12:24 a.m.: Exhaustion is a funny thing.
Covering the MR340 has been a blast for me. I’ve learned a whole new sport that I’ve never experienced, met a ton of interesting people from the masked racers Los Humungos to the Coffee Dogs, and I’ve seen how far the determination and will can push a person. However, the most interesting thing to me is how exhausting it was to run around to some of the check points, interview people, and update a post. I mean it’s so hard to sit on a lap top and type a 100 word post updating the race. And don’t even get me started on conversing with friendly people, because everyone knows how hard that is. And riding in a car for the long one hour trip back to Columbia to sleep in my comfortable bed just takes a ridiculous toll on the body. That stuff genuinely made me tired, but then I look around and I am a little, no, extremely embarrassed for feeling exhausted. It just amazes me what the ground crew and racers have accomplished. In fact, it was ridiculous for me to feel exhausted and every time someone asked me how I was doing, it took everything in my power to not complain because I have no right.
The racers and ground crew have accomplished an amazing feat of will and strength over this four-day race across the Missouri River. Most have traveled more than 100 miles a day in a river that racer Melanie Hof, said felt like a lake with no current. They utilized every muscle to the maximum output and many like Santo Albright can’t move their body after the race. It also takes an immense toll on the mind. You have to keep pushing yourself when every muscle in your body wants you to stop, the blisters on the hands are gentle reminders that you shouldn’t be doing this, and a sore butt that after sitting on a thin layer of foam for days on end that screams for you to stop. But most of all they have done this race with minimal to no sleep for four days. Many teams like the Lucky 13 with Bryan Hopkins and Joe Mann only took two or three minutes at a check point and barely rested on the river. The teams that did rest mainly slept on sand bars, wing dikes, or in their hard wooden canoe and only for a couple hours. They overcame hallucinations, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. The human body isn’t supposed to go through this, but yet these guys are able to do it and want to do it. It is just remarkable. And don’t even get me started on the grounds crew.
The ground crews have to navigate the back roads of Missouri to find each check point. They hardly sleep at all and if they do it is in their car for only a couple hours. Charlie Bruns the ground crewman for the McHenry’s didn’t even sleep at all. They have to get everything for their racer, whether it is finding coffee and a sandwich in a moments notice like Dianne Maurer did for her racer, mixing a drink just the right way, or even keeping things cold in humid Missouri weather, they were always on the move. Even the race directors and safety boats had little to no rest. They had to always be on safety surveillance, checking in racers, and just following the racers to make sure everything was alright.
So no, I reserve no right to be exhausted. In fact, my eyes have been open wide and my mind blown open at how far people can push their bodies and achieve something. To finish a race that you know you won’t win, but still pushing yourself through sickness, blisters, and soreness just to beat your own personal time or goal takes remarkable determination. What these racers have accomplished these last three days is amazing and something that the person who finishes first and the person that finishes last can remember for the rest of their lives and be proud of. So I commend these racers and ground crew for what they’ve achieved and thank them for opening my eyes as to what exhaustion really is and how far determination can go.
By: Brian Nordli
Whew! Now I am exhausted…Just kidding.