A BAD CASE OF PSA (Passport Separation Anxiety)

I know you are probably getting sick of hearing about the “ass-kicking” we took at the 36 hour Berryman Adventure Race.  However, there is one more point worth discussing that I wasn’t able to fit into the report…Passport Separation Anxiety.

Luke punching our passport during the Berryman 36 Hour Adventure Race

For those of you who don’t race, the passport is an official race form that you punch with a differently shaped hole punch at each CP.  This proves that you were at the CP and ensures that you get credit for locating it.  If you lose the passport you have no proof of getting any of the CP’s and cannot officially finish the race.  The Berryman was the first time in a big race where I was in charge of the passport.  Usually Luke handles most of the navigation, BLD is the passport guy, and I am the guy that reminds everybody to eat and drink and tells an occasional bad joke.

With just me and Luke on the team for this race I inherited the passport duties.  First, I had to decide where to keep the passport.  I needed a secure location that was easily accessible since you need to punch it at each and every CP.  I decided that I’d put the passport in a Velcro sealed pants pocket on the outside of my right leg.  It fit the criteria; it was safe and easy to get to.  This worked great through the first night.  I’d punch the CP, slip it in my pocket, and then push the Velcro flap down to seal it and not think about it until we needed to punch it again.

The pocket on the outside of my right leg was home for our passport this race

As the race went on and we collect more CP’s the inherent value of the Passport went up proportionately.  If I lost it early in the race; in theory we could get another passport and then retrace our steps to collect the CP’s again.  However, after about 12 hours I realized this was no longer an option.  If I lost it now, our race was officially over.  We’d have another “unofficial” finish under our belts this summer (I swear Luke’s almost done with the Lionheart Report).  I became more aware of the passport and began to check the Velcro seal between CP’s.  I’d reach down and pat the closure assuring myself that it was still sealed and that I hadn’t lost the passport.

By the time the sun went down on Saturday we had many CP’s collect and I was even more anxious about the passport.  I could feel the weight of the passport in my pocket.  It was as if I were Frodo and the passport was the ring that I was sneaking into the depths of Mordor.

My precious…

I began to not only check the Velcro closure but I felt lower in the pocket to actually feel the passport through the pocket to confirm it was still there.  Making sure the pocket was sealed was just no longer good enough.  I had to physically locate my passport, to prove to myself that it was still there.  I thought about changing the location of the passport.  Maybe that pocket wasn’t secure enough.  There had to be a better, safer place for the passport.  I thought about where to move it to.  I decided the pocket had served me this far and was probably the best place to keep it.  Plus, I was afraid that I would forget where I moved it to and become frantic when I thought that it was lost.

As the race went on and I grew more sleep deprived I began to check for the passport more frequently.  I would check it at least every 10 minutes.  I was becoming obsessed.  I would not lose the passport.  During the night/fog paddle leg of the race I had a horrifying experience not mentioned in the race report.  After climbing in and out of the canoe numerous times, after wading through the river and stumbling along gravel bars I finally remembered to check my pocket.  I hoped I still had the passport.  I put my hand down and felt through the pocket.  There was no passport.  My heart beat rapidly, my breath grew short, and I broke out in a cold sweat.  I was panicking.  Where was the passport?  How could I have lost the passport?  What could we do?


I felt my pocket again, and it wasn’t there.  The pocket was sealed but there was no passport.  I began to fear it got washed out of my pocket when I was in the water at some point.  I thought about telling Luke I didn’t know where our passport was and quickly decided against it.  I was afraid that he would kill me.  After all the effort we put into collecting all those CP’s, how could I have lost the passport?  I mean we only had 3 CP’s left.  I kept it safe for so long.  I decided that it had to be in my pocket.  I felt again through the pocket and didn’t feel it.  Was there a hole in my pocket?  I opened the Velcro flap and put my hand in the pocket.  No hole.  Nothing!  I dug deeper and felt around.

I felt something, deep down in the corner of my pocket.  It was kind of folded into the material of my pocket.  I grabbed a hold of something.  Was it our passport?  I pulled my hand out of my pocket and I was holding onto our precious passport.

Phew!!!....So Happy!!!

I breathed a sigh of relief.  My heart rate returned to normal and I felt so relieved.  I was so happy; Luke wasn’t going to kill and our race wasn’t going to be “unofficial” (assuming I could keep track of it for just a little bit longer).  It turns out that I didn’t lose the passport.  It had been in my pocket all the time.  I thought about finding a new home for the passport but figured it was safest in its previous location.  I mean after all that we have been through and to have it still be there.  I decided it was a safe location to keep it for the duration of the race.

For the duration of the race I found myself checking for the passport almost nonstop.  I constantly was feeling down the outside of my pocket confirming its location.  As I grew sleep deprived and became more delirious it grew worse.  I kept a hand on my pocket almost the entire time for the rest of the race.  I actually carried the passport in my hand from the final CP to the finish line.  The only way I felt comfortable at this point was if I could actually feel and see the passport.

I have thought about this a lot since the race.  I wonder why there isn’t a better way to keep track of your passport.  Why hasn’t somebody invented a case to carry it in?  Or why isn’t the passport made of laminated card-stock with holes punched in it so that you can put a string through it and carry around your neck?  There has to a better solution for the passports than a piece of paper that you fold up and stick in a pocket.  I will waste much time in the near future pondering a better passport solution.

Has anybody else ever experienced this type of anxiety over your passport?  Does anybody know of a better way to carry your passport?  Where do you carry you passports during a long race?  What’s your worst PSA experience?

Posted on October 27, 2011, in Nonsense and Tomfoolery, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Zipper pockets only, for me. I don’t trust Velcro anymore.

    At nationals I saw someone who had made a clear plastic armband for theirs, much like NFL quarterbacks use. No confusion for her, she just spun it around on her arm, punched and ran away.

    • I don’t have any zipper pockets. Maybe the QB arm thing would work…I have to come up with something. Or I could just race with Bob and let him worry about it.

  2. I saw several in a baggie to help keep track of the passport during nationals, and others attached to a lanyard around the neck.

    We lost our passport once, and quickly came up with a method to keep it secure and available throughout the race. Now we cut a small hole in the passport, and attach it to a retractable ID Badge holder clipped to the pack. Haven’t lost it since, and it feels like we gain a little bit of time at each CP because we aren’t looking for our passport anymore.

    • I like the badge holder idea. I’d be afraid that it would get caught and tear. Have you ever had the passport catch on something and pull? I may try this next time it’s my job to keep track of it. Maybe I can combine some of the ideas. I need something better than a velcro pocket.

      • We have been using the badge holder for a little over a year now. I was a little worried about it when we started to use thinking it would get caught on the under-brush or rip off while riding. Haven’t had a problem with either yet. We keep it attached to the D-Ring on the shoulder strap of our pack, which keeps it out of the way and it is easy to cover with your hand in those instances that it might get caught on something. Those passports are tough, and if you cut a clean hole in the passport for the attachment, then the likelihood of the passport tearing becomes rather slim.

  3. Connie uses the lanyard for the passport and sticks it inside her shirt enroute to the next point. She puts the clue sheet in a quarterback arm band. She has never had a problem with the tyvek passports tearing through the hole. Of course, we don’t do the long races.

    Orienteerers that do not have so long between legs will place the passport in a plastic bag, punch a hole in it, and larks head a rubber band through it and attach to the map holding hand. Then it can be the bottom layer, then map, then compass…all in one tidy bundle. Might be tough to use this with the larger maps, however.

  4. I managed to drop my passport before we even left Bob’s house at the non-race and not realize it was missing til CP1 (thanks, Derrick), thereby establishing that I can’t be trusted.

    I think Jim kept it in his pocket, along with being responsible for navigation, while I did my best to fulfill the role of reminding him how much fun we were having. These are all great ideas, though. I love how other blogs are such a great resource.

    Is your new header from a specific race?

    • Yeah. The new header is from a race that has yet to be reported on. Luke is working diligently on finishing it up. You guessed it, the Lionheart AR.

      A true Virtusite would recognize the hand. Any guesses? If you know who raced you have a 25% of guessing it right.

      • Bob?

        If you keep telling me if I’m wrong I’ll eventually get it…I at least know who went.

        • Correct, you are a true Virtusite. How did you know that was BLD’s hand? Lucky guess?

          • Actually, I’m working on said report right now. Well, not right now. I was working on it before I saw these comments. And yes, that is Bob’s sexy hand. Nice work, Kage.

          • Mostly a guess. I figured you probably wouldn’t have asked if it was yours, and it was less likely to be Adam since he might be unwilling to risk getting fired for screwing up the map. That left Luke or Bob.

    • SuperKate'sBrother

      During the Lion Heart Race (I really really promise the race report is coming), I Kept the passport in the map case. It was a pain to dig it out, but I was paranoid that I would lose it. I like the lamination idea. It will let you tuck it in your shirt or hang it without soaking it or having it tear.

  5. I’ve raced with Bob a lot, and several times early in his racing career, we truly thought we had lost the passport. He’s gotten waaaay better at keeping track of it.

    The few times I’ve carried the passport, I always worried about it – almost obsessively. I’ve used a velcro pocket, a zippered pocket (much more secure), and my map case (kind of a pain to dig into the map case at every CP) before. I know that I don’t like carrying the passport, though.

    I like the retractable ID badge holder/lanyard idea. And I know the passports that Bonk Hard uses are tough, but I’ve done races where the passport is a piece of printer paper. I’ve heard of people using packing tape to sort of laminate the passport, and I know that you can buy self-laminating sheets of plastic that would work well, too.

    So, I think we should try the self-laminating sheets to cover the passport, punch a hole in the corner, and then use the retractable doo-hickey attached to our shoulder strap. Just my two cents.

  6. Thank you all for your feedback and ideas. I think Luke summed it up with by combining all the ideas and adding his own twist. I think we should try it at the next race. I have a retractable doo-hickey thing somewhere if I can find it.

    Any other ideas?

    • For those non-tyvek passports, some sort of protection is essential. Either rain, lake water, or perspiration will cause it to disintegrate. I’ve heard people use clear contact paper to “laminate” the passport.

  7. Dave (The Tardy Rooster)

    If the passport is not water proof we use contact paper. We punch it and use a lanyard, then it can go under pack strap or in a shirt. Thanks for all of the stories.

    • Dave, we’re glad you like the stories, and thanks for commenting. I gotta ask, though, where did “The Tardy Rooster” name come from?

      • Dave (The Tardy Rooster)

        Came about one day with butts draggin, tounges hanging out in the middle of a AR put on by Gerry. It was about 11:45am on bikes crawling past a farm in the middle of no where. A rooster crowed, I said, “man that rooster is late.” My wife says, “yeah it is a tardy rooster.” We liked it and it has stuck for a couple years now.

        • Very cool, and I love the name! We are way too juvenile to have “Rooster” in our name, though. It wouldn’t be long before we used another word for rooster that rhymes with block.

  8. Looks like Tardy Rooster kicked all forms of ass at this year’s 12 hour Thunder Rolls, coming in 2nd place. That’s pretty damn impressive.

    • Dave (The Tardy Rooster)

      Thanks Bob, We were division winners last year so we were slightly bummed not to repeat, but extremely surprised to be competitive at all. I am a bigger guy I would fit in with you all 🙂

  9. New to your blog (friend of Laurie’s), and fellow adventure racer!

    I’m a big fan of keeping the passport – secured on a string around my neck – in my sports bra… though that might be tough for you guys 🙂

  10. I have put mine in my bra every adventure race. i can feel that its there so I dont have to concentrate on keeping track of it. I guess you could always put it in a baggie and then duct tape it to your chest. i guarantee you would feel that

    • I am liking the bra storage idea more and more. It’s secure and you can feel that it is still there (you can right?). I really wish I had a bra. I really need a manzier or a bro (old Seinfeld reference). I wonder if I could jam it down my shorts with the same type of success. I bet the Race Director wouldn’t like it much. I am guessing booby sweat is more preferred than ball sweat.

      Maybe duct tape to the chest is the way to go. Next race I think BLD should give it a try. He could wax one of his pectorals and tape it right to himself. Are you willing ot take one for the team Bobby? Great idea Sasha, we’ll let you know how it works out.

      Just had an idea…If we can get a feamle to join the team some day (like maybe Kage) we could carry the passport in her bra. I guess if Bob is afraid of duct tape then we’ll have to go with plan B.

      • Casey, I’ve been trying and trying to get to join the team, but Luke and Bob have informed me that until I can a) bench press the combined weight of the team’s packs, b) ride downhill without whimpering like a little girl, c) stop being so shy and reticent, and d) grow some facial hair, I’m not worthy of the Virtus name. I won’t even tell you what Adam said, the jerk.

        Personally, I think they’re just worried I’ll try and change the team colors to pink, but that’s only where the blood won’t wash out of the jersey. 🙂

  11. Well, I’d say that seals it. Kage, email your home address to Adam so he can send you his jersey.

    I dont know what reticent means…but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with trains. I like trains.

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