“Make at least 30 sandwiches!” a crew member shouts to the rest of the support team inside the RV supporting Above & Beyond Cancer’s Race Across America team.
It’s early in the morning, or maybe late at night. No one really knows because no one’s had much sleep, and it doesn’t really matter what time it is anyway because this is the race that never stops. At least one of the members of the 8-person relay team has had his or her tires on the road ever since leaving Oceanside, California, just after noon on Saturday.
“It’s a gorgeous day,” declares Above & Beyond Cancer founder, Dr. Richard Deming. “We’re in Utah right now. It’s red earth, red rocks, the green shrubs and the blue sky and life is good!”
The team is heading east for Colorado, it’s fourth state, and may even be there by the time you read this.
It takes much more than you would ever imagine to pull off a race of this magnitude. Aside from the call for 30 sandwiches (a common occurrence) the crew is either driving right behind the rider or not far in front, or preparing for a rider or full team transition (yes, it’s complicated). The group is divided into two teams of four and within those teams of four, divided again into teams of two. The team of two takes turns riding for short periods of time (10-20 minutes) and the team of two will switch with the other team of two in its foursome every two hours. The teams of four will rotate about twice a day. The 3,000 miles from Oceanside to Annapolis means each rider will be on the road roughly 375 miles this week.
From 29-year-old leukemia survivor Brandon Sickler to 66-year-old prostate cancer survivor Gail Endres, the team covers a range of ages and backgrounds. There are two women on the team, Sarah Russell and Drennan Fischer, who battled breast cancer, and another male, Bobby Irving, who fought tonsil cancer. Including founder Dr. Richard Deming and a pair of caregivers, Ken Bernstein and Sean Arndt, the team of eight is making major progress across this vast country, and doing it as a team.
Yesterday, Endres, technically a senior citizen, was cruising downhill in Arizona at over 40 miles per hour, passing cars along the way. Since the teammates don’t get to watch one another in action, the gossip in the RV spreads around like a high school classroom. “Did you hear Gail was just flying down that one hill?” one member asks in excitement.
Potentially by Saturday the team will be together again, in Annapolis, Maryland, on the Atlantic coast. Sleep deprived, exhausted, having just raced across all of America, they’ll finally be able to see one another again and learn if all the rumors from the road are true.