Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I've spent the last week in Moab, providing support for a team (Chasing Manhole Covers) during the Adventure Xstream Expedition race. Despite sleep deprivation and crazy weather, it was a great time!
The team was lead by a friend I made at camp back in March, Tim (also known as my terrific kayaking partner and just all around great guy). Also on the team were 2 other racers that attended the camp, Wendy and Kent. I didn't really get to know them back in March so I wasn't too sure what to expect. What I found was that Wendy is one of those people that you immediately feel comfortable around and is a blast to be around and talk to! Kent is a riot - a quiet guy that had a contagious laugh that would make me want to laugh right with him. Rounding out the 4 was the lovely Melissa from England who, in the middle of the race, would ask me how I was doing. I would say encouragement is her middle name. (oh, and she always has a smile on her face... always!)
The race began noon on Thursday and went until noon Sunday. It was quite the experience to be support for an expedition race - while you don't suffer like the racers, you definitely experience the same lack of sleep that they tend to go through. I figure I got about 7 hours the entire 3 days, while the team only got about 3-4. The first 2 days I got no sleep at all (it was either too hot or too crazy!) and was feeling it the second night - it hit me right in the middle of a long drive to the transition in the La Sal Mountains (not good when you have a 500 foot cliff along the side of the road!).
Since most of you don't follow adventure racing, let me give a little lesson on what support entails. Most races will have transition spots where the support crew meets the team and provides them with a place to change, eat and stock up on water and food for the next leg of the race or at times to sleep. My job was to make sure the transitions went smoothly and everything they needed was there and ready for them. I drove Tim's truck and trailer, which contained all their gear and lots of other fun stuff.
Despite suffering through high temps in the canyons (where many struggled with heat exhaustion) and snow in the mountains, the team did terrific! They finished the entire course, a first for all of them. They all faced their own challenges during the race; sleepmonsters, stomach problems, sickness and a few falls. Yet they struggled through and made it as a team to the finish line. They all are amazing but the women have given me even more reason to work hard for next season - they are an amazing inspiration to me! There was talk of me doing a race with them, maybe my first 24 hour one. I have to admit that while it scares the hell out of me, I would trust them completely for my first longer race. I think some of my remaining fears and insecurities would be challenged in a big way!
So, what's next? Some down time. I have a leg injury that I need to let heal and then I'm going to concentrate on my running again, something that has been lacking lately. I might even hire a trainer to help me get ready for next year. I'm really looking forward to the break.