Saturday, November 17, 2012

A daring adventure race


One of my choices for a time machine lunch would have to be Helen Keller.  I’d have her over, sit at my kitchen table and tell her that if she could see it, one of her own quotes hangs upon my wall, just above the door.  It serves as a graphic reminder to me that, “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”  (She said that.  I think she’d dig my fancy wall sticker.)
A quest for adventure is nothing new in my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The time spent out of one’s comfort zone, whether or not your well-being is in danger, gets the blood pumping and just gives you that little boost of life that only comes from situations like that.  It’s a natural rush and honestly a bit of an addiction.
So when The Wilderness Center advertised an adventure race, I immediately signed up and took my husband with me.  A team race that was scheduled in about a month, the two of us looked at each other after reading what the day was all about: 35 miles of biking, 3 miles of canoeing, and 10 miles on foot.  The looks we gave each other were along the lines of “what in the world have we gotten ourselves into?”
“A daring adventure” was my answer.
As casual joggers, we had to ramp things up a little so for the four or so weeks we morphed into make-believe athletes and got to work.  And I’m so thankful we did.
There’s something about pushing yourself to your very physical limit, that point when your muscles tremble and you know that if you let your mind give up, your body will gladly cave as well.  It takes all you have to envision yourself at the top of that hill, at the end of that road, across that finish line.
So that’s what we imagined as we pushed ourselves for a full eight hours.
Adventure racing, for others who are new to it like we are, is an event that involves multiple sports such as cycling, running, orienteering, boating, and climbing, and varies in length and distance from a few hours to several days.  The combination depends on the season and the amount of time given is something you tend to need every minute of.
Our day started on a frosty Sunday morning, layering clothes and gloves and preparing our bicycles for some serious changes in elevation.  Despite a few accidental detours and a few dozen massive hills, our ride was fairly beautiful.  There’s something about moving on a road with no motor sounds to interfere with your view of the countryside. 20 or so miles later, we learned that we would have to run three miles to get to our canoe, so that we could paddle back downstream.  Once the jog and canoe was done, we hopped back onto our bikes, said multiple curse words under our breath, and rode 17 miles back (we thankfully didn’t get lost that time.)
The final leg of the race was an orienteering course, where each team is given a topographical map with marked points around a piece of property.  Our goal was to use only a compass and map and find as many as we could, even if it meant wading through a sea of prickers and thorns.  My legs looked like I walked through a storm of razor blades by the time it was over, but sprinting across the finish line at the eight-hour mark felt incredible.  It was an accomplishment with my very best friend at my side, full of briars and scrapes and sore muscles. 
I’m not sure if all of that is what Helen Keller had in mind all those years ago when she said those words that hang in my home, but I’m glad did.  If you have to choose between a daring adventure or nothing at all, I most certainly, with every tired bone in my body, recommend adventure.

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