Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Leach 6-Hr AR (2006)

The Leach Adventure Race, down in Jonathan Dickson State Park down in Jupiter, FL, was one of the most fun and best adventure races I've ever done.

The race started at 9:30AM with a run.  Jason and I got up on the front and within a couple minutes were at the front running along side Team Flight.  About 0.5 miles into the run, we came up on an obstacle wall which we had to climb and get over.  We were the first ones over, which was good because teams would no doubt start piling up.  Shortly thereafter we arrived at CP1 with Team Flight and one more team.  The rest of the teams were closely behind.

As we were looking at our maps before the race started, we had decided that we would take a gamble heading from CP1 to CP2.  CP1 was at the edge of the river.  We could run from CP1 to the boats and paddle down to CP2, which was across the river from CP1.  But then we'd have to paddle back up the opposite way to CP3.  So instead of doing that we decided to just swim, literally swim, across the river to CP2.  So when we got to CP1, we jumped right in.

The river was about 200 yards across.  And there was a current, so considering we are wearing trekking shoes and backpacks, it was not easy.  At the other side we walked upstream on the shore until we found and 'opening' to CP2.  The way to CP2 was about 2 feet deep, but really mucky.  You'd take a step and sink down to your butt.  It was impossible to walk.  So we got down into the water and pulled ourselves along by dragging our hands across the bottom.  It was actually quite a sight.  We looked like gators moving along the river.  But we found CP2, made our way back, and crossed the river again back towards CP1.

After this we ran to the boat transition and quickly jumped in our canoes.  Most teams had headed downstream to go pick up CP2, but since we'd already got it, we headed upstream towards CP3.  The paddle was great.  We found CP3 and CP4 rather easily and made out way back to the boat transition.  We got out of the boats in first place and headed off on a long trekking section, with an orienteering section in the middle.

At this point we were leading the race, so we were pushing as hard as we could.  The trek was great.  We did some good bushwhacking, which I love.  Jason did a great job in navigation and got us to each CP and OP (orienteering point) perfectly.  On the way back Team Flight came up on us.  They were moving fast!

We finished the trek right behind Team Flight and transitioned to our bikes pretty quickly.  Then we started the bike by having to climb the obstacle wall again, which at this point in the race was painful.  CP8 was slightly misplotted, so finding it took us a few minutes.  Unfortunately this allowed a handful of teams to catch up to us, but all was good.

From CP8 to CP9 we did some pretty heavy bushwhacking, with our bikes.  Picking them up, putting them down, picking them up, etc, etc.  It was exhausting.  Then came the soft sand.  The dreaded and hated soft sand.  Soft sand sucks, plain and simple.  :)

We then got on a couple single track trails were we had to find 3 CP's.  We ran into Team TCO in this section, and rode with them for a little while.  The trails were a combination of soft sand :x and a lot of tree stumps.  It was good riding, but pretty hard in some parts.

After the single track we found ourselves back in 2nd place.  We rode to CP11, where we had to drop off the bikes and head off on foot to find 3 more CP's.

Finding CP12 and CP13 was fairly easy, but making our way to CP14 was pure hell.  The trail we had to take was an old and unused double track which was riddled with trees, branches, cactus, and all sorts of nasty dry stuff.  It was some pretty nasty trekking.  Our legs have many, many scars to prove it.  :)

After CP14 we went back to our bikes, and rode to the finish line.

We finished in 2-place overall.  About 30 minutes behind Team Flight.  Unfortunately we were told we had been given a 1-hour penalty because we swam to CP1 instead of paddling.  Jason and I were resourceful and used a good strategy which is what adventure racing is all about, but were penalized.  But neither of us cared.  We loved the fact that swam to CP2.  And we loved how we had to crawl along the nasty muck in order to move.  And we wouldn't trade it for anything.  It was a blast.

So in the overall placements we are not sure how we finished, we think in 3rd place overall after the penalty was accessed.  But we did win the 2-person male division even with the penalty.  So that's pretty cool.

In the end, I was extremely happy with the race.  Jason and I pushed hard all day and it paid off.  We used good teamwork and great strategy, even if one of our strategies costs us a 1-hour penatly.