Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I (dramatic pause) am an Army of Zero

Photo by Ryan VanGorder

Here's me testing out my new Checkpoint Zero duds at the Colinoba II adventure race in Seattle, Wash.

I sent this photo to my friend Paul "Yak" Angell, head of the adventure racing website Checkpoint Zero (www.checkpointzero.com), and he decided it was worthy of his own blog. Soon after he posted this shot, Yak was contacted by a Midwest photographer who wants to contribute to Checkpoint Zero as well.

Yak felt very good about this second addition, and had a vision of a whole army of Checkpoint Zero photographers and reporters...and immediately dubbed his two recruits the Checkpoint Zero Army. He even assigned me a serial number, which is 000001. He's still recruiting, so if you're good with a pen, camera or both, and consider sleep depravation a wholly acceptable working condition, visit his website and drop him a line. He's ready to help you be all that you can be.

Over the past year I've had stories and photos on Checkpoint Zero, as well as on other adventure racing websites like MountainZone.com, and AdventureRaceReports.com. For 2006, I agreed to send my work from certain races -- the Wicked Adventure Racing series in Oregon, and the TRIOBA adventure racing series in Washington -- only to Yak at Checkpoint Zero. The price of exclusive rights didn't set him back too much. He sent a few T-shirts (one of which is pictured above), some neat hats, a stack of stickers and a really cool thank-you note.

Once I was on board for the Wickeds and the TRIOBAs, Yak asked if I'd like to cover the Mighty Mo Expedition, a new multi-day adventure race set in Missouri in May. Of course! So now I'm knee-deep in planning for Missouri. I've already written a preview feature about the Mighty Mo, which will appear on Checkpoint Zero in coming days.

I'm in the army now. I am not, however, an army of one. I (dramatic pause) am an army of zero.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Colinoba II Adventure Race Draws Exclusive Crowd in Seattle

Photo by Mike Bitton
Justin and Joel Yeager, directors of the TRIOBA adventure race series in Washington state, run through the streets of Seattle, Wash., during Colinoba II.

Athletes from all over the Pacific Northwest converged on Seattle for Colinoba II on Saturday, March 11. The annual adventure race is open only to invited teams, and marks the birthday of Colin Ness, now 45. Ness is a fixture on the regional adventure racing circuit not because he is handsome or charming (which he is), but because his wife, Connie (also an adventure racer) is stunningly beautiful and absolutely enchanting. I could go on and on and on. So back to the race.

Three of the race checkpoints were in famous Seattle pubs, and each team at Colinoba was assigned a beer name as its "team name" for the day. The phrase, "I hate to drink and run, but I gotta go," wore a little thin on the barkeeps after more than a dozen racers laid it on them, then ran out the door.

After a penalty was assessed to those sneaky Yeager boys for skipping the roller coaster checkpoint at the Space Needle, team Guiness were declared the winners. Guiness included Ryan and Jen VanGorder, normally of the DART adventure racing team, and Jerry Gamez, who usually races with team Missing Link.

During the awards ceremony at yet a fourth Seattle brewpub, I received a trophy for "Best Action Shots." What a vote of confidence that Colin awarded it to me without having seen any of the photos yet! They're on my website (www.bittonphoto.com) if you want to see.