People ask me time and time again how the members of Team Trifecta manage to get on so well in the brutal conditions encountered in desert racing.
Team Trifecta was formed after we all raced individually in the Gobi March 2007. Michael Hull and myself (Peter Wilson) would storm off each morning with no plan, other than to run fast. Frank Fumich and Alex Nemet would start each morning with a specific plan, aiming to perform solidly the whole week.
Almost every day the four of us would meet up somewhere along the trail, have a chat, share a laugh and some food and just enjoy what we were doing. Eventually we would lose sight of Frank and Alex and Hully (Michael) and myself would be back enjoying each other’s company. But each time we all met, a friendship was being developed that we never imagined would end up as strong as it is now.
The friendships you develop in desert racing are special. Your friends at home have no idea what it is like out there - only the handful of people you share a tent with each night understand what you are going through and know who you really are, deep down inside.
Our tent members from the Gobi were keen to race again and meet up in the Atacama Crossing 2008. I only ever wanted to do one of these races, but figured “what the hell, let’s do it!”
In the meantime, Hully had become like a brother to me and we were talking every day. We knew Alex wasn’t going to the Atacama, so we thought we would find out what Frank was planning to do. We reckoned he’d be as lonely as hell without Alex and we should form a team. Team Trifecta was then born over the Internet and Skype. Who would ever have thought that it would become what it did?
We had no expectations heading into the Atacama, but this time we did have a plan. Frank is a genius when it comes to race strategy, so we had no complaints about letting him take care of that aspect of business. Little did we know that the Chilean team could run like cheetahs and our team were more like draught horses that needed time to warm up. As much as we were there to enjoy the week and take it all in, we are all competitive in our own right and wanted to win.
But the one thing we did discover was that teamwork, much more than competitive drive, held the key to success. Without teamwork there is no way in the world Team Trifecta would have prevailed and won the team section of the Atacama Crossing 2008.
Without teamwork, your week will be terrible and your team probably won’t survive. Our team enjoys the events because it wants to. We enjoy each other’s company and nothing is ever too serious. Yes, we love to win, but at the end of the day, enjoyment is the principal aim. There will always be something that goes askew and things that make you angry. Yes, Team Trifecta has argued – at one stage I’d had enough of running and Frank was ready to go on without me. It was my fault and I admitted that, but in the early hours of the next morning we were still Team Trifecta, lapping up where we were and who we were with.
Your team will not survive if you can’t laugh together and accept that everything will not run smoothly. You also have to process the fact that you can’t do anything about some of the things that go wrong. At the end of the day, you have to finish each stage together and sometimes you have to be the rock that your teammate needs to turn to. There are no shortcuts in the desert. Enjoy each day with your team and enjoy the tent life. You will remember the people in your tent forever.
The desert is only as enjoyable as you make it. Lap it up. You are doing something that only a handful of people from around the world would even attempt! The best advice for the week? Treat it like it is. There are no massive cheques for the winners and we all receive the same medal for finishing.