Two teams from the Arbutus area are preparing for Saturday's 15th annual Kinetic Sculpture Race hosted by the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
The race on May 4 challenges participants to engineer and construct a human-powered machine capable of traversing land, water, sand and mud.
"It's awesome really," said Arbutus resident Michelle Macurak. "You get to build something with your friends and then you get to watch it either succeed or watch it fail miserably."
Macurak will be among the four pilots, or drivers, on the Loose Cannon sculpture. Her husband, TJ McLaughlin, will be riding along as part of the team's pit crew.
This is their fifth year involved in the race, and they will be riding with the same sculpture as last year, which features 12-foot-tall wheels and weighs more than 1,000 pounds.
They began planning their sculpture, "brainstorming over some beer and pizza, scribbling drawings," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin was a pilot last year but decided to ride as part of the pit crew this year instead of in the sculpture.
"This year, I decided to give up my seat. It was a pretty rough ride on me last year," he said.
Macurak said she respected his decision, noting the effort required to push a machine as large as theirs throughout the 15-mile course from the Visionary Arts Museum in Federal Hill to Canton and then Patterson Park and finally back to the museum.
"It's hard on your body to be in that position and pedal, especially if you're at a weird leg distance," Macurak said.
She said her training for a half marathon, three triathlons and the Baltimore Marathon in the fall is what will get her through the race.
"It's nice because it kind of replaces a normal training morning for me," Macurak said. "It'll keep my legs from getting tired. It's a long day to just be out in the water, climbing hills. It's a little bit of an endurance (test)."
The couple are looking forward to experiencing another race day, where they will be outfitted in Evil Knievel jumpsuits and riding alongside their team's other two sculptures, Son of a Gun and Mini Gun.
"It's a pretty large team," Macurak said of their nearly 20-person crew.
"The atmosphere of race day, going in the water, being in the stands, it's just an amazing event to be involved in," Macurak said.
"There's a lot of camaraderie," McLaughlin said. "I don't think anyone takes themselves too seriously."
Arbutus resident Phillip Smith and Catonsville resident Melissa Koerner are teaming up for the third year in a row in hopes of piloting their sculpture straight to the top.
They are looking to repeat as winners of the Ace Award, which means they will have to make it through every obstacle without receiving any help pushing, pulling or moving their sculpture in any way other than with their pedals.
Their reverse-trike style sculpture, "Greendustrial Revolution," weighs 750 pounds with the two of them inside and features large wheels made from drain pipe material.