Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thunder Rolls, Part 1

Written by Dave:
Well, I was not going to write a post on the TR this year because I knew my teammates would come up with a far better version than mine, but I decided that I would document things the way I remember them too.

The highlight race of the year for me (every year) is the Thunder Rolls.  This is one of the hardest best organized races in the country and it is fairly close to home.  I will not be missing it until I (or Gerry, the race director) are physically unable to do the race.  Well as it turns, out my favorite team mate was physically unable to race so that left me out. 

At first I was scrambling, wondering who would race with me, but then had many unfortunate events (including some one stealing my bike) happen in a short time that caused me to accept that I would not be racing in my favorite race.  After a couple weeks I had been talking with Tim "Time" Adams, who raced with me at the CAC non-race, and he was trying to come up with ideas of how I could race (none of which included him by the way).  He suggested asking Brian and Todd of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  I didn't think that they would want to race with me so I kind of dismissed it and went on with life...later that week I was talking with Tim again and he said that he ate lunch with Brian and said that he had mentioned me racing with them and Brian seemed open to the idea.  So...after a couple emails and checking with MIA Beau of was on!!!  WTFARTR was born!!!

I believe we decided to race about a month prior to the event and for some reason we all agreed to do the 24 hr race.  None of us had done more than a 12 hr race before and it scared the crap out of me.  I had so many concerns, mainly how to navigate in the dark, how to stay awake for about 40 hours straight, being physically able to race that long, and how to take in the nutrients I would need. 

In the back of my mind I knew most of the concerns would work themselves out but I was seriously concerned about food.  Now I know what you are thinking...a 5'11" 200lb guy is not going to starve.  But I have been known in 12 hr races to race hard and not eat enough and by about hour 8, not be mentally all there.  This is not an option since I knew that I would be navigating for much of the 24 hour race.  I had said to Leisha about 100 times "what am I going to do about food?"  I am sure she got tired of hearing it.  While thinking, I remember Gerry telling me one time he rarely eats in long events.  He drinks Perpetuem and it is all he needs.  So I jumped at it.  Ordered Caffe Latte flavor and was only able to try twice during a couple hours of training.  Seemed to taste ok and no stomach problems so I was going to roll with it.

So for the next month I had received some of the best emails of my life.  I was laughing with the WTF guys nearly everyday about what we were expecting and fearing.   I was definitely wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Race week had come and I was getting so excited I could almost wet myself.  I wanted to race bad, but I also couldn't wait for the social time.  I would be with the WTF guys of course but we would also be seeing friends from other teams too.  Our friends Mike and Amy Paustian were racing (her first AR), Kim Chou (FB friend), and of course Team Virtus, they are like celebrities in the AR/blogging world.  Not always because of their race prowess (they won't be beating Wedali any time soon) but because they are very funny, fun to be around and just great people who would do anything for anyone out there.

Mike and Amy got first in 12 hr division
Finally, Friday, race day.  I woke up at 5:30 am because I was excited and couldn't sleep (not good, I would start racing at midnight Friday and not be done until probably Saturday midnight)...oh well maybe I would get a nap.  Yeah right!

Leisha and I left at noon because Leisha was volunteering at the registration.  I was so glad that she would be going to be part of the event.  I didn't want her to miss out.  We got there about 2, I got registered, got a incredible swag bag and started to organized my gear a little to kill time.  WTF would be there soon so I was just waiting for my team.  When they arrived I helped them move stuff into the cabin we could use for free, awesome!  I was not staying though, Leisha was planning on driving me home after the race on Saturday night so I left my things in the truck.  When settled, we didn't have too much to do, we were going to practice ascending but Todd didn't want to waste his stored energy so Brian and I agreed that sounds like a good idea. We did however decided to walk around the camp and check things out. 

Before too long Team Virtus shows up and the smack talk began about the tetherball death match.  All I know is that I wanted nothing to do with it.  The biggest reason is all of the bets that come from such competitions.  Probably the most common is the one between two Virtus team mates.  The loser had to wear a speedo for a leg of the race.  Bob ended up being the loser and he would be wearing a sparkling gold speedo for the repel section. 

After talking with the Virtus team we decided to join them in ascending practice.  Brian and I would practice and Todd would rest.  Just goes to show how much Brian and I are followers and will do what ever the crowd wants to do.  Practice went very well for us not too tough, nothing really to worry about. 

Next, supper at 6.  We had a great meal included in the cost.  The food was pretty good but it was very interesting to think about my last meal before I start a 24hr race.  Following the meal, we had the prerace meeting.  I love Gerry's meetings.  He is giddy with excitement about how hard the race is going to be.  I was not sure what to expect.  I knew the area a little bit so I didn't feel to intimidated.  I knew it would be very hilly but that is normal for almost any AR.  Last thing of the meeting is grabbing the 6 maps and course book.  We would also be getting two more maps later on for the trekking sections.
After the meeting WTFAR, Kim Chou and Virtus
After stealing the registration table from the volunteers, we used it to plot and plan routes.  I think I may have scared my team mates a little with my obsessive concern for details.  Special thanks to Leisha for helping to laminate the maps.  I think I said 3 or 4 times I try so hard because I always like to know where I am and where I am going (I know, I know, profound, but isn't that the name of the game?). 

When finished we made a last gear check and planned out clothing strategy.  Gerry said that the first leg we would basically be swimming and we could put what ever we wanted at the TA following.  So everyone had a second set of clothes shoes etc. for after the "swim".  Well everyone but me.  This is the only race I have ever done where I didn't bring back up everything.  I had no extra shoes or clothes, only socks.  My thinking was based on what Gerry has said in the past.  This is "old school racing," we will have not access to gear, must carry everything with you.  When finish preparing, we had about 2 hours before start time.  Tried to nap...yeah right.  I was super excited, nervous, scared and ready to get started. 

courtesy of John Morris
Here we are we are in the back right, I think that Luke and I got cramps in our calves standing on our tip toes so that we can be seen. 
To be continued...


  1. Scared? No. Worried? Absolutely. I was thinking to myself that if Dave is this crazy about getting the maps ready, then I'm in big trouble.

  2. I actually read this the day you posted it, but we were on our way to Berryman and I didn't want to mess with commenting on my phone. This was such a cool race, and I had a great time hanging out with you guys before the start.