A few months ago, I participated in my very first endurance race: the Alpha-002 Warrior Endurance event, held on Mount Saint-Bruno, in the suburbs of Montreal (Quebec).
My primary goal was to finish the race… just to survive. I didn’t really know what I was getting into and I think it was better that way!
To calm myself down before the race, I tried to put things into perspective and tell myself that a 7-hour natural childbirth and an endurance race should amount to the same thing: if I had succeeded in the first, I could certainly finish the second !
Let’s say that this (in)famous race started in a rather intense way: a 30-min abdominal plank, as a team, consequence for having asked the race director where our meeting point was (rookie mistake). When you don’t even understand a simple instruction (to fend for ourselves), you tell yourself that the race is going to be a long one….
Once the call for attendance had passed, a stage during which the organizers make sure that you have all the equipment requested and necessary for the safe running of the event, you have to look for the “secret” spot where the race begins, before the scheduled start time. When the team finally found the indicated place, right next to a small lake, a poster informed us that we must get into the water up to the waist (my biggest fear)… on October 9th . Luckily it was a hot autumn day !
No time to think: it is 4:59 p.m. and the indications mention that we had to get wet before 5:00 p.m. I run into the water, raise my backpack above my head, as required, and listen to the race director introduce himself and introduce his co-leader… underlining the first lessons that had to be learned from this chaotic start of our race.
After this initial test, I tell myself – naively – that the worst is done: I had literally « thrown myself into the water »…
After a “small” 3-km run with a pet rock in hands, I come face to face with a heavy 700-lbs tractor tire. We learn that we have to bring the tire back to our starting point… Yes, the starting point of our 3-km race. To carry this tire, there were 11 of us. Not of the same size, not of the same strength: extremely difficult to evenly distribute the weight of the load.
A few minutes after embarking on this Herculean journey, I was already holding back my tears and resisting the discouragement that was creeping in. I had spoken too soon: the worst was still ahead of me and I literally felt like this challenge was going to be impossible to achieve…
My negative thoughts and my fears were taking over: my only desire was to run away and send the race director packing and tell him, without a doubt, that he was crazy!
Then, I looked around me. My teammates were also struggling to transport this pneumatic beast. To collect myself, I focused my attention on each of my steps. Putting one foot in front of the other, without thinking about the distance to be covered. Every step forward became a victory.
It must have been more than four hours before we arrived at destination. Time that I did not see pass, completely absorbed by my efforts and the task at hand. No time to rejoice: other equally physical and mental challenges awaited us… still.
Two or three hours later, the time for the final challenge arrived. Fatigue and a collective fed-up feeling was showing on everyone’s faces.
We are approaching a large bonfire. Its soothing warmth made me want to stop there to comfort myself. Impossible, because the last instruction had just been given: we had 30 seconds to return to the water of the small lake, the very lake visited at the start of the race… and sit in it. At half past midnight, “Indian Summer” or not, I swear: the water was free-zing! To add to the inconvenience, a few synchronized sit-ups were requested. A matter of getting us soaking wet, again.
After this watery ordeal, I was finally allowed to sit down by the bonfire, eyes closed, and asked to meditate on the last hours I had just lived through. A mix of pride, joy, strength, courage, relief and determination is felt. When I opened my eyes: my survivor patch had been placed at my feet.
This little piece of fabric has become something precious to me. An object that had the power to remind me of all those strong and positive feelings that I experienced.
Several months have passed since that (in)famous Alpha-002 race. The emotions experienced are still strongly felt and the introspection that this event brought to my life, still relevant.
Like childbirth, you quickly forget the pain and remember the best parts: 10 months later, I was a participant in the Alpha-003 race. This time, with improved self-confidence and abilities.
Our strongest ally is teamwork. With each new race, we must (re)learn to work in cohesion with all participants in the event, for the most part, strangers. It’s the only way we get to succeed.
Knowing when to take your place, when to take a step back. Understand how to contribute to the same objective. These elements are essential to the success of the race. Moreover, under duress, cooperation becomes more complicated!
Nevertheless, this cohesion is the basis and essence of Warrior Endurance races:
We will unite
We will endure
We will prevail
We are one
You wonder if I finished the second race? The answer is « yes ». Like in the first one, there was a moment when I wanted to give up, when I hit my wall. A moment when I wondered why I wanted another survivor patch and why I agreed to endure that kind of pain again.
It was upon finishing that I understood… again.
Now, your turn to be at the starting line (or meeting point) !
– Marion, proud survivor of the Alpha-002 and Alpha-003 races
MY TIPS TO MAKE YOUR RACE S*CK LESS
- Find your teammates and communicate before the race starts
- Closely monitor all publications (social media) and information communicated in connection with the event. This is a race that is prepared in advance.
- Master all the skills required during the preparation of the race. The beauty of the thing is that, as a team, you can separate tasks, according to the strengths of each one… Hence, the importance of communicating with your teammates before the race.
- Omissions of material or equipment are frequent. Your team is also not immune to a last-minute participant who has brought nothing with him/her (true experience). If you have extra gear, bring some on race day to share: you’ll save yourself some painful consequences…
- Before the race, if you have any questions, figure it out on your own or sollicit your teammates for help. The worst option is to ask for the help of the race directors. This will save you, once again, from “unfortunate” consequences.