Unlocking the places that make The Speed Project special
To celebrate The Speed Project launching their latest product drop and story release in MAKE Running Issue 04, we're taking a look at our favourite TSP landmark - El Monte RV Rentals.
If you read TEMPO, you’re familiar with The Speed Project. The unparalleled no-rules (no seriously, no rules) ultra relay from Los Angeles to Las Vegas hardly needs an introduction around these parts. Every year hundreds of runners from crews around the world converge on Santa Monica Pier to put themselves through what is best described as a shitstorm of emotional and physical duress as they make their way to Las Vegas and one of the finest pool parties imaginable.
Racing TSP has almost become a status symbol. Like going to Burning Man, or Coachella. People want to be associated with it - which is great, it’s opening people’s eyes to a whole new side of running. One without structure and rules and stuffy old establishments, and value based on PR’s.
When COVID ended the 2020 race before it started, organisers pivoted and launched TSP DIY - giving teams around the world the opportunity to run TSP their own way. The idea worked - over 300 teams signed up to take part (the LALV edition of TSP is capped at 40 teams) and the event raised over $90,000 for charity.
One of the great things about TSP is that everyone has a different experience based on what they’re chasing. But one thing they all have in common are the landmarks that make up some of the critical stages of TSP. It’s something that TSP DIY participants obviously haven’t been able to experience - until now.
Organisers Nils Arend and Scotty Crowe are embarking on a plan to pass on some of the history of the event; taking runners beyond an image and giving them insight into not just the rebellious spirit of TSP, but the community behind it and the places that shape it.
I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll just talk about El Monte RV Rentals. This place is ground zero for TSP transportation - every year in the days leading up to TSP, each team heads out to El Monte to pick up their RV. The El Monte building is straight out of the mid 90’s, and once you walk in that foyer, you’re not getting out in under an hour. There’s a safety video to watch (I think it’s actually on a VHS tape), seemingly endless paperwork, and then the walk-around your vehicle with the staff. The walk-around is basically them telling you all the stuff you shouldn't do - which is kind of a nice reminder that even though you're about to join a race with no rules, we're still living in a society and if you get too loose things are going to get ugly (this didn't stop us accidentally ripping a panel off our RV 5 minutes before the start of the 2019 race).
Honestly, the times I’ve been to El Monte I’ve been constantly thinking ‘man get me TF out of here’, but reflecting on it now, it’s kind of an essential experience. You get to meet a couple of other teams who are picking up their RV, and it’s also nice to think about the normal customers of El Monte. The annual vacations, the once-in-a-lifetime trips that are being taken, the moments and memories that some people will remember until their dying days - all made possible because of a light brown RV from El Monte.
After what feels like two birthdays spent waiting to get out of El Monte, the best move honestly is to chuck your mate the keys and make them drive the RV, while you get back in the rental car and cruise back to base - the RV a constant presence in your rearview mirror, its headlights flashing occasionally as it struggles to keep pace with you on LA’s lawless highways.
So without giving it all away, if you’re someone who has taken part before and wants to reconnect with the race (that’s the category I fall in), or you want to understand more of the history and culture of TSP before doing something like TSP DIY later this year - head over to The Speed Project store front and pick up this limited issue of Make Running 04 - it’s got way more (and better) stories about a bunch of places along the route that make TSP unique.
There's also some sick products dropping over the next week, touching on places like El Monte, the town of Barstow, and more. Check the above website to get right into it.
If you’re hanging out for TSP DIY - you can get more info over at the website - btw entries are open so get to it! And if you’re in Australia, stay tuned as we’ll have more news soon on bringing teams together for a huge TSP DIY experience.