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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How the 12-hour Dawn To Dusk Went (In My Head)

So, hi there. In case you didn’t know, all of the writing on this blog is done by me, Kristin McNamara, event producer of All Out Events.

While Yishai (who most of you know and love) is doing his thing on the mic or at the briefings, I am usually in the background monitoring volunteers or calculating results, etc. I’m the business end of All Out, and Yishai is the dream end, if that makes sense.

So when we have our Dawn to Dusk race, Yishai is usually always where the action is. I’m sitting in the trailer working on stuff and making sure the staff is fed.

I thought you guys  might be interested to know what goes into putting on a 12-hour race, so here I am to tell you.

Ingredient 1: The Dream

Without Yishai, there’d be no course. He loves maps. It will be 2 am and he will want to show me some map. Now, I love hiking, climbing, riding, etc, but I am not a map person. In the Sierra, I go off general locations based on peaks or whatnot. I can read a map, but I do not get excited about it.

So Y will pour over the maps, and then it’s time to scout. And he will go, “Hey, Kristin, let’s do this nice, easy trail. It will only be an hour or two.” Yeah, not ever. Just when I have bought my first mountain bike, he put me on the 12-hour mountain bike course. It took me eight hours to do it. I was dying. This last race, I was super sick, and he thought we would go on a minor scouting adventure on a “road” that he said was “flat.” Folks who raced – he means the brush slog on the ridgeline. To be fair, he didn’t know, but that’s how it is with him.

Ingredient 2: Hustle

So then you have to sell the race. You need to make friends with the people who write the permits and let you use their land. That’s easy. We’re nice and we don’t mess stuff up because we’re also super-considerate. By this, I mean, if you accuse either of us of wrongdoing, we’ll immediately take it, even if we were in Timbuktu at the time. There are a lot of long days going into longer nights. A lot of worry and stress and analysis and surveys. We talk to people and hope they’ll give us some money to promote their product – these days they don’t, so this becomes not much of a lucrative thing. You have to have heart to do it.

Oh yeah, then there’s the hours we spend making the path passable – happily this year we have a dermatologist friend with the magic serum – we always have poison oak for a few months a year, but it’s way more manageable now than it has been. I haven’t had to take a poison oak sick day, and hey, Y didn’t end up in the hospital this year! Red letter day!

And then you show up:

Or, if you’re us, you decide last minute to weld bike racks even though you don’t know how to weld. And then you realize the trailer you have can’t hold the racks, so you gotta recruit friends to donate such things.

Our staff shows up, and like a well-oiled machine, they know their jobs and they handle it. Then you show up.

And it’s 11 pm the night before, we’re all in the ranger office where I draw my customary random drawing (this year it was a pink rattlesnake in a tutu) on their white board and we eat burritos. That’s also where we came up with our “start dance.”

Our what?

Yeah, if you were there, you saw it. Aaronne (registration queen), Yishai, myself, and Blake (operations man) did a little jig for the start line, only after Yishai went the extra mile by picking some poison oak to hold up for the crowd. My theory is that if it’s green, don’t touch it, and you’ll be safe. PO looks like a zillion different things. I happen to know. I am a professional poison oak murderer.

So we give our briefing and then they’re off. We get back to the venue and . . .

Have I mentioned that the 12-hour races are super epicly boring while you’re out doing the race? The entire crew goes off to Santa Margarita Ranch to handle the action there, leaving me, Aaronne (hiding from the cold in her car, monitoring radio traffic), and the CARA festival to our own devices.

I do incredibly important things like help the caterer back his trailer into the right spot and helping the cooks find wood and supplies to feed our racers sausages.

At the same time this is going on, we have search and rescue conducting random training missions over the same radio frequency so it sounds exciting, all that “Arrow One is orbiting and in search of target.” ORBITING? LIKE IN SPACE?

And then we’re all sitting around and, WHAT’S THAT? A TEAM! HOLY MOLY! It’s Team TecnuExtreme/StaphAceptic coming in way earlier than we expected. My volunteers scramble to get them the goods, and they’re off. It’s a full hour before we see another team.

But now the jig is up. We’ve been running along for about six hours and two teams haven’t shown. Hmm. We start trying to locate vehicles, names, phone numbers (for some reason they gave dummy phone numbers). Given that Y and I have personally vetted the course, barring a rabid mountain lion, they are most definitely lost in the wild backcountry peaks that the race started in. But how to find them? The brush is impassable by quad, so this is an on-foot job. And this is . . . a LOT of space.

But no fear, search and rescue has . . . a HELICOPTER. And after much debate, it is determined that Yishai, our hero, will go up in the HELICOPTER to find them by sight. I told you I get the dirty jobs.

So there they are, flying around, I can hear the chopper talking to the ground and I know when the two parties have been found (and unhurt, I might add, just lost and a bit embarrassed).

And here’s where we enter the world in my head.

Picture Yishai: black cap, black sunglasses, earpiece, radio, black coat, khaki shorts, trail running shoes.

“Oh, Race Director,” teems the search and rescue, “We are trying our best but we can’t locate those poor, lost souls. Only you can save us!”

Puffing up his chest, “Don’t you worry, *I’ll* save them! Get me the chopper!”

The air suddenly fills with the buzzing of a thousand angry bees, escorting Airwolf, suspended from the ground with only one of those slick, black cords and a single, silver ascender. Yishai grabs it, and begins to ascend effortlessly as James Bond would. He swings into the cabin. “That way, Captain, we have people to save!”

It rises and banks left, firing the turbo jet engines (come on, it’s Airwolf) as it sweeps over a rugged vista of peaks and narrow canyons. And there, sure as day, their day-glo yellow coats shining from the black and blah colors of the drying chapparal. They wave the the helicopter. The pilot waves back. Yishai, “We have no time for that, land this thing!”

And, conveniently, there’s a landing spot (this part is true). As soon as it touches down, Yishai leaps from the chopper, its blades inches from his head as he runs to the people and escorts them out of the brush to safety and their loving friends and family.

Yeah. So I was sitting in the trailer calculating points at this point. I am pretty sure there was a zipline, but I can’t confirm that. I heard there was . . . mountain biking, too? And I saw some kayaks on the staging area. But I am pretty sure all I saw was venue and the inside of a trailer. And that’s pretty much what I did until it was time for awards, when I got the prizes out and handed them to the winners. And then we cleaned up, got ready for that night’s rain storm, and went to bed.

That, my friends, is the 2011 All Out Adventure race from Kristin’s perspective.


  1. You guys were great! Thanks for another epic experience, badass bushwhack and all. And thanks for the friendly welcome when we got our t-shirts.

  2. You need to write a book about "Airwolf" and his trusty sidkick "Killer-K" the femme-fatale. I think it would sell zillions of copies.