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Do Race Directors Really Race?

I (Tim Bauer) began my association with ENDracing by meeting Andy Magness and participating in the inaugural END-SURE in 2013. It was a 50k distance, following a snowmobile track through the Sheyenne National Grasslands starting on a -10F morning. My connection with ENDracing has continued over the years. I am currently the primary director for: END-SURE, END-TICK, END-CHIP, END-TOMBED, and END-TRAILS. I also search, investigate, listen, and plot new events to stimulate others to challenge their perceived limits while encountering new dimensions of physical, emotional, and spiritual endurance. Oh yeah, I also work as a specialized pastoral care provider for a congregation, as well as independently. In that roll I am a Protestant Christian. 

This coming weekend (February 14-16, 2020) I will be participating in Actif Epica (actifepi.ca). This multi-discipline and multi-distance event begins and ends at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This is my 4th time participating and hopefully my 1st time completing the event. I am in the 160 km (100 mile) foot division. There are 12 registered for this division. Start time is 8pm Friday with cut-off at 9am Sunday. It is one thing to direct long distance events and entirely different to be participating in one. 

What follows are portions of 2 articles I crafted (Congregational Newsletter and "Forward in Faith" column for the Hillsboro Banner Newspaper of Hillsboro ND) about my perspectives on training, event participation, and endurance. I hope the images provide insight into myself and my understanding of the connections between endurance events and faith in something greater than self. 

I have attempted to complete this a number of times. I have used different modes of movement. I have taken a few years off. Yet the need to attempt it again is great. In a couple of weeks I participate in Actif Epica (actifepi.ca) which begins and ends at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I will be traversing the 162Km (100 mile) distance on foot.

 

Some ask, “Why keep trying to complete this event?” Others encourage me to, “Try one of the shorter distances.” I understand their questions and suggestions, but the reasons for another attempt go beneath the surface. There is an aspect of physical endurance in harsh, unpredictable winter conditions that I find appealing. Figuring out what combination of clothing and gear is appropriate for the particular temperatures is challenging. More important are the psychological/mental aspects of this distance and this event. Yes, it requires physical ability.  Yet moving forward over the endless miles of Manitoba prairie necessitates a tenacious mental attitude. Numerous reasons to quit pass through my mind especially while receiving food and beverage in the warmth of a checkpoint filled with cheerful volunteers. Being alone in the dark of night has a unique beauty. Yet the demons of despair are alongside me taunting my psyche and telling me I will not finish. 

 

As much as I enjoy being with other people it will not take many miles before participants are traveling at their respective paces. (I remind myself that I have paid for all 37 hours so there is no reason to rush.) Relative isolation becomes a reality. It is a journey with and within myself that I both cherish and dread.

 

Faith is lived within community, as well as in isolation. There are angelic and demonic attitudes and experiences which are part of life’s journey. For me, this event is an extension and expression of faith. Embracing each moment, taking what comes without critical critique, all while realizing God is not judging nor chastising . God is alongside of me. That reality is an incentive to keep moving forward. There is not a finish line to faith. Faith is the core strength of the journey. Keep moving forward, cherishing the companionship of others, as well as the times of isolation. Participation in life is why I sign up and return to such events.

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Training for winter events is usually a solitary experience. Not too many people want to accompany me for hours along gravel roads in a variety of weather conditions. Discovering and remembering the correct combination of clothing and gear for the changing temperatures is a yearly challenge. This is a process of “trial and error” that consumes copious amounts of time and physical activity. Trekking, as well as snowshoeing with a backpack filled with required gear, calories, and liquids (not turning into ice) is ideally a daily occurrence. However, life and work get in the way of the training routine. Making adjustments becomes another routine in this endeavor. 

 

Others ask me and I ask myself, “Why are you doing this?” I also contemplate why I spend money for registration, travel expenses, equipment, etc. just to spend numerous hours trekking across the prairie. Mainly, I train by myself. I seek advice from others both in person and online. I can participate in this voluntary venture without restrictions on the day, time, or number of participants. I can simply go out and do it. I can enjoy myself in a variety of settings and circumstances all while gaining stamina and strength. It benefits my mental and physical health and by so doing impacts my day-to-day interactions with others. 

 

As I reflect upon this activity I see connections to faith and faith community involvement. Faith is something which blossoms with practice. Preferably faith is practiced daily in a variety of settings and circumstances.  Faith is not a “one size fits all” item. I see faith as an experiment of one which necessitates a great amount of trial and error. Sometimes life gets in the way of faith practice which exposes the irony of compartmentalizing and separating the two realities. Faith should positively impact mental and physical health and in so doing benefit the larger community in which we live. 

 

If I would go on to say that congregational and worship participation is necessary for faith, many of you would laugh at the inconsistency in that statement. Gathering with others, sharing stories and struggles, making connections and garnering perspective are all important but not necessary. I choose to register and participate in organized events in order to connect not compete. Travel provides opportunity to gain a larger perspective and a greater insight into diversity. My skills and abilities to adapt to changing conditions cannot be measured by 37 hours of official timing. There is no “finish line” for life or faith in my perspective. One event, one experience, one training season may conclude, but there are more to come.  Actif Epica is a great event, but it too is simply a training event in life.

 

Participate in faith and life daily. Trial and error is nothing to avoid, but to cherish for the insight it provides. Sign up and attend events in order to make connections and receive encouragement. However, do not equate living faith with specific days, times, and sanctioned events. Faith and life are inseparable. Keep living. Keep moving forward.

 
 
 

 

The END-WET 2020 Guest Swimmer is....

Before we announce who this year's Guest Swimmer is going to be, I wanted to do a small introduction. My name is Don Henderson and I am taking over direction of END-WET this year. The esteemed Tim Bauer will be helping me take this on. Tim needs no introduction. smiley

I have worked with Beek the last several years to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to direct this race. I completed the race twice, in 2015 and 2016, and have been involved in some capacity every year since then. I look forward to this challenge!

Ok...now, let's introduce our Guest Swimmer. Typically, we send out a call for nominations. Some of you may have noticed that this year we didn't do that. We thought that we could break from "the norm" this year and so something that we've never done before.

First joining us in 2015 as our Guest Swimmer, and then returning in 2016 to do END-WET twice (once the day before on her own for fun and then the race itself the next day) as training swims. Introducing our first repeat Guest Swimmer - Sarah Thomas.

Sarah Thomas, 37, is an ultra-marathon swimmer who holds the current world record for the longest continuous, unassisted, non-wetsuit, swim done in current-neutral conditions. That record-breaking swim covered 104.6 miles over 67 hours and was completed in Lake Champlain in August of 2017. Shortly after completing this swim, Sarah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was just 35 years old. While undergoing aggressive cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, Sarah never gave up on her dream of doing a swim that most people thought was impossible. One year after completing her cancer treatments, Sarah did just that- becoming the first person to complete a four-way crossing of the English Channel in 54 hours and 10 minutes.

Sarah lives near Denver, Colorado, with her husband Ryan, their two beagles and their rescue mutt. She is a full-time healthcare recruiter.  She also does keynote presentations for special events, where she shares her life lessons that help her complete marathon swims and that helped her beat cancer.

Other notable swims:

  • Catalina Channel- 20 miles, 2010
  • Manhattan Island Marathon Swim- 28.5 miles, 2011
  • English Channel (single crossing)- 21 miles, 2012
  • Double Lake Tahoe- 42 miles, 2013*
  • Double Lake Memphremagog- 50 miles, 2013*
  • Loch Ness- 22 miles, 2015**
  • Lake Powell- 80 miles, 2016*
  • Lake Champlain- 104.6 miles, 2017*
  • English Channel Four Way- 84 miles, 2019*

*First person to complete this swim
**Second American to complete this swim

Notable Awards:

  • Inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, 2018
  • Inducted into the Vermont Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, 2016
  • Marathon Swimmers Federation Solo Swim of the Year, 2017, 2018
  • World Open Water Swimming Association- Performance of the Year- 2016

News Links:

Sports Illustrated (online)
5280 Magazine (online)
Red Bull (online)
The Guardian (online/print)
Good Morning America 3- Strahan, Sara, and Keke (Television interview)
Good Morning Britain (Television interview)

Upcoming Documentary Film:

Documentary Trailer (Including video from the swim)
Kickstarter Funding Request Video (Pre English Channel)

Sarah will give a talk to swimmers, volunteers and spectators on the Friday evening before the race and we hope you’ll help us welcome her back to North Dakota. 

Welcome back, Sarah!