(Don't tell me you didn't see it coming.)
Ah. Eco-Challenge. Such goodness. I mean, sure, I complain about a lot of Eco-Challenge related things, such as Polysporin commercials (they are so
getting a letter from me) and lazy-ass teams who seem to have no clue what they're going into (have they ever watched
the Eco-Challenge?), but that's just because I love it.
I wait all year for this. I have four Eco-Challenge posters, an Eco-Challenge T-shirt (Morocco), and an Eco-Challenge hat. I put the posters on the wall and wear the T-shirt and hat with no shame. I am ridiculously in love with adventure racing. And no matter what they do to the coverage, or how they mess with little details, the core of the race is the same. It's always there, and I can always see it, even through all the petty crap that I whine about.
Last night I actually had to tape the Eco-Challenge instead of watch it "live"--or, rather, I was already taping it, but had to watch the tape instead of just sitting down to see it at 10 PM. Carly's program was having their yearly film screenings (actually, it was just the video night) and there was no way I could miss that. Some very cool videos, Carly's included. I am impressed. In a way it is sort of stunning that at the end of the year they all have these professional-looking short films, and all I have to show are some marked papers and course kits that need to be recycled. ... The second night of screenings was actually tonight, but I decided to stay home instead, both because I had so much stuff to do here during the day and because I wanted to watch my beloved race. (What kind of friend am I?!)
I'm now skipping the Canadian coverage and related documentaries until after I've watched the "international" coverage. I've learned from past years, it's just better that way. Frankly, these mini-documentaries would be better shown after
each day's coverage (at 11 PM) instead of before (9:30) simply because they give so much away. I work hard to maintain suspense; why does everyone seem intent on taking it away? Does it occur to no one else that maybe viewers don't want
to know who wins until we actually see them do it?
One thing that I like about this year's race in Fiji over some past years is that there are far fewer PCs. They wanted to find a way to make the race harder; I think that that's done it. Before, when you have something like 30-odd PCs strung out along the course, the race is sort of like a very long game of connect-the-dots (with no picture of a duck at the end). With the "dots" spaced farther out, navigation truly becomes key. People get totally lost and frustrated, and that's what it's about, too. It's both the physical challenge of trying to walk through a jungle for twenty straight hours and the mental challenge of dealing with the fact that you're lost, or could easily become lost, or that you've just spent four hours going in totally the wrong direction and now have to walk back. It's ... mind-boggling.
It's dangerous, too. This is two races in a row where they have needed a serious rescue operation: the guy with the punctured lung last year, and now this woman who was bitten by a black eel and started to have her whole body go numb. Frightening stuff.
I'm also surprised how much the locals are getting involved in the race. You need a paddle? Hang on, I'll make you one. You can't find your way through the jungle? I'll show you. You need to sleep? Here, we have room for you in my house. It makes me wonder how much this sort of thing went on in past years, and simply was not documented--or was documented and not shown. Or are the Fijians just particularly welcoming? Hmm.
I have a whole lot else to say, but it occurs to me to wonder: does anyone reading this actually watch the Eco-Challenge? Does anyone else know what I'm talking about? Ah, mysteries of the journal. Not that any answer will stop
me from obsessively posting about the Eco-Challenge. I mean, come on people, it's only one week out of the year.
(Though it does amuse me that people are right now coming to my site because they searched for info on the race. Hehe. Yes, come here random internet people! There is more here about the Eco-Challenge than you ever wanted to know!)