Sunday, October 9, 2022

ENDracing to ENDing

Portable Sign

For more than a decade, Extreme North Dakota Racing has been a part of my life. Based in Grand Forks, ND it began with brothers, both being Adventure Racers, as well as graduate students at the University of North Dakota, deciding their training could also be a source of income. Their events were billed as "The toughest races in North Dakota." The long distances, harsh conditions, and multi-disciplinary activities appealed to me. I was not certain if I could complete the events, but I was willing to push myself. Being a participant was both exhilarating and challenging. There was a social aspect, as well as connection established in suffering with other people. After a few years, an opportunity became available to learn race directing. In a short time race directing dwarfed participation. Now I traveled further to participate in events. I watched other race directors. I watched what worked and mentally envisioned what I might use to enhance the races I directed. 

My first event to direct was END-SURE. This event had many iterations and routes. As an ultra-marathon held in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in mid-March, the weather was always the wildcard. From open, dry prairies, to fierce winds, to hip deep snow, and plenty of icy slush this was always a challenge for participants. To the initial 50km distance, a 100km option was added. Under my leadership a 100 mile distance and a 25km distance were added. In order for this to happen numerous volunteers were needed. As years passed the number of volunteers dwindled. I do not believe there is a single reason for the drop in volunteers. Peoples' lives have become busier in many aspects. Thus the event was reconfigured to only offer 50km and 100km distances.

This couple completed
100 miles in harsh 

After the fall gravel bike event, END-CHIP (October 8th), my time as director of various ENDracing events has come to a close. I believe it is not only time for others to assume leadership using their skills and visions to continue outdoor, challenging events, but personal aspects of my life need more attention. What impacted my life and inspired me to continue race directing over the years were the participants. I could celebrate and congratulate people whenever they passed the finish line. I could emotionally embrace those whose journey was cut short due to any number of physical, medical, or mechanical difficulties. My goal was to assist people in facing the challenge not only of the event, but of how this impacted their life. 

END-TICK June 2022
I met hundreds of people of various ages, careers, lifestyles, locations, and life situations. Events had the feel of a reunion, complete with hospitality, good food, and a well marked course. This was especially evident with the 2 gravel bike events. END-TICK (in June) and END-CHIP were hosted at the farm of Jona and Alicia Baer. Their willingness to be open, accepting, and hospitable factored into the return of many participants. Their welcome and interest in the lives of everyone who came made these events, not races. 

Everything comes to an END. One aspect of my life is ENDing, yet I am better prepared for the journey ahead thanks to what I experienced from others! 

END-WET swim cap

100km biker + 50km
runner approaching the end
of their distance. 

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