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The invention of Trekking

In his article on IPFrontLine, Donald Grant Kelly reports on the invention of a new sport, called "Trekking." The inventor, Phil Stebler, drew his inspiration from a training exercise he saw in a Marine camp boot training film where, he explains: "teams mastered coordination and collaboration by "walking" with feet positioned on parallel rails. Short ropes attached to the rails enabled team members to lift each rail in unison, moving it forward in a synchronized walking motion. Forward progress depends upon strength, timing and perfect cooperation."

This very same exercise actually made its way into the New Games repertoire via Stewart Brand in his efforts to introduce what he called "soft war." We played it for the fun of it. And it has propagated hither and yon (see, for example, these Team Traks). Stebler has apparently taken both the fun and the spirit of it one step beyond with his new sport. Kelly explains: "the ropes are eliminated and the rails, or Trekkers as he calls them, are equipped with multiple foot-bindings accommodating more than one person. For indoor competition, Trekkers are provided with carpeted lower surfaces. Forward movement is accomplished as players lift the foot bindings and press them forward, much like cross-country skiing. Excitement is ratcheted up by Phil Stebler's special features. He interconnects front/rear ends of the skis to form ski "chains" and adds parallel players sharing common skis with their partners."

I spoke with Mr. Stebler about his invention. He explained that by eliminating the ropes, players can gain more stability - holding on to the shoulders of the player in front; and that when fewer players want to give it a try, there are no extra ropes to worry about. Stebler has explored many variations of his device. He's added a hook-and-eye system so it is possible to join Trekkers together for larger groups. He's even found a way to use two sets of Trekkers in parallel, mixing two teams together so that one team uses Trekkers 1 and 3 while the other uses 2 and 4. All to bring both collaboration and hilarity to the most serious enterprises of developing teamwork and promoting fitness.

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