The Evolution Relay

So here’s an idea, a race that mimics the course of human evolution, from swimming in the primordial soup, to climbing trees, to operating machines that let us fly. It could even be based on an evolutionary timescale! This means that since we spent 1.8 billion years in the sea, 5 million years on two feet, and 100 years taking to the sky in machines, the race could be set proportionally.

Now if we just change that to duration of time to a distance in meters (so that 100 years = 1 m), and substitute in our relay events, we get this:


Granted, it’s a bit of a swim and a pretty easy “glide” (ahem, jump). The event could go a little something like this:


Swim 1,760km from Tijuana (Mexico) to just north of Portland (USA). Then do a 240km mud crawl to Mt Rainer National Park. Then there is a 95km rock climbing and ropes course that brings you north of Seattle. Nearing the end, there is a 5km run, followed by a 54m bicycle race, followed by a man-made wing-assisted 1m ‘glide’.

Now, this obviously isn’t very feasible. Our poor swimmer will be pretty tired by the time they hand their passport over in the US (but longer swims have been made). So instead of one poly-athlete, it needs to be a relay (then you just need a super-human swimmer, and a separate super-human crawler, etc). But I don’t want a normal relay – we have a chance to mimic evolution here! In our case, passing the baton means passing on your genes, and there are a lot of ‘losers’ that don’t pass on their genes in the race of life. So, we cross a relay race with a game of musical chairs. You’d have more people in the swimming event then there are in the mud crawl. If you’re not a fast enough swimmer, you wont pass on your genetic baton to a mud crawler. It would weed out the weak links.

Not sure which is the least feasible event here, and I don’t claim that any of these numbers are very precise. I do think it is an interesting thought process of looking at evolutionary history and at timescales. As homo sapiens, we surely haven’t been around very long, but our genetic baton can be traced back to the very beginning of life.