Preface: I'm a smack talker. Many people who know me might be surprised to learn this, but it's true. It started when i used to play racquetball with my brother - he was better than me and would often win, but i sure talked a better game. In many ways it kept me from backing down - i'd do my best to put my money where my mouth was. These days i don't get much opportunity to talk smack anymore.... so seeing one, it's pretty hard to pass it up...
I'll admit it. As a racer and as a race director i'm a bit competitive. When i hear about other races that make claims about being the best value, toughest, etc - particularly ones that are attempting to attract participants from the same pool of athletes, i get a little bit cagey.
And today i'm feeling particularly worked up, thanks to a newsletter that arrived in my inbox promoting the Thunder Rolls adventure race, a 24 hour event taking place in Illinois on the same weekend as END-AR 24. My sense of competitiveness with Gerry Voelliger, it's race director, started a little over a year ago shortly after i announced a date change for the 2011 edition of END-AR 24 that was necessary for us to get a permit from ND fish and game, managers of over half the land that we planned to use. My choice was between moving the event up one weekend or cancelling it entirely. I moved it of course, and it ended up being on the same weekend as Thunder Rolls - a race that (taking place nearly a days drive away) wasn't even on my radar. Gerry wasn't happy and let me know via email, essentially accusing me of hurting the sport by 'competing' with his event.
In all honesty, Thunder Rolls is probably a great race, and Gerry is, according to everyone i've spoken to that has done the race, a great race director. But.... in the spirit of competition, i can't help but challenge a few of his ideas....
"Thunder Rolls ($225 per person for the 24 hour race) is by far the BEST VALUE in adventure racing"
Ok, maybe it is a good value. Racers get a fleece, camping the night before, and canoes are included in the cost. Plus they get a pre and post race meal. Awesome. might even come close to adding the $100 in value to the race package it would need to to get to ENDracing level. But then what if you don't need another fleece?
"This is THE PREMIER race to do and it is shaping up to be one of the, if not the largest adventure race in the country for 2012!"
Hmmm.... really Gerry? Looking at your roster, there are a total of seven teams entered in the premier category (vs. 12 for END-AR 24), and nine in all the other categories, for a total of sixteen teams. Yeah, you've got us beat on teams if you add in all the teams doing the 12 hour event, but that doesn't really count, now does it? And all this even after they were 'featured' in Men's Fitness magazine.
Look, i'm not saying that Thunder Rolls isn't a good event. It's just that i'm passionate about the sport, work damn hard to put on bad ass events that i'd want to do and charge as little as possible for them. As i mentioned, i'm competitive. So naturally when i hear someone tooting their own horn mightily about the great race they are putting on, i check it out. And if it doesn't entirely 'check out', it's time to lay down the smack.