Friday, October 15, 2010
It's hard to explain to some people why it is that we do the crazy shit we do. To a lot of people, the Coast to Coast Adventure Race sounds like the craziest of them all. As much as what you are about to read sounds like nothing but pain and misery, rest assured that we do these races because in the end, we enjoy them. We have fun doing them and I personally wouldn't give it up for anything....
This was my sixth straight C2C race. Team Nature Calls was going to be just me and Lori this time around. We tried to get our usual 4-person team together, but most of our other teammates had prior engagements and could not race with us. But that was fine with us. Lori and I have great racing chemistry together and we knew we'd have a fun time out there.
Day One - The Start
The 2010 Coast to Coast Adventure Race started in Crystal River, FL at 4:00AM on Thursday, September 30th. All the teams gathered at the back of the Days Inn hotel while Elias and Dennis (the race organizers) gave us a few last minute instructions. A few minutes before 4:00AM, we took off.
Trek 1 - 7.5 miles
The first leg of the 250 mile race was a trekking/running section. Fairly simple and easy point-to-point run. We just had to run six miles north on SR19 to the Felburn Boat Ramp on a canal that led to Lake Rousseau, where we would transition into our kayaks. Not much to tell about this section as there were no checkpoints to find. We made it to the boat ramp along side most of the other teams, quickly jumped on our kayak and took off in the dark waters of the canal.
Paddle 1 - 23 miles
The first paddle was pretty straight forward. We paddled Northeast on the canal until we reached Lake Rousseau. From there we'd continue NE through the lake and onto the Rainbow River finally ending our paddle at Rainbow Springs.
At Rainbow Springs we had an underwater checkpoint ("OP Sleepmonsters"). This is the second time this year I have one of these underwater points. So I put on my goggles and dove into the awesome 72 degree water of the spring. The checkpoint was easy to get and the water felt great! We quickly jumped back into the boat and paddle back south for about a mile or so to our final destination at the KB Hole Campground.
Tubing - 4 miles
At KB Hole we got off the boats and picked up some tubes. This is something new to me in adventure racing. I had never done a tubing leg before.
Now you'd think this would be easy because you can just sit back on the tube and relax. Not quite. The river does not flow very fast, so the tube ride down river would have taken quite a while. So all the team took their kayak paddles on the tube. Again, you would think that this would have been a piece of cake, but try it someday. Trying to paddle while sitting on a tube is not an easy thing. It took Lori and I about a mile to get a good system working.
But this section was actually very fun. We mostly spent the tube section with Team Pangea and passed the time joking around and talking, trying to rest our legs for the very long bike ride we had ahead of us. We finished the tubing section in about an hour and a half, and now the race was about to get very, very interesting.
Bike 1 - 53 miles
Finally it was time for the first bike section of the race. And little did we know how long, or how frustrating, this bike leg would be. It was in this leg of the race that the race went downhill, quickly, for a lot of teams.
The bike started easy enough. Started with a nice ride down 484. Then we went off-road at the Pruit Trailhead where we picked up a shell road to ride through the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve. I've been through there several times on previous races, so I knew the area fairly well. From there we continued East across SR200 and CR484 and into the Santos Trail System. This is where it all started going downhill.
Now I am not going to go into detail, but I will just say that the maps we were given sucked. Period. I know that a couple people reading this report might get mad at this statement, but it's a simple fact, they sucked. The black and white printed maps were hard to read, the plots and text on them were barely visible, and the scale (1:50 and 1:100) were way to small to make out any significant detail in areas where it was necessary.
So as we started looking for checkpoint "OP USARA", frustration set it as we couldn't find it. Usually you can understand when it is just one team looking for it. But within 30 minutes there were at least a dozen different teams, all looking in the same area for the same checkpoint. With the help of all the other teams, we looked and we looked and we looked. Finally after over two hours of looking, we decided we just had to move on. We had spent way too much time searching. It sucked leaving and having missed this point, but we decided it was best. Many other teams did the same thing. Come to find out later that a few lucky teams ran into the point, PURELY by luck. All agreed it was nowhere near where it should have been. Oh well.
From there we continued on the Santos Trails. We picked up a couple points along the way, then we got to another trouble spot. It was now night time and we had our headlamps on. We were on the trail system looking for "OP Howl at the Moon". The clue sheet said it was "in sink hole near intersection of Dr. Ruth and Cow Bone". Now, Dr. Ruth and Cow Bone are trails. We rode Cow Bone until we came to the intersection of Dr. Ruth. Once there, we did the obvious thing, we got off our bikes and started looking for a sink hole somewhere near the intersection. We looked and looked and looked. Then we looked some more. We found no sink hole. Now we started to feel like shit. Two checkpoints no found already. This sucks. But there was not much we could do, so we moved on.
we found out later that there wasn't a sink hole. The check point was on a trail called "Sink Hole" that was near the intersection. Nothing on the instructions indicated this. Something as simple as adding the word 'trail' would have made a huge difference.
We got back on the trail and made it to the Santos Trailhead, where we had a ropes section waiting for us. There was a bridge that was started, but never finished. SO there in the middle of the woods there was this cement bridge support, this was our ropes spot. It was about 60 feet high. We ascended to the top, then rappelled down the opposite side of it. It was pretty tough getting over the lip as we ascended, but it's very hard to describe why, so I won't try. Let's just say that it took us about 45 minutes to get out of there and continue on with our bike ride through Ocala.
The rest of the bike ride was half on the Florida Foot Trail and half on paved road. A couple checkpoints along the way. We eventually came to another point which was impossible to find. We ran into Dr. Ron's team there, they had been searching for over an hour. We joined them and helped looked. Again, no luck. By this point we were pretty pissed. The awful maps and the poor checkpoint placement was making an already very demanding race much tougher.
FInally, sometime around 2:00am, along with Dr. Ron's team we reached the transition area at SIlver River State Park.
22 hours into the race we decided to take our first, and only, nap of the race. We went down for two hours. I probably actually slept about 1.5 hours cause I had to get up twice.
Paddle 2 - 14 miles
At 4:00AM on Friday we got up from our short nap. It was hard getting up, but we knew sleep was a luxury and we had to go. Not long later we were on the river, paddling up to Silver Springs for a checkpoint. After reaching Silver Springs we turned around, pass the Silver Springs State Park, and continued East on our way to find another checkpoint further down river.
Our paddle ended about 4 miles away from the Silver Springs TA. So we had to portage our boat all the way back. Thank god for portaging wheels!
Trek 2 - 30 miles
Back at the Silver Springs TA we changed into our trekking gear and took off on foot for what would be come the longest leg of the race. On foot, we took off heading east into the Ocala National Forest.
This trek turned out to be very, very long. 30 miles long to be exact. We started trekking on paved roads until we reached Ocala National Forest. Then it was a long as hell fire road trek which seemed to never end.
The heat on the road and the distance tore my feet up. Blisters popped up within 10 miles. By mile 20 I was in serious pain.
During this section we hooked up with Team Penny Warriors, Chris and Matt. Very cool guys from out of town doing their first multiday race. We passed the time joking, telling stories and complaining about our feet. Lori and I showed Chris the wonders of A&D ointment, what what it can do for butt rash.
Anyway, after what seemed like forever (but was actually about 9-10 hours), we finished our trek at the Hopkins Prairie TA.
Bike 2 - 64 miles
After refueling and changing, I made a quick stop by the medical tent. My feet were completely tore up. The two meds helped pop all my blisters (I had about 10 of them) and tape up my feet. Shortly thereafter we took off on our bikes.
Now it's night two and we are pretty damn tired. But off we go on a very long bike section. I wanted to try and catch a quick nap, but it just wasn't in the cards. We tried to lay down on the side of the road for about 20 minutes, but the mosquitoes made it impossible to get any rest. So we got back on just continued on our way.
It was during this section, at around 2:00AM, that some asshole threw a shoe at me as they drove by. Yes, a shoe. What the fuck is that about? Anyway, luckily his drunk aim missed me and the shoe hit my back wheel.
On the first part of this leg we hooked back up with Dr Ron and Team Bite Me. We all worked together to find the first point (which turned out to be the hardest). Shortly after that we got separated. Later during the ride we hooked up with Team Scurvy Knaves. The 6 of us stayed together the rest of the night and morning finding the last few checkpoints of the race and trying to keep each other awake. I was barely hanging in there. I was exhausted and my stomach was killing me.
At some time in the early daylight hours of our third day of racing, we finally finished the 64 mile ride and reach the next TA area. The finish line was now close, very close.
Paddle 3 - 13.5 miles
We quickly transitioned into our paddling gear for one last time. We had a somewhat short and straightforward 14 mile paddle ahead of us. So we ate and jumped in the boats.
We paddled most of the way with Team Scurvy Knaves who was still with us. The sun was now shining bright and getting very hot. but the paddle was fairly easy and in just under 3 hours we were done.
Now we could smell the finish line.....
The Finish - Trek 3 - 7 miles
The last leg was a 7 mile beach run straight down Ormond Beach. The finish line was at the Coral Sands Hotel. we were not allowed to run on the sidewalks. we had to stay on the beach. So off we went.
We didn't do much running cause at this time my feet were still pretty messed up. But we trekked as fast as we could.
It took us a couple hours, but finally, at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon, we crossed the finish line.
I was tired and beat. My feet were killing me and I could barely walk. But I was excited we had made it all the way. Another successful Coast to Coast down in the books for me.
We had a room at the hotel. So after showering and brushing our teeth (for the first time in three days), we went down to Charlies Crabhouse for some real food. After dinner we came back to the hotel, opened a few cold beers, and sat by the finish line chatting with the other teams and waiting for the rest of the teams that were still out racing.
We all sat around discussing how bad some of the plots were and how hard it was to find some of the points. Some teams were not happy.
This was a tough Coast to Coast. not so much physically because we have had much more physically demanding races, but mentally because the maps were so bad and finding all the checkpoints was very tough. But we powered through it and made it.
Lori, as always, was a freaking machine. I swear she is a cyborg or something. She never complains, never gets tired. She just pushes on and on and on, always with a smile on her face. It was huge having her as my teammate! Thanks Lori, you freaking rock!!
And of course, HUMONGOUS thanks to our support crew, Ashley, Maggie and Alli. They were truly amazing keeping us fed and equipped the entire race. Cheering us on and keeping us moving. Without them, none of this would have been possible. You guys are amazing!!
After the race I took a week off to relax and rest then I went on a cruise. But now it's time to start full training again as the Turkey Burn is right around the corner, so there's no time to slack off anymore....
Total Trekking: 44.5 miles
Total Biking: 117 miles
Total Kayaking: 50.5 miles
Total ~ 220 miles
Total Race Time: 58.5 hours (with only **2 hours** of sleep time).
Trek 1 - 7.5 miles
Paddle 1 - 23 miles
Tubing - 4 miles
Bike 1 - 53 miles
Paddle 2 - 14 miles
Trek 2 - 30 miles
Bike 2 - 64 miles
Paddle 3 - 13.5 miles
Trek 3 - 7 miles
Monday, July 26, 2010
This past weekend I headed down to the middle of nowhere to race the Nocturnal 18-Hour Adventure Race.
Starting at 2:00PM on Saturday afternoon and finishing at 8:00AM on Sunday morning, it was going to be mostly a night race. Team Nature Calls was going to be just Lori and I, since our other teammates were busy with other commitments.
The race took place in Forever Florida. I had never heard of the place before. It's south of St. Cloud (although it is still considered St. Cloud). It would also take us out into the Bull Creek WMA, a place I've raced through before.
Lori and I got to the race start around 10:30AM. And it was hot. Incredibly hot. We knew that when the race started at 2:00PM, we'd be sweating bullets. Sitting around the TA getting our maps and gear ready was miserable. The heat was just unbearable. But it would get much worse.
And at exactly 2:00PM, off we went.
The Bike 1
The race started with bike ride. We had to bike from the S/F Ta down to the Bull Creek TA. In between there would be two CPs we would have to find.
The ride was not hard, and finding the CPs was easy. But already the heat was brutal. The whole area we were in is pretty wide open. In other words, it's mostly white sandy roads (a lot of soft sand) with very little shade. So yeah, hot.
Lori and I took our time and rode at our own pace. At around 3:30PM we reached the Bull Creek TA and quickly transitioned into the boats for a short paddle section.
The Paddle 1
There is not a lot of water in the area we were racing, so Greg (the race organizer) had to get clever.
Our first paddle was short. We only had three CPs to get on the river, which was not long at all. So to add some time on the boat, Greg had us do a sort of time trial. So after we picked up the CPs and got back to the boat TA, we had to go back out and paddle around a number of buoys he had set out.
All in all the paddle was nice and the CPs were fairly easy to get. And lucky for us, the river was actually pretty shady, so that was a plus.
Lori and I finished the paddle at around 4:30PM. Now it was time to trek.
The Trek 1
We started the trek at around 4:40PM. And I know I keep saying this, but it's hard to express just how incredibly hot it was out there.
On this trek we had to find four CPs along mostly sandy trails. The points were not hard to find, and the trails were not hard to follow, but the heat (and no shade) made the whole trek miserable.
Starting the trek we decided to take a shortcut through the woods while heading to CP7. it was a short, but thick, bushwhack. Tons of big banana spiders. And we even ran into a wasp nest, which we luckily saw before we walked into it. After that, it was all trails to the rest of the CPs.
We finished the trek at around 6:30PM. And in that short two hours time I went through an entire, full, 100oz bladder of ice water.
Oh yeah, while out on the trek, we ran into this beauty (below). She was just curled up in the middle of the trail. We went around it and as I tried to take a picture it ran away, which made it better for my picture.
The Bike 2
When we finally finished the trek I was so hot I decided to take a swim in the river just to cool off. So I jumped right in. It felt sooo good!
Now it was time to bike again. This was going to be the longest (distance wise) leg of the race. A bike leg with a few CPs to get, while making our way back to the main S/F TA.
During this section we ended up riding with Dr. Ron's Jim's Bicycles team. I always like racing with Dr. Ron, he's a funny dude.
All the CPs were exactly were they were supposed to be. The ride was mostly on nice shell-packed trails which made for good riding. So mostly this was a section to get some miles in. We had to try and stay hydrated as it was still brutally hot, even though it was now early evening.
We finished the leg and arrived back at the S/F TA at around 8:50PM.
The Trek 2
At 9:00PM, with a beautiful and bright full moon shining down on us (yes, Greg planned the race so it would be a full moon), we headed off on foot for the second trekking section of the race. The moon was so bright that we didn't even have to have our headlamps on, unless we were looking for a CP. Still, even at night, it was till hot out.
The trek was fairly straight forward. Lori and I quickly found CP6 and CP7. At CP8 we again ran into Team Jim's Bicycles (Dr. Ron). The six of us worked together to find the last three CPs before heading in.
All were fairly simple. I think the one that gave us the hardest time was CP9, but that was our own fault. We just didn't count our distance correctly. Other than that we found all the CPs and at 11:30PM got back to the main TA for some zip-lining fun!
Forever Florida has some really cool zip line towers. I had no idea they had places like this in Florida, yet there it was, just an hour from my house.
They have these very tall towers all throughout the place. You get clipped into the line, and then zip line from tower to tower. In between some of the towers they have suspension bridges that you have to cross, while way up in the air. I really thought this was going to be boring and time consuming, but it really turned out to be one of the coolest things I have ever done in a race.
Unfortunately they don't allow you to bring cameras out to the area, so I couldn't take pictures. We also didn't have our headlamps, but with the full moon it was amazing!
On this first zip line section (we had another one later on), we zip lined five different times.
The Paddle 2
During the zip lines I lost track of the actual time, but it was around 12:35(ish)AM that jumped back on our bikes and rode a short distance down to our second paddling leg. This was was even shorter than the previous one. It was a very, very tight river with lots of turns. In other words, with a few boats in there it was really congested. But, it took us no time to get the five CPs and get back to the TA.
The Bike 3
Around 1:30AM we headed off on bikes again, this time for our last bike leg of the race.
Again, this was a pretty straight forward section. Five CPs and lots of riding. Once again, halfway through this section we caught up with Dr. Ron and the rest of Jim's Bicycle team.
We slightly miscalculated the location of CP14 and spent longer than we wanted searching for it. But we found it, moved on, and by 3:40AM we were back at the S/F/ TA.
Zip Lines (part 2)
At this point we headed back to the zip lines. Now we had a shorter zip line section to do before moving on. This part was short and quick.
The Trek / Finish!
At 4:30AM we headed off on the third trek, and the final leg, of the race. I was tired. Very tired. But I knew I only had a short while to go.
This leg was once again pretty straight forward. The only thing that gave us a hard time was looking for CP17. It wasn't because we didn't know where it was. It was because finding the FFT (Florida Foot Trail) was kinda hard in this area. The typical orange blazes that mark the trail were hard to see since the trees were so far apart. And the trail itself was very seldom used, so it was barely there, and very faint, so it was hard to follow.
But at exactly 6:55AM we made it in and crossed the finish line!
We finished 6th out of 17 teams. And only six teams (us included) were able to complete and clear the full course. The other 11 teams did not clear the course. So we felt good about our race.
This was another excellent race! Greg and the rest of the Pangea staff and volunteers keep outdoing themselves with amazing races. At every single transition area there was always a huge tote full of ice for us to use on our bottles and bladders. That was truly a life saver.
Lori was, as always, an awesome teammate. She is strong as a bull, even letting me hang on to her backpack during some of the trekking sections when I was hurting or moving slower. She is a bad ass! Thanks for another fun race Lori!
Not sure what I'll be doing between now and my next scheduled race, the Coast to Coast 72-hour race. There are a couple races in between, but I haven't decided which one I may be doing.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
This past Sunday, on Father's Day, Jason, myself and two of our friends, Aaron and May-Li raced the popular SCAR AR up in Wekiva. We registered as Team Hoof Hearted for this race. In fact, this race is so popular, it was the single biggest race (by attendance) that Pangea Adventure Racing has ever had. That's pretty cool!
Anyway, our 6-hour race started promptly at 9:0AM, and it was already very hot. I didn't know just how much the heat would factor into my (our) race that day.....
At 9:00AM the race started with a short 2.5 mile run. we had two checkpoints (CPs) to find along the way. There was little navigation on this section. Just follow the trail to the CPs and head back.
We got out in front quick, and stayed near the front the entire time. I was definitely the weak link as all three of my teammates are excellent runners. But I managed to maintain a pace just fast enough to keep us in the front. In 22 minutes (at 9:22AM) we were back at the TA ready to go on.
The paddling section was pretty straight forward. We had a couple CPs down river (or actually "up" river since the Wekiva is one of the few rivers in the US that flows north), and a few points down river.
Navigation was pretty simple during this section. The main issue was the heat. By now it was getting brutal. I tried to stay hydrated, but as I would learn shortly, I did not do a good job.
We took exactly 1 hour and 50 minutes to paddle nearly 8 (roundtrip) miles and get all the points on the river and get back to the TA. We came in tied for second place with a 2-person coed team, Team Primal Instinct. The first place team, a 2-person male team, Team Super Frogs, was a few minutes ahead of us.
We rushed through TA and in a matter of seconds we were off. We started the bike section at 11:15AM. Shortly after we left is when I realized I could not breath. My heart rate was through the roof and I could just not move very fast. I couldn't get myself in a groove.
At first I biked as fast as I could, but it was just not fast enough to stay on the front. So Jason did what we both have done several times before and broke out the tow rope. And yes, for the rest of the bike leg (8.5 miles, 1:15 time) Jason towed me. I was still not feeling great, but the towing helped a lot! it helped me and it helped keep us near the front. Jason was a freaking machine towing me through some nasty stuff!
Anyway, the CPs on the bike section were again fairly easy to find, nothing to hard. We just had to keep moving. On our way back we knew that Team Primal Instinct was just ahead of us, but we had not seen Team Super Frogs. We weren't sure why.
As I said above, the bike leg was a total of 8.5 miles which took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes. We got back to the TA at 12:36PM. Just a few seconds behind first place, Team Primal Instinct.
Now it was time for the last leg of the race. A short trek. But it was noon, and brutally hot.
We left the TA at 12:40PM. Again I was the weak link in the team. Already hurting, I was moving slow. So my team once again jumped in to help. Aaron took my backpack to lighten my load. And throughout the trek, I traded holding onto May-Li and Jason. Again, as with towing on the bike, you wouldn't believe what a difference it makes.
So we moved as fast as I could. It was a combination of fast walk and what I call the Ironman Shuffle, which is just my very slow run. It's slow, but better than walking.
It took us exactly 40 minutes to cover the 3 mile section and pick up a few CPs along the way.
We crossed the finish line at 1:19PM, 4 hours and 19 minutes after starting. We finished in 2nd place, just shy of four minutes behind Team Primal Instinct. But we were the first place elite team (3/4 person team). So congrats to Team Primal Instinct for an amazing race!
At the finish line it was great to see that Alli, Erica, Thomas James, JD and Amy had come out to see us finish!!
So obviously we had a good race, but I've been kicking myself in the head since then for not having hydrated enough to keep from suffering as I did. But our entire race was a display of pure team work. Jason, May-Li and Aaron all came together to help me the entire day. You guys rock!! Thanks for an awesome race!
And thanks to Greg, Pangea and ALL the volunteers for putting on another top quality event!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
The Talon is one of the very first races I did. In fact, it was my third adventure race back in 2004. It is held in Alafia State Park which has some of the coolest MTB trails around. I love riding the Alafia single track. Moonscape is one of the touch single tracks I've ever ridden. Anyway, I digress. Back to the race.
For this race Team Nature Calls was back together with Jason, Lori and myself. Our last race a couple weeks ago we won, so we were hoping to do well in this one too.
The race started with a short run (a few miles) in which we had to find two checkpoints (CPs) along the single track trails. We went off fast and stayed towards the front in order to try and avoid the congestion we'd knew would happen in some areas. We finished the run near the front. it was already getting pretty hot.
During the race we had three 'special tests' we needed to complete. We could do the at anytime during the race, but we'd knew some of them would get busy later on, so we decided to do the ropes section right away. we were the first ones there. We had to simply put on a harness and zip line over a small lake. In no time we were back at the TA getting ready for some riding.
The Bike 1
The first bike section was a nice long ride along some of the cool single track. For those who know the park, we rode 'Rock Garden', 'River Loop', 'and 'Sand Pine'. Along the way we had four CPs wich would be right on the trails. Finding the CPs was easy, and the riding was fun, although a little frustrating at first.
As we started the race we found ourselves behind several of the slower teams. Several people who were getting off their bikes and any sign of a drop or a hill along the trail. I was starting to get angry and Jason had to reason with me. There was nothing we could do, just try to pass them when we could. Eventually we got clear of all the slow riders and got towards the front for some good open riding.
We finished the bike section, now in second place, and decided to quickly do the last two 'special test'. One was a puzzle and one was a dart throw thing. Done and it was time to move on.
Now it was time for the first orienteering section of the race. We had a handful of CPs to find by using compass bearings and distance. Basically you shoot a compass bearing from a specific point, for a specific distance, to the first CP. Once you find it, you shoot another bearing from that one to the next one. And so on. The race director made a little interesting by adding math to the equation. For example, the instructions would say something like, "To get to CP8 from CP7, go 16x22-57 feet at 13x31+23 degrees. Anyway, it was a fun section, but it was hot!
The Paddle 1
We now had a short ride of a few miles (no CPs) down to the river TA. We packed up our paddles and headed off. Reached the river still in second place, quickly jumped on our boat, and headed South towards CP11. we were paddling against the current and against a head wind, which meant the paddle back up river would be very nice. And it was. we quickly caught and passed the team in front of us, and made it back to the river TA in first place.
The Bike 2
Back at the river TA we transitioned back to our bikes and headed West on the trails to find two CPs. The ride was mostly on berms which were up pretty high, which meant some climbing. I have to admit, it hurt. We had a bit of trouble finding CP14, but eventually got to it. After that CP13 was much easier to find, but tougher to get to. Lots of bushwhacking for that one. But it wasn't long before we were heading back to the river TA. And did I mentioned it was hot out there?
The Paddle 2
Back on the boats now we headed North on the river towards CP16. This part of the river was very different to the southern portion. Less water and lots of trees, logs and other debris on the way. We had to get out of the boat several times. Fairly tough, but Cp was easy to find and we made it back to the river TA still leading the race.
The Bike 3
From the river we jumped back on our bikes and headed back towards CP18, located near the river. In order to get the CP we had to cross the river. This was one of those few times I realize how great adventure racing is.
As we were pushing our bikes up towards the river's edge, Jason, who was at the front, stopped to listen. I asked him what was up and he calmly said, "I thought I heard a rattle snake". A few minutes later, when we reached the river, we saw a young gator, about 3 feet in length, entering the river on the opposite bank, exactly where we had to go. But none of us thought anything of it. I quickly picked up my bike over my shoulders and waded across the chest deep river heading towards the exact place the gator had just gone in.
Anyway, we crossed the river, picked up the CP and headed back to the main TA.
The Orienteering 2
Now we had another orienteering section, similar to the previous one. A solo racer, Nick, had joined us for this section. The four of us quickly found and made it through, picking up CP20-27. We made it back to the main TA easily 45 minutes ahead of the closest team. Unfortunately, this is when we found out we had made one mistake.
After we picked up CP27 we misread the instructions and thought we were to head back to the TA. But we really had one more CP, CP28 to find along the way. We literally walked within a couple feet of it on our way to the TA, but since we weren't looking for it, we didn't see it. So when we made it to the TA they informed us we had missed the CP. Unfortunate mistake on our part, but we had no choice, we had to go back for it. An hour later, we were back, with CP28 marked.
So just like that, a small mistake turned a 45 minute lead into a 20 minute deficit. Six teams had jumped ahead of us. But as I've said a million times, that's adventure racing.
At this point we had finished with the mandatory portion of the race. Now we could start the bonus portion.
The Bike 4 - Bonus Points
So we jumped back on the bikes to go after as many bonus points as we could. After finding the first two we headed up a sandy trail to the others. The heat was brutal. It really got to Jason and I. We were both hurting and moving really slow. We actually had to pull over and rest under some trees for a few minutes. And as always, Lori was strong as can be. She never ceases to amaze me.
Although we were moving slowly, and some of the CPs gave us a hard time, we managed to get six CPs, for a total of 9 bonus points. We made it back to the main TA finishing the race at 5:13PM. Nine hours and 43 minutes of racing.
Now we had to play the waiting game to see if any teams managed to finish the mandatory course, and get more bonus points than we did.
We finished with nine bonus points in a time of 9:43. Only one team got more points than we did, a 2-person male team, Team Rinkside Sports (with 11 points). A couple other teams finished with 9 points as well, but we finished faster than they did. And in case of a points tie, time is always the tie breaker. So we were second overall. But in the elite racing division, the 3-person coed, we were solidly in first place.
It was definitely a tough race. The incredible heat made it much tougher. But as always we had a blast doing it.
I've said it dozens of times before, and I am sure I will say it dozens more, but I really want to thank my awesome teammates J and Lori. You guys rock!
That was my 3rd race in four weeks. Now I get a nice break before my next race in June. I better start doing some heat training.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Phew. What a race. What an amazingly fun and tough race. Where to start?
Well, this race took place up in North Florida in the St. Augustine area, in and near the town of Nocatee, FL. I've raced through this area twice before, and it was always hard.
For this race I teamed up with Trung and Jaime Lynch. I had never raced with them before, but I know them both and I knew they are both very cool guys and very strong adventure racers. So at 9:00AM on Saturday morning, off we went....
The race started with a very short prologue. A simple 1/4 mile run to find some hidden clues. All took about 7 minutes and we were done and bac to the TA to really start the race....
The Bike 1
After the easy prologue we took off on our bikes for a nice road bike ride with three CPs (checkpoints) along the way. The ride was about 11 miles or so. The CP's were fairly easy to find. In this section we hooked up with Jim Carr and Rod Price of Team Eco-Choice. Since it was a road bike section it helped having five of us trading pulls against a pretty nasty headwind as we headed down A1A.
We quickly found the CPs and made it to the boat ramp were we would take off on our first paddling leg of the race.
The Paddle 1
The first paddle leg of the race would be on a dammed (as in contained a dam) lake which had recently been slightly drained. Actually, the TA was at the dam itself. In fact, changes to the course had to be made last minute because of the water level after the lake was drained. Anyway, we had five CPs to find in this section. The total paddle distance was about 12 miles. The CPs were again fairly easy to find. The paddling itself was kinda tough because of the water level. There were three of us in one canoe, which weighs us down a lot and makes it really hard to paddle in low water. And it was starting to get really hot out there!
So we slowly made our way up the lake, found four CPs, and paddled back to the dam. We had to cross over the dam (carry our boats) and find one last CP just south of the dam. Finally, after a few hours (3-4 hours I think), we were happy to get out of the water. I think all three of us share a big dislike for paddling, and we were ready to get out of the boats!
The Bike 2
Now the real fun was about to begin! A long bike section with lots of CPs to find, and all in kinda hard places. It was early in the afternoon, and off we went!
This section would be all off road. Part fire roads, part jeep trails, part single track. We had nine checkpoints to find, along with an orienteering section in the middle of it. Thanks to our pre-race planning, this section went really well for us. Sort of (more on this later). We did great finding all the points on the course fast and without issue. CP14 gave us a hard time, but only wasted about 10 minutes on it. The rest we got right away.
When we reached CP16 we had to go on foot to find five orienteering checkpoints (shoot bearings and go). Again we did wel on this section. Found all points with no issue and we were quickly back on our bikes heading back to the TA.
Just as we got the very last point we noticed something, we were missing one CP, CP9. That's when I realized I had COMPLETELY forgotten about it! All of the CPs in this section were located north of where we got back on the bikes. Except for CP9. That single CP was south. When we got on the bikes, I just totally forgot about it. I led us north towards what I though were all the points. This one mistake would bother me the rest of the race. But there was nothing we could do about it now. We were about 12 minles north of the Cp, and there was no way we were going to add 24 miles to our bike leg. So we had to skip it. I felt like a complete idiot for letting down my teammates counting on my navigation.
We finished the biking section in the early evening. Now to get ready for some good old fun in the dark.
The Trek 1
We quickly changed, fueled up, geared up, and headed out on foot. Ahead of us we had a very long trekking section. Daylight was about to be gone so we moved quickly to try and get at least one CP before darkness consumed us.
We reached CP23 around 7:00PM. At this point we also ran into Dr. Ron's team, Team Florida Xtreme. Instead of taking the much longer, but easier route to CP24, we all decided to try the much shorter, but slightly harder route, which meant bushwhacking through some nasty stuff. Dr. Ron and his team went a different way than we did. We were both trying to do the same exact thing, try to make it to CP24. Unfortunately we overshot it and ended up on a road past the CP, and wouldn't you know it, we ran into Dr. Ron who had also missed it. So since this was going to be a long section, at night, we decided to combine our navigation efforts and team up for this trekking section.
Together, Dr. Ron and I easily led us through the very long section. We found all the points with only minor slow downs, told some funny racing stories (Dr. Ron has a lot of good ones) and had a really fun time. Now came time for what would become the toughest part of the race.
The Paddle 2
We finished the trekking section in the middle of the night, on the Guana River where the boats were waiting for us. Now we had what we thought would be a fairly easy and short paddling leg. There were four CPs we had to find, and in the middle of the paddle we had another trekking section. Pretty straightforward right?
Well it turns out that navigating a river like this one, in the middle of the night, is kinda hard. Usually, when you navigate a river, you have river bends and islands and other features which allow you, as a navigator, to know where you are and find what you are looking for. But this river had none of that. It was basically straight as an arrow, and had no discernible features. Almost no way to know where you were. My point being, finding the CPs became quite the endeavor. Thankfully, we were still racing with Florida XTreme and Dr. Ron whose many years of navigating experience eventually helped us find all the CPs. It was hard, no doubt about that. Also Team Eco-Choice had also joined us.
We ended up backtracking on the river several times. Getting in and out of the boats in several places only to find we were not in the correct place. It was frustrating, but we did find all the points.
The Trek 2
We had another trekking section in the middle of the paddle. It was much shorter than our previous one, and a nice break from the frustration of the river. Working together we found these points very quickly. We were all really enjoying the race so far. Other than the frustration of the river navigation, we were having fun. And the night ski, man, that was an incredible sight. So clear and so many stars!
We found the CPs in this section and got back on the boats to finish the paddling section. So just shortly after daybreak, early on Sunday morning, we finally, finally got out of the boats. Phew! Another section down, two more to go.
The Bike 3
After walking about 2.5 miles back to the TA, we geared up for the bike again. This time we had a long bike section in some of the same area we had trekked the previous night. we had nine Cps to find in this section. So again, off we went.
Most of the points on this section were off the trails, but most were again pretty straight forward to get to. Just a lot of riding. After a little while it started getting really hot again. And now we had to start worrying about the time. We had to finish the race by 3:00PM, no later. After the bike we still had another short trekking section to get to, so we needed to plan accordingly. So we kept moving, slow but steady. we had met up with Team Eco-Choice again, and we worked together to get through the section as quickly as possible.
Sometime just after 1:00PM we made it back to the TA.
The Trek 3
At 1:20PM we started the very last section of the race. It was a 3.5 miles trek. We had five very easy CPs to get. And just about 1 hour later, at 2:27PM, we came across the finish line.
We had finished with all but one of the 55 checkpoints, and ended in 5th place overall.
We had raced for 29 hours and 27 minutes non-stop. We were tired and hungry. But were also very happy to have finished such a great and demanding race.
First first off, thank you to my great teammates, Trung and Jamie. They both did an amazing job! They were great teammates and never complained about anything. They were always working hard and doing anything they could to help us find the points. Had a great time racing with them! Thank you guys!!
I also want to thank Dr Ron, Jim and the rest fo the members of Teams Eco-Choice and Florida Xtreme. Great time hanging out with all of you. We now have some great stories to tell our grandchildren about the Guana River.
And finally thank you to Pangea Adventure Racing for another excellent race!
And as a great surprise after a very long 30 hours, Alli showed up to the race finish! Just as we had crossed the finish line there she was. A very welcomed surprised. She drove my tired ass home while I slept the whole way home. And then took great care of my tired, immobile self at home.
Now it's time to relax for a week and then get ready for the next race, the 10-hour Talon AR on May 1st.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Yesterday Team Nature Calls headed back out into the woods for another excellent adventure race, The Squiggy 6-Hour AR, at Morris Bridge Park in the Hillsborough River area.
Jason, Lori and I had not raced together since the Turkey Burn, so we were ready to rock!
In order to split up the teams and put a little distance between them, the race started with a short prologue. Basically we ran through a mini and short obstacle course right around the start/finish area. We tried to stay near the front of the pack as we knew there would be back ups at some of the obstacles. And in a few shorts minutes we were done and on our way to the next part of the race.
Ride -N- Tie
The next part of a race was a section called Ride N Tie. One teammate rides a bike while the others run. You can switch off at anytime you want. The section was only a couple miles long, so we decided Lori would ride and Jason and I would run. The ride actually turned out to be harder than we thought as sections the trail were not bike friendly. But Lori did a great job while Jason and I tried to keep a good running pace. When all was said and done, we finished the section in about 3rd place overall.
After a very quick "special test" back at the TA, we tok off for the bike portion of the race. This section was awesome! Most of the bike was on great single rack trails which were perfectly maintained. Very fast trail and very fun to ride. We were the first ones of the trail, followed closely by our friend Greg (from Pangea Adventure Racing) and his son.
In this section we had five checkpoints to find, three of them would be right along the trail, while two we had to go find off the trail. We moved quick on the trail and easily found all the points. Lori who hadn't ben riding much (since she just finished a massive 7-day kayaking trip) did amazing on the bike!
Greg and his son stayed with us most of the way, but unfortunately halfway through the bike one of their derailleurs broke, and Greg had to tow his son all the way back to the TA. Great job on that Greg!
So we were the first ones back to the TA, and quickly jumped on the boats to star the paddling section.
Now it was time to canoe down the Hillsborough River. This was a very nice paddle. Very pretty river. And thanks to all the rain we had the last few weeks, the water level was high which made paddling easy. Well, except for the fact that heading south on the river the current was against us and very though.
The CP's on the river were again fairly easy to find. Saw a nice big gator sunbathing or waiting for one of us to tip their canoes, one or the other. Anyway, once we reached the last CP and turned around to head back to the TA, we were smoking it, thanks to the very strong current.
Made it back to the TA in first place, with a few teams about 10 minutes or so behind us.
With a few teams on our tails, we wasted no time in leaving the TA on our last section of the race, the trek/run. We had seven checkpoints to find in what was basically a very big swamp area.
Kip and Jessica had warned us about the mosquitos in this area, and man were they right. Only once before have I experienced anything quite like it, and that was while racing through the Everglades. It was insane. As soon as you stopped for even a second, you were swarmed by hundred of big nasty mosquitos. Luckily were had prepared with bug spray, but it was still annoying.
The first two checkpoints on this section were fairly easy to get to as they were off trails. But the rest were out in the middle of the swampish area next to the river. It was very wet and very muddy. We hard a little problem finding FP3. Looked around for a bit until we finally got our bearings (after making it to the river) and got it. After that, it was smooth sailing. Jason's navigation was, as always, spot on.
On our way back to the finish we decided to take the shortest route, which meant taking a dip in the river. We tried to pick a good section to cross, but still ended up having to swim in what turned out to be pretty cold water. That's adventure racing!
Made it to the finish line where we had to do a small mental test before finally crossing the finish line. So a few minutes later, we came across the finish line, 1st Place Overall! Second place came in about 5 minutes after us.
As always, I want to thank my awesome teammates, Jason and Lori. We had a great time and good laughs! Jason was again the man on his navigation and got us to all CP's very quickly! Awesome job guys! Can't wait to do it again!
And thank you to Kip, Jessica, and the rest of the WeCeFAR volunteers. Excellent course!!
Now to get ready for next week's 30-Hour adventure race up in Nocatee, Florida with Trung and Jamie. Should be fun!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Yesterday I did the 6-hour adventure race, The BOAR, with JD and Nikki Bell. It was a beautiful, somewhat cold morning, in East Orlando (Ft. Christmas area).
The race started out great. We had a short bike ride from the start to the Paddle TA just a few miles away. The roads were all very nice and hard packed. It was easy going. Made it to the boats together with the first two teams. But here's where very quickly our race would get turned upside dow.
The paddle portion of the race was in the St. John's River flood plain. Usually, when the water level is low, the flood plain has a very distinct channel that you can paddle on. And the maps we had for the race, which were taken directly off Google Maps, showed only this clear channel. However, thanks to all the rain we've had lately, the flood plain was flooded. There was water everywhere! It was very hard to figure out what the main channel was because everything looked the same.
So we easily and quickly made it to CP1. But then we got completely lost heading to CP2. As you can see on the map from my GPS watch (below), we ended up paddling way north. Notice how it looks like we are going over dry land, but believe me, it was anything but dry. 1.5 hours later I was completely lost. I have never been so lost in a race before. There was so much water everywhere that it was nearly impossible to figure out where you were. But finally after about 1.5 hours, we saw another boat and finally figured out where we were. From there we decided to get a few close CP's then just head in. Turns out almost every team had a hard time with the paddle, so that made me feel better. But it still sucked and cost us a lot of time. So we picked up only 4 out of 8 possible checkpoints and headed back to our bikes.
The Bike (1)
Both bike sections of the race were really easy. After getting off the boats we got on our bikes and biked up to CP9. From there we backtracked back past the main TA and continued on to CP10 and CP11, before heading into the TA. Very easy.
The Bike (2)
At the TA we had an option, we could go on to the next bike leg, or to the next trek leg. We chose to do the bike leg first, get it out of the way, then have the remaining race time to do the trek.
Again, this leg was easy. All roads were really nice and the CP's were exactly in place. We saw a lot of big gators in this area just sitting right on the side of the trail, a mere 10 feet from where we were riding. Very cool. We finished this section pretty quick and picked up all the CP's (CP20-CP26). Then we headed back to the TA.
Now it was time to trek. I knew this was going to be a long trek, and we had just about 2-hours to complete it. Since this is a rogaine race the finishing time is very important. You have to be back to the finish line before the cutoff (3:00PM). So we kept a a good eye on our watch.
We headed off running and quickly found CP18. From there we moved up to CP12 and then CP13. CP14-CP16 were really cool because you had to shoot navigational bearings to each one from the previous one. Then you had to follow your bearing and find the CP. I owned this section. I came up on all 3 CP's right on! At one point Nikki and JD were wondering what the hell we were doing, but then, there would be the CP, right where I said it would be. I felt good getting those points so easily.
We finally reached CP17 and had just over 30 minutes to spare. Now, looking at the map, the trail from CP17 to CP19, and then from CP19 to the finish, looked like a nice hard packed jeep trail. It was about 2.4 miles from there to the finish. So I thought we should have plenty of time to finish, no problem.
Unfortunately just south of CP17, the trail turned into a nasty, muddy, mucky shit pile that was impossible to run through. Parts were under water, other parts you would just sink ankle deep into the cow dung mud. Running was out of the question. But, we had already committed so we had to keep pushing.
We found CP19 with exactly 15 minutes left to go. Again, I thought the trail would get better and 15 minutes might be enough. But the trail did not get better. It almost got worse. so for about 1 mile were were walking through this nasty ass crap. It was so frustrating because I knew this woud cost us big time and we would not finish before 3:00PM. Finally the last 0.5 mile we got to a nice packed shell road, but by then it was too late. We were already past 3:00PM.
We finally finished at 3:11PM. We had a total of 22 points which was good for a solid 3rd place overall finish. But the penalties for being late were 1 point per 10 minutes late. So we got a 2 point penalty and ended up with a net of 20 points, which put us in 5th place.
But we still had a fun race. JD did really good! And Nikki was a freaking machine! She was on fire running ahead of us to every single CP and getting it right away. Plus the girl has eagle eyes. She was spotting CP's from all over the place! Good stuff! So I want to thank both of you for an awesome race! I was sorry I miscalculated our time, but, that's racing!
And a huge congrats to Jason, Erica and May-Li who ended up 3rd place overall with a total of 21 points! Erica fresh of having a baby. That's good shit!
Here are the two maps. One is the entire race map. The other is just the paddle map to show you how lost we were going from CP1 to CP2.