By now you should have figured out that this is our fifth annual Ultimate Road Warrior issue. Jaime, our Ultimate Road Warrior MVP, looks lovely on the cover, don’t you agree? But truth be told, we debated whether we should put her or the answers to our photo montage on the front of the magazine. Each year we get a ton of e-mails from people wanting to know if they’re the big winner, and if they aren’t, then who is? This year we still got those e-mails, but they were far, far surpassed by e-mails from the people who wanted to know the answers to the montage. It seems we stumped quite a few people, and they weren’t able to sleep without knowing which ones they had missed.
But, much like we make people wait until we can announce the winners in high style, we’ve also waited to reveal the answers to the montage. So check it out. Just because we like you, we’ve also included some other interesting information we gleaned from your answers. Enjoy.
But now we should focus on the meat of the contest. Slightly more than 9,000 of you entered, providing a lot of interesting reading for us here at Road Warrior Central. We narrowed your entries down to our top 150, and from there, we picked just five.
Trust me, it is not an enviable task, as there are all sorts of great entries to fight over. Luckily, this year, with a little help from a mediator, we managed to keep the debate from devolving into fisticuffs, and a decision was made almost peacefully.
Perhaps that’s because we didn’t have to decide what order to place the finalists in. That became your job. And much to my surprise, almost 40,000 of you placed your vote. (I was certain it would be a lot fewer.)
For an entire month, the voting was neck and neck. Every day, someone new eked ahead, only to drop behind by a few votes the following day. In the end, Jaime (or Blog Girl, as she was known to us) garnered the most votes, making her our first female Ultimate Road Warrior.
She was followed by Mark Satinsky (Smarte Carte Guy) in second, and Mordy Golding (Admirals Club), Leslie Monk (Target Girl), and Ridlon Kiphart (Middle of Nowhere) all shared third place.
Despite their hectic schedules, we managed to get them all to Phoenix for a photo shoot. As you’ll see in the pictures, the beautiful Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa (part of Hilton’s new Waldorf-Astoria Collection of hotels) was our headquarters, and it provided endless opportunities for awesome photo ops.
For a couple of the shots, we used Phoenix’s remote beauty as the backdrop, making Jaime hike up Squaw Peak (as senior editor Chris Wessling carried her suitcase and photo assistant Austin Lochheed carried the heavy photography equipment) and schlepping Ridlon out into the middle of nowhere, a place photographer Sean McCormick and design director J.R. Arebalo had discovered after a long day of scouting.
All the winners proved to be not only a lot of fun but also willing to play along with our nutty ideas — that in and of itself may be the hardest part of being our Road Warriors.
But in the end, each of you is a road warrior to us, and as you browse our pages, you’ll notice we’ve tried to include as many of you as possible.
And so, after months of planning and entering and reading and deciphering and brainstorming and deciding, we’re here, at the final step in the Road Warrior process — 15 days of fame. Congratulations!
Sherri Gulczynski Burns