Rat Race 2018

by The Good Life on July 21, 2018

in America

In the 6 (yes time flies), yes 6 years since we have lived here, somehow we have always been away for the Drink Water Rat Race.  This year with scheduled Europe trip coming later in the year, I was keen on getting up to ride in what is quickly becoming one of the PNW most anticipated events.

Its funny how banked slaloms and the various iterations have become the thing to do, but at most of them someone in the more gentlemens category can ride the same course as someone who is way younger, faster and more capable like Austin Sweetin or someone. Because generally you don’t have to leave the ground.  Well.  It seems the rat race isn’t that way, and the infamous whoops on offer pretty quickly showed me that I would need to get off the ground.  Quickly and often.


So to start at the beginning though I headed up the night before to sleep in the parking lot, which has long time been something I’ve wanted to do and it was without doubt one of the most memorable things in Oregon.

Waking up looking out the back of the land rover with the sun coming up at 5am is something everyone should experience at least once.  Heck even the sun going down the night before was nice, but this was so nice.

The great and the good of snowboarding were gathered in the lot with seemingly every kind of car, van, truck, RV, mobile home, tent you could ever wish for.  I always felt a bit funny driving a land rover as it always to me felt like a big car, but it was easily the smallest amoungst this eclectic bunch of vehicle/beds on wheels.

and of course everyone had everything ready for any BBQ, snowboard, surf activities that could come their way.

So up the hill we headed to start help digging along with the Drink Water crew, led by Bryan and Stephen Fox, Austin Smith and Curtis Cizsek.  The course is slightly above the chaos of the ski racers, whom having done 5 summers I can see the appeal but also at the same time have zero wish to do summers anymore.

After being hand dug we got after it, thankfully Ami and I managed to get one snails pace run before the world and his wife wanted a run.  Sure enough 3rd run of the day I managed to mess up the second set of whoops and hence my hip in the process, but I did achieve my goal of the day of a) finishing b) registering a time c) walking away.

I also realized the strangest thing.  My head and my body aren’t in sync anymore for snowboarding.  Surfing and to a certain extent, Yoga, they are perfectly in tune as I am essentially a beginner to both in the last couple of years so head and mind are aware of my limit.  However in football and snowboarding it seems in the immortal words of Top Gun “your mouth is writing cheques your body cant cash”  I guess that’s hitting 39 for you.

There was some amazing and inspiring riding on the course especially from the likes of Austin Sweetin, Blair Habenicht, Cale Meyer, Danny Davis, Dustin Anderson, Kevin Nimick, all for their own reasons.

However two things really stood out for me today.

Firstly, that with this 7th rat race, Drink Water have raised 180k for water.org.  Now having worked with snowboarders for 15 years  professionally, seeing a group of people who see more than themselves and aren’t just asking whats in it for them, to see people doing something for others less fortunate than them really makes me appreciative and also very inspired.  Talking of people doing things for other people.  The real MVP of the Rat Race Bill Fox (of course assisted by the one and only Patty Fox) who was manning the BBQ in the parking lot/camp site.

Secondly and this year more poignantly the prize giving was without doubt the most brilliant heartfelty celebration of family and community you could ever wish to see.  Curtis and Austin both lost their fathers this year within months of each other.  As someone who lost his mother 2 years ago, seeing people deal with this in such a public setting was beautiful.  Between Bryan and Austin they spoke about those recently departed and thanks to Nitro had a grip of boards painted by Curtis sister dedicated to big Curt and Brad.  When the two of them were speaking I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but to me tears of celebration and reminding me why I am so thankful still now to be part of the snowboarding family and also very thankful to call them all friends and all are pretty big inspirations to me.  These are the moments I think back to when I started snowboarding (and yes skiing before that, which my parents got me to try) and thank my lucky stars that I got into it.

Next year I think I’ll need to ride a little more in the run up than I have done this year (hadn’t ridden in 4 months!) and will bring the family up too!

Keep up the good work you legends.

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