Really, it was an epic Saturday.
Saturday morning was a really unique experience. Usually, I’m the one up before the alarm on race day, getting together last minute things, loading bikes… but this time, it was Patrick. He was SO excited about this race! By the time I was dressed and ready to go, he had loaded all of the bike and other gear. We hit the road for the 70+ mile journey north. The rain cleared and the sun came up as we drove.
They took a pre-race photo after we checked in, and then sent us on our way!
The transition area, where we had set up bikes and water, was incredibly intimidating. I can walk into a tri transition area, and I know that half of the people with super-awesome bikes just have that sort of cash. The physical set-up itself is more of an indicator of skill than the gear. At this TA, everyone knew each other. We were one of maybe three teams of first-timers. When they announced that the canoe portion was from point A to point B, they informed racers that if they wanted to use their own paddles, that they would have to run with them for the on foot portion, and bring them back to point A. Immediately, people starting figuring out ways to strap their paddles to their packs, and jogging around the TA to test out set-ups.
These people not only had the gear, but they were incredibly competent and resourceful… and SERIOUS. In all fairness, Patrick has done these races before, but never this long. This was my FIRST adventure race. I expected less experienced people, I guess. Everyone had awesome gear that looked like it was used regularly. They had carbon fiber paddles. They had aero bars with clip boards mounted to their mountain bike handlebars to hold the maps.
Anyway, onto the race…
First, we ran on foot about a kilometer to a “Control Point” or CP, punched a little card that we had, and ran back to the Transition Area. Here, we picked up life jackets, paddles and a canoe and launched them into the water.
Patrick had the map, I had the physical descriptions of where the CPs were. We got to the first point, and the physical clue was “derelict sailboat”. I climbed out of the canoe and ventured in through the thick growth looking for it, only to realize that it was easily accessible by boat from a different point of the little island. Blood was drawn. The adventure had begun.
With only one wrong turn, we completed the paddle section. It was glaringly obvious that this was NOT our strong point. Ok, it might have been one of Patrick’s, but it was clearly not mine. I had never paddled with more of a purpose than to check out scenery. We were dead last getting out of the canoe!
We got out of the canoe, and we had 8 checkpoints to find on foot. Patrick had his plan of attack, and navigated us to the first CP, where I had to paddle board around an island. While I was paddling, he was mapping and planning. We agreed before hand that he’d navigate and I’d haul ass and keep him going. We found the next three VERY quickly. Only one CP on foot had us stumped. We were in the general area but just could not find it! We tried to run on all of the flatter trails.
I think we caught up to two or three teams during the run/trek. The run left me with dozens of scratches on my legs and three fire ant bites.
We picked up our bikes (Bea is fixed and running like new!) and hit the trails. We got a little lost heading to the first two CPs. After that little debacle, however, we FLEW! At least until about 2pm, then Patrick started to bonk. I pushed him as hard as I could. We got to a CP that was also a CP on the run, so I sent him in the direction of the next one, and hauled to grab this one and catch up. For the last one, I jumped ahead to punch the card and let him take it easy. You were supposed to always be within 100 meters of your teammates, and I think we stayed well within that boundary.
We’re listed as finishing 14/20 in the elite (6hr) division!
Post-race, they had food catered by Cracker Barrel. Meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, mac and cheese… yum!
We had food, and then quickly headed to my place. I let the dog out and fed him, and we were off again to Red Dress Run!
60 people, all in red dresses (yes, even the men), ran though South Beach. It. Was. AWESOME.
This weekend left me throughly happy and exhausted.