As the sixth and last stage of the TransRockies Run (TRR) came to a close today I thought about what I wanted to close my coverage with. LOTS of cool topics came to my mind, such as what “camp life” is like for an event like this; or what is it that brings some competitors back year after year while others are content to run it once and move on to other challenges and other adventures.
There are certainly dozens of inspirational personal stories I could tell, such as the couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary by running a 125 miles race together after the doctor said he would be lucky to walk again a few years ago after getting T-boned in his car.
But, as the race draws to a close I’d like to reflect on just three quick questions I’ve been asked recently:
1.) What’s with all the stuffed animals on peoples packs? Do they really need the extra weight?
2.) A tow rope, really? Couldn’t you find a partner that was equal to your athleticism?
3.) Why on earth would someone pay any amount of money to get their ass kicked for a week?
Hitchhikers. The toys, trinkets, note cards, stuffed animals and other useless junk carried by racers. Useless, at least, in the mind of the observer. These hitchhikers are actually a huge morale boost to the runners. From a child’s favorite toy to a team mascot, every hitchhiker has a story behind it. One team carried stuffed gophers to represent their home in Saskatchewan.
One glance at the crazy animal on their teammates back brought a smile to each other’s faces and lightened an otherwise lousy mood. Another team carried notecards laminated and dangling off the back of their backpack, each one with an inspiring quote or word of encouragement to keep going when they felt like quitting. Whatever the story, these hitchhikers are easily considered worth their weight in gold! So now I had to think back to the GrizzlyMan and Black Bear Challenge in Montana last April. See also my June 15 post!
Short Roping or Towing. Seeing a couple running down a dusty trail tethered to each other by a short piece of surgical tubing is quite an odd sight until you figure out its purpose. The first time I saw this I scratched my head thinking it was some sort of cruel joke or a bet gone bad. “If my team beats your team today, you guys have to run the race tied to each other tomorrow!” The tether actually serves a brilliant purpose that I could very well do with. I learned my lesson at the triathlon training week!
Relieving a small amount of effort from one teammate by utilizing some of the other teammate’s “extra” energy. It helps balance a team’s energy reserves, an important factor when racing a multi-day stage race. And instead of simply picking the strongest matched partner, it allows teammates to race together that are otherwise not equally balanced in terms of the energy equation. For more really good info on towing, and when and how to incorporate it into your team races check out this blog from Salomon Running.
$$$ WHY $$$ As you know by now, the TRR is a 6-day trail running race. It’s all-inclusive: meals are provided, transportation can be arranged, tents are set up and tore down each night; really, all you need to do is show up and run. The race is run exceptionally well, but it does command a fairly steep entry fee of more than $1,000 per person for the entire event. For that kind of dough, I took my father on his bucket list trip. All included!
So why on earth would anyone pony up so much cash just to get their ass kicked on the trail day after day? The answer is simple, no pain no gain, and this is a heck of a good time! The comradery and sense of accomplishment achieved through this race is like none other. By the end of the race, you’ll be feeling beat down and like a million bucks at the same time. If $1,000 sounds steep, consider this: How much does a 6-day vacation or a family road trip cost you anywhere else? With food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, ect…? Put your mind to doing it and that’s it. Do it! Make it happen.
While the experience I had this year was merely camp life, taking pictures, and posting updates, I have been extremely inspired by everyone. Biking around the course, seeing everyone start off each morning and come across the finish line grinning from ear to ear; I’m absolutely considering paying the entry fee and joining the race next year with my husband. This is coming from someone who’s only run about 3-miles on a trail and is much more of a cyclist than a runner, though I’ve been practicing a lot. But if someone from sea level Florida who has only the hot Everglades to train in, I sure as heck can get my butt on the trail over the next 12-months and get in good enough shape to face the harsh realities of adventure sports.