“The training process was basically all out of the gym, all on the pavement, hitting the blades,” Adkins said. “Every single day we would go a little further until we got into a regimen where we were doing twenty-miles one day, taking the next day off and then hitting twenty the next day. There were three weeks where one of the days we did about 50-miles and those were our longest days of training.”
As crucial as their physical training was to the adventure, mapping out the ten-day journey from UMass Boston’s campus to Walker’s hometown in Mason, Michigan to include rest stops, refueling breaks and a place to sleep every night took just as much effort from the two.
“I’d say we spent just as much time if not more planning the whole trip than actually training for it. It took days of calling people, every hotel, every convenience store within the surrounding area of our stops. There was so much that went into it behind the scenes that no one knew about, but finally seeing it go through and making it to the finish line made every one of those moments worth it,” Adkins explained.
It goes without saying, there are always unforeseen obstacles that you cannot plan for and for the Men in Blades that was a combination of elevation changes from state-to-state and the mental fatigue of the journey.
As the days went on, Adkins and Walker learned to adjust to the varying conditions thrown their way in order to forge on.
“We learned very quickly after day three to start using google maps and to not go by miles, but by elevation,” Walker said. “I think one day we went fifteen extra miles to avoid all the extra elevation and we didn’t train for that at all. Another aspect that I don’t know how we could have possibly trained for was the mental fatigue we dealt with.”
All along the way, knowing they were blading for a cause bigger than themselves continued to be their motivating factor. The Men in Blades felt support every step of the way from the crew that accompanied them on the journey to those at home following along.
Among the many who reached out, the Men in Blades were contacted by a mother of a youth hockey player in Colorado who has been battling cancer – Jack. Through Instagram, his mother sent messages and even a video that Jack recorded to encourage the guys along the way.
“I think that as the trip kept going on more people were reaching out to us, which was making us push that much harder, especially Jack, our new little man in blades. He definitely has a soft spot in all of our hearts and that’s something that was incredible to see,” Adkins said.