Adventure race reports are always messy and haphazard – much like adventure races themselves!
We made the 3.5 hour drive up to the race site on Saturday afternoon. Once there we ate, lounged, and prepped for the long night… It was nice and dark by the time we started. It was a new moon, too, so the Milky Way could be seen clearly!
Here are our time results:
Bike 1 : 00:51:00
boat : 02:54:00
bike 2 : 00:09:00
foot : 02:57:00
bike 3 : 01:15:00
bike 4 : 00:09:06
Total : 08:15:06
Bike 1 was out to CP (Check Point) 1 and back. We basically had two options to get there: a road that was out of the way, or railroad tracks that were more direct. Thinking we’d be able to ride along the side of the tracks out of the rocks, we headed up the tracks. This turned out to not be the best idea. It was bumpy, there was no good place to ride for most of it, and it made my hands hurt! We FINALLY reached the CP, punched the card, and headed back down the road instead of the tracks. Well, this road WAS a road, but was no longer used. This was made obvious by the fact that we had to cross chest-deep water with the bikes because there was no bridge! We made it through, hauled on the road, and got to the canoe.
Erin and Patrick climbed in to paddle, and I sat in the middle… I was banned from paddling after the last race. We had plotted our course to the CPs on the water, only to have an extra surprise one added! We started going, and I tried to navigate, clean my shoes and socks from the silty water crossing, and stay in the middle of the canoe. We made it out to the furthest north checkpoint, and I switched spots with Erin to paddle for a bit. The water CPs all had glow sticks attached, so they weren’t too tough to find – we paddled with headlamps off, enjoyed seeing the bioluminescence and the stars, and tried to keep moving! The wind really picked up, and lightning started lighting up the sky as we were hitting the last few CPs. Fish were jumping EVERYWHERE – including right into our canoe! As we approached the dock, the wind died down and the previously choppy water settled down. No more drifting north every time we stopped paddling! We made it into the dock and back on to our bikes, tied for last with another team. As we learned later, a few teams skipped water CPs, so, really, we weren’t last, because we hit every one.
Bike 2 was from the canoe launch over to a protected Game Refuge which would serve as our bike/foot transition area. We decided to tackle the foot portion first, because finishing on bike seemed like a better idea.
We ditched the bikes and hit the trail. The map we were given was a satellite image with roads drawn on it. We learned that there were more trails in the area than were listed on our map. Great. That means that every intersection we encountered wasn’t necessarily and intersection on the map. This would make navigation REALLY interesting. After a false start because I had to run about ¼ mile back to where I dropped our paper where we marked checkpoints (oops!) we were off! The first few were somewhat easily found. We alternated walking and jogging as we followed our planned route on the map. Around 3am, we seemed to get a little lost. Almost 40 minutes later, we ended up back in the same spot! No! We wasted almost an hour being lost, but still managed to find all but one CP – and we were in the area for that one, we just couldn’t find where it was hidden! The second half of the foot section was FULL of mud and water. After the last CP, it was an easy return back to the park where the street light was on.
We got onto the bikes and agreed that we’d leave the park 15 minutes before 6am, which was the race’s end time. We found the first two or three CPs with relative ease… and we ended up back in the same part of the park where we got lost on the run! Guess what happened next… we got lost! We followed what we thought was a trail that was on the map, and ended up weaving around until the trail slowly disappeared. At this point, we didn’t want to turn around – we were too far in! So, we decided to go North. For what seemed like forever, we worked our way north through vegetation. FINALLY we found a trail that eventually led us back to the transition. By the time we returned to the transition, it was 6:05, and we still had to bike back to the start/finish!
The ride back wasn’t bad. We tried to haul, but our bikes were really gunked up. We were just so happy to see the sun coming up and be back on our way to the cars!
We hit 18 points overall – not bad! Only 3 teams found all 27.
It was a BLAST, but next time, I want to do a shorter sport distance one!