It's the end of an era: As I type, Dear Husband and Artist Son are running their 7th Dead to Red race together, the last one before Artist Son heads off to college next fall. And what a wonderful era of father, son, and friends adventure it has been--which of course prompts a bit of reminiscing about our family's Dead to Red history.
Dear Husband and our boys ran their first Dead to Red ultra- marathon relay race, a 248 kilometer (150 miles) race beginning at the Dead Sea and ending at the Red Sea, in 2004, the first year the race was held. Artist Son was a mere nine years old, Active Son was eleven, and Dear Husband was, well, he was younger. As the years passed, the boys got faster and Dear Husband slowed down. I can't remember the year that the boys overtook him in training but I could tell he was glad for it to happen. He made it his goal to run the race until Artist Son graduated from high school.
If I remember correctly, not a lot of training and preparation went into that first race. It was just a lot of fun. The race t-shirts were the best ever with running skeletons, and our team's name was Dead Men Running : six adults, four youth, and the runners did their own driving.
Though the teams Dear Husband, Active Son, and Artist Son have run on have never had the same ten runners, our guys have run together on teams each year from 2004-2012 with the exception of last year, 2011. Dear Husband also missed a race in 2009 as he was traveling outside of the country at the time. Was that ever hard for him!
2004, Active Son and Artist Son thought it great fun to stay up all night, eating snacks, playing cards, and of course running 25K each.
As legend goes, in 2006, one of our team's faithful drivers, when driving through the security check as he left Aqaba with a van full of runners was asked who was in the van, to which he replied, "These are the Dashing Dudes." And so, in 2007 our team officially became the Dashing Dudes. Somewhere around 2005/2006 the adults were mostly replaced by youth who had grown into competitive young bucks. The training intensified and the Dashing Dudes and their accompanying strategy became a team to be reckoned with. I've written about those exciting races here.
This year, Artist Son wore the mantel of team captain, learning more of what it takes to organize, administrate, and motivate a team of runners. The Dashing Dudes put forth their most international team yet with runners from the Australia, Bolivia, Korea, Switzerland, and the United States.
And this year the Dashing Dudes have dedicated their run to their friend Tim, a young man who grew up in Jordan, recently joined the United States Marine Corp and was severely injured in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, losing both his lower legs. Tim's brother is a former Dashing Dude, and both his younger brothers were members of this year's team until they had to travel to the US to be by their brother's side. They are missed, as is their father, a Dashing Dudes driver.
One last time we experienced the Dashing Dude pre-race fever as the guys prepared for the race this morning, though I have to say that there was less heat without Active Son around to whip everyone up. Pasta salad, thermoses of hot tea, and the traditional race Monster Cookies were packed in the van and Dear Husband and Artist Son departed Mafraq to meet up with their team in Amman before heading down to the race start, just past the Mujib bridge. Go Dashing Dudes!
edit~I just spoke with Dear Husband and the Dashing Dudes are in 6th or 7th place (out of 40-50 teams) and have just about reached the halfway part. Now it is cold and dark for long time.
edit~Active Son informs me that Dear Husband came up with the Dashing Dudes team name but that our driver did use it at the checkpoint and was waved through.