Close friendships are forged through adversity.
While already friends, Warren senior Ellis Beardsley and sophomore Anna Falvo will likely be a lot closer by the time Saturday comes to an end.
Together, the duo will participate in the Complete Tango division of the 7th Annual Kinzua Country Tango Adventure Race Saturday in Warren. In the Complete Tango, two people complete each leg of the race together.
Times Observer photo by Allen Seybert
Warren Area High School sophomore Anna Falvo, left and senior Ellis Beardsley plan to participate in the Complete Tango division of the 6th Annual Kinzua Country Tango Adventure Race Saturday in Warren. The duo plans to, together, complete the 13.1-mile run, 20-mile bike ride, 2.2-mile swim, 6-mile orienteering course, 4.5-mile run and 8-mile canoe leg that make up the roughly 54-mile course.
Falvo and Beardsley are exemplary athletes. Beardsley is a PIAA high school qualifier in cross country and two-time District 10 champion in track & field. Falvo qualified for states in her first and only season of cross country.
Both agree - they've never tackled anything like this before.
This is slightly more of an undertaking than a 5K cross country race or 1600-meter run on the track. The Tango includes a 13.1-mile half-marathon, a 20-mile bike portion, a 2.2-mile swim, a 6+-mile orienteering course, a 4.5-mile run and an 8+-mile canoeing course.
And Falvo and Beardsley plan on completing every leg of the grueling event together - with no breaks.
Beardsley said she was inspired to complete every leg of the Tango individually when recent high school graduate Brad Simmons did so prior to starting his junior year.
"When I saw he was able to do that, I made it a goal to complete the entire Tango before I graduated," said Beardsley.
Still, with her senior year approaching, Beardsley thought she'd be better suited to complete the event alongside a trusted friend.
"I didn't want to do the entire thing completely on my own so I started looking for another girl to participate with me," said Beardsley. "After seeing what an incredible athlete Anna was during cross country season, I decided to see if maybe she wanted to attempt this with me."
Falvo jumped on board immediately.
"I just thought it'd be awesome," she said. "Not everybody can say they've accomplished something like that. It didn't seem real until we started training for the event. Then it was like, wow, we're really doing this."
Because of their commitments to Warren's swimming and track & field teams, Beardsley and Falvo didn't actually start training for the Tango until early June. In the past two months, they've completed each and every discipline individually.
"We've been able to practice the parts that we're not experienced in like the orienteering and canoeing so we're as ready as we can be there," said Beardsley.
Beardsley admits there's one part of the Tango that they can't practice.
"We're going to be on our feet and moving for at least 10 hours," she said. "Doing all six legs in a row like that is something you can't practice. It's comforting to know that we've practiced and completed each part of the Tango. But it's easy to get nervous when thinking about doing them all at once."
Beardsley said the orienteering portion of the 54-mile course has her most concerned. For Falvo, it's something different.
"I'm not a biker," she said. "That part has got me a little intimidated. Because of our high school sports, we have advantages in running and swimming. Those other legs of the race are going to be a little nervewracking."
On race day, there's not much that can disappoint either of the girls. They have no grand aspirations of winning their division or even clocking in under a set time.
"Finish," said Falvo. "The only goal is to finish. There's no special time we're trying to reach or anything like that. If we finish, it will be a successful day."
"We've never done anything of this magnitude before," added Beardsley. "I am the type of person that gets very nervous before high school events. But there's no pressure in the Tango. Our goal is to finish and be proud of what we accomplish."
One thing the girls have already accomplished is building a deeper friendship.
While they admit they've been friends "forever," both girls say they've grown closer while training.
"Having Ellis by my side through this whole thing has really brought us closer together," said Falvo. "Spending the day together and trying to accomplish something so difficult will be amazing."
"This is a once in a lifetime experience that we're going to share together," said Beardsley. "I've seen our friendship grow just in training for the Tango. I can only imagine how much stronger it will be after we cross the finish line."