From None to Won

John Colter Run – All Time Record

July 2, 2016

Swim > Run > Shoot > Run > Shoot > Run > Tie Knots > Run > Swim

Definitely not your traditional relay race the John Colter Run is a race of stamina, accuracy, and skill – Scoutmaster-Style. It is hosted weekly throughout the summer months at Scofield Scout Camp in Utah. The race is based on the legendary tale of mountain man John Colter and his escape from a band of Blackfoot Indians that sent him running through the wilderness in the buff with nothing but his wits and speed to keep him alive. Besting one his fastest pursuer with his own spear Colter then ran across mountains, rivers, and streams to evade certain death. He did escape and has been legendary ever since.

John Colter

Our race didn’t have any bloodthirsty pursuers hunting us to our doom but it was still fairly intense. The events were as follows

  1. Swim across a small inlet of Scofield Reservoir
  2. Run up the hill to the Shotgun Shooting Range.
  3. Shoot 3 skeet. Each miss constitutes a :20 second penalty.
  4. Run to the Archery Range
  5. Shoot up to 10 arrows. If two arrows hit the center target or three arrows hit the next colored rings then the runner advances. If not then a :15 penalty is assessed before the runner can leave the range.
  6. Run to the Pioneering Tent
  7. Tie three knots in succession. Each runner is allowed three attempts per knot or a :30 second penalty is imposed.
  8. Run back to the water.
  9. Swim back across.
  10. Cross the finish line on the other shoreline.

I had practiced the run and swim almost every morning to prepare. I had practiced my knots all week and could tie and untie all three knots in 10 seconds. I could hit the archery targets with 3-4 arrows typically but the shotgun was my achilles heel. I could not hit a clay pigeon to save my life. Even with the professional instruction of Steve I was not the mountain man marksman that I’m sure John Colter was. Knowing this ahead of time I realized I was just going to have to run harder and faster to make up the penalty.

Friday was race day and I felt ready. I donned my Elevate Triathlon kit and pulled my goggles down over my eyes. I placed my Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes on the opposite beach and waited for the signal. Each pair of runners were sent off a few minutes apart so that there wasn’t a log jam at the individual events. My fellow scoutmaster Jared Pollister and I were the last two contestants. They gave the countdown and I sprinted down the sandy beach into the water and dove in. Instantly my new goggles fell off and I was swimming blind. I futilely tried to adjust them back onto my eyes and then just pushed them out of the way. About 3/4 across the water we both popped up and started trudging to the other shore.

John Colter Race
Coming out of the water at the John Colter Race. Notice the goggles.

I found my shoes and socks and started to put them on. Trying to put on socks was a big mistake. It took almost 20 seconds. Once the shoes were on I was grateful for the rigid support and the amazing traction of the Lone Peak (plus they look cool). I sprinted up the hill down the road and then turned back up toward the shotgun range. I got there just as another runner was leaving which was a good sign. I stepped onto the mat with my eye and ear protection shaking a little from the intense uphill run and yelled pull. Boom – Boom – Boom – 100%…..missed. I waited by the gate anxiously until the eternity of seconds elapsed and I heard “3, 2, 1 ok go.” I sprinted down the closed path on the outside of the range and gave a high five to Jared as he was coming up to the range. My adrenaline was pumping and I knew that the next event was going to rock.

I sprinted to Archery and took the steps two at a time. I quickly put on the arm guard and stepped up to the range next to two other racers. I knocked the arrow and pulled back the compound bow until my right hand was on my cheek. I let the first arrow fly – Thunk – 1 in the red. Arrow two wasn’t on target and hit the blue rings. Arrow three hit the center yellow  and then the remaining two arrows hit the red. All the spectators and my scouts screamed for me to, “Run, run, run.” I flew down the stairs and over to the knots.

Archery at the John Colter Run
Archery at the John Colter Run

When I arrived at the station there were two or three other racers there. I tied the Bowline, Square Knot and Taught Line Hitch in under 15 seconds and took off running leaving the 2-3 other racers at the station while I headed back to the water. This section of the run was mostly downhill and so I flew toward the water.

I peeled my shoes off as quickly as I could and just left my socks on. I jumped back into the water and instead of swimming I just trudged. I was exhausted by this point and each step was as much mental as it was physical. I sludge on the bottom of the lake seemed as if it wanted to have me join it. Each step was more about pulling my feet out off the mud as it was pushing forward. Finally, I made it and crossed the finish line. To my excitement I had not only won this week’s race but, also this year’s entire field of contestants and currently hold the All-Time Record of 10:03 seconds beating the previous record of 10:49.

What a fun and unique race.

Added benefit is that my son Isaac won the Root Beer chug and then our scout troop won the PB&J Relay as well. It was a very successful week.

Isaac wins the rootbeer chug.
Isaac wins the Root Beer chug.

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