Adventure Racing Teammates
Check out the like-minded friends who race or have raced as Team thisABILITY.
We aim to help all imagine and realize what IS possible instead of what isn't!
Chip has created a lifestyle of pushing himself past his comfort zone. He has learned how to thrive while overcoming fear, pain, exhaustion and dehydration. To facilitate his adventurous lifestyle, he tricked out his cargo van and stealth camps over 100 days per year. These skills are not unlike those he has needed to survive the roller coaster ride of owning a $10M+ state wide human services agency, Support Services of Virginia. SSVA is a mission based, for-profit company based in Virginia Beach with divisions in 4 regions of Virginia employing over 200 people and 50 foster care families who provide personalized, community-based supports to over 185 individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.
As a passionate entrepreneur, Chip serves on the board of the Southeastern Virginia chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization as well as the MyEO Global Committee. As the world’s only peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs, EO helps transform the lives of those who transform the world.
Because of the impact adventure racing has had in Chip’s life and career, he shares his story through keynote speeches and is even writing a book that will dive deep into Adventure Racing tips, tricks and strategy and how the same techniques have helped him lead his company through past challenges as well as those over the horizon.
Andrea began adventure racing in 2016. Since then she has raced in a range of races and teammate configurations, from solo to 4 person coed teams, from 3 hour family races to multi-day expedition races including the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge (2018), Expedition Oregon (2018), the Florida Sea to Sea (2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022), Expedition Africa (Rodrigues in 2019 and Lesotho in 2022) as well as Huairasinchi 2021 in Ecuador. She has competed in USARA Nationals three times (2018, 2019 and 2021). For the 2019 Nationals, she was the Team Captain and Lead Navigator when Chip wasn't available to be on the team. She is an avid mountain biker and she includes climbing and paddling in some of her favorite activities!
Andrea is mom to 3 children, the oldest of which has Down syndrome. As a parent of a son with Down syndrome, she has learned to look at the world from a unique perspective. Her son challenges and inspires her. Unlike most people, he has virtually no filter between his thoughts and actions. Unguarded, he is extremely authentic. He is a great example of the quote, “Do more of what you love.” Andrea appreciates that he has taught her to face her fears, push her limits and embrace her strengths. She applies these skills to her adventure racing.
Andrea grew up in Colorado and holds a Music Performance Degree in Clarinet from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master's Degree in Music Therapy from Florida State University. When not parenting and/or adventuring, Andrea leads the Fiscal Department of Support Services of Virginia, Inc. and is responsible for its accounting operations.
Brent is originally from Mid-Western Michigan and has always loved being outside and active. He graduated high school in ’95 enlisted in the Navy and turned 18 in Boot Camp. A year later, he moved to Virginia, where he still lives, met his wife Natasha and together they have three amazing young boys.
Brent always played team sports in high school but after some transition, he started participating in individual sports. He started running to stay in shape, which led to mountain biking, then swimming, more biking, then rock climbing, kayaking and any other adventure he could find. He always tries to find the next challenge. That led to orienteering/rogaines in 2011 and adventure racing in 2017. During the 2017 Adventure Racing Nationals in Pennsylvania, he teamed up with Team thisABILITY for his 1st 30hr race and team event. Since ’17 Nationals he has competed in many solo and team ARs up to 30hrs and part of an expedition race (damn hurricane).
Between personal trips and the Navy he has visited 36 different countries and always tries to find adventurous things to do while there. Some personal successes have been hiking Mt. Fuji four times while stationed in Japan for two years. Completing multiple ultra-marathons, century bike rides, half ironman triathlons, and multiple day paddles on the James river. "Sometimes I want to race fast and solo against the course, sometimes I want to enjoy other people on a team and laugh at each other." His list of personal goals (while always growing) includes the SeaToSea AR, paddling the full length of the James River, and run the Western Ridge of the Massanutten trail.
As a former competitive distance runner for over 20 years, Caitlin took up Adventure Racing in 2016 to experience a new challenge. Since then, she has competed in events from 8 hours to 4 days, with multiple podium finishes and national championship qualifiers including 1st place Coed Coosa River Challenge, 2nd place Turkey Burn Florida State Championship, and 3rd place Blue Ridge AR. She completed Untamed New England and was part of team US Military in Eco Challenge Fiji.
Caitlin enjoys the physical and mental challenges that come with adventure racing, as well as the friendships and camaraderie fostered among teammates on the course. She enjoys competing on tough courses in amazing locations and hopes to expand her resume to international events in the coming years.
In her "spare time", Caitlin serves as an officer and engineer in the US Air Force and enjoys travel and outdoor activities with her husband and two kids. Caitlin is excited to be a part of the thisABILITY team and is looking forward to many more adventures to come!
Dirk van Assendelft
Originally form the Netherlands, Dirk spent his high school years in Atlanta, playing soccer. He continued to play soccer in college and afterwards, until a serious knee injury took him off the soccer pitch. As part of his recovery, he started mountain biking and running, which eventually led to competing in triathlons.
In the early 2000’s he got hooked on the Balance Bar adventure sprints, which led to longer adventures. Tired of getting kicked in the swimming part of triathlons, his sport of choice became adventure racing. He has competed over the last 20 years in races as a soloist, with his brother, his best friend Tom, or with his wife as part of Team Lazy Man Running.
It has been a lot of work to recover from his soccer knee injury and be able to trek and bike for long distances, but a lot of PT has allowed him to continue to race. Although he is no longer able to play soccer, he still coaches the girls' soccer team at the local high school.
He recently retired from the Wintergreen Ski patrol, where he was a senior patrol with 25 years of experience. He is employed as a Core Systems Architect with W&L University, where he manages cloud services. He lives outside Lexington with his wife Chrissy and their golden retriever in an old farm cottage they renovated. They have two grown daughters.
Hailing from the suburbs of New York City, Brian spent his childhood and teen years playing in and exploring the woods around his home. Moving back to New York City, finishing college, getting married, starting his teaching carreer, and helping to raise three kids two years apart in age didn't offer much opportunity for adventures that didn't include diapers, car seats, lesson plans, and food shopping. All of that changed in 2001 when Brian was able to squeeze out time for daily workouts and, as they say, the rest is history.
In the ensuing years, Brian has participated in a multitude of endurance events including completing Ironman Lake Placid 4 times, running 25+ marathons including a Boston Marathon qualifying time, racing bicycles in New York City, completing a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon and other ultra-endurance events. His first adventure race was the New York Adventure Racing Association's (NYARA) 30-hour "The Longest Day" in 2011 and he hasn't looked back since and has competed in multiple races over the years. His most challenging races include the expedition-length "Untamed New England" in 2017 and "Itera: Scotland" in 2019.
When he finds himself not lost in the woods or pedaling down distant roads, Brian is the Superintendent of School for the Emerson Public School District in suburban New Jersey, and is entering his 29th year in education. He lives in Ridgewood, NJ with his wife, Kathie, and their dog, Zoe. He has three adult children who, from time to time, make adventure racing look like a walk in the park.
Rachel is a passionate globetrotter and adventure racer. Nine years ago while living in France, she started off with long distance trail running and cycling, competing in events such as the Marathon des Sables (a 7 day stage running race in the Morrocan Sahara), OCC (Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix ultra run) and numerous multi-day events.
Thanks to some amazing friends that introduced her to the adventure racing world and expedition style events, Rachel has competed in Slovenia AR, Belize AR, The Beast, ITERA Ireland, The Eco Challenge Fiji, The RACE Ireland, Coast 2 Coast Ireland, The Wild Atlantic Way 2100 km cycle, London Edinburgh London 1400 km cycle and many more.
Rachel made her passion her job and started her tour company Rachel's Irish Adventures. If she is not taking on new challenges, discovering new places and cultures herself, Rachel loves bringing people off the beaten Irish paths to experience the best her home country has to offer.
JJ has been an avid adventure racer since 2008, when he was asked by a trail runner friend to team up for a local sprint race. After saying yes, his friend promptly backed out leaving him to race solo, and he’s been in love with the sport ever since. Over the last ten years most of the races JJ’s participated in have been as a solo, and he’s only discovered the joys of the team aspect in recent years. JJ likes to maintain a sense of humor out on the trails, and his experiences racing have certainly provided plenty of material! JJ met Chip and Andrea out in the jungles of Belize during the 2018 Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge, where he was racing as a member of the Belize national team.
When he’s not stumbling through the woods in the middle of the night, JJ is a freelance artist and designer focusing on the built environment. His work focuses on making businesses and institutions look and function better by creating aesthetically pleasing and functional signs and architectural features. His work appears in such places as Carnegie Mellon University, Phipps Conservatory, the National Aviary, the Carnegie Museums and the Pittsburgh Zoo. He also serves as Vice President of Sign Pro Architectural, a sign fabricator located north of Pittsburgh, PA. JJ is the proud father of two children, two guinea pigs, two geckos, a snake and a Toyota.
Nate is the father of four crazy kids. An attorney with the Department of Justice and a Marine officer, Nate lives in Quantico, Virginia, with his beautiful wife, also a Marine. Nate likes to compete in all manner of athletic events, including local adventure races, trail races, and mountain bike races. He especially likes to race while pushing a kid or two in a jogger.
Nate began his adult athletic career as a rower at the University of Michigan. Go Blue! His athletic claim to fame is that he once handstand walked the flight deck of the USS Bataan while deployed. Nate is thrilled to race with Andrea and JJ at the 2019 Nationals!
Jenni grew up on a farm in rural South Africa where she spent her days horse riding, bass fishing and building tree houses. Today that's graduated into mountain bike riding, trail running and climbing cliffs, not trees. Life has always been about sport for her and probably the only reason she attended school. At University she studied Sport Science, and graduated as a Physical Therapist. 14 years ago, after backpacking for a year in New Zealand, she and her husband settled down in a small town called Dundee, South Africa where they started mountain biking competitively. This turned into competing in numerous Xterra events, ultra triathlons and adventure racing (including Expedition Africa, 2011 & 2012). Jenni and her husband, Garren landed on the podium many times.
Jenni is now a mom of two small kids and not all weekends are about racing anymore, but they do always include a good amount of trail running, mountain biking and rock climbing. She now runs a whole lot slower so she can take in the scenery and meet amazing people along the way. In recent years she has competed in a few ultra marathons, shorter adventure races, multi-day mountain bike races and Wartrail (3 days, 60km trail run/120km mtb/ 60km paddle). Jenni is super excited about the adventure that awaits her on Rodrigues Island for Expedition Africa 2019!
Henk Van Aarde
Henk grew up on farms in the lowveld region of south africa and Zimbabwe. It was there that he developed a passion for the outdoors, adventure and exploration.
During his years studying as a mechanical engineer he was heavily involved in rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, spelunking, rafting, canyoning and any other activity that adventure con offer.
It was then that he had his first taste of adventure racing when competing in the Swazi Extreme, a short, but intense event held in the kingdom of Swaziland. The experience stuck for life.
Of recent years his focus has been more on ultra MTB events as they offered the opportunity to suffer and be removed from the crowds. Competing in events such as the 36ONE MTB challenge, Trans Baviaans, Recce Mission, Karoo to Coast and To Hell and Back. All the whilst leaping at any opportunity for getting out and doing anything active.
It was with gratitude and excitement that he accepted to be part of and represent team this for the Expedition Africa race to be held on the Indian ocean Island of Rodriguez.
Phil has been adventure racing for 15 years and came to the sport after doing triathlon for 14 years. He still gets in a couple of triathlons a year but now mainly focuses on adventure races. He has competed in events ranging from 6 hours to 3 days and loves the navigation and thinking required to do well. He loves the teamwork and quickly figured out that you really get to know people well at 4 in the morning on day 2 or 3 of a race! His claim to fame is winning the USARA Open Division Championship in 2014. He has also been race director for the Sportsbackers RiverRock Adventure Race for the past eight years. Phil is a pediatrician living in Richmond, Virginia with this wife Lisa. They have three awesome grown kids.
Daniel is originally from Spain and has been doing adventure racing for 20 years. He came to the sport to combine his passion for trail/mountain running, rock climbing, orienteering and mountain biking. In 2002, along with his team, he finished 2nd in the National Adventure Race Series in Spain. In 2003 he moved to the US and for the first 3 years focused on running marathons, rock climbing and paddling, until he found teammates for adventure racing in the US. Since 2007 he has been racing 3-4 adventure races a year of any length between 12h and 3 days. He was part of the team (with Phil Dawson and Eric Cone) that won the USARA Open Division Championship in 2014, and along with them, has been directing the SportsBackers RiverRock Adventure Race for the past 8 years. He has experience as a solo-racer, but he really enjoys being part of a team. In 2019 he was part of Team thisABILITY for the first time competing at the Massanutten Massacre 26h AR. Daniel is a PH.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry working at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), living in Chesterfield (VA) with his wife and three daughters.
Kathy joined Team thisABILITY for the 2018 Adventure Addicts 12 hour Adrenaline Rush with the specific goal of helping the team get an invitation to the USARA National Championships. Together with Chip and Sam, they won 1st place in the 3+ Co-Ed division landing them their invitation and $400 towards their entry. Kathy will be competing in 2018 Nationals with Andrea and Chip.
Kathy has been a force to be reckoned with in Adventure Racing for over 10 years. She lead her own AR team in Maryland consisting of some of the strongest racers on the East coast landing them numerous podium wins and invitations to the National Championships.
Like Kathy, Sam joined Team thisABILITY for the 2018 Adventure Addicts 12 hour Adrenaline Rush with the specific goal of helping the team get an invitation to the USARA National Championships. Together with Chip and Kathy, they won 1st place in the 3+ Co-Ed division.
Sam has competed in numerous high profile races such as the 2017 National Championships and the 2018 Untamed New England 4 day expedition race. As an experienced outdoorsman, he is no stranger to the podium. Chip and Sam have competed in many of the same races, however The 2018 Adrenaline Rush was the first time they joined forces.
Tomas Diaz was born in Puerto Rico and his path to adventure racing wasn’t usual. He was never athletic or into sports until later in his life. He was more into Math and Sciences. A total nerd! In High School, he competed on behalf of Puerto Rico at international Math Olympiads in Argentina and Venezuela. In college he competed on behalf of Puerto Rico in a solar car race across Australia and a solar boat race in Japan. Right after college he moved to Michigan where he has worked in the Automotive industry as an Engineer.
Tomas has traveled to about 35 countries and enjoys going through trails with his family. The adventure and competition part have always been there. The athletic part was missing. Being obese most of his life was taking a toll on his health. In September 2018, a physician showed Tomas his A1C numbers and recommended a lifestyle change. After dropping a whopping 100lbs he started looking for some sports and did a few sprint triathlons. In February 2021, while searching for more triathlons, a sponsored add showed up about a 3hr Winter race in Michigan with different activities and hunting for flags… Hunting for flags? Orienteering? What the hell was that? Tomas couldn’t find a teammate, so he went for it solo and asked the race director how to use the compass prior to the race. Tomas had a blast and got the AR bug. Since then, between the short races and the long races Tomas has done about 1 or 2 races per month and loving it.
Amanda grew up in the world of competitive running and outdoor sports, and was first introduced to the world of Adventure Racing while “dot watching” an AR World Championship with some European military colleagues during a deployment. Seeking new adventures and challenges, she signed up for her first Adventure Race while still overseas.
Since then, Amanda has primarily raced in expedition length Adventure Races including Expedition Alaska, the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in 2016 and 2018 (where she first met Chip and Andrea in the jungles of Belize!), and the Nordic Islands Adventure Race. She’s raced as a member of Team U.S. Military Endurance Sports, Team Commie Bar, Team Téenek, and now with Team thisABILITY.
Amanda serves as an officer in the U.S. Army and is currently stationed in Virginia.
Luis F Becdach
Originally from Quito- Ecuador, Luis has been adventure racing since 2007. His first race was a short 5-hour sprint race when he was asked to cover for someone. Very hungover and with no MTB or Trail running experience (he played tennis in college) he gave it a shot and was immediately hooked. After winning the Ecuadorian adventure racing circuit in the adventure category, Luis and his team got a free entry to Huairasinchi in 2008 and that is when the trouble began.
Luis has now participated in 11 Huairasinchi expedition races, 2 ARWS World Championships (Ecuador and Wyoming, they were the last team to complete the course), 4 Florida Sea2Sea Expedition Races, First Bend AR in Oregon, several multi day MTB races in Ecuador and Mexico, finisher at the Pinhoti Trail 100 miler, several finishes at the North Face endurance challenge (NY, SF and MD 50k, 80K and 100k), 4-time Chicago Marathon finisher and many others. Has been fortunate to learn and train with some of AR’s finest including Jason and Chelsea Magness, Travis Macy and now Martin Saenz from Ecuador. Although not a super-fast racer he is usually the guy that keeps the team going in hard times and leads when needed which has helped his team cross finish lines and get some podiums. He gets his money’s worth on every race.
When not adventuring Luis works in the corporate world as a Director of Marketing in a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Company in the U.S. Work has taken him, Andrea and their 3 kids to different places in the Americas including, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Chicago and now reside in New Jersey and Florida. One of his dreams in the U.S. is to be part of a team and the AR community, while racing as much as he can locally and internationally.
Jason lives in Connecticut with his wife, two daughters, and 3 dogs. He first started adventure racing in 2016 when a friend of his had heard about a local adventure race. At the time, the most adventure he had was just doing some local hikes and he’d been longing for something more challenging. So of course, with no gear, and not having ridden a bike in 20 years, doing an adventure race was the logical thing to do. It took that one 12-hour race to hook him. Since then, he’s done multiple adventure races and rogaines. Jason loves both the physical and mental challenges that adventure racing provides. He is extremely excited to take on Endless Mountains with the team and expand the limits of what he can do.