Adventure racing has caught my attention ever since I started going UL. The simple idea of an adventure race is best shown in events like the Alaska Wilderness Classic. You are told to reach the end, remain self supported, and not to get into trouble you can’t fix yourself. It reminds me of the advice we used to give campers when it was time to give them a bit of freedom: “Don’t get snake bit, and don’t get dead.” There need not be more rules and set up than that.
So of course, when Dave Chenault announced he wanted to create a similar race last year in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, I was pretty excited about it. I didn’t even imagine competing last year for several reasons, the most important of which was the fact that I was not prepared for such an event. This year though, I have a job, so I can afford to fly out to Montana, and I have 9 months to prepare, mentally and physically.
To boot, the race this year seems much more doable for someone from such a comparatively calm climate as Georgia. I have mapped a couple of different possible routes, trying to decide the difficulties I need to prepare for, and found that in one of them I rarely exceed 6k feet in elevation. This is good for me, because peaks higher than that, with much snow and wind, are hard to find around here. The most difficult challenge it seems will come from the numerous water crossings Dave made sure all racers will face. From skimming the map it seems like an uncountable number of creeks and rivers will be forded over the approximately 90 mile course.
Unfortunately, I am not sure this race can be won by anyone not sporting a packraft this year, such as myself. The latter half of the race will be spent trudging (fortunately in a generally downward direction) along the Middle Fork of the Flathead, while others with the necessary gear will be able to paddle past me. This is an unfortunate truth, but not too disheartening. From brief research, it doesn’t seem like the paddle from the beginning of the Middle Fork to Hwy 2 is a very easy venture, so will bring challenges of its own along with speed of travel. In the future I will hopefully have the gear and experience to try a similar route. For this year, it is not a big deal because my hope will be to finish. If I don’t come home with a DNF, I will see the race as exceedingly successful. Even if I do get a DNF, it should still prove to be one hell of a vacation and give me plenty of planning and training to occupy my time over the next nine months. So let the obsessing begin.