Honestly, it is with a bit of sadness that I am writing this entry. After a year of racing, training, blogging and most importantly fundraising, the 40 in 40 is complete.
This minor bit of sadness is overcome by the following:
1. We raised over $40,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
2. All the awesome folks I met along the way, through training, racing, blogging, just interacting with folks and explaining the 40 in 40 and why the mission of the LLS is in critical need of support.
3. I had so much fun. I enjoyed every race, in its own way - some of them were a lot more enjoyable when they were over to be honest - but so many of them had their own special memories attached to them - all of them, have been documented here in this blog.
4. The amazing kindness, generosity and support from friends, family, co-workers and even complete strangers.
So for those of you who are uninitiated in the way of adventure racing, like me, Pete, Mike and Josh were yesterday morning - here's how this one worked:
Start and go through the prologue - find the first three checkpoints and punch the corresponding number of your "passport" a sheet of paper with numbers and letters on them which correspond to the checkpoints in the race. Then - well actually before, strategize to get as to as many checkpoints as you can and as many numbers punched....in 4 hours or less.
We got the first 6 on foot, the next three (two plus a bonus) via kayak on the Catawba river, the next three via whitewater rafts on the largest man made whitewater river, the next three on the rock climbing wall and the last one via mountain bike.
We missed one by totally overrunning it - my bad idea about bushwhacking along the riverbanks versus sticking to the trail a little while longer...and only got one on the bike - because- well, these little markers buried in the woods are hard enough to find when you're jogging along, never mind when you're flying down the trails at the whitewater center....and besides, after some technical difficulties - we were running out of time.
So - as we head out - we set a pace of about an 8:30 - 8:40 minute mile. We've got a lot of land to cover - and it was warm at the start. Last year's winner, a young man from Germany was WAAAAY out front - he wound up running the entire course - and winning again this year - so we kind of followed him for a bit. As long as we could see him anyways, which wasn't long.
We got into this event at the suggestion of Mike Nicosia, the Director and our team consisted of Mike, Pete Lohri, the Navigator, a friend from UMass, former rugby teammate and neighbor here in Stonewater and Josh Cowley, the Gazelle, a neighbor of Mike's...and me, the anchor. We were Team 40-40 - still are...and we rocked!
What can I say - we had an absolute blast. The kayaks out across the Catawba to the checkpoints were fun. Realizing that I had totally overrun checkpoint 5, by probably 1/2 mile - and being able to get to the whitewater rafts in time - potentially damaging, but we did it. Riding the whitewater, not getting tossed out of the boat even on the hydraulic. They had them dialed up to about class 3 rapids is what I guessed...hard but not overwhelming. Rock climbing - which I expected I would totally suck at was fun...I know I didn't set any records on that - but surprisingly it was easy. And I got to see Abby Miller, TNT Director. She is such an awesome woman - she came out there to cheer us on and was so excited for us. God bless you Abby you are one of the many reasons I love TnT and the work the Team does. And then the bikes - well - that's another story.
Sheila arrived just as we were heading out. A quick kiss for good luck and off we rode - Team 40-40 - down the hill and off into the woods. The bikes were still fun mind you, but as we started out, Josh had quite possibly the worst popped chain I had ever seen. It took us ALL to get it fixed - and took about 10 minutes. Then, as we're barreling down the trail to the mandatory Checkpoint 9...we missed a turn and went on a black diamond (very difficult) trail which ate up more time.
Then - we finally get to checkpoint 9. A mandatory checkpoint, which we all thought, meant there'd be people there making sure we were all together - you have to stay within 100 feet of a teammate at all times- and checking us in...but no. It was a freaking compass orienteering riddle.
150 yards at 270 degrees, then 36 yards at 30 degrees, then 100 yards at 20 degrees...find three numbers, jot them down - then go back and continue finding checkpoints.
We completed the riddle - but then realized we had 15 minutes to get back to the finish...given the challenges on the bikes thus far - we quickly realized - no time for checkpoints - hump it back to the finish.
We got back about 6 minutes past 5, which meant we get docked 6 points. but you know what - we finished - and I made sure we finished together.
As we went through the awards, ours being the award of finishing - first time adventure racers - first time teammates (for most of us) - the race director asked us to come up and tell our story. Mike asked who found Checkpoint 5...apparently - we just missed it - again - my bad - as most of the four hour folks found it
Then they asked me to tell the story of the 40 in 40. Which I did. When I told them how we raised $40,000 - we (note we not I) got a standing ovation. That was in honor of all of you, those who have supported me with your generosity, Sheila with her patience, my friends who raced with me, pushed me, gave me grief about missing a race...
That was for you.
The 40th race is dedicated to Mike Nicosia, his three children, Kacey, Matthew and Sean and in memory of Kathy Nicosia who passed away in June of 2007. Kathy was pregnant with her youngest, Sean and upon giving birth, it was determined that there was a massive tumor in her uterus. It had gone undiagnosed or even seen during the pregnancy. From the time it was found, to the time that Mike, Kacey, Matthew and Sean lost Kathy - seeing them all from time to time, their power, their passion for life, love for Kathy - wife, mother - and their resiliency...was and still is powerful. Kathy was a great energetic, friendly, loving woman who welcomed friends, new and old into her world. She is missed, but not forgotten - and I am humbled to be dedicating this race in her memory.
As mentioned, Mike was the director of this team. Being able to do it with him - and now, being able to dedicate this event to him, his children and most importantly in the memory of Kathy - is the least I can do. I hope that I honored her, Mike and the kids appropriately. As a testament to Mike's power - he told all of us on Team 40-40 - to donate the race fees to the 40 in 40 versus reimbursing him. over $180...selfless....generous....kind hearted and powerful.
While the 40 in 40 is done, I am not.
I will continue to serve as the Treasurer for the NC Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Board - a position I am honored to hold. I will continue to do Team in Training events, I will continue to support and further the mission of the LLS - the cures are out there - we must continue to battle - to eventually defeat blood cancers.
This summer - I intend to volunteer for as many TnT events as I can - and challenge you all to come out and support the events as well. No dollars involved - just some time. Volunteers are critical to the success of these events. If you want to know more - just let me know.
Come out and see what enjoyment, sense of accomplishment and success the members of TnT realize during their events. Come out and see what powerful message is communicated - as those clad in purple and green - race for a cause, for a cure, for a life....or like the 40 in 40 - to put another birthday candle on a blood cancer patient's birthday cake. This year, next year, 10 years or more from now.
So - while the 40 in 40 is over- the blog will continue - with updates to races, new events, new challenges...but for now - nothing like the 40 in 40.
A Full Ironman is probably in the works for next year - more to come on that.
So while the adventure is over - the fun is not. I've had so many incredible experiences - I'll recount them over the next several years - happily - and will be sure to recognize all of you and your support. Thank you for following the blog - please stay tuned - we'll have a lot to share with you as time passes.
Who knows - maybe I'll write a book - 40 chapters, 40 pictures, probably sell about 40 copies!
Pictures to follow.
Go TEAM!!!! And thank you all!