Ben Dickens competed in the 2014 and 2015 Endeavor Team Challenge finishing 2nd in 2015.
For me, the Endeavor Team Challenge forged a friendship.
John Hofius (aka Hofius) and I have known each other since college, where we graduated from Stanford together in 2008. We became friends over the following years while we both lived in San Francisco, mostly interacting at social gatherings. We became close friends in late 2012, when we signed up for our first GoRuck Challenge and spent an entire night of a ski trip taping together two sets of six bricks, one for each of us. In 2013, we continued to bond over our interest in strenuous outdoor challenges as Hofius did more GoRuck events and I trained for the World’s Toughest Mudder race. On October 31st, Hofius forwarded me an email about the Endeavor Challenge, I responded immediately (F#*k yes!), and we began a year-long journey together. John and I are different people, yet the Endeavor Challenge represents how we are inarguably, irrationally, and inseparably similar.
On November 21st, we registered our team – the Two-Headed Monster. On January 1st 2014, we shared a calendar of events for the year — a collection of Tough Mudders, Spartan Races, GoRucks, and trail runs — all looking ahead to the Endeavor Challenge. Over the next six months, our talk of Endeavor lessened as we trained in our own way, yet I felt the Challenge in the back of my mind driving me. In July, we received a reminder email from the Endeavor team and our preparations began.
On August 16th, we ran the Tahoe Tough Mudder course twice – after Hofius had rucked 10 miles to the start line – and spent the evening pouring over the Competitor Handbook. On August 28th, Hofius shared an exhaustive packing list and we spent the weekend with friends in the Trinity Alps, practicing rucking, orienteering, and other skills we may have needed for the Challenge. On September 5th, we ordered breakfast burritos for the morning of the race, our final bit of preparation. I felt ready. At 6am, in the dark of the morning on September 8th, we set off on the Crucible March, starting the event that had already brought us closer than ever.
I cannot describe the experience, as the Endeavor Challenge differs too greatly from person to person. I will say that I am thankful for the months of preparation that we put in and that the course challenged us in ways that we did not imagine. I had my highs – sprinting in our underwear to finish the Crucible ahead of another team – and my lows – shivering to sleep on the cold ground during our 4am respite – and I look back at the race with awe and love. I ran the race with a true friend, and we helped each other through every obstacle we encountered – mental, physical, or otherwise.
After the race we felt exhausted and exuberant, filled with energy despite thirty hours of effort fueled by granola bars and two hours of fitful sleep. We cheered on teams as they crossed the finish line, attended to our blisters, and stretched out in the sun. We spoke with the other competitors, fellow crazy people who chose to spend the weekend as part of the Challenge and made new friends. I convinced a volunteer to drive my car back to San Francisco so that we could return home safely and in time for a good night of sleep. We arrived home, thanked our lovely driver, and spent the next week happily hobbling around sharing stories of our grand adventure. Only in hindsight did I realize that the Endeavor Team Challenge had turned Hofius from a friend into a brother.
On September 15th, one week after the race and 11 months after our journey began, we signed up for the 2015 Endeavor Challenge, eager and ready for our next adventure together.