Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Nocturnal 18-Hr AR (2014)

The 2014 Nocturnal Adventure Race took place in and around Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, Florida. Located upstate near the I-75 and I-10 intersection.

The Nocturnal has always been one of the toughest and most fun races of the year. And this year was no different. The weather forecast for the weekend was looking pretty bad. A high of 100F on Saturday (a heat index above 110), with rain later on during the day.

The race started at 1500 hours on Saturday and it was hot. Brutally hot.

The Trek (01)

The race started with a 13km trek from the Main TA at Stephen Foster State Park, along the Suwanee River, up to Big Shoals State Park. For the first 2km or so everyone jogged at an easy pace. But after that most everyone just started trekking, no running. The heat was just too much.

It took us just over 2 hours to complete this section. Jason and I found the 5 CPs without much trouble. But it was during this leg that my stomach started feeling like crap. I was staying hydrated, but I still felt dizzy and just kinda sick to my stomach.

We arrived at the Big Shoals TA in 8th place.

The Paddle (01)

After a short portage with our boats down to the river, we jumped in and quickly started catching up to some teams ahead. Shortly after we started the paddle we hit the Big Shoals. An area of the Suwanee River where the river drops 9 feet in about a 1/4 mile. So it makes for some pretty fun small rapids. But because the water levels are so low, we were forced to get out of our boat for a short portion. I got some great video of it.

I kept feeling worse and it showed because my paddling was barely there. Jason had to do the bulk of the paddling for both of us while I tried to rest and recover as best as I could.

This paddling leg was just under 15km long and it took us about 2:15 to complete. The CPs were all fairly easy to find. And even though I was barely helping Jason, we still managed to finish the paddle tied for second place with Team Mojitos on Monday.

The Bike (01)

On our short walk from the boat drop off back to the Main TA, I started feeling better. Once at the TA I ate a sandwich and drank a coke and I started feeling good again. This was good.

We left on our bikes and quickly caught up to with Team Mojitos. Together we rode to the first checkpoint, CP11. We stopped in the area where we thought CP11 was located and started looking.

The four of us looked for 15 minutes before the rest of the teams started arriving behind us. We could not find it. Shortly after there were no less than 20 people looking for the CP. It started getting dark. We were there for exactly 30 minutes before Jason and I decided we must be in the wrong place. We got back on our bikes and headed up the trail to see if we could located the correct place. We rode up and down the trail a couple times but we could never really pinpoint the exact location of the CP. So after a total of 45 minutes, we decided to give up and move on.

We really hate skipping CPs so we were pretty bummed. Plus by this time I was starting to feel like crap again. Worse than before.

We found CPs 12, 13, and 14 and then headed across the Suwanee River bridge for the rest of the CPs.

As we crossed the bridge I couldn't ride anymore. I felt like complete crap. We stopped for a short while so I could rest and try to eat something. It was then that for the second time in my racing career I have thrown up during a race. The first time was during my 3rd time at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race in 2009. This was the second time. And man was it a good one. Immediately afterwards, I felt like a million bucks! I was ready to race!

At CP16 we ran into our good friends Aaron and May-Li of Team Endeavor Racing. It was also around this time that the storm hit. And man was it a storm. The lightning was out of control. But the rain was coming down so fast and so hard that it was truly hard to see. I've raced through a lot of bad storms before. But this was definitely one of the worst ones.

CP18 gave us a bit of a hard time. Somehow we missed the Blue Trail we were supposed to be on and it took us a while to get back on track. This entire bike leg ended up being about 30km for us, and it took us about 5 hours.

The Paddle (02)

The second paddling leg was a breeze. I was feeling like a champ and the storm had passed. We quickly found the three CPs along the river and finished the 10km paddle in 1:45.

The Trek (02)

The second trek turned out to be a long one. We only had seven CPs to find on our way back to the Main TA. But CP27 turned out to be a killer.

We spent 45 minutes looking for CP27, to no avail. Like CP11, it was a tough one. Several teams were looking for it at the same time, most had no luck finding it.

We found the rest of the CPs, but we were kinda upset about CP27. The section turned out to be about 17km long for us, and it took us almost 4:20 to complete.

The Bike (02)

After the long trek we were not sure we would have enough time to complete the last bike leg of the race. We only had 2:30 hours left of racing, and we had 8 CPs to find on the bike.

It turned out that the biking was much easier than we had expected, thanks in large part due to the fact that the sun was now coming out and it was no longer pitch dark outside. This really helped a lot.

None of the bike points really gave us a hard time and we managed to finish the 13km bike in about 2 hours.

At 0823 on Sunday morning we finished the race in 8th place overall, after missing two CPs. But as always, we had a great time racing!

Thanks as always to Pangea and all the wonderful volunteers!

Thanks to May-Li and Aaron!

And mainly thanks to my teammate Jason for carrying my slow ass through another awesome race!

See you all at the SuperHero AR in a few weeks.

Here's a short race video I made: