Doc Tests Own Limits in Adventure Race
Published August 2008
How does one train for a 10-day, 500-mile endurance race that pushes the mind, body and spirit to the limit?
Every day of your life, says John Wyrick, MD, who recently took part in Primal Quest 2008, the largest adventure race in the world.
This year’s race took place in Big Sky, Mont., and was made up of 60 four-member, co-ed teams.
Participants use basically every mode of human-powered transportation: canoeing, biking, swimming, climbing; and at times, according to testimonials, crawling and writhing in pain for those who have to drop out or choose to continue with injuries that make a University Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine trauma surgeon like Wyrick his living.
"The injury rate is actually pretty low,” says Wyrick, although admitting he’s fractured and dislocated fingers and had open wounds.
The race was Wyrick’s eighth, and "was by far the most difficult,” he says, because of the sheer amount of climbing and trekking due to the terrain.
"I’d say we trekked at least 200 miles,” he says.
Oh, and let’s not forget to add to the level of difficulty: Wyrick had undergone knee surgery performed by his colleague Keith Kenter, MD, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, six weeks prior to the event.
"It just shows how much more quickly you recover if you’re fit,” he says. "People can do this if they set their goals. I’m 50 years old. I’m not an all-star athlete, but I have a healthy lifestyle.”
He also chooses a support crew that he knows he can depend on to make sure food, supplies and equipment are ready at every aid station along the way.
This year the crew included his medical secretary, Claudia Beyer, and Laurie Hyrne, clinical supervisor at University Orthopaedics.
"He knows our work style and trusts that we’re going to be there” with the tools and assistance it takes to make it through, says Beyer of volunteering her third time as part of the team’s support crew.
"This being one of the longest and toughest races in the world, I knew that I could help push them along to achieve a lifelong dream,” adds Hyrne.
Plus, the staff gets to go on an adventure of sorts themselves, traveling to different parts of the country they may have never seen before, says Beyer. "We’ve got to find our way, too. In 2005 I saw parts of Ohio I had never seen before.”
It’s called a quest for a reason … to finish. This year the team, which also included former UC resident Brad Youse, MD, Mike Weisgerber and Steph Walbridge, placed 22nd out of the 60 teams.
"It’s not like this is a hobby I just go do. It’s a lifestyle. I try and do something physical, one thing, every day,” says Wyrick.