There was a game show in the late 90’s where a team of contestants competed answering questions, the prize pot growing with each successful answer. At the end of each round they all voted one of the team off the show, based on the their performance. This person, and the show, was aptly called “the weakest link.”
In adventure racing, unfortunately, a team doesn’t get to vote off a member that isn’t performing at the level of the rest of the team. In a way this is good (for me), but in a way it creates both a massive amount of pressure and a potentially uncomfortable situation. Because, you see, I’ve realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I arrive at the GodZone startline in some 8 weeks, there is no doubt…I will be the weakest link.
It’s interesting really, going into such a big undertaking where team dynamics is so front and center to success, with such knowledge. But it is knowledge. Every time I train these days it (in this case, teammate Adrian) is glaringly obvious. I’m approximately 5-10% slower than him over any distance in any discipline (except swimming, but swimming won’t be a factor in GZ).
I cringe when I think how this translates to a race that might take me six days to complete. If the percentages hold that means that (assuming the rest of the team could keep up with Adrian too) that I’m liable to hold them back nearly half a day. Yikes.
The good news is that this realization comes with still nearly two months of training time. The bad news is that Adrian is still training too and although I might be able to make up a few percent, it is incredibly unlikely that my status in the team chain will change at all. But I guess someone has to be the weakest link, maybe it’s just my turn.
It’s going to make the first 12 hours pretty shitty of course. I’ll get to choose between feeling like my lungs are about to expolde while I watch everyone else cruise along at a sustainable tempo pace or feeling the sting to my pride and the guilt of knowing that everyone else wants to be going faster. Or of course, asking to start the race on tow.
Not a great choice. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky and it’ll all start with a 12 hour sea kayaking leg and I won’t have to choose at all. With two in a boat it’s like a tow without having to ask for it. Fingers crossed.