At the end of the year in 2012, after END-TOMBED to be precise, my brother Jason (captain of the Yogaslackers Adventure racing team) came up to me and said - "Man, you've got a lot of talented racers up here! You guys should put together a squad to race nationally and see how it goes!" He then offered to help get the team off the ground by connecting them with some Yogaslackers sponsors. It was left to me to try and figure out who to ask on the team. I approached a number of racers (most of whom were ENDracing veterans) and quickly had a skeleton crew of racers ready to committ to a number of big races throughout 2013. Things came together somewhat hastily and lots of fantastic and strong racers from both Canada and the USA aren't represented - there were simply too many people to choose from and too few spots available. The deciding conditions on who was selected were ultimately my personal experiences with the racers and/or their very recent (still vivid in my memory) race performances, their history racing together as team-mates, and their willingness to committ nearly $2000 in race entry fees and travel costs (about half up front) towards a team that was little more than a 'good idea' at the time. [Ok, so one of them is also the love of my life, which may have garnered her a bit of advantage in the selection process - although she's also a damned good racer.]
The 2013 team is comprised of myself, Grant Mehring, Michelle Annandale, Cory McFarlane, Tim Wintoniw, Tammy Magness, and Alanna Butler. The team will be competing in adventure racing events (though the members may also compete in individual events as they choose) throughout the year with a focus on a regional (the First Basis series) and national series (the North American Adventure Racing Series). The current schedule includes at least six races, with the longest being the 3.5 day Cowboy Tough expedition race in Wyoming, slated for mid July. Also on the schedule are both ENDracing adventure races.
I will not race on the team, for obvious reasons, at either of the ENDracing events. While we had initially discussed not having the Yogaslackers/ENDracing team race at an ENDracing event because it might 'look bad', we figured we could just be transparent and explain things. Both events are part of the NAARS series - the 24 hour one being a regional championship. The team would have little hope in competing as part of the series without entering these events. The squad are great folks who are passionate about racing just like all the other racers that will be there and they won't have any special advantages not possessed by other experienced teams that have done ENDracing events before. We're not trying to make anyone feel bad - you know, a 'hey these guys are worth of the ENDracing name and everyone else isn't' - sort of thing. Bottom line is that there are lots of talented teams that are racing our events these days, and lots of talented people on all the teams. And truth be told, as a the race director, I probably want YS/ER to get their ass handed to them at the events I direct our even more than with the other teams (:
If things go well, we'll try to keep the team going in future years and will expand as necessary, replacing racers that move on or adding more racers as possible, so stay tuned. And if you're interested in being on the team, feel free to send an email. Keep in mind though that the team committments include doing lots of races (mostly at personal expense) and training hard in an effort to be nationally competitive. We don't really care if we win or not, but the drive to push hard and suffer immeasurably for the sake of the team should at the very least seem extremely gratifying to members, right guys? .
Bottom line is that I love all our racers, and appreciate what each brings to this crazy adventure/endurance racing community of ours - from the folks we've chosen to represent the ENDracing name in regional/national races to the folks that work their butts of just to finish, period, to the folks that DNF after flirting with hypothermia in a desolate cornfield. Whereever you end up or whether you finish at all, it all tastes good because it's all grand adventure, and I look forward to many more helpings both with the team and all of you.