Cotopaxi combines gear for good, social missions, and a llove of llamas in Salt Lake City's 2016 Questival Race.
To participate in Cotopaxi's Questival you need to form a team of four-six people willing to rack up points by cramming disparate social, environmental, cultural, quirky, and adventurous activities into 24 hours. A llove of llamas is also helpful.
Though this is the 3rd year Cotopaxi has held Questival in Salt Lake City, this was our first time time participating in the socially and environmentally conscious outdoor gear company's race where everyone starts at the same location and chooses their own finish line.
While the prizes for winning the most points in the race include service trips to South America, gear, and bragging rights, the Llam-A-Ramas' goal was 150 points. Armed with our Cotopaxi packs (well worth the $30 early llama entry fee) the Questify app downloaded on our phone to record points, our team totem (which must appear in every uploaded photo or video), and a list of over 150 challenges to complete over the next 24 hours, we set off.
Dan and I with our two daughters (9 and 15) were up for the challenge which kicked off Friday evening with music and pre-race challenges at humanitarian and sponsor booths. Llamas were featured majestically in the middle of this gala at the Sandy Promenade.Admittedly, our team, the Llam-A-Ramas, were both older and younger than the college-age target crowd. But after the check in with well over 2800 people in attendance, our adventure was ours.
Our first stop was to my parents house to hug their blue spruce (3 points). Off-handedly, I asked my dad if he happened to have a bristle cone pine. Just our luck: he'd planted one last year (just a photo, no hugging: 6 points). Then we were off to Grantsville Reservoir, probably the closest campground in the SL area not covered in snow, to camp in a tent (6 points) and to hopefully catch a crawdad and a fish (6 and 9 points that were not to be).
In his novella The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote:
Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: 'What does his voice sound like?' 'What games does he like best?' 'Does he collect butterflies?' They ask: 'How old is he?' 'How many brothers does he have?' 'How much does he weigh?' 'How much money does his father make?' Only then do they think they know him.
If you tell grown-ups, 'I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof,' they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, 'I saw a house worth a hundred thousand dollars.' Then they exclaim, 'What a pretty house!' That's the way they are. You must not hold it against them. Children should be very understanding of grown ups.
In defense of grown-ups and their love of numbers, numbers seem to be our most objective way to measure, quantify, and recount experience.
I thought of this quote as we sat churning butter (6 points) in the wind at Grantsville Reservoir, cooking tin foil dinners (6 points) and a dehydrated dish (6 points) while waiting for the charcoal to cool so we could draw a charcoal picture of a llama (3 points), and for the crawdad to take the bait Dan set (no points, the trap broke).
It's easy to get caught up in the points of Questival but it's impossible to forget the overall lessons. As Saint-Exupery writes,
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye."
We packed a lot into 24 hours: rapping with my 85-year-old Grandma (6 points), having Kinsee dunk a basketball while standing on Dan's shoulders (3 points), throwing donut holes at Dan (1 point), planting flowers in our park (3 points), walking like zombies across a crosswalk (3 points), making an informational video about educategirls.in (6 points) and interviewing the soon-to-be retired owner of Larry's Burgers in Fillmore, Utah (6 points), exchanging books at a Little Library in Cedar City (6 points), and eventually visiting Zion National Park (6 points).
We ended up with a respectable 181 points and in 513th place out of 748 teams. But numbers aside, we learned that Questival--no, life really, is about going outside of your comfort zone and to stuff as many experiences into it as you can. While Cotopaxi's race is a once-in-a-year event, treat every day as a new collection of challenges where you can snack on the state vegetable (3 points), learn to tie a bowline (3 points), volunteer with a non-profit (6 points), or take time to watch the sunset (3 points). Even if there's not an app to track the numbers. --Stacie Weatbrook
This post is first appeared on justwritegroup.com