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why team merrell

I remember the moment very clearly.... armed with our team’s resume of race wins for the year, I walked into the Merrell booth at the Outdoor Retailers Show.  I assumed our wins and accomplishments was what Sue Harvey Brown from Merrell wanted to hear about, but as I got about halfway through the list, Sue leaned over and put her hand on my arm. She said "Robyn, we LOVE you and the team, and it is not because of what you've won, it’s because of who you ARE".  I still get goose bumps thinking about it. In an instant, I knew I had made the right choice in seeking out Merrell as the company we wanted to play with for the rest of our racing careers.  I thanked God that I had finally found a real home with a company that "gets it". 

In 2004, my teammates and I began racing as Team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure, and a new world class Adventure Racing team was born!  We had collected a few big wins and top finishes, and I knew that Sue was very proud of us. It wasn't until 2005 however, that I realized how lucky and blessed we were in choosing Merrell as our team title sponsor.

Adventure Racing (or any adventure, for that matter!) is not about what you do or where you've been or even what you've won- it’s about who you are.  You don't get to the finish line with ego and bravado; you get there with humility, teamwork, and grace.  My most epic experiences in the outdoors have not been spent standing on the podium, but those very humane moments shared between my teammates and I.  It is no coincidence that my memory bank over the past 15 years is not full of places we've been, but connections we’ve made in those moments of fear, triumph, defeat, joy.  It is about those times when my teammates have been my heroes, my coaches, and my saviors… and when they’ve allowed me to be theirs.

The most important part of those memories is the moments of synergy, mixing strength and weakness for the good of the team, hurling toward the next checkpoint as one mind and one heart, unencumbered by ego or reproach for weakness, are the heart and soul of sport. It’s when we're firing on all four cylinders as a team, and creating synergy- that is the hallmark of a great adventure racing team. The beauty of pulling together as a team and striving for a seemingly unreachable goal is the glow that lights my heart when I'm not racing.     

Experiencing that feeling with your best pals in the outdoors is what I wish for all of you.  First of all, get outside!  Take the time to embrace the day, live in the moment, and enjoy time with your friends. Relish in the joy of just being able to get out there and experience adventures with people closest to your heart. Second, let your teammates be your heroes, and have the courage to be theirs.  There really is a magic in that, and you will be faster and happier because of it. When you're tired, give up your pack, when you can't turn the pedals over, take that tow line or a friendly push. Just know that letting someone be your hero for a moment is a true gift to them, and to you. This is the beauty of sport- the collective strength being used to your best advantage, the mutual respect through it all, the fact that you'll come out a better person by caring for others as much as you care for yourself.

The finish line is merely the happy ending to any journey-- because this kind of epic experience with your pals is too vast and meaningful to be pinned down to a place or a time, (although those things are fun to chase).  Don’t get me wrong, I do love to win, but the most important thing to remember (in training, racing, or just life), is something that the Beatles said so eloquently... "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make". So go make some love out there today! I can guarantee you that after 14 years of racing, that's the most important reward of all....