This year's course is not going to be the length of the peninsula but instead a circular loop from Ensenada to Ensenada. Some say that will make it a much more grueling and technical race. It's shorter, by which I mean only 680 miles (or so), which has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantage? The race being a circle means our chase trucks will not be running a parallel race to get equipment and drivers down a single two-lane highway for the full 24 hour duration. Disadvantage? Parts of the course are also used for the Baja Score 250 and 500, which means it's a well worn and punishing track. This translates to many more race-ending obstacles and far less-forgiving terrain. People in the know have told me 30% of the people who run the peninsula race don't finish, whereas the circular route's attrition rate is 40%.
My determination is now focused on one sole goal:
Not finishing would be like spending months getting ready for a date, only to ejaculate into one's boxer's the moment she gets into the car.
I have decided that there is nothing except finishing. I must put my life, job, love and dog aside in order to focus on getting through those 24 hours. I now see every decision I make through this prism. Which 2nd driver to take. How to train with my co-pilot. I have decided it's best we just move to Mexico three weeks before the race and learn my sections of the course so well that Alex (my navigator) can focus on reminding me of what I already know in my blood.
Of the 680 miles, I plan on racing 400 of them. The other 280 will go to a driver we have yet to select. Two stages comprising 200 miles is a lot to learn. Other drivers have told me they will pre-run the course several times with an average speed of ten miles an hour just to mark every rock, jump, sharp turn or obstacle, to map alternate ways around stuck cars, and even up to three different options when approaching a sand wash. One navigator told me they would spend an hour at each sand wash walking around looking at the options. The crazy thing is that by the time we get to any part of the course, half of the race would already have been over that terrain, having churned it into an unrecognizable and more difficult course than we will have learned. A 600 horsepower Class 1 car will dig down into the dirt and sand and throw it out over the side,,,leaving only the tire-damaging, suspension-crippling rocks.
I guess there is only so much one can pre-program into the GPS. That is the beauty of the Baja and the other races we have chosen to run in the future. Unlike track racing (where every eventuality is covered and the driver's only task is to become a robot), off-road racing hits marks where creativity and adrenaline work together to get you to the finish. It's the marked difference between boxing and a beer hall brawl.
Unique to road racing, the position of Baja navigator has the benefit of a GPS that is pre-programmed for the race course. Luckily, the course itself has orange neon mile markers that correspond to one's race notes regarding location. People program recognizable symbols into their GPS so that one gets reminders of upcoming obstacles live in real-time.
So, as of the 1st of November, we are headed to Ensenada to stage for pre-running. There are other choices that are less in harms way (considering the local climate for violence), but we feel it's best to be in the mix and being close to the other pre-runners...where valuable information will be accessible.