When a close friend of yours asks you to join them on a journey to Vegas it seems like a fun idea. Then you actually get in an RV full of strangers from all parts of the world and begin navigating and documenting a 10 women team of runners who are on a mission to run (on foot) from the Santa Monica Pier to the Las Vegas sign, you realize how serious the human will can be. It was kind of the mobile version of MTV’s The Real World, this trips episode was starring Nai Vasha, Anna-Belle, Tilly, Sacha Noelle, Vicki Thai, Elle, Joanne, Annya, Jessie, Alea, and Shae who ran the Speed Project in years past but was helping out this year due to a knee injury. We were given supplies from 1907 alkaline water, meals supplied by Every Table, recovery gear by MOTIV, and kicks by Adidas.
As a musician from South Central LA who had no real stakes in the running community, I was a fly on the wall in awe of these women’s commitments. I try to walk into every new situation with low to no expectations but The Speed Project was hardcore parkour. These women were wired different and were determined they were going to run to Vegas. From beginning to end it was hard. When I say hard, I mean hard like trying to keep a smile on your face while eating someone’s very lightly seasoned yet heavy mayo’ed potato salad at a gathering, but you really aren’t sure who’s it is so you just keep eating it, because no one can see you throw it away so you gotta finish your plate. No matter what leg we were on you had to finish our plate, you have to finish the race.
Night runs are where we found our second wind. In the desert you must become water, formless, flexible, flowing through no matter what the road brings you. There was a point driving through Death Valley sometime around endless o’clock (in reality it was 4:45 am) when I asked one of the runners what was motivating them they said “Getting home, remembering what a shower feels like.”
Signaless in Death Valley, we all really started bonding in the universal language, music. There was no way we could have made it up the 700 ft. incline spanning 10 miles without music. If you listened closely the runner’s feet on the ground become percussive, the heavy breath keeping time with the bodies rhythm, they became their own score. The support these women showed each other was beautiful, even if there was a meltdown they turned it into miles.
No matter how tough you are you realized you were in a mind game. In the Speed Project, you found that the biggest obstacle wasn’t the distance, it was yourself. When you stare time in the eyes and it doesn’t blink back all you can do is keep going. Once I got past the lack of sleep and the heat and really focused in on what I was part of I got re-energized! Watching all these women from all walks of life powering through and running together was amazing. It was more than amazing I wish I could make a new word for proud, I wish it wasn’t even a word and it was something you all could feel every time you read this.
As they crossed the finish line as a team I couldn’t help but feel a rush of positive energy fill the air. Maybe it was just Nai Vasha covered in Bengay, I’m not sure but the honesty in their hours, the happiness in their faces, the months and months of training all became actualized. 340 Miles, 56 hours and 20 minutes of energy becoming inner g. It was an intense yet transformative time and I learned so much about what it means to truly be an ally to each of these powerful women.
I also made a playlist of all the chunes that I can remember that got us through Death Valley and that entire amazing weekend!
-d e ƒ