This same question can mean lots of things, many of them containing far more nobility than the one I am actually asking. But never-the-less, I'll admit that I've been contemplating this less meaningful version for some time as I muddle through my own training and mull over my own endurance ambitions. The pursuit of what can be thought of as 'peak' achievements in the world of endurance sports consumes many of the people who enter into this strange and hard to understand (for those not directly involved) world. Running 100 miles. Racing for days. Riding for centuries. Men and women have demonstrated that human potential is something to be in awe of--the mind and body, under the right circumstances can do seemingly impossible things. Passion, dedication to one's craft, disciplined training, and will-power applied over decades--combined with science and a loss of the more 'obvious' challenges that unexplored places once offered--have pushed people to incredible heights. 'Peak' events in each major discipline--races or efforts hard and long enough to make a bucket list for all but the most dedicated participants have gotten exponentially harder than they were a generation ago. These events are now becoming commonplace, routinely reaching their participant limits within hours of registration opening.
There is no doubt that the world of the ultra-endurance athlete is no longer a lonely place as it once was.
But it is still, at least to my knowledge, a pretty segmented one. And this, is where my fascination lies. Is one person capable of achieving success in ultra-endurance across disciplines? Is it humanly possible to develop one's abilities to compete in say a 100 mile paddle race and a 135 mile winter bike race? Would any of the folks bold enough to sign up for a 100 mile trail run even consider also signing up for END-WET, our 36 mile swim? When we put out our Undead Hall of Fame challenge last year, over 30 athletes answered the call and attempted to bike 100 miles of singletrack (in 12 hours) on Saturday and then run 50 miles (also in 12 hours) only half a day later. Only four were able to do it, and of those, only one might possibly hope to finish the swim. What kind of person would it take to be able to perform at such an impressive level, over such a broad spectrum of disciplines, within a narrow time window? Just how much can one person do?
I'm not sure yet how or when this question will be answered, but I'm hoping to play a part in the inquiry (not as a participant mind you, but as an event director!). And while the question (as I ask it) might not inspire world peace, seeking the answer will certainly keep me inspired here in my piece of the world.
The swimmers might get the glory, but they don't do it alone.... Be an unsung hero--Volunteer
On June 21st two dozen or more crazy people are coming from around the country to Grand Forks, North Dakota, to participate in the longest one day swim event in North America this year, ENDracing's END-WET. It is a 36 mile downriver race from near Climax, MN, to the center of the Grand Cities. Each solo swimmer requires a support boater to be with them the entire race and although while a few of the swimmers are making the journey to the Red with their own support people, the majority of them are not. Thats where you come in. We need support boaters. It's (kind of) a paying gig. ENDracing will provide all support boaters with $100 as a thank you giving up your saturday to help your swimmer attempt (and hopefully accomplish) what is nothing short of an incredible feat. Than being said, don't do it for the money--its not really a good time investment economically speaking! Sure the cash helps you have a nice party afterwords or take your significant (and very understanding) other out for date night, but even paddling 36 miles in a day is no joke. And you'll be doing much more than that - you'll be looking after somene who's condition will deteriorate as the miles wear on - both mentally and physically.
Although the swimmers often get all the accolades, it really is a team effort, and the swimmers realize this. They can't do it without your support. We need roughly 20 paddlers. It's no problem if you don't have your own boat, we've got craft to spare. If you want to team up with a freind so you'll have company during the long journey or even to split the support job up into two halves (switch with a friend at roughly half way) then let us know (the caveat is that we only have $100/swimmer as a gift built into the budget if you team up you'd each get half). The most important thing is that you have are comfortable paddling on the lazy red and willing to put in a rather long day on the water. This is truly a one of a kind event that showcases the tremendous hospitality of our community. There is nothing else like it anywhere--the only other swim anywhere near as long charges over $2000 to each participant. This is cost prohibitive to many potential racers, and not our style. We want these crazy people to be able to challenge themselves and visit our wonderful corner of the country without taking out a second mortgage. And this is only possible because of both generous support from the City, Visitors Bureau, and incredible volunteers. Express your interest in volunteering for this year's END-WET at http://endracing.com/volunteer.
It's been a great (cold) winter for getting outside and creating a frosty face extension on your beard or mask. We asked and you submitted: your beardcicle contest winners are (for length) Tara Kenny and Lori Smith Lindholm, and (for mass) Cory Pratt! Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and each of you will get a choice between a ColdAvenger mask or $25 credit towards ENDracing registration or swag.
Tara, Lori, and Cory all exhibit frosty faces.
The ColdAvenger Extreme North Dakota Iceman Triathlon was yesterday, and our all-weather photographer Wes Peck already has photos up. Check them out here while you wait for us to finalize results. This was the first event in the 2014 Grand Forks Winter Series, so you still have next weekend to participate in the Frozen Feat 5K/10K and Northern Star Cycling Club's Bikecicle winter bike race and compete to win some fabulous prizes, including a winner's jacket and night at the CanadInn.