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  • Annie Hewlett

Dear Team: An Ode from Afar

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

I could never complete an adventure race solo.

There are many reasons why this statement holds true, not least of which that I am a pretty deplorable navigator, but the one I want to focus on here is: TEAM. This winter has been one that has flung the members of the Quest Race Team out of town for months at a time. Dusty and Emily relocated to Huntington Beach, CA for 3 months in early winter for a temporary work assignment, and I am currently completing a 3 month clinical rotation in Utah as I pursue my degree in Physical Therapy. Neither Utah nor California are close to Bellingham.

I am lucky to be staying with family here in Utah, and I have made some great friends through work and other connections. However, I do find myself experiencing a particular type of loneliness while far away from familiar trails, training partners, and teammates. I realize that when I’m home in Bellingham I may take for granted how many times per week I draw upon my Quest teammates- for company on a long run, co-conspiring a backcountry adventure, or simply motivating me out of bed before the dawn for speed work by headlamp. It’s hard to do all of that for myself, by myself!

I am struck by how technology enters the picture in lieu of teammates nearby. I am in awe of the doors that can be opened by apps like Trailforks, websites that share trip reports from various backcountry areas, and the abundance of bloggers and websites that offer guidance for adventure seekers in new places. Without my usual 7-8 folks in the rolodex who will jump at an invite to join some silly endurance exploit I have planned, I am with bittersweet emotion turning to the company of… Ira Glass. That’s right. I am now listening to This American Life and other edifying podcasts on my runs and trying to look on the bright side: Nobody expects me to talk when I’m out of breath from pushing the climb.

And let’s not forget Strava. Never mind that in the 3+ different automatic data conversions that take my GPS watch file from the device to my Strava activity feed somehow my mile pace becomes wildly inaccurate and unbelievably fast. Let my strava-watching pals think I went to Utah and drank the 6-minute mile Kool-Aid. This is how we connect now! Data! Inaccurate activity data created to the sound of everybody’s favorite NPR personalities! Everybody should know- I did not drink any Utah Kool-Aid (yikes), and I am not running 6-minute miles.

Oh, how I miss everybody’s favorite Team Quest personalities. I miss Dusty’s granularly detailed descriptions of whatever he’s describing, and the twinkle in his eye when he gets excited about an adventure. I miss Emily’s good natured positive energy and sisterhood. I miss Scarlett’s fierce attack on every single workout, sport, and race. I miss Darrell’s absent-minded professor antics and map wizardry. I miss Mitch’s quiet encouragement and humble-crusher style. I miss Kellen’s give-it-his-all-to-the-almost-death. I miss Matt’s enthusiastic smiles and nods and almost constant buoyancy. I miss Brent’s mayoral ways on the trail, greeting everyone we pass as though they were a long-lost friend, even if they’re a stranger.

Technology will never replace these people and their infectious energy and capacity to motivate me to be my best, get out the door, and let some big adventure kick me in the pants. Team Quest, I pine for you, will never enter an adventure race without you, and can’t wait to be back in our hood so that the fun may begin again.

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