It has evolved into duties as a Sherpa. We carry kayaks, bikes, and jogger/strollers to transition areas, we drive the vans and deliver the liquids. It is an honor & a privilege.
So I was called upon for two weekends in a row; first in VA Beach for the Team Hoyt 1/2 Marathon; and second in Gulf Shores, AL for an Olympic Triathlon. We missed one of the team mates, Evan, but to see Kyle & Brent compete will drive any Sherpa to work harder to make these races happen without a hitch. The Triathlon in Gulf Shores was particularly moving: at the start as Team Magic announced Kyle & Brent and 500+ racers cheered them on at the start; then to watch Brent tie off the Kayak to his waist as JD & I carried the new, Advanced two-seater Kayak thru the breaking waves of the Gulf to get Kyle into smoother waters with Brent. Then, we met them a mile down the beach at the finish to transfer to the Jogger for a tough push thru the sand and back to the transition area. Then another transfer to the Bike; and then chase car support duties to get extra fluids and some very professional photos by JD. We did stop for waffle house coffee, and another visit to Officer Sanders from Baldwin Co. AL who drove me back & forth to get Brent's BlueSeventy wet suit when he needed it at the start.
|Officer Baldwin providing directions to Waffle House|
|Transfer to the jogger for the run.|
It’s funny how things happen.
Kyle and I were talking one night and he mentioned they might be doing a triathlon in Alabama. Being from Alabama my interest was peeked. After a little research I found out that it was in Gulf Shores Alabama. While not my stomping grounds I have been there few times. I had the idea that the family and I could take a mini-vacation and help “Walking With Kpeasey” at the same time. Cleared it with the wife and we were a go!
We all understand that a lot of work goes into to a race. The training, the training, the training. What about the equipment? How does it get there? Who gets it ready? Who cleans it up?
At this point Kyle has all of the equipment for the most part. A bike (Freedom Concepts), a jogger, and a borrowed Advanced Elements Kayak. You can’t really just through those items on top of the Kyle’s van. We had to track down a trailer. Once we tracked one down we had to coordinate a pick up of the trailer and then the bike. Not monumental tasks in and of themselves but nobody has the same schedule any more so it was harder than one might imagine. Once all gear that was going on the trailer was acquired came the packing. You cannot forget anything vital or a six hour drive might be for naught. So lists are developed and checked multiple times. There may be an unpacking or two just to make sure. Packed and ready the Sherpa teams hits the road.
As mentioned in a previous post I like my coffee and I like to get up early. 0430 came early but it was right on time. We got to the Hang Out and found a perfect area to park right next to the transition area, Sherpa’s like to be efficient. Once registration was complete and all necessary credentials obtained we unloaded the gear.
For most triathletes this would be shoes, bike, water, nutrition basically. For team “Walking With Kpeasey” it is bike, jogger, shoes, padding, boat, water nutrition, etc... I believe we still did it in one trip. One of the big differences for Kyle is the swim. He has a boat. I was concerned with having enough time to get to the swim start and have the boat ready for Kyle and Brent, the race organizers had to wait until the last possible moment to set up the swim due to the changing direction of the currents. Not that this could be controlled it caused us problems. OK not really but it made me uptight. After the decision on the swim start was finalized I walked the mile down the beach to set up the boat ahead of Kyle, Brent, and Sherpa Pease.
The water was kinda of rough and there was a good 4-5 foot drop from where Kyle was sitting in the boat and the water. Dick and I made the easy decision to get wet to ensure Kyle and Brent got off to good start. It was fun walking back down the beach watching the swim. The take out seemed to go pretty smooth and Brent and Kyle were off on the bike in no time. This is where the Sherpas got to play.
|Our Friendly Orange Beach man in Blue. Officer Baldwin|
After putting the boat away there was a discussion of breakfast, coffee, mimosas, or track down the boys on the bike portion of the race. We chose the latter. Besides some great opportunity for some photography and chit chat with the boys we also handed of some Gator aide to Brent and Kyle while they were on the ride. I think one of the most memorable moments for this Sherpa was getting caught leaving Waffle House with coffee. You had to be there!
|"Sherpa Dick" in for a cup o Joe|
After the final transition from bike to run we packed up the bike and realized that the Sherpas were hungry. Dick and I found the Krispy Kremes. Now it was hurry up and wait time. We found our way in behind the gates to greet Kyle and Brent as they crossed the finish line.
The Sherpa’s job is not over when the race is finished. There is gear to clean and equipment to be returned. Perseverance, courage, commitment, sacrifice, fun, giving are words that come to mind when I think of the things that mean something to me. “Walking With Kpeasey” is a lifestyle that embodies these words and to quote Sherpa Pease “It is an honor & a privilege” to serve.
-John David Johnson