Let’s Move Quad Cities celebrates the spirit and determination Quad City area residents take to promote movement and fitness. We welcome guest blogger, Gerry Voelliger, Bettendorf Fire Chief, adventure athlete, and organizer of the local Thunder Rolls Adventure Race, August 20, 2016.
By Gerry Voelliger, Bettendorf Fire Chief, Adventure athlete and Thunder Rolls Organizer
How did your personal journey to adventure sports begin?
I originally got interested in adventure racing by watching the Eco-Challenge Expedition Race in the late 1990’s produced by Mark Burnett. I really enjoy the multi-sport nature of adventure racing and the fact that all of your senses are involved.
What sports are included in Adventure Racing?
Mountain biking, land navigation via map and compass, fixed ropes i.e. rappelling, ascending a rope, trekking/trail running, coasteering i.e. trekking in a creek or river, and paddling either a canoe or kayak.
Ice Climbing, Ropes, Mountain Biking …What’s your favorite sport or can you only pick just one?
How do you train for all the different sports?
I train using the multi-sport approach, road biking, trail running, paddling a stand up paddle board or kayak, long distance trekking, and using the PLICE I made in my back yard.
What’s your most memorable or peak experience?
My most memorable mountaineering experience was summiting Mt. Rainier with the legend George Dunn from International Mountain Guides. It was George’s 502 summit.
I must admit though, each and every Colorado 14,000 foot peak is a memorable experience.
Any scary moments?
Although there is risk in everything we do, I try to understand and manage it to the best of my knowledge and experience.
What’s the craziest race you’ve ever competed in?
The most difficult race was the 2006 Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race. It took place the first week of July in the desert around Moab, Utah. It was 10 days long and 500 miles in distance. Our coed team of four finished in 10 days in 32nd place out of 96 teams. We slept only 20 hours in 10 days of non-stop racing.
Why and how did you become a Bettendorf firefighter and later chief?
I have been Chief in Bettendorf for the past 26 years. My grandfather and father were also chiefs.
Tell us about the local Adventure Rolls event you organize…
As a hobby, I organize adventure races and adventure camps. The camps are in Mt. Carroll, Illinois the last week of March and also in Colorado , the second week of June each year.
The upcoming race is the Thunder Rolls 12 and 24 hour adventure race in Mt. Carroll, Illinois on August 20th. The web site is www.thethunderrolls.org. The race is in its 14th year, making it one of the longest, continuous races in the United States.
What’s your next goal?
My next goal is to become a certified rock climbing guide. I want to know everything I can learn about a sport and to be able to teach and mentor others. It’s all about safety to me!
What is your message to those interested in adventure sports and how has it changed your own life?
My message, which I try to convey either by saying or doing, is JUST MOVE. A body at rest stays at rest but a body in motion stays in motion. This is so true of both physical and mental fitness.
The second message is that of lifelong fitness. Try new things, experience new places, and meet new people!