Initially I signed up for this Co-driver Challenge as a way to try new things and do “something different”. I'm not completely sure why my pen was driven to complete the questionnaire and take pictures of myself to send along with it. I typically don't post selfies. Regardless, I questioned my husband and asked if he thought I should try this. He encouraged me to give it a try no matter the outcome. Without his encouragement I would not have done this as we typically do everything together because we treasure our time together. Work has separated us on numerous occasions, so we value spending our free time as a family.
After filling out the questionnaire and submitting head shots, the next step in the process was to choose which potential event would best suit me. As a rock bouncer/buggy racer, I have participated in many recovery and winching scenarios (many of them being on the wrong end of the winch-line, if you know what I mean). These experiences have helped teach me what to do and what not to do in these types of situations, something that could come in handy at any of the Ladies Co-Driver Challenge events. Shooting is another hobby of mine, though one I don't get to practice nearly enough. I haven't shot guns my entire life, but I was raised around them.
My parents and family always hunted when I was younger but since I didn't care for the taste of wild game I didn't see any sense in it. That changed about 18 years ago when I was introduced to target and skeet shooting by my husband. As I grew up I did end up developing the taste for wild game, which began my introduction into the world of hunting. I was excited to lear that the events I was interested in for the Ladies Co-Driver Challenge could include a shooting portion. I used this as an excuse to take the family skeet shooting again. I also requested the help of a friend, who happened to be a member of the local shooting range, to help improve my marksmanship.
Another portion of the potential event that caught my attention was a water-crossing section. I am able to canoe and I enjoy many water activities, so this really sparked my interest. Plus, after spending many nights camping over the years as part of horseback and family camper trips, I know exactly what camping involves.
The camping, recovery challenges, water activities and shooting portions led me to choose BFGoodrich Tire's 36 Hours of Uwharrie as my top event.
After the entry process came the social media "Vote of Confidence" challenge. I sought help from people from all walks of life that I had befriended during my numerous different activities. The amount of responses and support was absolutely humbling. I felt a little guilty, but so very thankful for their wonderful responses. The encouragement from them pushed my entry into one of the top 30 spots.
The day I found out that I was in the Top 33 I was alone on a recovery road trip driving over 650 miles to rescue my parents and their trailer from their van, which was totaled while they were on a trip (more recovery training for me). The interview process, which would allow Charlene to learn more about me, followed the Top 33 announcement. After determining the time zone difference and scheduling my interview, I anxiously awaited Charlene's call. Her professionalism and courteous comments assured me this challenge was the real deal and I slowly relaxed as the interview progressed.
The next announcement came from the Ladies Meet and Greet in Florida. My family and I anxiously gathered around the computer to watch the announcement live stream to see who would be in the Top 10. When I heard my name announced my first thoughts were, "for real" and "holy crap", and then, "I'm going to Arizona"! I was really surprised to have been chosen.
The trip to Arizona for the Training Weekend wasn't difficult to plan; I am typically the family planner when it comes to scheduling tickets and travel. We were provided a simple packing list, but that was it. I had no idea what would be taking place that weekend, which meant that I read way too much into the packing list than I probably should, and thought things like, "does base camp at Charlene's mean we won't just be staying there?" I have been on wheeling trips where long days have ended with use spending parts of the night outdoors. So, even though the forecast called for warm weather in Arizona, I still packed rain gear and warm clothing. I don't like to be unprepared! I was relieved to find out that other contestants would be helping to provide sleeping bags and air mattresses.
I spent my first night in Arizona in a hotel room, and was shuttled to the base camp at Charlene's the next day. I knew instantly that my instinct was right and I was about to experience something unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
To sum it up, the next few days were too busy for sleep! We went from one activity to the next, and at each one we took time to record pictures and videos before heading off to the next challenge. From the beginning I knew that these activities were not to measure physical strength alone, but to measure our personalities. There were no failures or discouragement, only the encouragement and combined commitment from a team of women working together towards a single goal. The anticipation of the unknown was exciting. I was in awe every time when we finally got to find out what we were going to do or see. Every challenge proved to be unique and offered different information.
Throughout the entire Training Weekend I used laughter to help lighten the mood, a skill that I had learned after many years of management and sitting chair side in the dentist's office. This really came in handy to help us all relax especially was the lack of sleep and pure exhaustion set in.
Conversation was always encouraged as we sat in the big white van that took us from activity to activity. It was a great way to learn more about each other and share information. The questions that were presented helped show all the differing personalities of all the ladies as they revealed their individual experiences, concerns and knowledge.
The incredible amount of numerous sponsors assisting in the support of the challenge just amazed me. This definitely set the tone of encouragement and that we were incredibly special.
In looking back on the challenges I see a lot of how people in the off road wheeling world work together and interact as genuine wheelers. No one is left behind and anyone that is struggling is willingly assisted by those who are able. My experiences although obviously different than others, have always been true to this. If someone breaks down mechanically and needs help, tools or anything than an offer is made to them. This overall perspective is what I have taken from this challenge. One other piece of knowledge that I have gained is some words that Charlene had focused on more than once. To put your entire 100% of your focus into what you are working on at the time. I have already started to re-think so many aspects of life using this technique.
I believe we are put on this world for many different reasons and we cross paths with certain people for reasons. I used to believe in coincidences, but quit that long ago. This adventure and journey is definitely a part of a something more and I can hardly wait to see where it leads.
As a closing note I consider myself very fortunate to have been included in this adventure and I believe that “I am not Just a Girl”!