Chicagoland Bibliomaniacs compete for Olympic gold

BW the Bookworm isn’t the only bibliomaniac with the Olympic spirit.

For three years in a row, our Chicago employees held the HPB Olympics at the Elk Grove Village Forest Preserve.  This last Olympics, which took place in 2010, included roughly 35 participants from our seven stores and regional distribution center.  For the second time, we had a couple of participants from outside the district who were brave enough to come down to compete.  The events were fun and the competition was as tough as it has ever been.

Our first event was the Hot Dog Eating Contest, and it turned into a border war.  There were two employees from the Countryside store, Sean F. and Nick H., who were representing the Chicago district.  Kory and Gene were representing the Wisconsin district, aka The Beer, Brat, and Cheese District.  The event started off with a bang- or should I say a choke?  Sean F. bit off more than he could chew on his first hot dog and had what they call in the competitive eating world a “reversal.”  Hot Dogs 1, Sean 0.  That left just Nick, Gene and Kory.  Nick realized early on that he had no intention of winning (“I still wanna like hot dogs”) and actually took the time to put on various condiments (watch out for those hot peppers!).  He still finished respectively with 8 hot dogs eaten in 15 minutes.  That left Kory and Gene to battle it out.  It came down to a tight finish, but Kory “I’m so competitive I would enter a CD eating contest” Kosmicki won with 11 hot dogs and a bite to set the new record!  Gene finished with 10 hot dogs.

The next event was Speed Pricing.  This is always one of the more exciting events, as paperbacks and price guns are always flying.  The goal is to price 10 paperbacks front and back as quickly as you can.  Aaron P. from our Niles store started it off well with a solid time of 10.2 seconds.  A few competitors came and went before Janelle S. from came in with a very fast time of 9.3 seconds.  That looked like it was going to hold until Tom “Too Quick” Schaber from Bloomingdale, with paperbacks flying everywhere, came in with a new record time- 7.8 seconds!  He stated that the key to winning the event was to “not care about the product, just get it out.”  Indeed.

Our third event was the Recycling Toss.  Here the participants attempt to toss a paperback into a garbage can that goes farther back after each round.  This event ended up being very close.  It started out hot, with numerous people advancing, but quickly slowed down.  As we got down to the last three participants, we actually had to start bringing the can closer again so that someone could make it in.  However, they soon regained their rhythm. Erich L. from Countryside, a previous winner in this event, ended up in third place.  Kevin Moore from Niles and Chicago District Trainer Jake S. battled it out for first.  Kevin rimmed out, and the event was won by Jake “If only the Cubs could throw this well” Sikora with a throw of 15’1”.

The fourth event was the Large Dictionary Shot Put aka “the event that Jake gets too worked up about.”  The event did have a little controversy, as we instituted a rule where you could not go over the line for your throw to count (see photo).  This event came down to three participants and was tight to the finish.  Countryside bibliomaniac Nick “Last year I was a ringer, now I just collect rings” Hollinger defended his title on his last throw.  Gene took second, and Ben H. took third.

One of the perennial favorite events, the Record Toss, was our second to last event.  We had the most participants in any event for this one, and it was a good one.  There were numerous people battling for the title, and I almost had my head taken off by a record at one point.  (It would have been worth it.)  Defending champion Sean “Yeah I puked but I’m a baaaddd mofo when it comes to tossing records” Forston had a bit of pressure on him on his final throw to keep his title.  He did not disappoint as he set a new record throw of 150’ 2”.  Very impressive.  The silver went to Chicago district wanna-be Kory K. and the bronze went to Ben H. from Countryside.

We thought that we were done, but it was soon clear that we weren’t.  Palatine bibliomaniac Tim Pallanch had arrived with an event that actually was closely related to working in a bookstore (who would have thought of that?!?!?).  He had taken the time to cut out author pictures of about 60 titles to see who could get the most correct (example: Dennis Rodman’s Birthday suit, JD Robb vs. Nora Roberts).  Suddenly people who had no interest in making fools of themselves throwing or eating things were interested.  The competition was pretty fierce, but Eddie “What Me, Worry?” Boyle from Niles took the crown of ‘Book Nerd’ with 24 people correct.  Gene “The Jeweler” Lass took his third silver medal, and Ben “Penny Bank” Huizenga took this third bronze.

The Medal Count:

                                     G         S          B          T

Countryside                 2          0          5          7

Beer, Brat, Cheese      1          4          0          5

Niles                            1          1          1          3

Bloomingdale               1          0          0          1

Regional Dist. Cntr.      1          0          0          1

Highland Park               0          1          0          1         

All in all, a good time was had by all and we did enjoy having our friends to the north come down to compete with the best.  As always, we still challenge all others to have their own Olympics, or to come to compete in ours.  The crown still don’t move! Okay, maybe it moved a little bit…           

— Kent H., Chicago District Manager

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