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Last weekend, The Hammer and I went on a road ride with some friends — Lynette and Cory, along with their daughter Mackenzie — who had just gotten back from an awesome vacation in New Zealand. They had been there to do the New Zealand Ironman, which — due to gale-force winds — had been canceled, with a half-Ironman taking its place the following day.
Lynette and Mackenzie went ahead and did the half; Cory watched. “I didn’t have anything to prove by doing another half-Ironman,” he said, which is a completely understandable point of view if you’ve done as many triathlons as Cory.
So they hung around in NZ for a couple weeks, enjoying the beautiful country and having an adventure instead of recovering from a brutally difficult race.
And this gave me an idea for a new event. I think it’s going to be a huge hit.
The Evil Epic 250: The Hardest Race In The World
I think I am going to create a new race, which I will call The Evil Epic 250. I think you’ll agree, it’s an awesome name for a race: it sounds incredibly difficult (it’s 250 miles, for crying out loud! Even hard races only go 100 miles; this goes twice as far as those other so-called epics, which are really nothing more than pretenders. And then, just for good measure, it goes another 50 miles, just to underscore its point) and slightly terrifying (even the race organizer thinks it’s evil, not to mention epic).
I haven’t figured out where the race will be yet. Or whether the race will be on dirt or pavement (or both). Those are small details I can work out later. I guess.
Whereever the race is, I can guarantee you it will be in an exotic, hard to reach location. One that’s kind of intimidating-sounding maybe, and is perhaps known for its beautiful natives and poisonous, sharp-toothed fish. Oh, and rugged terrain and tall mountains.
I’ll bet there’s a place like that somewhere. It’s a big world.
The race description — which will be on my professionally-designed website, complete with numerous photographs and well-written marketing copy — will make it clear that this is not a race you take on on a whim. This is a serious race, one that most people could never even contemplate finishing.
Even to enter this race — which my site will claim is capped at 1000 elite-level entrants — suggests something about you: that you are an adventurer. A risk-taker. An athlete of the highest order.
I will list several professional (and former professional) cyclists who will be at this race, hoping to win (or perhaps take a podium spot) as the crowning moment of their illustrious career.
You will register for it. You will register for it, and begin obsessing about it immediately.
Training and Planning
Before long, The Evil Epic 250 will consume your every waking moment. You will train, nearly non-stop. You will become stronger than you could have imagined possible. Your endurance will be legendary among your officemates.
Acquaintances will begin to whisper that you have changed. That there is a new fierceness about your demeanor. A new sort of lust for life. An intensity that belies your hearty laugh and athletic swagger.
Perhaps a rumor will spread that you have the eye of the tiger. When confronted with this rumor, you will smile your new quiet, confident, intensity-laden smile and say, “I just hope to do my best in The Evil Epic 250.”
When you encounter other cyclists and they ask you what you are training for so assiduously, you will tell them, The Evil Epic 250, and they will be so awestruck that they will forget that the reason they asked you that question was so that you would return the question and they could boast about their own upcoming event — their own upcoming event which suddenly sounds quite un-epic and in fact kind of weenie-like.
You will find it necessary to purchase special clothing and cycling equipment for this race. You will not begrudge these purchases, because they are things you wanted to buy anyway, but had — to this point — foregone because they were not strictly necessary. The Evil Epic 250, however, gives you a reason — not to be confused with an excuse — to purchase those items. With a clear conscience.
You will train with purpose, intensity, and endurance. Each ride will take on meaning. You are not just doing hill repeats; you are preparing for the race of a lifetime. You are not just out on a long, seven-hour ride on beautiful single track; you are building endurance and increasing your technical skills.
You are not just relaxing and watching TV; you are recovering.
And when you are not training, you will be planning. You will consider every detail, every possibility, and have a strategy that takes it into account. And of course, you will spend no small amount of time telling others of your plans.
Don’t worry, people will never get tired of it.
The Race Itself
Finally, the day of the Evil Epic 250 will arrive. You will travel to the aforementioned exotic, beautiful, far-off place. Or perhaps you will just be planning to leave within the next day or so.
Either way, there will be a stunning and tragic development: Due to unforeseen and impossibly tragic adverse conditions such as the biggest tornado in the history of the world, followed by a volcano eruption and a meteor strike that left nothing but a really windy crater filled with lava where the race course used to be, the race has been canceled.
Oh, the tragedy! All that work, all that training! And now you don’t get to do the race!
“Damn it!” You will swear, and people will know you are very angry, because you rarely resort to such coarse language.
Except — deep down — you will be secretly grateful that the race has been canceled, because now you get to have done the best parts of a race — training for it and thinking about it and planning for it — without having to endure the worst part of a race: actually racing it.
Outwardly, of course, you will be disappointed, though stoically so. People will admire your stoicism and your philosophical approach to catastrophes. “There’s always next year,” you will say, with a twinkle in your eye.
And you’ll still get the t-shirt and finisher’s medal.
PS: Secretly, I hope that I’m not the first person who has come up with this idea, and that this is what is actually happening for The Breck Epic.