The Wild West Relay was this last weekend. I’ve said for years that this relay is the dumbest fun thing you can do. This year was no different.
This relay is a means of seeing friends that I don’t get to see the rest of the year, a place to push yourself a little farther than you think you should and a serious endurance test for your olfactory sense.
The Wild West Relay is a 200-mile run from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs Colorado. It takes place over two mountain passes and has a total of 16,000 feet in elevation gain. We pay good money to do it. We are not smart.
For the first time in a few years, my wife and I weren’t in the same van. I missed running with her. I love seeing her beat things like this. It offered a different dynamic than I usually have. I got to ride with my sister, some old friends and a bit of a reconnection with another one.
Here’s the thing about these adventure races. They take you out of your element in weird ways. There’s the lack of sleep, the hours of running, the soreness, the empty belly, the dehydration and the close quarters. In any other walk of life, this would be torture, but here, it’s a fun challenge.
So here it is. I didn’t run great. I didn’t feel great. But I had a great time. So much so that as someone who was sure this was his last adventure race, now I’m not as certain.
I struggled through my first leg not knowing if I could finish the run. I was dehydrated and my groin was spasming.
A friend asked me if I could run my next leg.
“Well, sure” I said because I’m an idiot.
My second leg was in the middle of the night, forty degrees and a malfunctioning headlamp. I had minutes at a time where I was invisible to traffic. I broke an eyelet on one of my shoes.
My third leg was the opposite, a balmy 92 degrees and this writer forgot his sunscreen. Steamboat traffic threw rocks my way and their passing breeze felt akin to a hair dryer. I think I forgot how to sweat after a while, and that doesn’t seem like a good thing.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. It was great.
I got to spend time with my sister and also my stepbrother with whom I am rekindling a relationship. I spent time with a woman who whipped cancer’s ass while pregnant, a university professor who at times seems so different from me and at others could be my twin and a dear friend who has daughters just slightly older than mine. He gave me the lay of the proverbial land as his eldest has earned her driver’s license. Side note, I’m afraid.
We met up with our other van where my wife accomplished a leg that she had worried about for weeks. That van was packed with new friends and old. Those eleven people and our volunteers are why we do this and I’m not in a race (pun intended) to give all of that up.
So, the thing here girls? You’ve watched me help put this race together for years. I’ve complained about it and occasionally been hurt by it. After last year I was ready to give up on it. I literally quit in January and picked it back up in March. Want to know why? Because it’s worth it. For all of its flaws and challenges, its worth it.
I get to see some of those people once a year and if a little challenge and frustration stands in the way from hanging out with them, then the fault is on me.
It’s way more important to me to spend those hours jammed in a van with B.O. and foot smell than it is inconvenient to set it all up. Running difficult legs and having sore muscles pales in comparison to the joy of dinner and beers with those people who I completed the race with.
I was talking to a friend, Mai, who talked to me about connectivity. I’ll paraphrase. You meet people all the time, but without connection, there isn’t anything. If they won’t give you the time, then they aren’t worth yours. I’m sure I messed that up. But to me, the connectivity I offer is the sacrifice I make setting it all up. Know what? It’s worth it and it isn’t even close. Now excuse me, I need a hot tub and a six pack to feel human again.