Sunday, December 3, 2006
I had no doubt this was going to be a great race. Four years ago it was the first AR I did, and I have not missed it since. I love this race.
When the race was announced I thought it would be a cool idea to see if I could get some of my cycling and triathlon buddies to do this race with me. So I threw the idea out there and before I knew it, I had 11 people wanting to do the race. 5 or 6 of them brand new to AR. So I went ahead and signed us all up, as four different teams.
We knew from the beginning that we were going to race as one unit. Keeping the teams together. All we wanted to do was have a good time out there. Jason and I knew that keeping so many people together for a 12-hour race would be difficult, but we still wanted to give it a go.
So Team Hoof-Hearted-Ice-Melted-Speedy-Playas-Slow-Bastards was born. I like to call us Ocean's Eleven. :)
The race started at 4:00AM with a bike leg, and we quickly found ourselves leading the pack. But finding the first check point quickly got us lost. A lot of teams got confused as to the location of the CP. But after about 10 minutes of searching, we got it and moved on.
The rest of the bike section was fun, but fairly tough. A good mix of easy, hard-packed roads and very tough, muddy nasty trails. The entire group did a great job keeping together and riding through some of the bad sections. We were having fun and a lot of good laughs.
We found all but one of the CP's. We went after BB3, and after trekking a while down the Florida Foot Trail we finally gave up thinking we had passed it or missed it. Came to find out later that we hadn't gone far enough. Oh well.
We got slightly of course a couple times, but nothing too serious. Although it did cost some some time. So when we dropped off the bikes to start the first trekking section, we had to move fast.
On the first trekking section we did a lot of running. Trying to get as many points as we could, while also trying to make up some time. we made a big loop and picked up several bonus points along with the one mandatory point. We made it back to the bikes with just under two hours left to make the cut off time.
The cut off time was at 11:00am. We had to get back on the bikes, ride to the boats, get in the boats, and paddle about 5 miles down the St. John's River. All before 11:00am. All in just under two hours.
When we finally made it to the boats, we had to portage them (carry them) about 1 mile down to the river. This was probably the worst part of the race. Nothing worse than having to pick up and carry a canoe. And for 1 mile!
When we finally reached the water we knew we would never make the cut off time. But we had a pretty nice paddle and made it to the cutoff point about 20 minutes late. So we were moved to a slightly shorter course. Then we continued down the river picking up several more points along the way. It was during this stretch that we hooked up with Dr. Ron and Jaime of Team Travel Country, with the girls of Team We're Going In, and with John and his teammate of Team Dirty Fish.
We all continued paddling together until we reached the boat drop, where Dr. Ron and Jaime came to within 1 foot of stepping on a water moccasin. The girls of Team We're Going In actually dragged their canoe right over it without even noticing it. Yikes!
After dropping off the boats we got back on foot for a trekking section. we now had about 3 hours to make the 4:00PM time cut off at the finish line, so we knew we had to move fast. But by this time a lot of team Ocean's Eleven was tired so we moved a bit slower than we wanted to. But we still managed to get several of the bonus points as we made our way to the mandatory one. Then we made our way back to the bikes.
We started the last bike portion with less than 45 minutes to get to the finish line. It should have been plenty of time, but it turned out to be a bit harder then we expected.
Along the way there was one bonus point we wanted to get. We got it. But unfortunately as we went in to get it Jason got a flat tire. We tried twice just pumping it full of CO2 to try and make it to the finish line, but it was not working. So with about 3 miles (and less than 20 minutes to go) we stopped to change the tube.
We got going again with just about 15 minutes left. And about 30 seconds later, Jason's crank arm fell right off. What the hell is it with us and faulty crank arms anyway?! :) So we quickly brought out the tow rope. I attached it to my backpack and we took off, with me towing Jason and Eric, Greg, and Ralph pushing him. We had just under three miles to go, in about 15 minutes.
The road we were on was pretty hard packed so riding was not too hard, but the last 1/2 mile was on a trail which made it hard to tow. So Jason got on Eric's bike, and Eric whose legs felt fresh just ran while pushing the bike.
We crossed the finish line with just under 1 minute to spare, after 11 hours and 59 minutes of racing. 30 seconds later our friends of Team Nature Calls finished with just seconds to spare.
We ended up with 3rd place in the male category. But most importantly, for us the race was a complete success. we did what we set out to accomplish. We had a great time, kept the teams together, and introduced a handful of new people to AR. Hopefully they had enough of a good time to come back and do it again.
I really want to thank Jason and Greg who did an absolutely amazing job with the navigation. Thanks guys, you did awesome!!!
And also thank you to the whole gang, you guys especially the new guys, were troopers for the entire race! I hope you guys come back to racing with us again.
And finally, thank you to Dave and Jim for putting on a great event! The course was fantastic! And the post race food was some of the best we've ever had after an adventure race! And of course, thank you to all the volunteers!
See you all at the Swamp Stomp in February!