Friday night the 3 of us and our support crew of Cynthia Petty & my sweetie Amber rolled into race HQ for gear check & race dinner/meeting. Wes & crew put on a great race with all the perks including great food. WE got our UTM’s & sequestered ourselves in our room to plot the coordinates & start planning out our strategy. The first thing that struck us was the minimum of gear we were required to carry. Usually we have to heft 10-20 lbs worth of crap. So we started to wonder. Then we see why. Only one transition so we have to carry about 15 hour’s worth of food with us.
The race officially started @ 6 am Saturday with a ¾ mile run up a hill (of course) to get a set of UTM’s for a prologue. We got our points & headed out. I was feeling good about my nav for this race & I got off on the right foot hitting the first point right away. I always say the first checkpoint makes or breaks a race. If you struggle with it your going to struggle all race, if you hit it then hopefully the race will go smooth. After finding to checkpoints we were off to the canoe for the beginning of what would be 27 miles of total lake paddling. We hit the boats in second but didn’t really plan on staying there since we are good river paddlers but not so good flat water paddlers.
After paddling to several checkpoints including 2 on islands, we get to get out of the boats & go to a climbing section where I get to ascend a rope while John & Anna paddle to a point where I run to meet back up with them after finishing the Jumar section. Jumarring is using ascenders to climb a rope. It’s like doing pull ups. Cynthia & Amber are here to witness one of the climbing volunteers try & give me a helping hand but slip & let me take a whipper into the rock. It popped my helmets suspension free & gave me some nice scrapes on my back but alls well. After running to the boat we’re in a close race for third.
After some more paddling we get out of the boats again to go on an Orienteering course with a twist. The twist being you randomly draw an envelope which contains the required UTM & a playing card for a game of draw poker for a special prize @ the finish. By now we’ve slipped back to 4th. We headed out to our first point & after some bushwhacking pop out on a familiar trail (sometimes it pays to do the race multiple years). We run by our support crew who are only allowed to spectate since no help is allowed till the TA. We hit our checkpoint, which happens to be next to the whole that does go all the way to
After this we’re back in the boats once again & now we get to enjoy drinking lake water since we’re out of water by now. John & Anna treated theirs. I grew up on a lake & drank thousands of gallons of it as a kid so figure I have an immunity to it & dip & drink (to save time of course). After a few more points we’re out again to another Orienteering course. This one is pretty cool because one of the points is the top of an old water tower. It’s flat so John & I climb to the top to get the punch & sit up there & plot the next point. We flew through this section in an hour and 15 minutes. I say flew because the race directors figured 2:30-3 hours would be the fastest time for this section. We maintained our 3rd place & only lost one minute to 2 extremely good navigating teams Team Cycle Works & Carolsteam.org.
Back in the boats again to a portage point. You can either haul your heavy ass boat up a hill to the next checkpoint or paddle around the 3 miles to get it from the other side. Needless to saw we carried. Only one team chose to paddle & that was Brad Bledsoe’s Team Bushmaster. After carrying the boat I can’t say I blame him much. Over to the other side & a quick paddle to finally the end of the boating. From here we have a 5 ¾ mile run hike to the TA & finally an ice cold Coke.
My mom has joined the girls in the TA to lend a hand & moral support plus give me a rash of shit about the number of pills I’m inhaling between gulps of soda.
From here we hop on the mountain bike for the final 30 miles to the finish. With one Orienteering point between. The girls were great here having everything set out & running around getting us everything we asked for. A good support crew makes a huge difference in an AR race. They got us change, refueled, on our bikes, & off in 25 minutes.
We left the TA about 60 minutes down on first & second who were only 7 minutes apart. Here’s where our biking skills came into play. There was a lot of good dirt roads & pavement so we absolutely flew through this section. We motored through one six mile section that the race director told the girls should take us 3+ hours in about an hour. We road were most teams had to push so we made up a ton of time. We didn’t have to go under the lights till about 5 checkpoints to go (about 1.5-2 hours form the finish). We made it to the bikes O-point just as Carolsteam.org was coming out of the woods. They had finally passed Bicycle works in the woods to take the lead. We shot our bearing & took of running in mountain bike shoes to go for the point. Wes the race director said about 20 minutes, we were out in 17 & we lost a few looking on the wrong side of the field before realizing our mistake. When we came out of the woods we passed a beginning to struggle Team Cycle works to move us into 2nd about 30 minutes down on first. Well I wish I could say we caught them but we just ran out of race & as I said earlier finished a close second. We ran a good race just got beat by better flat water paddlers on a course set up for paddlers.
Look close my first feet blisters from an AR race. Right under my big toes on each foot.Team Dynamic Earth Me, Anna, & John.
Thanks Matt O’Reilly from Dynamic Earth for sponsoring us!