This weekend was my first adventure race...competed as a 4 person team with Howard, Kris and Gary. The course was to consist of 40-50 miles biking, 15-20 miles trekking, and 10-15 miles of paddling. Objective was to reach 14 checkpoints on any chosen route. We had a map, compass, backpacks full of gear and 24 hours to be back at base camp.
Showed up early on Friday to set up base camp.
Kris made a kickass mystery stew.
I forgot to pack a bowl, so had to improvise.
It was the hottest weekend of the year, with a 99 degree temp at start time. Course started with a 2-mile trail run prologue, followed by a bike ride to checkpoints 1-4. The ride up to checkpoint 1 was a road ride up a steep hill. Road was so steep, many were walking. We had to go off-road to get to checkpoint 2. We plotted a route via fire road with a little bit of bushwhacking up to a single track trail to checkpoint 2. The bushwhacking wasn't the best idea, but it seems most teams chose the same route...we had to climb up 400 feet in elevation with packs on back and bike over shoulder....super tough. The singletrack "trail" wasn't much of a trail, and was mostly unrideable. I tried to ride for a bit, but slipped in some loose dirt and cut up my shin pretty bad. Gary twisted an ankle...after making the checkpoint, we found some decent singletrack to descend. At the bottom of the mountain, we chose the wrong trail and ended up taking a much longer ride into the town of New Castle. We had to stop and filter some water to make the leg into town where we could resupply...and clean up my leg. The ride to checkpoint 3 was a long road/fire road ride, followed by a super steep "jeep trail" that was unrideable on the way up. It involved a lot more bike pushing. We eventually made it to the top, where we saw some rednecks driving their 4-wheel drive...I thought for sure someone was going to die, because nothing good can happen when you encounter a truck full of rednecks at 1 am on a Saturday. Luckily nothing happened. After a 2.5 hours of climbing the jeep trail to the checkpoint, we had 45 minutes to descend to checkpoint 4 before the cutoff. We screamed down the hill to make the cutoff by 20 minutes. At that point, we had to make a decision...either try to trek 25 miles in about 5.5 hours, or ride our bikes 15 miles and take the "short course". We'd lose 2 checkpoints, but knew that an off-road bushwhacking marathon wasn't going to be successful. The 15 mile road ride was still tough. After 14 hours on the bike, a hilly ride at 2 am wasn't exactly easy. At 4 am, I noticed Howard weaving...he was falling asleep, so we decided to pull over and sleep on the steps of this church.
At 0530, we eventually rolled into Checkpoint 9....took a look a the map, and realized we had 2 hours to make the cutoff at the canoe leg. 2 hours to grab checkpoint 10 and bushwhack 10 miles over some big climbs. It wasn't happening. We didn't want to get lost in the woods and wander around missing the cutoff, thus taking the long way back to base camp. Instead, we decided to call it quits...a wise choice, considering I had witnessed many experienced adventure racers DNF by this point. Since we still had our bikes, we teamed up with another DNF'd team to ride as a group the 20 miles back to base camp. There were lots of ups and downs on this route, which took their toll on us. Eventually we took a break and hitchhiked with yet another DNF'd team back to base camp.
Only 3 out of 31 teams officially finished the course. No one made all 14 checkpoints. Based upon the # of checkpoints we found, you could say we were in 14th place, or 3rd in our division. But since we DNF'd, that's all unofficial. Still, had a fun time, even though the adventure race turned into a 21 hour mountain bike ride/push.