Last Easy Day

As I shared in my previous post it is interesting watching folks prepare their boats for a Watertribe event. I don’t know if it is my pilot training, or my Navy training, or my acceptance that I am getting old and I don’t trust my memory, but I have to use a packing checklist when I pack my boat. I created the packing checklist for my first Watertribe Challenge which was an Ultra Marathon. I have found that after every event this list needs to be modified. With the number of events I have done you would think that I would have it figured out by now but I always come across a change. I mean I am the guy who forgot to pack his running shoes for the forty mile portage. Quite an important item that I left to my memory and did not put on a checklist. Not Lisa’s fault. I own that one.The checklist came in real handy in helping me avoid leaving something at the stage sites where I was unpacking, resupplying, and repacking. In this picture of me packing you will see an orange mat I was using. This is a neat mat develop for the military that lets sand fall through the mat and not get on stuff. It is called a Sand Free Multimat made by CGear. I used it at stage sites but didn’t take it with me in the boat because of its weight. It is great on the beach. Wished I could have taken it because it would have been a big help at some of the camp sites we ended up staying in. If you look real close you will see that “Wilson” was watching over my packing.
In addition to getting  boats packed everyone has to attend a Captain ‘s meeting Friday afternoon. The meeting goes anywhere from an hour to an hour and half depending on the question. For late arrivals on Friday the challenge is already introducing some stress. You can tell when you walk down the beach and hear  ” Oh man I cannot get everything pack into the boat” “What !!!!! I need a gear inspection” ” Oh geeeeh I forgot my tent” ” Now I have to attend a meeting !!! you have got to be kidding ! ”  To think that this is supposed to be the easy day, low stress, relaxing and joking around. Along with all the stress they will also most likely will not hear a little tip from a veteran Watertriber who may be walking by them or doing their gear inspection. These tips will not be repeated or pushed on them but will be offered graciously once. They are like gold nuggets but they have to be picked up. The following link is a video of the Captain’s meeting for this years events.
I am on the left side of the screen, standing up, and have the floppy hat on. I am standing next to Jungle Jim who lives near me and is so fast that steam comes off his kayak wake. Normally I only see him at the start, partially across Tampa Bay and at the finish in Key largo. This year would be a little different which is a testimony of how tough the winds were. I was sitting prior to the start of the meeting. Then it dawn on me that I will be sitting for a lot of hours over the next days and weeks. So I figured I better spend sometime standing up and walking.  As I watched folks and listen to their comments and laughter I wondering how many folks really knew what was waiting for them. Chief really tries to explain the dangers of the event and the expertise folks should have but I really question if folks comprehend the event. They may have never been tested in the manner they will be so maybe they truly do feel the event is not that tough. The thing about these events is that they test not only an individual’s physical fitness level and boat skills but they hammer an individual ‘s mental toughness in a way that no other athletic event does. Before the race folks will hear veterans and Chief say that if you are thinking about dropping out, stop ,set your tent up, get a meal in you and get a good night’s sleep. Then in the morning see if you still want to drop out. The wisdom in this advice is that it gives folks some time to recover from the mental beating they are taking and they usually have a different mental state after resting. The other thing about these challenges is that they show no favoritism to veterans.  If you show up with a weakness in an area the race course will seek it out and torture the participate, veteran and rookie alike, in that area. More than a few very seasoned and tough Watertribe veterans have a DNF in their history. All that being said I personally don’t fear these events but I do respect them and don’t take them lightly. I train and prepare expecting that the event is going to be brutal. This is a picture of my boat before heading home. Notice how nice it is. Little did I know that this day was going to be my last easy day for quite sometime.