Sebring couple loves 'crazy races'
JOE SEELIGSEBRING - Adam and Stacy Smehyl, both 32, are working early on their bucket list by entering crazy races such as their most recent one; the Pack Burro race at the 64th annual Burro Days, held July 29, in Fairplay, Colo.
Published: August 8, 2012
Published: August 8, 2012
He said Tuesday they started running about three years ago to get fit, when she signed them up for a race called "Muddy Buddy" in Orlando.
"I didn't want to look like a chump, so I started running," he said, adding it was a bike and run event, followed by a muddy pit.
While looking through Runner's World Magazine, the Sebring couple read a feature story about this crazy race in Colorado, in which they had to run with mules 15 miles from Fairplay to Park City and back.
"We thought it would be neat," he said. "We're not ultra competitive in races or anything; we just want to be able to stay fit to be able to do crazy races. When we saw this race in the magazine we said, 'Oh that would be so fun to go do!'"
They have some friends who moved to Colorado so they go visit them once a year anyway, he said.
"So we scheduled our trip during the same date as Burro Days," he said.
She's a teacher at the Kindergarten Center and he's a teacher at Hill Gustat Middle School. They brought along their son Bauer, 5, and daughter Aubrey, 2.
On July 29, they got their mules, Natasha and Smokey, from a mule rental guy and they went to the weigh-in.
"The pack had to be 30 pounds," she said. "Some people had their own burros, but people who came in from out of town rented their burros."
"We were supposed to have a mining pick and a gold pan," he said. "For background, this was just named Colorado's Summer Heritage Sport. It's a race that's only found in Colorado. It has to do with the mining history."
The story goes some guys were out prospecting and they found an area they liked so they raced back to town with their mules and everything to stake a claim and get back out there real fast. That's how the race supposedly got started.
There is a 14.5 mile race (the short race) and a 29 mile race (the long race), he said.
"We only opted for the 14.5 because we weren't really sure what we were getting into," he said. "And you run with your donkey."
"Five-hundred pounds of stubborn mule," she said, laughing.
There were 44 mule teams in the short race and 10 teams in the long race.
"You and your donkey; that's your team," he said.
"You could not ride the donkey or you were disqualified, that's the rule," she said.
The shotgun start was exactly that, fired with a shotgun that sounded like a cannon. Their friends watched Bauer and Aubrey.
"It was a bunch of people trying to get through a narrow pass with a bunch of stubborn animals or a bunch of determined animals," he said. "It was pretty wild."
The altitude for their race was about 10,000 feet, with some ups and some downs. She wore a hat camera and they were able to film portions of the race, from her viewpoint.
Adam and Smokey finished the short race in 13th place in 3:06:07. Stacy and Natasha finished in 40th place in 5:24:45.
"My goal was to not be last," she joked.
The term "stubborn-as-a-mule" wasn't even the word, she said.
"The first seven and a quarter out, she didn't want to run at all," she said. "When we started heading home she got a little excited; she started running."
Natasha loved to eat everything, stopping about every 50 feet, she said. "By the time we got to the turnaround I could have left her sitting by herself," she said.
Smokey pulled Adam Smehyl up, but decided to sit right before the turnaround; as an audience looked on. "They watched me for five minutes, yell, coddle, push, shove, do everything to this burro to get him to go," he said.
Last year they did a race called "Tough Mudder" in Avon, Colo., which was a 10-mile obstacle course going up a ski slope, under barrels across icy water; things like that.
"Then it finishes off with an electric shock," he laughed.
"We have a very special pack of people who do these with us," she said. "…It's very fun; kind of a bucket list type thing. We're very blessed and we encourage people to get up and try different things."
"When we're old and can't walk anymore we'll be able to say, 'Remember when we did that?'" he said.
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