This weekend was a perfect example of some of what I love about endurance sports. While huge, corporate races with thousands ortens of thousands of people can be fun, I much prefer smaller, grassroots style events that have a strong community feel to them. Events with a few dozen to a few hundred people draw a certain type of person, those that tend to prefer personal challenges than the recognition of being able to say “I completed _____.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done big races and being able to say you completed Boston, Ironman, NYC, Rock ‘n’ Roll, etc. has it’s draw, it’s just not where I find my passions heading.
Beyond that, I’ve really started to be drawn more towards non-race adventures that do more to test me against myself than against other competitors. This really started after taking on and completing the JTree Traverse a couple months ago. I really enjoyed the feeling of being with a small group of strong runners and taking on a challenge that hadn’t been done before.
Anyway, back to this weekend when, for the combined total of $62, I took part in an unofficial “marathon” and Carrie Jesse of Carrie Jesse Coaching competed in the Self Transcendence Swim-Run. Saturday, was the Inaugural San Elijo Hills Trail Marathon and I was lucky enough to be one of the 20 invited to join a very strong group of triathletes and ultra-marathoners to take on this wicked creation. The idea was the brainchild of a friend that has been running these local trails for quite a while and wanted to put together a marathon distance event that would test each and every one of us. The total distance was just a little short but the 5,100+ feet of climbing spread through out the course more than made up for the missing distance. He even went ahead and had shirts made that I was more than happy to chip in $22 for.
On Sunday I headed to La Jolla to support Carrie in her return to racing after a little over a year. She was quite literally getting her feet wet by returning to the Transcendence Swim-Run for the 4th time. This 1-mile ocean swim and 10K beach run is a really fun event that brings out a couple hundred local athletes for a great race. It was a blast watching this race, especially the people who were clearly very new to these types of things. The smaller events are such a great way to get a start in endurance sports without all the pressure. There were the friends that met at the race start and couldn’t decide what they should wear, whether to change for the run, or if underwear was a good idea (guys, it’s not and just pick up some jammers for next year and you’ll be golden). The father-son and mother-daughter relay teams were a blast and the families cheering on their loved ones was really great to see. Meanwhile, Carrie had a great race finishing 5th woman overall and 1st in her age group.
This weekend and these two events really reinforced what I love about the endurance community and what I try to bring to the Off Road Pursuits events. Whether you are paying an entry fee or meeting up with a group of friends, there are always new challenges to explore and paths to pursue. After all, we are a family with a passion for outdoor adventure pulling us together. Support each other, support your local events, and most importantly challenge yourself with new and exciting opportunities.
See you on the trails!