24 Hours of Exhaustion

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For twenty years the Camel Trophy was the ultimate display of what 4-wheel drive vehicles could accomplish. From 1980 to 2000, Land Rovers and Range Rovers, in every conceivable spec, traversed some of the most daunting and challenging areas on earth for weeks at a time. Another hallmark of the events was the emphasis on teamwork and mental challenges, in addition to the seemingly impossible terrain. It was an incredible test of man and machine, with teams from all over the world vying for the trophy.

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In 2000, Land Rover pulled their support from the event, and for all intents and purposes the Camel Trophy ceased to exist. Coincidentally, that same year there was a Land Rover enthusiast who had been following the Camel Trophy and thought it would be a great idea to put on a similar event himself, though on a smaller scale. It was with this goal that Oregonian Doug Shipman started the Team Trophy Challenge.

The TTC was similar to the Camel Trophy, though focused more on creative thinking, teamwork and both physical and mental endurance. Every year the TTC grew and grew, challenging every kind of vehicle imaginable from Land Rovers to Toyotas, with early model Broncos, Suzukis, and every kind of Jeep vehicle imaginable.

After six years of amazing events though, Doug had enough and threw in the towel. As he put it, “It’s become too much work and more of a job.” Luckily enough for me, there was another group ready to step in and put on the event for 2007; the Timber Tamers Off-road Club. The Tamers are a small but very active Washington-based 4×4 club who are as much dedicated to having fun on the trails as keeping them open for future generations to enjoy. The goal: Keeping public land public, as it was.

I became aware of the event last January, and my primary Jeep club, PNWJeep, was fielding two teams out of the total of twenty, but needed one more rig. Perfect. A good friend, Ian Foley, served as my navigator/co-driver/riding mechanic, and he proved invaluable. Jesse Connor and his white 4-dr XJ would be the other half, and Bryan Grey would fill the role as his navigator.

The Timber Tamers used Doug’s template for the competition, though adapting it along the way to their own ends. Don’t think there was any outright plagiarism, though: Doug signed up to experience the hell he’d been putting wheelers through for years but at the last second, the death of his brother-in-law a week earlier prevented his participation.

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