Monday, March 2, 2009

The BOAR 6-Hr AR (2009)

The BOAR is a 6-Hour adventure Race named for the location of the first time the race was held, at The Big Oaks Ranch.  Since then the race has moved to a few different locations.  This year's race it was held in the Orlando Wetlands / Seminole WMA area right near Ft Christmas.  For this race our team (Team Nature Calls) was Jason, Lori, Matt (Lori's son, Erica's brother) and me.

We knew this was going to be a competitive race.  The team's list before the race was loaded with some strong racers.  Team " Shake A Leg" was there.  A very tough and fast team from South Florida.  Team "Badfish," also a very strong team.  And others like Team "Punch Junkies" and Team "Up a Creek Without a Seat."  Anyway, lots of fast and strong teams.  So we knew it would be competitive.

From the word go the race was fast.  We started with a short 3/4 mile run down to CP1 where we had to collect a chip and bring it back to TA.  From there, we'd be getting on our bikes for a short stroll up to our bikes (with two CP's along the way).  Since the run was so short, most of the teams were on the bikes right behind each other.

Just a few miles after getting on the bike we made it to CP2 with about 4 other teams, and several other close behind.  The trail then turned into this rough, rooted up trail, which was very muddy in some spots.  It was tough going at times.  We picked up CP3, and bout 25 minutes after we started, we reached the boats, where we would start our first major leg of the race.  What would turn out to be an incredibly tough paddle.

The Paddle

We were the first team to put our boats in the water, with team "Shake A Leg" (SaL) right behind us.  The paddle was kinda like a loop with several points along the way.  We decided to attack it in a counter-clockwise loop.  Team BadFish did as well.  Teams SaL and Punch Junkies decided to go at it clockwise.

The water level on the river was pretty low.  On our way up there was a lot of getting out of the boat, pushing, getting back in and paddling again.  Finding the CPs was pretty easy.  Jason was spot on with the navigation as usual.  Just a little slow going because of the water level.

Somehow we made it to the northern most points at the same exact time that some of the other fast teams did.  From there tough, things got rough!

The way back south to get the other points was basically a trek, with a couple canoes along to make it a little harder. The water level on the other side of the river was almost completely gone.  It was basically a very small canal with about 2 inches of water, or no water at all some spots.  So we had to pull or push our canoes almost the entire way.  To make it even better, the ground was this nasty quicksand like muck that sucked your legs in and made it hard to walk.  Needless to say, it was not fun.  But we made our way through it, picking up a few more points along the way.

And finally, after about 2 hours and 15 minutes, we reached the end of the paddle at the exact same time that the other front teams did.  I couldn't believe it.

The Bike

So we got back on the bikes we headed off for the next leg.  All the front teams started the leg together.  IN fact, at one point all four of us were looking for the same CP at the same time.  We spread out a little bit over the course of the bike section, but not by too much.  Our team did pretty well in finding all the points.  Only lost a couple minutes with one, where we overshot our attack point by about a hundred yards.  But no biggie.  Everything else was spot on.

The bike was short and only took us about an hour.  We reached the main TA almost at the same time that teams SaL and Punch Junkies did.

The Trek

The final leg of the race was a trekking section with about 5 points along the way.  We left the TA at the same time SaL did.  Except they went at it again on a clockwise type loop, while we decided to go at it counter-clockwise.  Team Punch Junkies was in the TA about to leave as well.

Finding the CP on the trek was fairly easy.  Only one was slightly misplaced, but still easy to spot.  We kept a pretty steady pace going, knowing that a couple other teams were right on par with us.

The last two points we came to were on the Florida Foot Trail.  As we headed up the FFT, we came across team Punch Junkies who was heading in the opposite direction.  There was one point right on the trail, and another which was a bushwhack off the trail about 500 paces east.  We quickly found the point on the trail and started bushwhacking.  After about 8 minutes, we came right to it.

Race was done.  Now all we had to do was make our way back to the finish.  Instead of going back to the FFT we made our way straight north to the main trail that would lead us to the finish.  Once on the trail, we had about 1 mile to go.  This is where it gets interesting.

The finish line was located in what you can call an intersection between two trails.  We were coming at it from the East, while teams Punch Junkies and SaL were coming at it from the South.  We had no idea where each other was.  And so after 55 minutes of trekking, we made it to the finish line just three seconds (yes, 3 seconds!) behind team Punch Junkies.  About 1 minute later team Shake A Leg made it in.  And about 7 minutes after that team Badfish came in.  Amazing!

I have done a lot of races, but never one so close and so competitive.  My hats off to Punch Junkies, Shake A Leg and Badfish for making this a very fun and exciting race!!

And as always, many thanks to my team, Nature Calls.  Jason and Lori were strong as bulls like always.  And our AR semi-rookie, Matt, raced like he's been racing for years.  Very fast and very strong, never complaining and pushing as hard as he could.

So another great and fun race in the books.  Next up is the short Squiggy race, followed by the tough and long 30-hour ACC in April.  Can't wait!!