By Tori Cole
When thinking about raising awareness for Bible translation, the image that comes to mind probably isn’t a two day, forty mile adventure race. However, this is exactly what Wycliff Bible Translation has done.
The Race to 2025 combines mountain biking, hiking, repelling, and canoeing in one 48 hour event. The race took place at Camp Big Horn, which is located in Montana. On top of all the physical challenges, each team of four had to complete a set of smaller tasks as well as a linguistics encounter. Eight teams, mostly from colleges or churches, competed. Corban’s team included Michael Blankenship, Nika Payne, Tyler Reuther, and Hannah Snook.
The term “adventure race” was no exaggeration. To start off, the teams had to mountain bike along a path while maneuvering around rocks, while to one side there was a drop which ranged from 30 to 50 feet. They hiked up rock slides, repelled down 450 feet, and canoed in class 2 rapids where all but 2 of the total sixteen canoes tipped (including both of Corban’s).
“Camp Big Horn makes you think you’re going to die, but you don’t.” said Blankenship. “You’re safe the whole time, but you don’t think you’re safe.”
This is not to say there was no risk, however. According to Blankenship, one participant fell about 30 feet, taking a chunk out of his helmet. Another woman dislocated a finger.
“I felt like my life was on the line the whole weekend,” added Payne.
Although no aspect of the race was easy, each participant found something different to be the most challenging. For Payne, it was the mountain biking.
Snook found the most difficult part to be climbing up the boulder field.
“It was fairly steep, and not all stable.” said Snook. “I sort of have a fear of falling, and was starting to get tired. But I had to mentally push through that. I sat down and prayed for a bit and got through it.”
For Blankenship, the biggest challenge wasn’t any event in particular, but instead the challenge of coordinating the entire team.
“There’s always someone who’s not as physically fit, emotionally ready, or linguistically capable, so you have to meet in the middle or the team will split,” Blankenship stated.
So what comes from this race? First of all, $10,000 was raised to fund a Bible translation in Cameroon, Africa. The larger goal, however, was to spread awareness for Wycliffe’s long term project, Vision 2025. The goal of Vision 2025 is to have the Bible translated into every language by the year 2025.
Snook remembers the designer of the race describing the event as “a mission’s conference in disguise.”
Blankenship agreed, also bringing up the fact that an adventure race “tricked guys learning about the mission field.” These are men who normally would not be receptive to a retreat or conference.
The last challenge directly related to Wycliffe’s purpose. Teams had to work together to communicate to a villagers in a simulated village who spoke no English. Corban’s team won the linguistics event and received a $2,000 scholarship to the Canada Institute of Linguistics, which will be split by Payne and Snook, who both have plans to study there.
Those intrigued by this event, fear not. Although it was the first Race to 2025 held in the United States, it won’t be the last. Payne mentioned another race being held in March, and hopes Corban will be able to form at least one, if not more, teams.
While each participant accomplished something different, Payne was quick to bring up a fact sure to make any Corban student smile: “We beat George fox!”