We hear lots of stories from those riding and supporting Garmin Dirty Kanza. And getting to share these stories is an honor. For this week’s “What’s Your Kanza” here are some words from long time DK fan and key volunteer, Kenda O’Mara – she’s been a staple at Dirty Kanza for 10 years, and knows a thing or two about the event:
“Our journey to DK began around 10 years ago one gin-fueled night while hanging out with friends Tim and Kristi Mohn. Somewhere near the end of that evening, my husband, deep in the loud mouth soup, proclaimed, “I will do that DK race.” Thus began the pedaling. My role as SAG (support and gear) person was born. As an aside, that name should change. As a mature woman, I’d prefer LIFT. I’m unsure of the words to support that acronym, but there’s got to be a better title!
As DK grew, so did the responsibilities of running such a huge event. We could see the potential this race had to grow our community and being a part of it has always been important to me. Those of us who had riders locally automatically stepped in to help where we could. It was a family event. We would all circle around the Mohn table and put rider cards together, or all pack in our trucks to get to each check point. We all had jobs and were immediately “IN”.
Rider check-in became a volunteer opportunity I jumped into. Ensuring thousands of riders get everything they need to be successful on race day can be a daunting task for registration. Many giddy volunteers spend hundreds of hours working to make the day goes as smoothly as possible. Last year’s addition of electronic check-in was helpful, saving riders precious time standing in line.
My favorite thing about DK is that it seems the very air in our fair city changes that whole week. It becomes electric! Our town is taken over by riders from all over, seeking their own DK experience. DK can be a finicky broad, sometimes doling out thunderstorms and mud, wind from every direction, scorching heat, and soul crushing hills. My second favorite thing about DK is reading the riders reports. I love it when riders’ share that very special moment when they get out of their head emotionally and literally lift their head to witness the absolute breathtaking rugged beauty the flint hills have to offer. I’m proud to volunteer, I’m proud of my rider, finishing this daunting race many times and I’m proud of everyone in Emporia who, in their own way, make DK THE race riders love to return to year after year.”
Thanks for all your efforts, Kenda!
If you are interested in volunteering – check out options here!