Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Race the Scouts

Remember all of those odd Facebook comments I was leaving all weekend? Well, here is the insanely long explanation you have all been waiting for!

Explanation: Jon and a group of Young Men/Boy Scouts ran the Ragnar Relay Race this weekend. I have included for posterity sake the press release Jon wrote about the event, the twitters he used to keep everyone informed on how the race was going, and, of course, pictures. Enjoy!

Tweet 1 We will attempt to run day and night and day to finish in 30 hours.

Tweet 2 This is carson we have about thirty hours till we start running

Tweet 3 Here is a good look at a generous donation from Planet Hollywood and the millions of wishful Americans who filled the fountain. Pics aren't working right now, but the bucket is so full that the handle bent out of shape

Tweet 4 I spilled the five gallon bucket of change right in front of the entrance to the bank when the handle broke. The coins blocked the door. Two russian acrobats helped me clean it up. Only in vegas.

Tweet 5 We challenged the other teams at the prerace dinner to try to beat us. The van has to do five pushups for every time our runners are passed

Tweet 6 It was fun to look at all of the adult teams trying to determine if the boys were volunteers or a team.

Tweet 7 Carter and carson first ones at john waynes house super nervous but pumped

Tweet 8 Van 1 is all here! We are headed out to Valley of Fire.

Tweet 9 Carter just started, great weather, runnin like a champ, and we already have rivals. Started a hour late

Tweet 10 This is carter I finishe in 1 hour and 13 mins everyone cheered and I was crying with joy

Tweet 11 Stout man is running 7 miles now

Tweet 12 Adam running his seventh mile out of 8.5 to the 3rd leg.....he killed so many other teams. Adam finished in 1 hour 20 minutes. The lady in green behind him almost passed out at the exchange.

Tweet 13 Fernando finished strong. His head looked bad in the middle, but he started to look better near the end.

Tweet 14 Carson done and Andy running now. The other boys are ready at Callvile.

Tweet 15 Some crazy tarantulas on the roads. When Carter ran, there were a bunch of tarantulas on the road Brother Stout picked one up and it almost fell on his face

Tweet 16 Making friends with the Divas from Utah. Fernando just started snoring really loudly.

Tweet 17 Struggling to send. We are in the middle of Andrew Burden. Hope this starts to work better

Tweet 18 Lots of adults are loving the scouts.

Tweet 19 Andrew is running now and keeping a good pace

Tweet 20 We have been making friends like crazy. I knew we would have fun but the sense of accomplishment they are feeling is unbelievable

Tweet 21 There have been some really fast runners already but the boys are holding their own

Tweet 22 Andrew is on his last mile

Tweet 23 Ben is about 3.5 miles from callville bay. Just turning onto Callville road. He looks good when his hair is out of his face.

Tweet 24 Jon Wayne has moved to van two... and van one has moved on to lake Las Vegas

Tweet 25 Were keeping pace with the fast column... we should be at LLV at four thirty three... Michael will be starting us off at LLV

Tweet 26 Dillan D. Ran almost five miles in thirty five minutes... he ran six minutes faster than what Jon Wayne thought he could do

Tweet 27 Ashley has passed five people

Tweet 28 Porter is about to stgart and he is NERVOUS.

Tweet 29 Brother hall finished at 4 35

Tweet 30 Porter is running real steady This is Porter... Just finished running and I feel GREAT

Tweet 31 Porter passed three people while running his first leg... and Dylan is off to a great start

Tweet 32 Dylan just finished his first leg of the race... Michael Wells just started his... Next stop, LAKE LAS VEGAS

Tweet 33 Every one is having a great time... we all want to do this again.

Tweet 34 All the other teams are way impressed with us... they all want to take pictures of or with us

Tweet 35 Its getting dark so we all are putting on our reflector vests

Tweet 36 Michael came in really fast, & carter just went out

Tweet 37 Adam is out in the middle of his. Carter was complaining about a stiff neck, but is calming down.

Tweet 38 Waiting for stout to come in. Fernando ia next . ANd the boys are really wishing they had slept earlier.

Tweet 39 Dude. We jsut finished van two, and Jon Wsyne is falling apart. Julien is running well, but he just called because he got lost.

Tweet 40 I finished with dylan daSilva on his second run over to M resort. He ran to strong and my knee started to give at the outer rear

Tweet 41 I'm in Van 2 while Ashley runs, he was running his shorts off chasing a real fast runner who tried to pass him The quick guy won out this time though. Ashley ran hard he almost left his bowels behind.

Tweet 42 Porter just began his 5 miler.

Tweet 43 We are all freezing and our guts are are all a little upset.

Tweet 44 This is Porter... I just finished my five mile run, and am freezing my butt off

Tweet 45 Ok so carter finished his leg. I took him to our car to take his picture and his car drove off. Then we drove w/o him. Um we drove 38 miles before anybody figured it out. We hope he jumped in with somebody else because it is cold. The vehicle running

Tweet 46 Found him. He switched teams because we left him. I thing he joiined the mullet team

Tweet 47 Ok catch up van one has finished and is lounging in the pool as we speak

Tweet 48 The dasilva clan showed up to cheer on Dylan who followed a severly chapped Julien If you come to see us at the pool bring some Neosporin for Julien's inner legs.

Tweet 49 Ashley just had a three mile race with another blond guy with a pony tail and no shirt (also known as “Wanna be Ashley”). Ashley hass pulled ahead by 40 seconds Wanna be Ashley is really spent from the race and slowed down drastically.

Tweet 50 It is done

Race the Scouts “creates no small stir” at 195 mile Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas, Nevada

“Can scouts run a 195 miles race?” “Scouts,” the boys reply, “are exactly the group who can.”

October 22-23, 2010

Las Vegas, NV – While typical teenagers wandered through their daily routines, Troop 460 of the Las Vegas Area Council were out becoming heroes. After months of training, the Scouts age 12-18 completed the two day, 195 mile adventure that is the Ragnar Relay Las Vegas. Running in uniform shirt they started at 7:30 am on Friday, October 22 and finished just 56 seconds under their 34 hour goal at 3:59:04 pm Saturday.

“Scouts ran 195 miles?!, How old are they?” “12 to 18?” “You are kidding me. That is wonderful!” The astonishment was clear on the faces of the other racers. The enthusiasm and encouragement for the scouts was instantaneous. One scout commented, “Many of the racers wear costumes, so just looked like adults trying to be funny. But then, when we got closer, people realized how young we were, and couldn’t help talking to us.” The other participants did more than talk to the scouts, they cheered and uplifted them. Many even asked to take pictures with the young group. Troop leaders were approached by many people with sons or family that are a part of scouting and wanted to know how we talked the boys into doing such an impossible task. “They were rapidly becoming race celebrities, and all we did was believe in them,” said troop leader Adam Stout.

Sharing the course with 406 other teams, the 12 man teams loaded into one of two team vans and started on the big adventure. Each runner has to complete three legs running in order similar to a batting lineup in baseball. When you were up, you ran. When you were down, you cheered, supported, or tried to get some sleep. Despite plans, Troop 460 struggled to get the sleep. At the first area for sleeping, the scouts were tempted by a giant inflated trampoline with jousting poles. Then, at their next opportunity, the sprinklers came on in the field they were sleeping in and drenched their sleeping bags. The sleep deprivation showed as they struggled through some of their night runs, and the pace really dragged as sore muscles, blisters, and overall lack of hygiene wore into their final runs. Nearing the end, their excitement resumed, and scouts were sprinting to finish their last legs. Several scouts literally ran their guts out…all over the side of the road. But not even that would stop them. They would empty their stomachs and trot off again.

Ragnar, which has quickly become legendary among America’s running events, is known for being half race, half road trip. The race lived up to its name as the boys grew closer together and learned to support and trust each other. Ragnar provides a positive and safe atmosphere for a Scout to live up to the Boy Scouts of America legacy. The race is meticulously planned and operated by a welcoming group of sleep deprived adventurers who have worked to bring adventure racing to everyone. The relay format makes the distance possible for entry level athletes to run with friends and family in the van as a constant support. Most importantly, the safety of the runner is well considered by Ragnar’s dedicated staff. During the night, Ragnar even managed to get miles of unlit roads closed to non-participant traffic to protect the Scouts who ran wearing reflective vests, blinking lights, and a head lamp to light their way. All through the night they chased other flashing red lights across the glowing cities of Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada. Looking out at a long train of blinking lights climbing through the darkness up the trail to Good Springs, the Scouts were indistinguishable among their adult competitors.

To train, the scouts were taught about endurance sports, health, stretching, gear, advertising, fundraising, and, of course, running. As many of them began their training, running a mile seemed tortuous. But during the race they were surprised to find themselves bored by the shortness of their next three mile leg. Carson commented that, “Three miles isn’t anything anymore, but the mile run at scouts or P.E. used to seem impossible.” These scouts can proudly say in a months and a half of training they went from not being able to run a mile without walking to completing a ten mile qualifying run two weeks before the event.

Despite the grueling physical and mental challenges this race presented to the boys, the scout leaders were hopeful they would come away with a very positive experience and lifelong memories. These scouts are not used to seeing how capable they are. The scout leaders of troop 460 were concerned with some of the social trends in these boys lives and wanted to help the boys realize they could be better than average. Instead of being treated like youth, they were challenged and put on the same playing field as adults. They loved it. They were not used to getting a reaction from adults, and, more importantly, they were empowered by their achievements.

One of our Scouts in particular had an amazing transformation. Weighing just below 300 pounds, Carter does not look like an athlete, but, more so than his lighter troop mates, Carter did the training. He developed the ability to keep going while training for two months and was selected to run the first leg. Dressed in his scout uniform shirt with his Life rank, he ran from the large orange Ragnar arch at the Valley of Fire starting line surrounded by slim runners in sleek running shorts and tech shirts. The hills rolled up and down at steep inclines, but he pumped his arms and kept his feet moving along the beautiful state park vistas. At mile 4.5, tired but only a little short of breath, he approached a sign that read, “One Mile to Go!” “It made me want to cry,” he said. “I was like I’m going cry because I had done so much. But then I knew I had to finish, so I didn’t have time for that. I kept running.” Smiling ear to ear, the large young man crossed the first exchange line and slapped the baton onto the wrist of the next runner. Suddenly, a teenager one would expect to find in front of a video game was in the midst a sporting event with a hundred people cheering loudly for him. Those cheering runners helped teach this young man the confidence and emotions usually only enjoyed by the few genetically gifted high school football and basketball players. Later in the race, Carter crawled three miles up the steepest incline in the event to finish his last leg at 3:00 am, nearly 24 hours after he had left his bed the previous day. The team was so excited by Carter’s achievement that they accidentally drove off without him. Luckily Carter had made enough friends along the way that he wasn’t afraid to ask another team to drive him forward. The troop sends their thanks to the “Motley Shues” for taking care of him, and also to the Ragnar staff for being vigilant and ready to help.

The “Race the Scouts” team did not expect the welcome they received from the other racers. Instead of being annoyed by the young team, the other teams wanted to share the experience. Ragnar is full of teams who come to support and run together, and the spirit of supporting each other is infectious at their events. The young scouts showed up thinking trash talk and dirty looks are appropriate behavior in a competition, but they were shown how pleasant and civil sports should be. The scouts learned quickly to do the same for other team’s runners when they crossed their exchanges.

The idea to run the race came from service. Interested in developing a fundraising race for the cash stricken troop, Troop 460 volunteered at the 2009 event. Jon Wayne Nielsen remembered, “The boys had a great time helping out and loved that they didn’t have to go to bed that night. The troop went nuts when the Ragnar people gave them a SWAG (Stuff We All Get) bag and free T-shirt.” The scouts were also affected by the positive reaction of all the runners who seemed entertained by the bossy kids managing two stations all night. Several scouts said they would like to try to run the event, and the idea was planted in Jon Wayne’s mind. “We have always struggled to have the funds for a major scout camp, so I wanted to give these boys an experience that would engender a similar reaction. I reached out to Chris Thresher, Race Director for Ragnar. Ragnar’s excitement about the idea matched ours,” says Nielsen.

Behind the scenes of this success story are many people who offered support to the excited scouts. Many parents encouraged their boys to keep up on their training and even strapped on their own running shoes. Leaders took off from their busy careers to be involved. Shoes were donated to boys who needed them. Vans were offered and decorated. Reflective vests came from some generous Southwest Airlines crew members, and two donors, the Miracle Mile shops in Las Vegas and an anonymous individual, provided the perfect amount to cover all costs. This marvelous support helped the boys realize that their community does care that they are scouts and that they want them to be out doing good.

The wonderful people at Ragnar were very generous to allow the young team to run the event, but they also taught the boys some great lessons by giving them the opportunity to volunteer to help set up the race the week before. The boys were impressed by the fun and hardworking staff and more so that there were paid jobs that seemed so cool and fun. They had previously believed that working in a video game factory was the “coolest job on the earth,” but now they understand there are other productive and fun jobs.

Even after months of work, the effect the team had could not have been planned. As the scouts approached the finish line behind final runner 75 pound, 13 year old Michael, a group of approximately 80 people sprinted to form a human tunnel for the scouts to race through. Ragnar Race Director, Chris Thresher, told us, “I have never seen a more exciting finish at one of our races.” Other teams, exhausted from their own efforts stood and cheered as the boys completed their amazing feat. Many of the teams that the scouts had run alongside came to them to describe the tears of pride and joy they had shed because of the troop. Only a day earlier these boys were students too young to demand much attention, but amongst the wonderful atmosphere and positive people that have the courage to attempt the two day runfest these boys had become something special. They had trained, they had suffered, and there they stood, Boy Scouts, welcomed into the fold of active adventurous adults as the rightful colleagues that Scouts have always been on the trail and in the wilds.


Peggy Dee said...

That is so awesome! What an incredible experience. Way to go Jon!

Douglas and Connie Jones Earl said...

WOW!! What a vision. Doug

Earl Family said...


I am so choked up right now.