One can proceed thought the adventure of modern society in many different ways. But it boils down to the accepted route and the not so accepted route. Many succumb to the best practice and go right to college from high school and from there progress into a career. And then from that comes an extended family, houses, grandchildren, and so on and so forth. I like to think I took another route. I have been playing since I got out of high school. Sure I have gone to college but only because it was a challenge. And I did so in my late 30s. But since then I have stalled my “professional society career” with bouts of adventure and endurance racing. Now comes the time to reflect and see which is the best way. This weekend brought that little quandary into perspective.
I raced the 2008 GMAR and also in 2010. I won both, but it was a calculated victory. Each time I had my route planned out so well I could visualize the entire race in my head going forwards and backwards. Then, when executed, I blew everyone away. It was calculated and … well … not that exciting. I took the “accepted route”. This last weekend I took the not so accepted route and just went willy nilly. At times we were all planned out but mostly it was by the seat of our pants.
The 2008 Grizzly Man Adventure Race started out promising something like 6 or 8 hours of back woods frolicking. Over the years it has grown in both quality and frolic per square hour. I know the organizer Josh and it was no surprised to learn that the ultimate goal was to have the GMAR grow to a 24 hour race. This year we had 12 hours to obtain 59 checkpoints. Obviously there is a plan in place for a much bigger GMAR in 2012. I would like to propose that this year it was a 24 hour race and I will go a step further and write about it as if it were so.
I had the day off and relaxing was how I started it off. Soon enough I got a message that my team mate Dave Chenault was leaving Kalispell and would be in town in a couple hours. I frantically started throwing stuff together and was extremely unsuccessful at being ready when Dave arrived. This meant grabbing the “ducky” or watercraft and skipping the much anticipated pre race stop at The Bridge Pizza.
We arrived at the venue, Paws Up Resort, and signed in. After some information gathering we made some critical decisions on what to leave at the transition areas. This year we would be able to use any craft we wanted at any time during the 12 hour “race portion”. It was 5 PM and this is where the race started.
With the equipment in place we broke out the maps and waited for the anticipated check point coordinates. Shockingly the area we would cover had more then doubled from last year and we had plenty of speculation and plenty of scenarios to go over. 60 checkpoints really complicate things. 7 PM came and we got what we wanted. The pace of the race picked up and we headed back to our camps to plot check points.
Lucky for us we teamed up with two other teams all from the Missoula Thursday Night Mountain Bike Group. Laurie had rented a “box car” for all of us to stay in. It was more like a small cabin. It was perfect and soon we had 4 make shift tables built and maps laid out upon them.
I was having problems with my eyes and concentration with everyone plotting way more points then I was. Already I was dragging the team down. I hit the Carbo Rocket and mixed up a batch of 333. Finally I could concentrate and spent what seemed like 3 hours to plot out all the points. After that we tried to confirm with each other that they were correct. Dave didn’t have a measuring tool and I was having trouble focusing. A long cry from my exactness from prior races.
Then it came to the planning part. Dave suggested we bike along the river to the farthest point and I agreed. Then he rambled off some check point ideas but I glossed over. I was tired and just couldn’t stay up much longer so instead of locking in some plans I packed for the morning and laid down to get some shut eye. 4 Hours later my alarm went off.
We stumbled to the start line. The plan was kind of fuzzy and I almost forgot to mix some Carbo Rocket. Instead of taking care of “morning duties” I frantically mixed my rocket juice. I lost track of my over gloves. Next thing I knew Josh’s shot gun went off and we were running. I didn’t even have my map out. I didn’t know where I was going. I felt vulnerable and un prepared … and it was exciting. No mater. The path I take, Calculated and exact, or unprepared and discombobulated, the outcome usually is success.
“Take a right Bill”, Dave whispered to me.
I turned right.
“Damn, I cant remember how this went last year. Oh shit, this isn’t the way …”
To be continued …