Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Turkey Burn 12-Hr AR (2008)

The 6th Annual Turkey Burn Adventure Race started at 4:00am on a very, very cold Saturday morning.  Me and the rest of our team got there around 1:00am. We got our gear ready, set up our small transition area, and picked up our maps at 2:30am.

That entire time, we were freezing.  It was nasty cold out.  As we were working on our maps, I could barely feel like fingers.  And my toes were going numb.  Once we finished the maps, around 3:15am, we all went and sat down by the fire they had going to thaw out a bit.

Anyway, at exactly 4:02am, we were off!  And here is how the next 12-hours went.....

The Run (part 1)

The race started with a nice quick run set to split up the teams a little bit.  It was a 1 mile run down the trail to CP1, and then back to the TA.  We ran and easy pace, but still managed to be one of the first teams back at TA.

The Bike (part 1)

After returning to the TA, we picked up our bikes and set off on what would be a very cold, and very fun bike ride.  This section really put a hurt on some teams, and set the pace for the rest of the race.

We started by heading down the same trail to collect CP2.  Very easy to find.  From CP2 we took a trail heading south down to CP3.  Again, fairly easy to find.  So far, great race.  We were moving at a pretty decent pace.  The cold was getting to us though.  The wind was brutal as we rode.  But at least the trails were in good condition.  From CP3 we took another trail, this time heading NW following a fence line up to CP4.  near CP4 the trail got pretty bad, so we had to do some bushwhacking to find the flag.  But again, not to hard.  So far we had managed to stay fairly dry.  but that would all change rather quickly.  After leaving CP4 we headed back SW on the trail and tok another few trails heading in a northerly directions, which would lead us to CP5.  This is where the race started getting hard.

The trails leading to CP5  were in awful conditions.  Most were uunder water, and very, very muddy.  Making a good portion of them completely unrideable.  We got wet as we pushed our bikes through waist deep water.  And even when there was no water, there was plenty of nasty, sticky, shoe eating mud.  Our bikes were completely caked up in it.  But we did great and quite easily found CP5, which we heard later gave a lot of teams a hard time.  From CP5 it was an easy stroll back up to the TA to start our next run/paddle section.

The Trek (part 2)

We left the TA and headed off on foot (carrying our kayak paddles) headed towards the river.  Trek was pretty interesting.  Basically we followed a small creek that ran straight east.  It was basically a bushwhack the entire way.  There was also one CP on the way.  Along the trail, as you will see on the map below, there were two water crossings.  Here, the race organizers had a couple canoes with ropes.  We had to pull the rope to get the canoes to our side of the water, get in them, and paddle to the other side.  Interesting.  But this is also where we got a great laugh!

On the first crossing, as we got to the other side, Ralph and Greg flipped their boat over!  The water was freezing cold and they were in to their chest!  I wish I had a picture of their faces as they were going in.  Classic!!  Anyway, it was a longer trek than I expected, but after a little while, we finally made it to our boats where we would start the one and only paddle section of the race.

The Paddle (part 1)

The paddle turned out to be the toughest part of the race.  Much harder than even the race organizers expected.  And most importantly, the navigation on the river was tough.  There were lots of turns and lots of little creeks and canals everywhere!  One single wrong turn, one lapse in navigation, and you'd be screwed.

We started by paddling to CP7.  Easy enough.  From there we had a choice to paddle back to the main river, or bushwack (with our canoes) through to the river and CP8.  We decided to bushwack.  It was tough, but it paid off and saved us significant time.  We came out right in front of CP8.  From CP8, it was basically follow the river and veer off into Black Creek.  Then follow Black Creek all the way to CP9 and finally the end of the paddle.

The water level on the river had dropped 3-4 in. since they had scouted the course.  So once we hit Black Creek our paddling came to a halt.  For the next 3 hours, paddling consisted of paddling inside the boats for about 30 seconds, running into a log in the middle of the water, get out of the boat and onto the log, pull the canoes over the log while trying to keep your balance, get back in the boat, and start paddling again, only to do the same thing 30 seconds later.  At first it was ok.  But after one hour of the same shit, it started to get real old.  Very, very exhausting.  Pulling those boats over the logs became a back breaker.  But in the end, after more than 5 hours of paddling, we found CP9 and shortly thereafter the end of the paddle at TA2.  Finishing that paddle was the best part of the race for me.  I was beat!!

The Trek (part 3)

After getting done with that paddle, it was a welcomed thing to get on our feet for another trekking section.  But now we had some choices to make...

The Turkey Burn is a rogaine style race.  In other words, there are mandatory checkpoints and a mandatory finish time.  We finished the paddle around 12:15pm.  So we had only 3:45 before we had to finish the race.  We still had a long trekking section, a long biking section, and one final trekking section, before the end of the race.  Luckily, there were only two mandatory checkpoints left to get.  One was on this trek section, and one was on the next bike section.  So we all took a few minutes to come up with a plan.  We decided to get the mandatory point on the trek and then head back towards the TA, skipping all but one of the rest of the trekking points.  We wanted to get back to TA by 2:00pm so that we could have two hours left for the biking section.

So we left TA2 and headed off towards the mandatory point, CP11.  We kept a nice easy jog.  Just enough to keep us moving and a decent pace.  We were all tired, but everyone was in a good mood.  From CP11 we went to get CP21, thereby skipping CP 12-20.  And then we headed back to the TA to start the last biking section.  We timed it perfectly, getting to the TA around 1:50pm.

The Bike (part 2)

We left the TA around 2:05pm.  We had exactly 1:55 to go out and collect as many points as we could, and make it back to the finish before 4:0pm.  We had already decided we would not be doing the last trekking section.  it was only two points, and nobody would be able to go get them anyway.  So we were going to spend every minute before 4:00pm getting bike points.  We went at it hard!

This bike section was pretty good.  One section of soft sand, but other than that, pretty good trails.  We were told in lieu of going to mandatory CP29, we should go to CP11 again instead.  We rode pretty fast and found all the checkpoints without problems.  We saw lots of teams out there.  Especially all the short race (the 4-hour Turkey Burn race) teams.  They all looked so fresh!  :)  Anyway, we did really good.  And planned it almost perfectly.  When we picked up CP25, we turned around and headed to the finish line the same exact way.  At first I thought we would be leaving sometime on the table and get back to the finish line too early, but with about 2 miles to go, our decision paid off.

With just two miles to go, Ralph's chain snapped right off!  So we broke out the tow rope, and I towed Ralph while Greg and Lori were both behind him pushing him.  Even doing this we passed a few teams on the way to the finish line.  :)

The Finish

We finished the race in 2nd place overall.  First place went to a team called Shake a Leg from Miami.  They were a 2-person coed team.  In other words, and much to our excitement, we won the 4-person Elite division and defended our title from last year!

We were very happy with our race.  We kept a great pace all day.  We made some good navigational decisions which in the end paid off.  And the entire team, all four of us, had a great day!  As is always the case with our team, we had some good laughs (especially thanks to Ralph and Greg) and most importantly, we had a lot of fun!  And in the end that is all we care about.  It's great to win, I won't lie, but I would hate to race with other people, for whom winning is everything.  We do it all just for fun.

So thanks to my team; Lori, Greg and Ralph.  Awesome time guys!!  You all rock!