Three competitors from Salem will test their endurance and skills Oct. 19 against 40 teams during a 100-mile race of canoeing, mountain biking, hiking and repelling at the Sylamore Hardcore Adventure Race in the Sylamore district of the Ozark National Forest near Mountain Home.
The mandatory coed team comprised of Lena Romine, 20, Hans Oliver, 32, and Dr. Guy Smith, 51, will be on an event course consisting of cross country on trails, rivers and cliffs designed to test not only physical but mental skills as well.
Competitors are warned ahead of time of the risks they could face -- possible renal shutdown and heat stroke. They are advised to train with their team in the heat and in darkness to help prepare for the race. Extended training in the heat will help acclimate the body to accept the workload under the conditions they will be asked to perform.
The rules are strict, and if the competitors do not adhere they can be disqualified or penalized.
The only map racers can use are topo maps provided to each team at a briefing.
There is a 100-yard rule for all teams which mandates the trio has to be within that distance of each other at all times, said Smith.
Three people start, three people finish. And the clock does not stop until all three team members cross the finish line.
Some of the mandatory individual equipment to be carried at all times includes: backpacks for everyone on the team, fleece jacket, fleece hat, rain suit, 100-ounce water container, whistle, knife, emergency blanket, headlamp, four 12-hour chem lights and waterproof matches or a lighter. Their backpacks will weigh between 30 to 35 pounds.
Smith has been chosen as the team captain to navigate the course. One of his main concerns is getting lost, but the biggest challenge will be to finish the race with a good time, he explained.
"I just like the challenge. I get a kick out of it even though it has been physically demanding," Smith said.
During the months of training for the event the three have acquired a kinmanship. They have even gone so far as dubbing nicknames for each other. Romine is called China, Oliver is dubbed Hank, and Smith goes by the name Pansy, which he loudly protests. As a team they are known as "Bull Runners." Of course there is a story behind the name.
The trio began training in March of this year at Smith's father's ranch located between Bexar and Union. While the three were hiking, bulls started chasing them - hence the name.
During the week they train individually, but on weekends the trio usually train as a team to work on their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
Smith's training includes about 65 miles a week of walking, running and biking. Romine trains 55 to 60 miles per week, and Oliver works out around 62 miles.
Romine said this has been a good incentive to get in shape, and that was her reason for entering the event. She said biking will be her best event and hiking will be the hardest for her. She explained the competitor gets a break riding downhill but during the hiking event one has to maintain the pace with no breaks.
During high school she was active in basketball, softball and cross country. She believes her athletic abilities will be an asset.
Oliver said Romine has high intensity and she will accomplish whatever she sets out to do. Smith is very competitive and is always leading, Oliver said.
Smith said it takes strict discipline to follow through and train because it's not always comfortable. The race will be long and hard but when one of their teammates starts to feel defeated the others can provide support, Smith added.
Oliver agreed that each has to keep going even when they are exhausted and feel the aches and pains of long, hard training.
Oliver decided to enter the race because of goals he set at the early age of 16. He compiled a list of things he wanted to accomplish. One of his goals was to compete in at least a 100-mile race under his own power. After the race he said he can cross that item off his to do list.
Biking will be the event Oliver excels in, he predicts. The hardest event will be walking because he tends to experience leg cramps when walking. But the most challenging will be teamwork. He added that he and Smith have both competed in high school and college events independently, but neither experienced working with a team.
The mental aspect of teamwork is both a challenge and a reward, Oliver said. "We will only go as fast as the slowest person," Oliver said.
None of the three has ever entered an event of his magnitude but all have the attitude they are ready.
The Bull Runners goal is to finish the race in a respectable time. Next year their sights are set even higher; they hope to win.