Musings from Off The Grid:

The Speed Project

Recently a few friends and I committed to running in a relay from LA to Vegas called The Speed Project. Now this is totally an Off The Grid experience for me as it is completely outside of my comfort zone, but they say that's where personal growth happens, right? 

Beginning before sunrise on the Santa Monica pier and ending under the bright lights of the Vegas strip, the speed project is no joke. 300+ miles to be covered by 6 runners, supported by 2 dear friends responsible for driving, first aid, navigation, protection and the provision of good stories.  With crazy temperature and elevation changes, through dserts and major cities we are in for an epic adventure.

Attempting to find out additional information on this relay is next to impossible. I'm not an internet searching wizard by any means but as far as I can tell their is no website, Facebook page or Instagram account that offers any sort of decent insight. I deduced this to be a choice by the relay organizers to continue a sense of mystery and to perpetuate the feelings of fear that people like me are dealing (or not dealing) with. Let me point out that it is universally understood that withholding information in most situations (in business or otherwise) is in poor taste and leads to mistrust and spoiled relationships.

So far the only communication and information provided has been through email, what is this 1999? When scanning the email, cause honestly no one actually reads emails completely, words like snakes, wild dogs, barb wire and cold jump out at you. I've figured out that seeing these words in relation to a race leads people to feel one of two ways.

1) Badass- like, "Awesome! This is going to be great, I've never run from snakes and wild dogs while hurdling barbed wire before."


2) What the fuck did I sign up for?

I fall squarely into the second camp recalling my fear of wild dogs, snakes and barbed wire. These fears aren't based on any of my own real life experiences but rather on the experiences of people I (kinda) know. People like Aladdin, yeah that's right, that Aladdin. A loveable, down on his luck, kind hearted rascal of a boy who only wants some bread and the love of the beautiful Jasmine. But in steps the evil villain Jafar, not just any villain but the primary villain in the Disney Villians franchise. What does Jafar carry you ask?...a snake shaped staff. Jafar is basically the human representation of a snake. Sneaky, short tempered, and willing to strike at anything at any time, provoked or not. Young man in the desert on a flying carpet or young people running in the desert, both are in for a battle. How this doesn't seriously concern anyone else is beyond me.

Maybe its my fault for googling “snake attacks Las Vegas” but I can’t un-see what I’ve already read.  Here are a few stories from the search.

Snake attacks man at Las Vegas swap meet

Las Vegas toddler survives 300lb snake attack

Man suffers injuries in snake attack

Whoa! Hold up, a 300lb snake! That can’t be real. Wrong, it is, and if you are brave enough to click the link you’ll read how it basically took a half dozen police officers, animal control and the babies knife wielding mother to stop the snake from squeezing the life out of the baby.  I know, I know, it ended ok and the baby survived, but unless my team has room in our RV for 6 police officers, some animal control workers and my mom, I don't like our chances.  Honestly though, what are we supposed to do if we come across a 325lb, 18ft snake?  I’m being serious, do you go for an eye gouge or play dead, what is the protocol?    

My fears don't end there. I'm also fairly concerned with the wild dog thing. We all know what wild dogs are capable of.  If one wild dog (re: dingo) can take a baby from under the watchful eye of its parents, what are a pack of them capable of doing to a dehydrated and delirious runner in the middle of the night? Regular people get attacked by dogs that we provide shelter, feed and love like children so its pretty dumb to think that the dogs we've basically neglected and starved are going to just let us run by without incident. 

This may seem like a joke, but while doing "research" for this I came across some deeply troubling information. "In 2011, in an article on the Stray Dog Population, the U.S. National Animal Interest Alliance said that the rabies epidemic in stray dogs around the world has transformed into a global public health issue". The World Health Organization also released these alarming stats:

  •  There are 200 million stray dogs worldwide
  •  More than 55,000 people die from rabies each year
  • Dogs are the primary source of human rabies deaths

Do the math! We are going to come into contact with a wild dog, someone is more than likely getting rabies from that wild dog and then I think you can connect the dots from there.  It's terrible to say but I just hope it's not me.

I'm not even going to go into the barbed wire thing but I will ask you this. What is the barbed wire keeping out or in?

Think about it….Yeah, exactly.

We are one week out from the registration deadline and 5 weeks out from the relay. We’ve been promised more info soon but unless this information includes detailed ways to deal with the fears I’ve laid out above I’m not sure what the point would be. It’s not like I'm going to back out now though, I’ve already bought flights, hotels and a flying carpet.

To be continued...