|Team Viva las Wilderness in Southern Nevada|
|Monday, 22 October 2007 01:37|
It was quite an honor and a privilege to take part in NWP’s annual fundraiser at the Pumpkinman Triathlon in Southern Nevada. I missed the boat last year having just moved to the area. So, I pledged to do my part this year, especially since I’ve explored some of Nevada’s unique landscapes. I never realized what an interesting and breathtaking place the desert can be; I still feel like I’m part of an old western with every visit. So, again, I felt compelled to make a contribution and felt that participating in the Pumpkinman Triathlon fundraiser was a good start.
I can’t express how much fun the whole experience was. Before I began my fundraising push, I made an effort to learn more about the organization itself, its history, its mission, and the areas that they’re working to protect on the next campaign. Even working right next to NWP in the Patagonia building and hanging out with Cameron Johnson over the last year and a half didn’t impart the knowledge that I gained from the last couple of months of study and fundraising. That research and knowledge made it much easier to talk to folks and paint them a picture of Nevada’s desert landscapes and provide an idea of how their donation would help. Knowledge was more than half the battle because folks definitely asked a lot of questions, especially folks beyond the confines of the sagebrush.
In the end, asking for support wasn’t as difficult as I once envisioned. A few emails followed by a few phone calls, maybe a prod here and there, and my fundraising was up and going.
On the other side of things, I still had a race to prepare for. I may have solicited the fundraising support, but I also had to live up to my end of the deal – I had to compete in a triathlon! I wasn’t too concerned about the run and figured I could handle the bike, but the swim did elicit some feelings of anxiety. A 750m (1/2 mile) swim is a long swim! Luckily, I had a partner in crime to offer motivation for regular swim practice (or at least semi-regularly) – NWP’s very own Cameron Johnson. Overall, the training wasn’t all that bad. I think I actually reduced my carbon footprint over the training period because I rode my bike just about everywhere I went – work, errands, even the bars.
Less driving and more riding seemed to do the trick. Race day came before I knew it, and next thing I know, I’m standing in cold water up to my waist at 7 a.m., wearing spandex “tri” shorts that feel and look funny, thinking to myself, “Well, there’s no turning back. Would the race start already!?!?” Then the gun sounded! I was off; hoping to keep up with Cameron in the swim because I knew his stronger swimming might give him the upper hand. But I was soon engulfed by the sea of swimmers and had no way of tracking Cameron down. I was on my own and discovered that the countless laps at the Moana Pool didn’t really prepare me for the chaos of 200 people battling for position in Lake Mead’s open water. Where were the lanes!?
Nevertheless, the swim ended fairly quickly, and I proudly donned my Viva las Wilderness jersey, taking off on my bike to chase Cameron down. I don’t know how much attention the jersey drew on the ride, but the announcer at the finish line noticed the red jerseys as we ran across and gave team Viva las Wilderness some recognition for our efforts to protect the wild.
The finish line was the hub of activity and team spirit, notably Team Viva las Wilderness; all teammates gathered at the finish/transition area and rallied big cheers, high five trains, and took lots of pictures. Participating in such a large event, the support of sixteen wilderness-protecting, fun-loving teammates definitely instilled a sense of pride and camaraderie I haven’t felt since competing in high school sports, an especially rewarding feeling knowing that all participants joined together in an effort to keep Nevada wild! What a way to spend the weekend. I look forward to more of those!