Yesterday I raced in The BOAR Adventure Race, a short ~4-hour race out in East Orlando. It was my first attempt at a solo race since I couldn't get any of my regular peeps to race with me. But I figured if I am ever gonna do a race solo, this is probably a good one to try first.
The race didn't start until 10:45AM. After opening our instructions packet the first thing we had to do was to remove the front tire of our bikes and roll them (on the ground) around this dirt road which was about 1/8 mile. It was mainly done to space out the teams. After that we jumped on our bikes and took off hauling ass North on the Flagler Trail in Snow Hill.
Team Dirty Fish took off first, followed closely by Jason Willems (another solo), and behind him was Team Jim's Bicycles. I took off 4th just behind JB. I quickly caught up to Jim's and they were very nice to let me slip by them on the single track. Ahead of me I could see Dirty Fish.
The bike sections of this race were unique. We never used a map to navigate the bike, but rather had to reach specified points where we had to stop, shoot a bearing in some direction and ride to the next point where we had to do the same. For example, for our first bike leg we had to travel at 0° for 1.7 miles. From there we had to go .8 miles at 40°, and so on.
By the time we reached the first turn I was with Dirty Fish, and passed them. Now I was riding on soft sand, and I could see the tire track made by the current leader, Jason Willems. We continued shooting bearings and taking several trails until we finally reached the bike drop off area. Jason was still ahead, I arrived in 2nd.
After quickly dropping off the bike I took off on foot towards the bridge at Snow Hill Rd where our boats were waiting. It was about this time that it started pouring down really, really hard!
I reached the boats just in time to see Jason start his paddle. I quickly grabbed my solo boat (which was a freaking bathtub). As I was putting in the water Teams Dirty Fish and Jim's Bicycles got there. So I quickly got in my boat and started paddling West (upstream) on the Econ River.
The paddle upstream was tough. Not only was I paddling a bathtub, but the water level on the Econ was low, I was going against the current, and against the wind. And it was windy! Plus, I hate paddling. So it was tough going. The rain was still pouring down. So hard in fact that I could barely see because the water kept running down my eyes.
About halfway up the river, Dirty Fish came flying by my like they were using a motor. Those guys can freaking canoe! The paddle was long and tough, but I finally reached the TA, just behind Dirty Fish and just ahead of Jim's Bicycles who were right on my butt.
After dropping off the boats, we took off on foot for a somewhat short trekking section with 5 check points. And it was here that I made two huge navigational mistakes. For some stupid reason, I skipped CP2 (which was the closest) and went straight to CP3. I got CP3 and CP4 and then started trekking backs towards CP2. That was mistake number 1.
Mistake number 2 was on my way to CP2. I came out on the trail I wanted to be on. And I knew, I FREAKING KNEW, I had to go West to get to CP2. So I looked at my compass and started heading West. Next thing I knew, I ran right into CP5. CP5?!? How the hell did I get to CP5?? I was so confused!
So I picked up CP5 and looked at my compass again. Turns out that even though I knew I had to be heading West towards CP2, I was reading my compass and heading East. Basically, I had a huge brain fart and was reading my compass backwards. DOH!!! I again I had to completely backtrack to CP2. After all that lost time, I finally got it.
I ran as much as I could trying to make up some time. Along the way I ran into Greg and his son Andrew, Team Super Heroes. They were moving really well. At CP6 I ran into Jason who was on his bike. Turns out that he was a bit confused and wasn't supposed to be there. But that comes into play later.
Anyway, I finally got back to the bikes with Jim' Bicycles and Super Heroes. We took off on our bikes again shooting bearing and following the predefined track. But I had forgotten that if we came to an intersection were the trail split up, we were to follow the 'ping markings' that Kyle had put up for us. So I once again made a navigational mistake, got on the wrong trail, and by the time I figured it out and back tracked I had lost some some time. But this was a bike section, my specialty, I can make up time right?! Wrong!
Kyle had decided to put a really nice bike whacking section which was really tough to get through. There was no biking. Just pushing your bike through some real nasty crap. But I have to admit, it was a lot of fun.
This was the first time I realized how comfortable I felt being out there. I was out in the middle of some swamp, all by myself, carrying my bike through some thick bush, and I felt totally at home. In fact, I felt more at home and more comfortable than if I was riding my road bike by myself through Bay Lakes.
Anyway, on the sections I could ride I tried to push hard. The single track wasn't very technical, just a lot of turns and roots. I ended up once again catching up to Super Heroes and go back to the boat area just ahead of them. It was there that I found out that I was running in 3rd. With Dirty Fish and Jim's Bicycles ahead of us. This is where I wondered what happened to Jason Willems.
So now we got back on the boats and had to paddle back to where we picked them up earlier that morning. But this paddle was much easier. It was now downstream and most of the way with a really nice tailwind.
After dropping of the boat we got back on foot for another trekking section. This time we had to go back to CP6 (where I had seen Jason) and find a few more check points before making our way back to our bikes. At CP5 I once again ran into Greg and Team Super Heroes. And shortly after that I saw Jason (another solo) coming up on us. But it turns out that Jason had missed CP5 and had to go back to it. Phew!
So I took the opportunity and ran as hard as my legs would let me all the way back to the bikes! I knew if I could only get on the bike ahead of Jason, I could probably hold him off. And I did.
The last bike leg was basically an easy ~5mile ride to the finish line. I pushed hard and tried to make up time on the guys ahead, while opening a gap on Jason.
So I reached the finish line in 3rd overall, 1st solo. But I was not done yet. I was given a GPS unit, two sets of coordinates, and was told I had to go find two geochaches that were located near those coordinates. Found the first one pretty easily. The second one was a bit harder. Team Dirty Fish was still there looking for it. So the three of us worked together. After searching for a few minutes, I found it cleverly hidden behind a tree, underneath a boardwalk. That has Dr. Ron written all over it! =)
So Dirty Fish and I ran back to the finish together, finally finishing the race!
Jason was just behind us. And I think Figjam was the 5th team in.
In my opinion, Kyle did an awesome job! The course was excellent, well marked (unless you are an idiot like me), and lots of fun. The bike whack and the trek were great!
And as always, it was fun getting to race with all the AR friends I've made over the years. Jim's Bicycles, Figjam, Dirty Fish, Greg Owens, Jason, etc.
I really enjoyed the solo race. I thought I might feel a bit lost out there all by myself, but I never did. As I said before, I felt so comfortable, it was a great feeling! Of course, I am sure it would be a totally different experience racing solo on a night race. Someday I'll find out.
See you guys at the Coast to Coast!!! :)