January 08, 2007

Does Adventure Racing Need A Documentary About The Sport?

Two documentaries you absolutely have to see are 'An Inconvenient Truth' and 'Who Killed the Electric Car'

Today G.M. released a new electric, plug in concept car that they are aiming to have available for consumers by 2010. Of course they say it had nothing to do with the eye opening documentary about how they 'killed' their originally released electric cars in 2003.

Just as McDonald's eliminated their Super Size menu, only 6 weeks after the debut of 'Supersize Me', had nothing to do with that documentary.

The power of the modern day film maker is undeniable. Just look at the success of YouTube. Maybe what adventure racing needs, more than the faint hope that Mark Burnett will resurrect 'Eco Challenge' is for a documentary film maker to recognize this and to take a chance on a team training for their first expedition race.

What no one since Burnett has been able to capture is the raw emotion that fuels each and every adventure race, each and every adventure racer.
I for one, would love to see a documentary about a start up team heading into their first expedition race. Trying to build their team, get in their training hours, buy all the necessary gear, and eventually struggle their way through the toughest adventure of their lives.

Mark, Aimee and I spoke of this often while we trained for Primal Quest. Unfortunately, we had neither the time, resources or money to pull it off ourselves. I still believe it would have made for great viewing, and great exposure for the sport itself.

Although the athletes on teams like 'Nike PowerBlast',
'GoLite/Timberland', 'Merrell/Wigwam Adventure' and even Canada's 'Supplierpipeline' are some of the best athletes in the world, they are not the ones that keep people glued to their televisions. It's the beginner and mid-pack teams that the typical viewer associates with most. When viewers see these people, they believe in themselves. They believe that they too could do a race of that magnitude if they so choose to.

I should know, that was me when I first saw Eco Challenge Morocco in 1998. I was a beer drinking, party loving 22 year old kid living in Banff, Alberta and weighing in at 183 pounds. Twenty-three pounds over my current race weight of 160. Immediately following that television program, three friends and I promised each other that we would one day do an Eco Challenge. Then we got drunk.
It took another year for me to sober up, and a full five years before I would compete in my first adventure race, a MindOverMountain.com A.R. on Vancouver Island. I was instantly addicted. In just my third season of racing, and eight years after my initial promise to myself, I was at the starting line of a 700km expedition race known as Primal Quest

With the help of my incredible teammates, Mark Fearman, Aimee Dunn and Niels Torp Madsen, I bled, cried, and crawled my way across the finish. It was one of the greatest achievements of my life.

Without having seen Eco Challenge I would never have discovered Adventure Racing. I'd probably be closer to 200 pounds than 160, and I certainly would not have the balance in my life that I currently cherish so much.

So the question is posed, how do we once again get Adventure Racing into the main stream media. How do we go about motivating those beer drinking dreamers to give it a shot? How can we 'save' our sport? I for one, believe in the power of the modern day documentary.



Anonymous said...

Hey Gar...
I was around when you were "sobering up". Long time ago. Good to see that you're finding your niche, but more importantly, that you're still writing. Write on, dude; you're a rare talent.
Take good care. Let us know when you're in cowtown.
Amber Murray

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary....so you remember the paint on my overalls from working on the windows project...the ad led to something....details later. I just watched "An Inconvenient Truth"....a real shocker....well, at least I sent my absentee ballot in that year voting for Gore...