Survival Run 2015 - by Sean Meehan


Photo by Jeff Genova Photography

Photo by Jeff Genova Photography

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one most adaptable to change."

The 2015 Survival Run (SR) marked a significant step forward on a number of fronts, especially the rules of the race and how they were communicated to runners.

  • Checkpoint guides were posted for runners to read and the responsibility was placed on the runner to understand the obstacle at hand. 
  • Checkout instructions were also printed; important info about necessary items to find/bring were included. There was also a map showing the next section of course.
  • Gear check this year was probably more strict and prohibitative than in the past. Para-cord and dry bags were probably the two items that runners pined after most.
  • Time cutoffs continued to play a significant role in cutting runners from the race.

By and large these rules all served their purpose well. However, SR should never have too many rules and regulations. Yes we need rules and gear checks to ensure a fair race, but that is not the essence of this event. The key is not what the race takes away from runners. The key is the knowledge the race is trying to awaken in the runner. Being able to overcome and adapt to whatever happens. You may find the reasons why the race didn't let you finish or, alternatively, you can show how you finished in spite of the problems. You may find reasons why you were not successful in life also. Uncannily though, the most successful in our society, regardless how you measure the success, tend to overcome the most problems along the way. All this is not to serve as an exemption for the organisers who design the event wrongly! It is to point out the direction of the SR concept.

The SR concept has matured and evolved since its inception just 2 years ago. The tagline 'adapt or die' has changed from being just a tagline to being maybe the best advice for this race. Be adaptable. Don't be just a runner. Don't be just a climber. Don't be just a weight lifter. Be every kind of athlete. Be everything that you can be physically and mentally. That is the only way to reach the finish line. The select group of athletes that have completed SR are outstanding examples of the attributes necessary for this race. Their phenomenal physical preparation coupled with their unwavering positivity and grit got them to the finish line. 

And those people who didn't reach the finish have not failed - not really. They have redefined what is possible for themselves. At some moment during SR, when the race all got a bit too real, they looked deep within themselves and found new knowledge. Perhaps it was humility, perhaps acceptance, perhaps new resolve. There is race within the race for every competitor. No matter what yardsticks the race puts on you Survival Runners; petroglyphs, idols, medals etc - you, and only you, know how far you came in the race and, with time to reflect, you can decide how far you want to go next time.

What comes next for SR?

More. Lots more. The concept is gaining maturity, confidence and swagger. It has changed from a few promising ideas into a roadmap for a race concept that can go global. Meshing the culture, history and geography of any location into a race to challenge any athlete it encounters. In many ways it feels like we are all, runners, staff, volunteers, local onlookers, along for the ride. 

This race has a plan of its own.

"If I get lost, hurt, or die, it is my own damn fault."

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