Desert RATS 2008 in the books! For those who didn't know, I just completed a 148 mile adventure along the Kokopelli trail from Grand Junction to Moab.
You wouldn't think an ex-marine/city cop, mechanical engineer, general surgeon, firefighter, college president, cage fighter, business owner, 7th grade school teacher, professional video game designer, college professor, and a sales rep would all get along in the desert.... Turns out we all got along famously! We all had the same objective: finish this beast of a race and help each other in the process.
Massimo, Brent, Allen, Stephen, Chris, Bryan, Chuck, Dana and myself found that we had all sacrificed the same thing - time away from our family. We enjoyed conversations every night trying to explain to each other why we do this.... no conclusive answer. But we did determine that it was all driven by the insatiable desire to overcome obstacles; what is possible? Like myself there were 3 or 4 others who had never done a stage race and were terrible in the heat, trying to prove they could do it.
In the end 7 of the 11 runners finished within the time limits. Another (Massimo) finished but missed the cut off for the expedition stage. Massimo was a true character! He's an Italian from Milan and he was here to raise money for orphans back home. He has done stage races all over the world to raise money. He is not a runner but a basketball player that truly suffered. Chris Labbe another guy who did not finish stuck around to help Massimo out on the 52 mile stage. Chris stayed with Massimo for over 21 hours to ensure his safety - a true act of kindness! If you click on the slide show to the left you'll see pictures of Massimo in his pink basketball outfit and his bright pink bikini briefs. Apparently Massimo finishes every race in that same kit.
I could go down the list and tell a little bit about every runner and their amazing accomplishments but I won't. Just know that each and every runner in this race has an amazing story about what they've done, where they've been, and what they've overcome. I was truly inspired by their stories every night.
Obviously I got to know Allen Belshaw the best because we ran together every day. He's a phenomenal runner and a very nice guy indeed. He's a general surgeon in Steamboat Springs and his wife is an anesthesiologist - good combo! So one day we were running together and I ate a PB sandwich late in the 52 mile stage. Later I found out that Allen understood what that meant to my body (blood taken away from circulation to digest food=slow down) and decided to put the pedal to the metal... Smart guy because that's how he earned $1000! That day proved to be the difference in our time. But as Allen put it: it was a gentleman's competition every day. If you haven't seen here are the final standings:
1. Allen Belshaw 21.51
2. Scott Jaime 22.49
3. Chuck Walker 32.57
4. Bryan Schlotterback 33.59
5. Stephen Meratla 35.54
6. Brent Weigner 42.41
7. Massimo Camponeschi 42.18 (unofficial)
You can see that there was no one close to Allen and myself. We pushed each other everyday to make those times probably stand up for a long time.
Even though I didn't win the $1000, I did accomplish my goal of getting under 24 hours. And in the process set two new stage records (stage 1 and 6) Reid (the race director) was kind enough to offer up a free entry to me for the race next year. Which is $1000 offer in of itself. Now I'm contemplating going back and beating Allen's time.... too early to tell. Thanks again to my Dad and nephew Conner who crewed me for the entire week. They became part of the staff and enjoyed being in the desert just as much as everyone else. And of course, thank you to my wife for taking the brunt of caring for my two sons - Thank you Nicole!
Next up Hard Rock 100!!!!