Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Missing River 8-Hr AR (2011)

Jason, Lori and I (better knowns as Team Nature Calls), were back together again this past weekend to take on Pangea Adventure Racing's Missing River 8-Hour Adventure Race up in High Springs, Florida.

When we got up to River Rise Preserve State Park at 7:00AM, the temperature was 48F.  It was kinda weird given that it was April 30th, in Florida, but we weren't complaining.  After checking in, getting our gear ready, and having a quick pre-race meeting, we were ready to head back out into the woods and have another fun day.

The Prologue

The first leg of the race was going to be a bike section, but before we got on our bikes we had a short prologue in order to split up the teams a little bit.  For the prologue, teams had to navigate to three different checkpoints (CPs) by shooting a direction bearing and following a given distance from a central point.  Jason, Lori and I did pretty well in this section and in a short 8 minutes we were jumping on our bikes ready to start the real race.....

The Bike (1)

We started the race by biking up some kinda sandy trails from the River Rise Preserve up to the O'Leno Preserve.  Along the way we had two checkpoints to collect before reaching the first Bike TA. We rode well and after finding CP1 and CP2 we reached the Bike TA together with our friends Aaron and May-Li (Team Checkpoint of No Return).

The Trek (1)

At the O'Leno Bike TA, we quickly dropped off our bikes and took off on foot to find three CPs around the river.  Team Checkpoint of No Return went off on a clockwise loop, we attacked them the opposite way and ran the loop counter-clockwise.

The CPs were fairly easy to find.  Halfway around we ran into Aaron and May-Li, and after a couple quick high-five's we continued on our way. Around 18 minutes later we were done and back at the Bike TA.  Team Checkpoint of No Return had not made it in yet, so we wasted no time getting back on the bikes and leaving before they came in.

The Bike (2)

After leaving the first foot section we tried to put as much distance as we could on Team Checkpoint of No Return.  We knew they are good paddlers and they would make up time on us during the paddling leg.  So we rode fast.  A mere 27 minutes after getting back on our bikes, we reached the Main TA and there was no sign on Aaron and May-Li behind us.

The Paddle

After quickly checking in with the race volunteers we took off on our bikes again, for a very short ride down to the river. Once at the river we picked our canoe and off we went.

On the paddling leg we had 8 CPs to find.  Three CPs were north of US441 on the river, the other four CPs were south of 441.  We decided to go south first.  The southern portion of the river turned out to suck.  There were a lot of shallow sections with a lot of rocks.  Several times we had to get out of our boats and walk along the water because the boat was getting stuck.  But at least we had no problem finding the CPs along the way.  By the time we reached the furthest south point (CP14), Team Checkpoint of No Return had caught up to us.

After CP14 we turned around and started heading back north.  Luckily, after continuing north of 441, the river became deeper and there was no need to get out of the boat.  We continued to paddle close (although slightly behind at this point) to Team Checkpoint of No Return.  After a short while we reached CP7 located at the end of the river (not really the end of the river, but more on that later).

We left CP7 with Team Checkpoint of No Return a few minutes ahead of us.  We knew we had to try and paddle hard to keep the gap between us as close as we could.  By the time we reached the end of the paddle back at US441, we were about 7 or minutes behind Team Checkpoint of No Return.  The entire paddling leg took us exactly 3 hours.

The Bike (3)

We now had just two legs left in the race.  One was a bike, one was a trek.  We had to do both legs, but Greg (race organizer) had told us we could decide which leg to do first.  During our short ride back from the river to the Main TA, we saw Aaron and May-Li already leaving the TA on their way to the next leg of the race. They chose to go trekking first.  So we chose to go biking.  So we reached the Main TA, checked-in, and left right back out on our bikes.

This section of the race would take us back north on the trails where we had to find five different CPs.  The riding on this section was very bumpy.  A lot of it was on horse trails and the horses had torn up some of the trails pretty good.  Knowing that Team Checkpoint of No Return had a slight lead on us, we tried to ride as fast as we could. We worked together as a team and in just under one hour we had found all five CPs and were back at the Main TA.

While we were out on the trails we ran into Team Utility Mutants, who is another excellent Elite team.  They had decided to also do the bike leg first, and leave the trekking leg for the end. But we knew they had closed on us, just weren't sure how close they were. All we knew was that we had to complete the last leg (trekking) as fast as possible.

The Trek (2)

So after a quick change into our trekking shoes (for the first time during the race), off we went.

We ran the entire section and thanks to some great navigation choices by Jason, we completed the trek in jus around 37 minutes.

The Finish

As we ran the last few hundred meters back to the finish line, only one thing was on all our minds. We had not seen Team Utility Mutants while out on the trek, so we were pretty sure they were still somewhere behind us. But we had no idea what was happening with Team Checkpoint of No Return.  Had they completed their last leg (bike) and finished the race already?

Coming into the finish line the three of us were looking all over the finish area for Aaron or May-Li.  No sight of either.  We reached the finish line, handed in our checkpoint passport, and learned that we were the first team to finish. Hell yeah.  It's Miller Time!!

Exhausted we congratulated each other, sat to relax, and a couple short minutes later, Aaron and May-Li came riding in, finishing their race about 3 minutes behind us.


First and foremost, as always, a huge thank you to my awesome teammates Jason and Lori.  Jason had an awesome navigation race.  He was spot on the entire race!  And Lori was a machine, giving me a lot of help when I was hurting during that last trekking section of the race.

Also thank you to Team Checkpoint of No Return and Team Utility Mutants for an awesome, fun and very competitive race.

Lastly, thanks to Greg, Pangea, and all the volunteers for another awesome race!

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