Sunday, June 23, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: The Influences Of Mike Curiak

Mike Curiak, (seated) had a huge influence over what made Trans Iowa what it was. Here he is at T.I.V1
Another big influence on Trans Iowa came from a man who ran a few ultra-endurance events in the Rocky Mountains. You may recall a couple weeks ago where I told of the influence that Richard "Deke" Gosen had. Deke set the tone for the "spirit" of the event.  Mike Curiak had perhaps the greatest influence upon the event in the sense of the rules and the way we implemented the event. So, maybe more a nuts and bolts kind of influence, but it was very important.

Early into our planning for the first Trans Iowa, Jeff Kerkove contacted Mike and asked him for advice on what to do and how to do it. Mike was free with his advice and was really a very important resource for us. In fact, I'm pretty sure Jeff just copied and pasted one of Trans Iowa's rules straight from what Mike allowed us to see of his rules. (I wrote a bit on this before which you can see here.)

Jeff shared with me what Mike was giving us to go on. I recall a few salient points:
  • Make sure you do not charge anything for the event.
  • Make sure you have the start in the dark.
  • Make sure you make it VERY CLEAR that riders are on their own- YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU.
Of those things only the last was willingly adopted by Jeff. He reasoned that we should have insurance for this crazy deal and that the entry fee just cover that. I basically was on the fence about that, but in the end, I agreed. He also wasn't quite so game on the night start, although he wasn't totally against it. I thought it was a great idea. In the end, facilitating the riders coming in kind of dictated a start after Sun up. Of course, eventually all these ideas were adopted into the event. By the second Trans Iowa we were starting at 4:00am and by Trans Iowa v3 we weren't charging money anymore for entry.

Mike had very specific reasons for those three items. One I won't get in to. We all understand the responsibility clause. But not charging for an event? This was a new one on me. However; Mike made a very good point. If we charged an entry fee, people would have expectations of us. If we didn't charge, we could place those expectations back upon the riders. Plus, we weren't going to be seen as "providing any service", since we weren't getting paid. Mike felt this put us on a different legal ground.

Mike also felt that by starting at night you forced riders to use the required lighting, and they couldn't "cheat", or be stupid, and not bring lights. We ended up starting at night so the time cutoff for the event could be earlier Sunday. But yeah....we didn't need to inspect anyone's bikes for lights either.

Speaking of cut off times, I don't remember discussing this as a feature based upon Mike's influences, although it is true that the Great Divide Race had cut off times for half way and for the finish. That is exactly what we did at T.I.v1. I do remember thinking with Jeff that we didn't want to have his parents, (the CP volunteers) or us waiting around till who knows when to have riders finish. I believe T.I.v1 had a published cut off for the end of the event at something like 4:00pm Sunday. The check point cut off was not decided upon until late into the planning stages and was announced at the start of T.I.v1, which caused all sorts of grumbling. But at any rate, it very well could have been that Jeff got the idea for the cut offs as being legitimate based upon what Mike had told him, or it could purely have been a coincidence.

Mike also shared with us how he did cue sheets. It was pretty interesting from the standpoint that his need for being clear on a direction necessitated more information than we really needed to give. Of course, he was dealing with wilderness, we were dealing with well marked gravel roads. But that said, he had an influence on those early cues.

I know this doesn't make for much of a very interesting "story", but Mike was like that. Very direct and to the point. This was about setting up the framework for an ultra-endurance event, and since we were doing this via e-mails, the chances for personal interaction with Mike weren't there. None the less, I feel this is a very important part of the story to tell, since everything about Trans Iowa afterward was framed by the influences of Mike Curiak's helpful advice and tips.

Next: Jeff Kerkove And Guitar Ted- Part 3

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