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Raising them to be hardcore

November 24, 2020

I am guessing that I don’t do this enough – write about how awesome my kids are, but they are – yes I am biased – so here is a post about that.

Photo from Bend Racing: Picture of Cade and Colby on the course.

The weekend of October 25th, my boys competed in their first adventure race.  Adventure racing is a multi-sport race (typically hiking, biking, kayaking and ropes) were the competitors must navigate a course using only map and compass.  So they have to figure out how to get to each point on the map, without being told where to go. 

Recently Amazon Video aired a series about an adventure race – Eco-Challenge Fiji.  It is dubbed “the world’s toughest race” and had Bear Grylls as the host.  The series is a fun, enjoyable watch for sure, and gives an idea of what the sport is all about.  Years ago I was competing in tons of these types of events and my “racing career” culminated with a weeklong race.  My team had managed to find sponsorship to support our racing habit and we spent a week on the course, racing with minimal sleep, through snow and crazy water conditions, over several mountain ranges in Montana.  At the time of the race Colby was 3 ½ and Cade was only 1 ½.  So neither of them really remember when I was doing all of these crazy races, and I did a lot of training overnight in the dark.  They did not really understand the sport until watching Eco-Challenge Fiji as a family.  They knew that I had done some adventure races, but didn’t really understand what they really were or the difficulties with doing an expedition length race. They had heard me tell stories about racing while hiking, but with the show they were able to sort of put the stories together with an idea of what a race is really like.

Back to my boys and how truly hardcore they are becoming. I don’t think I need to really go into more details about Colby’s ability to be calm and cool under pressure, if you have read the blog about my accident. Wise and strong – well beyond 15 years old for sure.

Let’s now talk about Cade. Prior to my accident, we had planned on climbing Glacier Peak, with some friends of mine.  The trip was slated for the end of August.  However, I was still in a neck brace, so the trip was out for me.  Colby and I decided to take a trip to Montana to visit Universities – Montana and Montana State. It was a trip that I could totally do. Yes we did summit a 13,000 foot mountain on our trip – yes I had a neck brace on!  Cade really wanted to still go on the trip.  So I contacted the group and they were excited to have him along.  They knew about his climbing exploits on Mt. Baker when he was 9 – yes he climbedMt. Baker when he was 9 and was one of the strongest climbers in the group- and we were glad to have him along. Glacier Peak is a hard climb. It is a 12 mile hike just to get to the mountain. Due to the distance, it is a much harder climb then many of the other Cascade volcanos. He did a hard climb with a bunch of adults and kept up with them just fine. Also his summer COVID goal was to run a half-marathon. Which he trained for and ran, just family support on the SVT trail from Snoqualmie to Carnation. I’m not sure how many other 13 year-olds want to run a half-marathon just for “fun”.

Jared Hanley was one of his climbing partners during their successful summit of Glacier Peak.  He also was the person I have done the most adventure races with over the years.  Part of their conversations centered around adventure racing.  I think Cade wanted to get the straight story from Jared on some of our races. Were my Dad’s stories true?? Those conversations sparked the desire to actually compete in a race to see what it is all about. Jared knew of a race that was happening in October 2020 and thought it might be fun to get the boys involved. This included his 15 year old son, Boden. Boden is also a bad ass 15 year-old to agree to do something like this. I was out because at the time of this conversation I was still in a neck brace and not really sure what my future would hold. Jared said that he would race with the 3 boys as a 4 person team. My job was to be the sideline cheerleader!  Over the years, I have done many adventures with Jared and there are not many people I would rather go on an adventure with, and I also have no problem entrusting him with my boys on an adventure.

Photo from Bend Racing: Team Young Guns: crossing the Deschutes River

We headed down to Bend this October 25th for the race.  The big debate was what floatation vessels to use?  The race required racers to use some type of inflatable floatation device, as the racers would be required to kayak the river and then hike a few miles with all of their boating gear.  Option 1 was an inflatable 4-person boat from Walmart.  Super slow, but large enough for everyone to fit in.  Option 2 was using 2 1 -person pack rafts.  The theory here would be that one person would sit normal and the second person would lay stomach down – sort of on top of their legs, then use some neoprene hand paddles to paddle the boat from the front.  With the race temperatures to be in the teens, we did not see how this option wouldn’t end up with one of the boys getting hypothermia.  So the Walmart boat was the winner.  We figured it would be super slow and hard to manage, but hopefully no one would get hypothermia. 

We first dropped off the bikes at the bike staging area, then went to the area of the start/finish. The car temperature gauge read 16 degrees. Yes it was cold! The boys put their packs down for a few minutes outside the car. My first task of the day was to unfreeze the bit valves of their bladders as they instantly froze.

The race started on foot, then transitioned to the boat, then finished with a bike section. The boat section was the most challenging for them as their boat was a big beast and super hard to navigate, but it kept them dryer then two single packrafts would have.

Cade and Boden: Jared and Colby had to hop out to get in position for the rappelling section of the race.

During the race, I just traveled around from TA to TA to catch a glimpse of them, yell out some encouragement, and then take a few photos. My favorite viewpoint was on the river of the paddle section. There was a trail that went along the river so I was able to follow them as they made their way down the river. The water levels were low, so they constantly had to jump out of the boat to dislodge it from rocks and the bottom. The boat was large and not very maneuverable. I watched as smaller, more nimble pack rafts flew past them. The boat was quickly full of water, so they were sitting in freezing water, paddling a difficult to steer boat, down a shallow river.

In the middle of the paddle, was a required rappel – two members of the team: Jared and Colby, were required to rappel from a bridge down into the river. Where there teammates needs to have the boat waiting for them. I got a good view of this part of the race. They both made smooth descents into the boat below. I got a close-up view of the boat – it was full of water and their backpacks were covered with ice. Really just about everything was freezing. There was one checkpoint of note on the paddle, they placed one checkpoint in a bog, as the racers would come up to the punch, they would sink down in the mud up to their chests. I won’t lie, it was cold just watching. My next stop was over to the bike TA. I found that I actually had to keep moving around to keep warm. After the paddle, teams had to carry all of their paddle gear to the bike TA. When they arrived, they looked cold, but were in good spirits. Jared was coated in mud, that was actually frozen. Colby was wearing tights, with shorts over them, one of his pockets was inside out, but it was frozen, so it was stuck like that. The water bottles that were left on their bikes were now an icy mix – half frozen.

From here they headed out on the final section of the course – the bike leg. I headed back to the start and had to change out my gloves at the car. From here I was planning on waiting at the finish for their arrival. The biggest obstacle of the bike section was the frozen waterfall plunge. There was a checkpoint at a waterfall, that was now partly frozen, due to the cold. The requirements were that two members of each 4 person team needed to go into the water. It was already decided that Jared would be one of the 2 at the start of the race. Which of the kids was going to join him was going to be a race time decision. The following is my para-phrasing a conversation with Colby and Cade. “None of the three of us wanted to go in, so Jared ended up just having to choose someone. We figured it would not be one of us because he is not our Dad. We know that if you had to choose you would have picked one of us, because we are your kids – Jared was in that same dilemma. So Boden was the winner. Post race they all described that moment as Boden starting out as a functioning person prior to going into the water and then after it, him being in a fog and not really functioning quite right because he was so cold. They described trying to get warm clothes back on him as he was not able to do it himself and yet it was still hard for them as their hands were super cold.

As they made it to the finish, Jared looked at me and said “Dave, is the car running? We need it going as soon as possible, these guys are super cold.” I ran to the car, started it up and grabbed all of the blankets we had. After finishing, all of them hopped in the car to warm up. Colby pulled off his gloves and his hands were red and swollen. It took him a few days to have his fingers back to normal, with no tingles. Boden looked like a zombie, like he was moving in slow motion. Yes they were cold, but they finished.

Once the results were tabulated, they finished in sixth place overall. They collected every mandatory checkpoint and also some of the pro – checkpoints. Which is fantastic! It really shows how tough the three boys are to battle and endure conditions like that and still manage to thrive. The cold made for a tough first ever adventure race. I also think it is a testament to Jared’s ability to navigate and keep them going. I never did manage to get a good finish photo as I was too busy trying to get the boys warmed up. Jared and Cade did manage to join myself to watch the post race awards, etc. Colby and Boden where both too frozen and decided the warmth of the car was best.

My best finish phot as after I took this picture, I was off to the car. From the left: Coby, some random racer, Boden and Cade.

That night they all said they would do another race. I have been telling them the next step is for them to learn to navigate, as how cool would that be for the Young Guns to take things to the next level. I am sure they would soon make it a goal to pass up their “old dads”. It was a fun weekend, and I am a proud father to know that my boys can endure, suffer and still have fun and success!



5 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebekah Hanley permalink
    November 24, 2020 7:30 am

    Thanks for documenting this in detail. And thanks for taking on the cheerleading and warming duties during the race!

  2. Debra Alsup permalink
    November 24, 2020 9:31 am

    Hi David,

    Your boys are amazing! Cade and Colby are becoming young men! I’m glad you wrote about them with such admiration and the good kind of pride as their father. Well done David. Your dad must be cheering for you from his bleacher in heaven!

    Best regards,

    Debra Alsup

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  3. November 24, 2020 12:19 pm

    You might catch some more glimpses of the team with some of my video screen grabs. See and I’m working on a long video at that will have more footage

  4. Glenn Thistlethwaite permalink
    November 24, 2020 12:35 pm

    Your boys are hardcore, just like you and Jessica! I remember Adam did something like this, although in better conditions and not as grueling as what your boys did. He did a pole, pedal, paddle up at and near Mt.Hood. It involved alpine and then cross-county skiing, biking and rafting. Like you, I was his support person and cheerleader.

    Sent from Glenn’s iPad Mini


  5. Andrew Martin permalink
    February 7, 2021 10:58 pm

    Hardcore indeed! I wonder where they get it from? 🙂

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