Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pre Race Meeting

This Sunday Dakota is racing in 4 Refugios, an ultra race in Argentina. Things seem to be run a little differently down there, so below I've written how I imagine the race to be organized..

Welcome to the 4 Ref 2014 pre race conference. This entire conference will be given in Spanish, so for those of you not fluent in the language, I hope you have previously secured a translator as it is vital that you understand all that we go over tonight. Ok, let's get started.

First some general rules about the meeting: Since you are here, you know that the meeting starts, or rather started at 10:00pm. A light pre race dinner will be served around midnight. An after dinner expresso will be available shortly after, but supply is limited, so please only have one cup. Around 1am, we will have a brief intermission. This will last somewhere between thirty minutes to an hour and a half. We have no way of notifying you of when the meeting resumes. The meeting is scheduled to conclude around 4:15, as the race begins at 4:30. In the event that the meeting runs over, one by one each of you will need to check in with the event timer. Look for a man holding the 1930s styled pocket watch. He will assign each of you a unique starting time. When you finish, we will hand you a paper and pencil so that you my calculate your finishing time. Basic arithmetic skills are necessary, but we will provide you with some simple formulas at the top of the page. Please, do not forget to write your name, your mothers maiden name, and your thirteen digit race number in the spaces provided. You must use the No. 2 pencil we give you. 

Now we can address the race itself. The race is capped at 1500 participants. Participants under the age of 18 do not count as actual participants, but we will provide them with a number. Due to this, we don't know the exact number of participants. That creates somewhat of a safety issue. We ask that everyone be aware of the people around them. If you notice that someone is suddenly not there, please notify someone of this persons disappearance. That being said, if you cannot describe the person, the location of where you saw them last or you cannot recall their thirteen digit bib number, do not tell anyone. Telling someone else, especially if you tell a race official and not just a spectator, might mean sending out a frivolous search party where we are looking for the proverbially needle in a hay stack. We would rather not waste time and valuable resources on looking for a runner who may or may not be lost. Which brings me to my next point. Carlos, please wave your hand. See the man with the bazooka gun? He will be coming around to each and every one of you. You all must sign the waiver he presents to you. This is a libality release form. Essentially saying that if you get hurt, lost, die, suffer from physical or mental pain during or in the four months following the race, we, 4 Ref, are not responsible for any of these damages. Feel free to read it, but keep in mind that it is already 11:00pm and dinner is served at midnight. Carlos looks like a man who doesn't want to be late to dinner. 

All of you should have noticed the "required gear" link located at the bottom left corner of our website, under the tab "additional information." And per the request on the page "schedule of events" under the "timeline" and then "pre race" page, where you should have seen the hot link labeled "Suggestions," all of you should have your bag of gear under your seats. This bag should also have the room for your bib number as well as a label containing the answers to the three security questions you answered on the "Gear FAQ" page. When you pick up your bib numbers after this meeting, but before you talk to the man with the pocket watch, assuming that we go over our scheduled time, please write your bib number on the bag. You'll have come back to this room, as this is where we have space to keep them. The drive between the restaurant where you pick up your bib is approximately sixteen minutes, but there might be some wiggle room there. Also, I'm assuming all of you have secured 4WD vehicles. If not, the drive time between this hotel conference room and the start line will be longer than the allotted twenty six minutes. Donkeys and sherpas might be available for hire, but the closest rental agency is a ten minute walk from here. But I digress. On to the gear. All participants should be wearing running shoes with a minimum of 6mm lugs and a maximum of 8mm. IF during the course of the race the lug height is decreased to 5mm due to wear, the runner will be asked to change into the additional pair of shoes they will have put into their pack. Runners will be required to carry two liters of water, at least 9 gels, two different pairs of sunglasses, each of varying darkness, a SPOT transmitter, a rain shell, arm sleeves, and tall compression socks. It is highly recommended that you wear two watches. Runners will also need to carry one rope for repelling and a climbing harness. You'll be wearing your aerodynamic bike helmet, so an additional helmet is not required, but also not frowned upon. Knowledge of climbing knots is also required, as you are NOT allowed to carry a repel device. There are two sections on the course where you will need to repel. Three if you follow the alternate course. There may be a bottleneck at these sections, which is why we have required you to choose a book to bring from these titles: War and Peace, The Canterberry Tales, One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Moby Dick. Hardback covers are not required, but highly recommended. You'll also be required to carry a first aid kit. In the waterproof container, you should have the following: anti venom, scissors, two meters of tape and gauze, six bandaids, 100proof alcohol, a strap of leather (to bite down on in case an amputation procedure occurs), a shot glass, one syringe of pure adrenaline, 10cc of Morphine, a portable AED, your primary AND secondary insurance cards, 3 gloves (Please make sure these are latex free) and saline. In a separate waterproof container you are required to carry a cell phone, a cell phone charger, a solar panel energy source device, and a portable hotspot. Before the race begins you should have opened up a twitter account as that is how race officials will be keeping track of participant progress as well as drops. If you have not done this, please see that you do this before you get your bib number. 

Moving on to the actual course. Like I said, the start is not here, but rather a decent distance. Once you get there you will be shuttled to the actual start. You will have a blind fold with you, you all should have known this was required, as it was written on the website under the "required pre race gear" tab. From the parking lot, you'll be blindfolded and driven to the actual start. You should also have seen under that same tab the required navigational gear- compass, complete knowledge of course topography, and you should have memorized the course description as well. Since it will be dark, and headlamps are absolutely forbidden, the first several hours of the course will be navigated by the stars, so working knowledge of astronomy will be vital. However, once the sun rises at 6:47, you must use your memory of the maps seen on the website. These were nestled under the "Additional Information" tab. You should NOT have a map on your person. And depending on which map you memorized you will be running either 48k or 76k course. Please know which you memorized, don't just follow the person in front of you as this will just add confusion to a race. 

Some suggestions if you do somehow get lost. Do not back track. Stay exactly where you are. Crews may or may not be out looking for you. To increase your odds of having a crew look for you, please try to socialize with the runners near you. Also, it is in your best interest to get lost on the first half of the 48k course or the last two thirds of the 76k course, as those are the easiest to get to. Since you have brought a novel in your gear bag, this will obviously come in handy here and should be read until you are discovered. If you were diligent in reading our website you will have also brought the gear seen on the downloadable excel spreadsheet title, "What to do if you get lost." A whistle, blanket, crossbow and fire making tools will come in handy if you happen to finish your book and realize that no one is looking for you. Thats obviously a worst case scenario though. Also, if you plan on hunting, you should have secured a hunting permit thirty days prior to the race. I believe small game is currently in season, but depending on how long you are lost, you may be able to hunt larger game. The wildlife officer will address this when we return from our intermission. 

Once you finish the race, which we expect most people to finish in about six to ten hours, again depending on the course you take, we will either have you calculate your finishing time, or if we start at the scheduled 4:30am start time, we will usher you to the after race debriefing. Either way, all participants will be required to attend the meeting. We will NOT start until everyone has finished. Since we do not know the exact number of participants, we have decided that once the room is comfortably warm from body heat, we will begin. The meeting will follow the same general schedule as the pre race meeting. Only instead of offering just expresso, we will also be adding a chocolate tasting table. There will be amply provisions, so feel free to indulge. Awards will be given during the second half of the meeting. We are currently aiming for a 3:30am start time for the ceremony. As most of you will need to return to work that same day, we have limited our presentation time to four hours. You should have already notified your work that you may be late. Also, you can read more about this on the waiver you've already signed. 

If there are no questions at this point, I'm going to suggest that we take a short break for dinner. If you are not a fluent speaker of Spanish or if you have not understood much of this meeting, I'd like to direct you to the computers in the back of the room. There you will see the talk I just gave playing on a loop. You'll be able to pause the talk to allow you time to look up translations in the dictionary you should have with you, as seen on the "Non native speakers required gear" list. Let us resume the talk when we are done with our meal. If we happen to run long on dinner and it spills into our intermission time, please see the amended schedule pamphlet we have placed in the back of the room.