special Olympics Virginia’s extreme fundraiser.

I swear I'm there

I’ll do it again Oct. 21st. People do this nutty thing to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics and all the good work they do year-round for the thousands of Special Olympians in Virginia. It’s really not much of a challenge to be pampered and outfitted and safety-checked and instructed to do something for 30 minutes that lots of people would kill to do. Poor word choice.

People with special needs handle much tougher challenges every darned day, and more often than not they don’t get cheered and acquire goodie bags and t-shirts for their trouble. Special Olympics activities–the big ones we hear about–and the smaller, more routine ones we don’t–offer the chance to exult in effort and accomplishment and cameraderie. That always feels fantastic. If you want that feeling to have staying power, please support Special Olympics. It will give you a natural high, too.

While chatting with my friends at Webbones yesterday, Stephanie made an off-hand comment about Oct. 23rd being the drop-dead date for a project of mine. Ha Ha. Funny she should put it that way. It is true that Oct. 23rd at noon is my first book-signing/meet the author event at Fountain Bookstore and afterwards I’ll be leading the inaugural (and FREE!) Real Richmond  food tour through the highs and lows of Richmond history in Shockoe Slip, Shockoe Bottom, and the edge of Church Hill, but where’s the near-death experience in that?

Oct. 22nd is more likely my drop-dead date since that’s when, at 3 p.m., to be exact, I’m scheduled to go Over the Edge and rappel from the top of the almost 400 ft tall SunTrust building for Richmond Magazine as part of a Virginia Special Olympics extreme fundraiser. I had several good looks at the building while I lounged on various hills during the Folk Festival, and it doesn’t look so tall from that distance. Up close is another story. 

The top is there somewhere

Of course, it is the second tallest building in Richmond, but I think it’s better if I shrink it down to something more manageable. No biggie, so to speak.

So why worry about what I’m supposed to do Oct. 23rd, when it could all be a moot (and messy) point.  I would be sad to miss InLight the night of Oct. 22nd though.

The other morning I was banging around Shockoe Slip and Bottom taking photos when it occurred to me that I could run a couple of blocks west on East Cary to get up close and personal with the SunTrust building, the 400ft. building I and several dozen other people will be rappelling down Oct 22 and 23rd as a part of Virginia Special Olympic’s Over the Edge Richmond extreme fundraiser.

That's a lot of feet.

I rappelled 90 ft. off a building when I was in high school, and a few times on canopy tours, and once right here in Richmond after treeclimbing with Riverside Outfitters but 400 feet is many more feet than I can get my brain around, much less the rest of my body on board.
This past Wednesday, as a part of the Virginia Center for Architecture’s architectural walking tour series, Look Up! , I saw the, in architect-speak, “extreme verticality” of the Central Fidelity Bank on Broad St. It’s less than 300 ft. Gulp.

I’m back!

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