Jumping into the Fire – Berryman Past and Present

***UPDATE: The 2010 Berryman Adventure Race Report has been posted right here!***

9 years ago, I was a young, naïve, optimistic newlywed ready to take on the world.  I was relatively fit, and I loved the outdoors.  So when my friend, Drew, asked if I wanted to do a race with him, I jumped at the chance.

Then he told me it was something called an “Adventure Race” – The Berryman Adventure to be exact.  Okay… That sounds cool.  He then told me it involved hiking, trail running, paddling, and mountain biking.  Sweet! I was then informed that we had to cover 100+ miles over rugged terrain… Seems simple enough… while carrying everything on our backs… Easy – I’m strong… while finding checkpoints along the way using a map and compass… Cool! Like a treasure hunt!… all within 36 hours or less. No problem!

So, we recruited my cousin Darin, and his friend, Christine (way back then, the only option was a 4-person coed team, and there was no 12 hour option), and we headed down to the metropolis that is Steeleville, MO for the inaugural Berryman Adventure.

The Berryman Adventure 36 Hour AR

Um… Yeah…  We were in WAY over our heads.  I think Drew was wearing cutoff jeans or something, and he was using his old Eddie Bauer backpack from school.  Darin and Christine got brand new packs that were flippin’ huge.  I’m pretty sure I was carrying enough food for the four of us to survive for a month, and I didn’t know a thing about UTM’s (not good since I was the navigator).

Well, we started the trekking leg of the race.  We found the first couple of checkpoints with no problems.  Our spirits were high as the sun came up, and we continued on…

and on…

and on…

and on…

and did I mention we kept going?

15 hours and roughly 30 miles later, we limped and hobbled to the canoe put-in to start our 20 mile paddle.  We were sooooo thankful to be getting off of our feet, but the sun was setting.  It got dark and cold in a hurry.

We paddled down river in the dark for what seemed like forever.  Up ahead, we saw some lights at a low water crossing.  It was a race volunteer.  He said, “I have some good news and some bad news.”  We wanted the bad news first.  “Well, you’ve only gone about 4 miles.”  What?!?! We thought we only had a few miles left! Our spirits plummeted.  “The good news is there’s a van right here if you want to pull out of the race.”

We were cold, wet, exhausted, and in quite a bit of pain.  It didn’t take long to hop out of the canoes and into the heated van.  Our race was over.

We got our asses kicked.  It was terrible.  I was sore and hurting for the next week.  Yet, as painful and demoralizing as that race was, and although we may have pulled out of our first Adventure race with our tails tucked and our heads hung low, we’ve had the AR-bug ever since.

That was then… This is now…

A few months ago, Drew and I heard that The Berryman Adventure was moving back to Steeleville again for its 10th anniversary.  It seemed like fate, and Drew asked if I wanted to do the Berryman again this year.  We even joked about doing the 36 Hour race (there has been a 12 hour option every year since that first year which Drew and I have done several times).

Even though we had only joked about doing the 36 hour race,  I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The idea kept bouncing around in my head:

9 years ago we attempted the 36 hour and failed…

The race is back at the same location where it all started – pretty fortuitous…

Man, it would be so incredible to finish the 36 hour race 9 years after that DNF…

It’s the 10th anniversary – we pretty much HAVE to do the 36…

Now, you might think that over the last 9 years I have become a much different person.  Well, you would be wrong.  I’m not that much different.  I’m no longer a newlywed, and I’m not that young anymore.  But I’m still naïve, optimistic, and ready to take on the world.

So I told Drew that the thought of doing the 36 hour was really starting to grow on me.  Apparently, he had been feeling the same way, and the idea of doing the 36 hour race kept haunting him as well.  So, we’re doing the 36 hour Berryman Adventure Race this weekend.

If you want to see how Drew and I fare this weekend, you can follow the live, online coverage through Checkpoint Tracker.  There will be real-time leaderboard updates, photo updates, other updates, and you can even post comments by going here this weekend.  Please check it out even if it’s just to make sure Drew and I are still alive.

Online coverage is only for the 36 hour Berryman, which is too bad since our very own Bob Jenkins is teaming up with our friend Adam Hempelmann for the 12 Hour Berryman to compete as Team Virtus Part Deuce.  Good luck, guys!  Please pick us up if you see us passed out in a ditch.

I can’t wait for this race.  I know what most of you are thinking (some of you more than others).  Yes, we’re stupid.  Yes, we’re still in way over our heads.  Yes, we’re foolish.  Yes, there is a good chance we won’t finish the race.  Yes, We are incredibly handsome men… Wait… That’s not what you were thinking?  Are you sure?  Oh, sorry.  My mistake.

Am I scared?  Hell yes.  To say I’m a little intimidated is like saying Lindsay Lohan enjoys an adult beverage now and then.

Lindsay Lohan Hammered

I emailed my dad about this race, and he said that he was reminded of the Garth Brooks song, Standing Outside the Fire.  Here are some of the lyrics:

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned

But you got to be tough when consumed by desire
‘Cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

My dad ended the email with this: So, I say go for it Luke!  No matter what the outcome – you won’t be “Standing outside the fire”!

He always has a way of putting things into perspective and making me feel better.  Thanks, Pop!

Anyway,  Drew and I are going to compete in the 36 hour Berryman.  Why?  Well, we “know” we can finish the 12 hour race since we have done so several times before.  No, we wouldn’t win the 12 hour race, and I’m not saying it’s an easy race by any means.  It’s always a VERY challenging, fun race.  We just want to see how far we’ve come in 10 years.  We want to REALLY push ourselves.  We want to have a great story to tell (hopefully).  We want to answer the question, “What if?” We want to have fun.  And we want to jump into the fire!

Fire Flame

We may be fools.  We may end up getting burned.  We may not finish the race, and to some of you that may be considered failure.  It’s not failure to us.  Failure would be not attempting this race.  Failure would be letting this opportunity pass us by.  Failure would be standing outside the fire.  Well, screw that.  We’re jumping in!

About Lukas Lamb

Husband to a wonderful wife, father to 4 incredible kids (3 daughters and 1 son), adventure racer, mountain biker, runner, lifter of weights, reader of books, and lover of life. He can be found on Google+

Posted on September 21, 2010, in Race Reports, Upcoming Races and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Words of Encouragement:

    There’s no easy way out, there’s no short cut home Some things are worth fighting for, some feelings never die. Just remember that when you are facing adversity and feel like quiting. Remember why you started on this process and finish the damn race! 🙂 Good luck and safe travels.

  2. TTM will be volunteering at this one. We will be bringing superior attitude and superior state of mind, you will need both of these to complete this journey. Good Luck!!

  3. One foot in front of the other. You’ve got this! Just remember that feeling of how you felt the morning after you quit that first race each time you are offered a ride or a nice warm van My first DNF was also my first Berryman and I regret not going on. My feet were like hamburger but I only had another 5 miles on foot. I always think back to that race when I’m considering dropping out. I can’t say that I haven’t DNF’d since but now I don’t consider how I’m feeling, just the safety of my team and self and our ability to think clearly. Everything short of that, we go on to finish as best we can.

  4. Dude you said you signed us up for the 12 hour! WTF?

  5. Wow, first Brandon’s blog got me all fired and now this!!! This weekend is going to be miserable, I can hardly wait!!

  6. Luke and Drew,

    Best of luck this weekend! Be efficient out there and always remember that you’re a team! Go above and beyond to do what is best for the team. Help out your partner when he needs it. Stay connected with the map and ALWAYS know where you are. Race smart. I’m glad you guys got out of your comfort zone and are giving the Berryman 36-Hour another shot. Best of luck and most importantly have fun. See you Friday.


  7. You guys are gonna do awesome!!! Good Luck!!!

  8. Good luck and don’t quit. The wise words of one of my mentors –> Do or Do Not There Is No Try

  9. Good luck this weekend. I have never done a 36 hour race, though I have thought about it. Like you my first race was the Berryman, it was only two years ago and it was the 12 hr version, but nonetheless it ended very similarly. We had no idea how to navigate and ended up very lost. I am sure you guys will have a great story to tell and I look forward to reading it, no matter what at least you had the guts to give it a go.

  10. Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement! And Kelly, big thanks to you. This quote really helped:

    “…now I don’t consider how I’m feeling, just the safety of my team and self and our ability to think clearly. Everything short of that, we go on to finish as best we can.”

    I’m sure I will think of this quote during the race. Another quote I found that I liked:

    “Winners are ruled by the hope of success and not the fear of failure.” – Robyn Benincasa, Captain of Team Merrell/Zanfel and probably the most successful female adventure racer of all time.

    I think I’ve been too focused on failing. Screw that. I want to finish this thing!!!

    And one more quote I dug up to get myself psyched up:

    “Sometimes 100% effort will get you on the podium and sometimes it won’t; The important thing is that you DO give it 100% and never afford yourself the ability to wonder what could have happened if you had tried harder.” – That quote is from our very own Bob Jenkins from his Hermann Under the Lights Race Report from last year.

    Again, thanks everyone. Can’t wait for this race to get here! It’s taking FOREVER!

  1. Pingback: Marathon, Here We Come! (We Hope) « The Running of the Lambs

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