Competing in a record 7 different cities nationwide in 2014, The Nads finished in the Top 5 in each of those races, and crossed the finish line 1st in 4 of them. Over the entire season they had an average Domination Factor of -1:21:15, which means that if your team finished right at the average of all the teams in the race, then The Nads would have likely already been at the finish for over 1 hour and 21 minutes!
The Nads are notorious in the Urban Adventure Racing industry for two things:
2. Being really great guys
We first met The Nads a few years ago when our urban racing team "The Hard Corps" was competing in a competitor's championship race in New Orleans. We were fairly new to the urban racing scene but we had read up on some of the toughest teams expected to be there, and The Nads were at the top of our list. We had spent an entire day scouting the city before the race and felt confident regardless of one of our team members badly spraining his ankle the week of the race.
When the race began we knocked out a few quick challenges and then sprinted for one of NOLA's famous street cars. We caught the street car just as it was leaving the station and as we boarded the car, gasping for breath, we looked up to find The Nads, and Vignette (a team from Texas who also has a well-documented history of winning) sitting among the passengers. I looked at my teammate and just smiled, thinking "we're in the right place".
We didn't see The Nads again until the following Fall when they competed in one of our first ever Xplore Races in Portland, Oregon. It was there that we got to talk more in depth with them and begin to learn just how classy these guys are.
They have been great supporters of our race series over the years, but in 2014 they went all in to chase the championship title. It was not easy. There were numerous teams that battled atop the points leaderboard throughout the season, and gave The Nads a run for their money...literally.
When the season ended, and The Nads were finally able to recover and enjoy their title, we got the chance to do something most teams weren't able to do all season. Catch up with them.
Here is an exclusive interview with their Team Captain, Andy Almonte, who raced solo in 6 of the 7 races nationwide to help lead his team to the coveted Xplore Championship title!
What was your favorite Xplore experience or checkpoint from the 2014 season?
My favorite checkpoints from this past season had to be the moving targets. They made for some awkward situations and great stories afterwards. In Seattle we had to find a secret person in a particular area of the city who was wearing red. When we got there, the only person in the area wearing red was a rather large man with red pants paying for his parking. We were supposed to go up to this person and say "You are beautiful" and that person would then allow us to take a picture with them. My partner and I went back and forth as to who was going to tell this large fellow that he was pretty, but luckily, before we expressed our admiration, the real target had moved. Phew!!!
What was the toughest checkpoint, city, or something that really impacted how you did in a race?
The toughest checkpoint this season was in Denver. I had to film myself touching the four pillars of this sculpture and do it under 9 seconds. Of course, there was no one in sight to help me film this so I would be doing a movie selfie while running. The attempt took about a dozen tries because either my finger slipped or I couldn't get all four pillars in under 9 seconds. I was very close to skipping the whole thing but I was able to muster enough energy to finally get an admissible video. I probably sprinted about a half mile in total. (click on the image to watch Andy's run)
Toughest city had to be San Fran because of all the hills. Brutal. Seattle is not flat either.
Without giving away too many secrets what is The Nads strategy when the race starts?
Panic sets in at the beginning of the race but that is what gets the adrenaline pumping. As soon as the access point is found and the clues are revealed, the first thing I do is get my "phone-a-friend" up to speed on the clues. I quickly scan the clues for something I recognize and take off in that direction. It's a strategy that works really well most of the time but it can really backfire if you start heading in the wrong direction. That happened a few times last year.
How do you train or prepare for these events?
I train for these races like I'm training for a 10K. Being able to run 6-7 miles helps but it's not always the running that puts you ahead. Pre-race research is just as important, especially if you are not from the city that you are racing in. Researching the history, the landmarks, as well as the public transit is just as fun for me as doing the race. It's a great way to learn about a city.
What advice can you give to a team that is just getting into Urban Adventure Racing?
Do as many as you can and then figure out a system that works best for you. Some teams sit down and solve all the clues before they start moving. Some teams can solve on the run. Using a phone a friend can be very beneficial. Plotting an efficient route is one of the most important things you can do. But most important is to have fun (so cliche, sorry).
How did the Nads racing team initially get formed and what was your first event like?
The Nads originated in college. We were an intramural basketball team that dominated for two straight years. We started doing urban adventure races in 2005. At that time, there were a lot of sponsored teams beating us. In particular, teams Go Lyte and Go Fast. That's when we came up with our racing shirts that say Go…Nads. They were not fans of the shirts, especially when we started beating them.
Do you have any pre or post race traditions?
One of our favorite pre-race traditions is trying to convince our significant others to let us grow mustaches. There is a sense of pride, a little humility, definitely power in a good stache. Post race traditions involve shaving said mustaches.
Will teams see you out on the course in 2015?
The Nads will be at most locations in some capacity. Hoping to see familiar faces at multiple races this year!
What does it take to win the X-Prize?
The number one thing is a supportive family. With their support I am able to travel to multiple races. It also takes an awesome team of friends who are as addicted to these races as I am.
(click on the image below to watch some more of what The Nads had to do to win it all)
Thank you to Andy Almonte for a great interview, and to all of the Nads for a memorable season! See you guys again in 2015!
Stay up to date on what The Nads are up to by following them on Twitter @NadsControl