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The Speed Project meant different things to different teams; for some, it was to challenge the course record, for others it was the chance to experience something completely out of the norm. Troels Frederiksen wanted to put together a team that wasn’t predominantly based on speed, rather trust. To place trust in individuals to dig deep and hold it together when things got tough, which was made even more difficult as the team would not get the chance to train together as a cohesive unit.
WOLFPACK was made up of seven runners from London, Amsterdam, New York, Gran Canaria, Paris, and Copenhagen. Bringing together distinct attributes such as leadership from both crew captains Troels and Jay Smith, running coaching of Cory Wharton-Malcolm, Military mindset of Jonas Dienstrup, as well as seasoned multi-discipline distance runners across the rest of the team.
The energy was high off the starting block, with each team captain running the first leg through the streets of Santa Monica. The speed through the first handover set the tone and expectations for the crew, which carried WOLFPACK through the streets of LA through to the Californian desert. Where the buzz of the city was replaced by barren beige that stretched across all the eye could see, where the WOLFPACK was truly tested. With warnings of coyotes, snakes and rough terrain, the high risk of injury became a reality when a close call with wild dogs threatened to see WOLFPACK not make it past day one.
Regaining the rhythm was further derailed when team captain Troels became lost during a midnight trail leg, which saw him coming out of the darkness bloodied and broken after suffering a fall off of a steep rock face.
Knowing that the team couldn’t take another setback, Troels (with a stoic look in his eyes) asked for ibuprofen and beer, while telling the rest of the team to keep on going.
Running into day two, the mood had changed and the RV turned into a war room; planning out the remaining miles over coffee and carrot sticks, everyone understood that there was a job to do.
The next hours fell into a blur of mountain trails and unrelenting dry heat, with Jonas telling stories of military life and training that lightened the mood and put the task ahead into an achievable prospective. UNDO co-founder, Nai Vasha, tagged herself in for the Mohave stretch as the team’s energy started to fade.
Heading through Death Valley Road, WOLFPACK switched tactics to one mile runs each, a system that paid off in the unrelenting sun. Music played a big factor while on the road as our very own UNDO media vehicle became the unofficial support car; providing motivation through music on request that seemed to lighten the mood as Wolfpack went past the 36th hour.
The final hours to Vegas trekked under the cover of darkness, the mood had shifted once again as it became a war of attrition to the finish line. The toll of the last three hundred-plus miles was apparent on each runners face, as the sun rose and the bright lights of Vegas could be seen in the distance; the pace began to hasten (with some team members pushing sub-seven minute miles) and as Troels ran in the last solo run, the entire team was roadside cheering him in for the final time. The last hundred meters, running hand in hand, brought into view the iconic Vegas sign. Yet the finish line marked so much more; 350 miles, 49 hours, and 35 minutes of highs and lows, learning about themselves and each other but more importantly bonding together under the harsh conditions of The Speed Project.
Words by Harry Sandhu
Check out this collection of photos below from all of the photographers who covered The Speed Project.