The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of My Feet is an interesting but ultimately forgettable collection of "Tales from the World of Adventure Racing", edited by Neal Jamison, Maureen Moslow-Benway, and Nic Stover. Jamison's earlier anthology of inspirational ultramarathon participant essays, RunningThroughTheWall, was a joy to read. In contrast, Thrill seems like a pedestrian depiction of artificially-imposed risk, bad judgment, expensive equipment, and self-promotion. The television exposure of "adventure racing" during the past decade is likely responsible for most of these problems. As usual, it's all about the money: in order to attract large audiences and thereby sell expensive commercials, fake "reality" drama has to be injected into what otherwise might be interesting wilderness experiences. Participants have to play the game, or they won't get sponsorship.

But among the chaff, Thrill offers occasional grains of thoughtful writing. Most noteworthy perhaps is Michael Shepardson's "The Beast in Me", where he observes:

The four of us share a few final words as friends before we cross the starting line and become racers. In life, you know who you are and generally how you will feel each day. In adventure racing, you don't know from hour to hour. One moment you make a brilliant navigational coup de grâce that avoids seven miles of bushwacking. An hour later, your team-mates are force-feeding you GU in hopes you'll stop complaining that Santa Claus is stalking you.

During an adventure race, you will be the hero and you will be the goat. Somehow you must come to terms with that and handle both states with grace. It is impossible to adquately prepare for uncertainty so you must simply set aside your concerns and "have a go." ...

Actually that last bit sounds a lot like real life, eh?!

(cf. RunningThroughTheWall (23 Jan 2005), ...)

TopicRecreation - TopicLiterature - TopicLife - 2006-04-22

(correlates: GovernmentJob, Mystery Men, RaceForTheSoul, ...)