We are like-minded on this topic. Great post. If all the great challenges of life are padded to soften the blow, what real lessons would we learn when we fall? The sadness of the loss is always tough, the feelings of regret and sorrow overcome rational thought and reasoning. In the end, however, to die doing something you enjoy is a great service to yourself. While your family will see it differently perhaps, there are many less desirable ways to perish. Unsafe employment, drug addiction, random assault... Each January, I'm reminded of the fact that every competitor in this foolish endeavor has lived more in just a few days than I have in a few decades. It's humbling and exciting and scary all at the same time. While it has changed, perhaps softened a bit, it is still one of the last of the greatest tests of both mental and physical strength that exists on this ever-shrinking globe of which we inhabit. Long live the Dakar.