I just got back from volunteering at the Florida Sea to Sea 72 Hour Adventure Race where I saw 30 teams competing in possibly the toughest adventure race in the southeast. As a volunteer, I was able to see many different team dynamics and it got me thinking about our team and specifically our guiding principles or creed. I think it’s important that teams have guiding principles so that team members know what to expect from each other. Some teams are in it to win it at all costs, which is fine so long as every teammate is on the same page. Anyway, here is our creed:
I am here for my teammates and my teammates are here for me.
This is a team sport in its purest form. There will be times when my teammates will need to rely heavily on me and times when the roles will be reversed. In the middle of the night, deep in the back country swamp lands, suffering from hypothermia, I want you to know that I will be there to help you in any way that I can. And I need to trust that you will do the same for me. If it’s only about you, then maybe you should stick to triathlons.
We train as friends, we race as friends, and we finish as friends.
There are no large prize monies or accolades to be gained from winning an adventure race. There are no lucrative contracts, no immortalization on Sports Illustrated, so there is no race worthy of losing a friendship. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want to push ourselves to our limits, we do. The challenge is what drives us. It also doesn’t mean that we won’t get angry at each other at times, because that happens too. It just means that there should be some threshold that we don’t pass. We don’t want to reach the point that our friendship becomes jeopardized. We may not remain teammates, but we should leave every race as we started it, as friends.
We race the course and not other teams.
We’re not here to beat other team. Adventure racers are some of the coolest people around, they’re active, they’re outgoing, they’re risk takers, they’re usually sociable. Most of them are probably people we’d like to get to know better and hang out with. Why then, would we take a cut-throat attitude about beating other teams? Why celebrate at another team’s loss? What if we did beat Team Ultimate Adventure Racers United. No one on this planet cares, no one. Unless of course that team is composed of a bunch of smack-talking assholes, then yes, we do want them to lose and so does everyone else.
We race at the speed of fun.
It’s not always fun. In fact, having to “embrace the suck” leads to some of the most memorable moments. But, at the end of the day I always want to walk away with the feeling that it was fun. Sometimes I have to dig really deep to admit that it was fun, sometimes I need a few beers to numb the pain before anything fun comes to mind. But, in the end, adventure racing should always be one notch higher on the fun meter than the suck meter. And, if I’m not having fun, it’s usually my own fault and I need to change my attitude about something, or eat another GU pack.
There’s no quit in here.
I don’t want to quit and I don’t want you to quit either. I want us to train hard and to race harder. I want us to leave it all on the course and come across the finish line running on fumes. And if I can’t make it across the finish line then I want you to grab my stinking carcass and pull me across the finish line. I want to train hard for my teammates and I want them to train hard for the team. If we’ve prepared ourselves as best as possible, given our real-life constraints and commitments, then well do as best as we can do and that’s all that we can ask of each other.
I’d love to hear from any of you on your own guiding principles…post a comment.