Believe it or not, I bet many racers are wondering what day it is right now. Seriously. They have entered the "middle day".
In my experience, as the days go on, day 1 is solid in my memory and day 2 becomes fuzzy. And then, something kind of strange happens. Day 3 comes and you hit a zone where the days and stages run together. You live in a time warp where the outside world is just that… outside. The regular world that wakes up, goes to work and then goes to bed is outside of your sphere of thought. Who cares what day it is? The race goes on and so do you. Constant movement becomes a way of life. You may even have waves of bliss when your mind is able to more easily ignore the signals from your hurting feet, legs, back, shoulders, and all of those other little muscles you didn’t know you had. You marvel at what you are capable of. You might even have some type 1 fun! Imagine that. Something that is actually as fun in the moment as it is in hindsight during an AR! As keepers of the AR tradition, we might want to keep that a secret since I’m not sure you can be considered a bad ass with too much type 1 fun thrown in there.
I think the middle day is the best day! You’re not as anxious as you feel during the first day or so and it’s a bit early to feel the stress of making it to the finish. (Of course, cutoffs can still be very stressful.) You are still racing, but you might have to remind yourself of that. Feeling a sense of urgency is very difficult during the middle day.
By the middle day, your team has jelled. If you’ve picked the right teammates, you still like each other and you are finally used to being together every second of the day. You get used to eating together, drinking together, sleeping together, planning together, moving together, laughing together, breathing together… You become one with each other. Ok, well, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far. But, it is interesting how your identity becomes intertwined with your teammates when everyone is single-mindedly working together to achieve something so… HARD.
Depending on how long the race is, the middle day can last several days… until… you start realizing it’s all going to be over before you know it. The outside world is safely at bay during the middle day, but then you start saying things like, we ONLY have 2 stages to go. Or, there’s ONLY one more TA… and then, just like that, you’re in the last day. How did it all go so fast? You have a hard time recalling the order of the stages you’ve done and you ask yourself things like what you were doing when the sun rose yesterday. But, it starts to become clear that you will be done in the foreseeable future.
So, almost any length of race is really just 3 or 4 days: day 1 and 2(ish), the middle day, and the last day. This is especially the case for the mid pack teams and beyond whose finishing times are often twice as long as the winners even if they’ve been short-coursed. Since the world championship is a 7 day race, the ‘middle day’ can be as long as 3 or 4 days.
So, teams, enjoy the middle day while us dot watchers head to work and back a few times! And, dot watchers, take some time to day-dream of racing. Get outside to put some training in and google where you can find Naturex’s white, rain jumpsuits. They just might come in handy for World’s next year in Paraguay! (Besides, adventure racers have not been known to blend in anyway. Function wins over fashion any day of the week and any day of the race!)
Andrea Anderson Sleepmonsters.com ARWC 2021 Guest Commentator
Team thisABILITY Adventure Racing