Thursday, July 15, 2010

Adventure Race for Africa

On the right is my partner and old roommie, Veronica.

On Saturday, some friends and I competed in the Adventure Race for Africa. The event was a 1-mile canoe, 12-mile bike, and 3-mile run along with various other challenges in between (making school kits for kids in Africa, obstacle course through a playground, hauling buckets of water while reading statistics on water-related diseases in developing countries, etc). This is done in teams of 2-3 people and everyone on the team must do all three legs. It was a fundraiser for Inside Out Learning, an awesome nonprofit that I will be traveling to Kenya with in October.

I must admit I have never done worse in a race in my entire life, and I have done a lot of races. But, I have also never had as much fun doing a race in my entire life! It was my first time doing a team race, so my old roommate and I competed together.

We began on the bike leg (each team has a choice of where they want to start and the legs can be done in any order). My partner kept looking around and saying things like, "Ah... a beautiful day for a bike ride" and "I feel like we're on a leisurely bike through the park" to which I would turn my head and shout back, "yes, it is nice, but we are COMPETING in a RACE here!!!" In all fairness, she warned me that races don't motivate her before we signed up together.

There was some misunderstanding and the volunteers on the bike leg didn't know the point at which we were supposed to turn around and go back to start the canoe or run, so we kept biking... and biking... and biking. All the teams who did the bike leg first ended up getting an extra 10-20 minutes on their time.

The biking wasn't even the worst of it. The canoe leg sealed our doom and any hopes of placing were scattered to the winds. We had a bit of a fiasco getting into the canoe, and we had different ideas about which way we were supposed to head down the river (the volunteers weren't particularly clear on this point either). My partner was right.

We finally got situated and started heading down the river the right way, but steering was a major issue and my partner was in the back. She'd only canoed twice in her life. So we'd thump against one river bank, extract ourselves from the trees, and head straight for the opposite bank where we would crash into the trees again. We probably went three miles in the canoe instead of one because of how much we were zigzagging.

We nearly capsized on several occasions because whenever we were getting close to branches she'd lie down in the canoe in a funny sideways position and the canoe would tip and start rocking like crazy! We traded places so that I was steering - I didn't do any better and she felt justified. When I accidentally steered us straight into a tree and we nearly capsized, she accidentally dropped her oar into the river. I thought, "we don't have time for this!" I offered to jump in and swim back to it, but my partner said it wasn't necessary and we should just turn around and get it. It took us a good five minutes to maneuver around, pick it up, turn again, and get back on course. This is the point where I determined we were no longer competition to anybody. The result was the two of us singing "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas and Toto's "Africa" at the top of our lungs and having the time of our lives while we paddled. Our abs hurt by the end of this leg because we were laughing SO hard. I would never give up that experience for all the first-place wins in the world. Thanks for making it awesome, Ved. :-)

Nothing to report on the run. We ran the whole time at a swift pace but were already so far behind that we didn't see anybody else on the trail. We had a nice chat with the volunteers at the Gatorade station and made some friends, then ran back the last mile and a half and sprinted through the finish with our heads held high.

If I'm still in Utah, I'm definitely going to do it next year. It was hilarious and awesome once I let go of the element of competition. Maybe I should do that in my half marathons and marathons instead of being all intense. Hmmm...

1 comment:

Stacy said...

Awesome! :) Glad you had a fun time!!