Big Blue challenge awaits Sierra Sun’s "Bad News" |

Big Blue challenge awaits Sierra Sun’s "Bad News"

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra SunMembers of team Bad News assemble at Forest Lakes to practice for the Big Blue Adventure Race.

[Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series about the Sierra Sun editorial team’s attempt to complete the upcoming Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race.]

Great adventures and simple walks to the office watercooler share two things in common:

Both begin with a single step. And both are also motivated by thirst: A thirst for excitement, thrills and knowledge, or something a bit less exciting ” water and gossip next to the cooler.

So it is fitting that a trip to the Sierra Sun’s watercooler spawned the notion, that led to the inquiry, that garnered a response, that led to the situation that myself and three of my co-workers now find ourselves in: registered as a team in the Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race, which will take place on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe on Sept. 11.

It all began with an e-mail I received from the race promoters, the highlights of which included this subtle challenge to us newsy types who sit on our butts all day:

Hello, The Third Annual Tahoe Big Blue is coming up quick – Saturday, September 11…

Disciplines include mountain biking, trail running, orienteering and kayaking throughout North Lake Tahoe. More than 400 competitors are expected to take part.

Writers interested in attending or participating should contact…

At first I didn’t give it much thought. There wasn’t any new information in the message about the event and my queue of unread e-mail was growing longer than an appendage on some poor slob who actually responded to one of those annoying Cialis e-mail spams.

It wasn’t until after I had finished sorting through the day’s new messages that I got up to visit the watercooler and looked around the room at my fellow Sierra Sun staffers: That’s when I pondered that word ‘participating’ again.

We are all young ” well, except for our wheezing, stooped-over, thirty-something editor ” and reasonably fit. So I figured that actually putting together a team and entering the race would be much more interesting than covering it from the sidelines. Plus, from all those other damn e-mails I knew I had a line on a cheap and plentiful supply of Vicodin to soothe the inevitable post-race aches and pains ” particularly for our decrepit editor.

A quick e-mail confirmed that there was still space available in the race. It was time to share this idea with my soon-to-be teammates.

Getting reporter David Bunker on board was easy. He has done a few marathons over the years so I knew he couldn’t give me any excuses about his endurance. And as we were standing around the watercooler, we talked about our need to seek out some adventures to write about.

He was in ” and well hydrated.

Photographer Josh Miller was also an easy sell since he’s always up for wacky ideas and the photographic opportunities ” like pain and suffering ” appealed to his artsy side.

He too was committed.

I didn’t dare ask sports reporter Matt Brown, as he had already experienced enough “adventure” on his epic eight-hour bike ride around Lake Tahoe in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride last June.

(Read all about it in his story “‘Huffy’ and puffing in America’s most brutal bike ride” in the Sierra Sun Web archives for June 8, 2004.)

Editor and old man of the bunch, Jamie Bate, would definitely be up for the challenge, I figured, since he just competed in the Donner Lake Triathlon and we had recently gone on a couple of long mountain bike rides in the mountains around town.

Rounding out the team with assistant editor Renee Shadforth would be perfect, I thought, since it would make us a co-ed crew. But she proved to be slightly more difficult to convince.

“I’ll only do it if we’re just trying to finish, not trying to be competitive,” she said.

We all agreed that, with little more than three weeks to train for the event, we’d be lucky just to finish. So she joined up and even provided us with our team name: Bad News ” a play on the “Bad News Bears” movie theme and the fact that we are all in the, um, what is that again….? Oh yeah, the news business.

The Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race is a one-day adventure race in the North Lake Tahoe area that will challenge participants with a course that includes kayaking, mountain biking, orienteering and trail running sections.

The Tahoe Big Blue serves as the finale for the Big Blue Adventure Racing Series, which is comprised of four races in Northern Nevada and California.

According to organizers, the one-day format is well suited to both novice racers (Hello!) and experienced competitors. Finishing times for previous races have run the gamut from six hours for top teams to 11 hours for those going slower, with seven hours being the average.

All of us on Team Bad News expect to be somewhere in the 11-hour range, but that’s only for the race itself. From now until race day we’ll be doing our best to build up our cardiovascular fitness level so that we’ll survive the race as well as practicing all of the disciplines we’ll have to get through to finish. That should be interesting, since I have a hard enough time folding-up a map let alone reading one.

It’s going to be a long road to the race, but along the way we’ll feature stories on our preparations and a rundown on other local teams and individuals who are competing in the race.

[For more information, or to register for the Tahoe Big Blue, log on to and click on “Tahoe Big Blue” under the “Races” heading. You can also call (530) 546-1019 or head to any of Northern California’s REI customer service counters. Competitors have until Sept. 8 to register.]

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