Feeling Competitive (Smack Talk)

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.

Ibex Gear for END-AR 24 (for racers only!)

Men's Echo T in Cherry Bomb red

END-AR24 racers!!!  We're a bit late in the game this time around, but as they say, better late than never.  If you want to take advantage of our great support from Ibex and pick up an ENDracing logo'd Echo T, a great top for warm weather racing, or just hanging out, shoot me an email or comment on the facebook link with your order - check out the mens here and the womens here.  Sizes may be limited, but we'll do what we can.  We need to order these by Thursday, August 9th to have time to get them printed by the race.

Price for the logo'd pieces is $45 bucks - quite a bit off of normal retail (of $80) and even less than their current sale price of $50 bucks.  We'll bring them to the race and hand em out then!


END-WET Feedback

Well, the inaugural event is over!  It exceeded my expectations in every regard, from the support from the official communities involved (city governments, sheriffs and fire departments), the sponsors, the volunteers, the media attention, the spectators, and of course the athletes!
Despite the fact that it was a great success, here are a few of the improvements we'd like to make for next year.....
1) Dedicated finish line tent.  
2) PA system at finish line announcing swimmers as they come in and providing music.
3) Race clock at finish line
4) Van that provides on the hour shuttle service from Oslo to Grand Forks starting with first finishers.  
We welcome other suggestions and racer feedback.  Here's some of the comments so far.....
I've done many events in my athletic " career " and I have to say that Andy ranks right up with one of the best race directors I ever had. It was an honor to be part of that July 21st end wet event.
 --Daniel "Mr. Butterfly" Projansky (solo swimmer)
Just wanted to say thank you to Andy and Rob for putting together the best race this area has ever seen. Everything from the first practice swim right through the award ceremony was fantastic. And thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and others who helped out.
--Scott Jensen, Grand Forks, ND (solo swimmer)
Thank you for introducing me to my potential. I had no idea what this adventure racing and endurance stuff was 3 years ago. Now I can't get enough.  I've learned a lot about myself along the lines of your various bloggings. I'm definitely still a novice, but I think doing your races have been the best learning experiences of my life.
--Joe Vacek, Grand Forks, ND (solo swimmer)
The race exceeded my expectations by miles. I truly enjoyed the challenge and am happy that I finished it faster than I had thought.  It was perfectly organised thanks to both of you and I'm sure will grow into s/th much bigger. 
--Tobias Frenz, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (solo swimmer)
Thanks a ton for your efforts with END-WET.  I will be back next year with a few additional boats filled with friends.
--Steve Cassola, Fargo, ND (solo kayaker)
Race Report from Leonard Jansen, solo swimmer:  http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/187/end-wet-review-
Putting on this event has been a definite highlight of my burgeoning 'career' as a race director of 'extreme' events.  A huge thank you to everyone involved in making it so!

END-WET Live Tracking!

The swimmer icons show the positions of solo swimmers and the man/woman icons show positions of teams.  Cell reception can be spotty at times.  You can get up to the minute tweets by following us on twitter (ENDracing) or checking out the facebook page HERE.  If you're a spectator and want to actually see the race in real life, click HERE for a map and directions to prime viewing locations.... we'd love to have you out cheering on these amazing athletes!

View END WET in a larger map

Swim Tips from a Pro

Leonard JansenLeonard Jansen, who is one of the swimmers who is participating in next week's solo swim of 27 miles, gave me these tidbits in an email where I requested tips for my upcoming trial swim of the course next week. Thought I should pass them on as I know of a few local swimmers who are not seasoned veterans who, like myself, benefit very much from the wisdom of others... thanks Leonard!
I'm not sure what you are using for sunscreen, but one of the things that open water swimmers often do is to put on a layer of sunscreen, let it dry and then overcoat that with a heavy layer of Desitin  40% zinc oxide baby rash cream (or a generic equivalent). It's good to have some vinyl or nitrile disposable gloves to put that crap on because if you get it on your hands and then touch your goggles, it makes it hard to see. Better yet, have some one else put it on you with the gloves. Don't use latex - they rip/dissolve very quickly. If you are wearing a wet-suit, then you only have to worry about face/hands/feet. BTW, sunscreen that is good for running is not necessarily good for swimming because water-resistance is not the same thing as sweat-proof and you can't trust the manufacturers to tell a straight story. The best three that I know of are:
1) SolRx 44 or 50 SPF (not cheap, but a good bang for the buck)
2) Waterman's Scientific (EXPENSIVE!!)
3) Bullfrog Superblock SPF 50
The first 2 are almost impossible to get in a store (at least in PA). The Bullfrog is readily available. Regardless of what you use, the smear-on kind is better than a spray-on kind, as a rule. These (and Desitin) can be hard to remove - use original Dawn dish-washing liquid. Also be sure to use Vaseline under your arms if you are NOT wearing a wet-suit - I forgot it in my race 3 weeks ago and had hamburger for armpits after.
One thing about the race (and also applies to your swim, too): Since you generally plan for the worst - i.e. having enough feed, etc to last for 12 hours (12 oz * 24 feedings = 288 oz or  2+ gallons) - the fluid feedings can take up a good amount of space or simply be too big for a kayak. Two possible solutions: 1) resupply points along the course during the race or 2) Kayaker has something attached to the kayak that contains these. To the latter point, I have a synthetic MESH laundry bag that attaches to the kayak via short FLOATING rope and carbineers. I then use 2 liter seltzer bottles with 4 feedings in each and put them in the bag. The seltzer bottles are pretty tough, don't come unscrewed by accident too easily (and you can add duct tape over the cap, too) and they will float since they are only about 3/4 full. The kayaker then only needs to keep one in the kayak and the rest stay in the water until needed. (I get the mesh laundry bag for $1.00 at Dollar Tree chain stores.) That means having 6 * 2 liter bottles with 4 feedings each and the mesh bag has no problem with that. It does drag a bit on the kayak, but isn't exhausting.