Monday, December 15, 2014

Gemini Springs Sprint AR (2014)

The Gemini Springs AR was the first official race for FL Xtreme Adventures. Dr. Ron put together a nice race that was aimed at introducing adventure racing to anyone who had never done an AR before. So, I asked my brother (Cesar) and my brother-in-law (David) to race with me as Team, Nature Calls. Both of them had expressed interest in AR before but had never actually raced. This was the perfect opportunity...

The point of this race was for me to teach my teammates what AR is all about. So I decided I wasn't just going to grab the map and go, with them just following me. Sure I could have done that, but what would be the point? So as soon as we got the maps, I started telling about reading the map, understanding the passport and clues, etc. And I would continue to do that throughout the race.

The Trek

We started the race with a short trekking section. I explained to our team which way we would go, and why. Near each CP, I would show them where we were and the route we would take to find the CP. Sometimes I would let them tell me.

We quickly found all the CPs on the run, and headed off towards the boats. Already both of them were loving the race and having a great time.

The Paddle

We quickly got on the boat and headed off towards the first CP. Unfortunately on the boat it is a little harder to share the map and show them what we were doing, so we had gone over it beforehand at the TA. We paddled around the island finding the four CPs with ease. Along the way I tried to give them a few paddling hints.

The Bike

We transitioned from the boats to the bikes quickly and headed off towards CP13. When we arrived at CP13, my brother told me that the number on top of the CP did not match with any number on the punch card, so I told them we must have come across a different CP. We were confused because we were sure it was the right place, but we moved on.

We looked around for CP13 for 5-10 minutes. Finally I decided to go back to the original spot. I thought it must have been mis-labeled. When my brother went to punch we noticed we had received the wrong punch card. We had the punch card for the "Sport" race bike leg, not the "Sprint" race bike leg. That was why he couldn't find the number on the card. So we punched it and moved on.

That was a great lesson for both of them... always check to make sure you have the right punch card.

So lesson learned, we continued on the bike leg. At each CP I would continue to share the map with them, showing them where we were, and the route we would take to reach the next CP, making sure they understood.

The Finish

We finished the race in 2nd place, just a few minutes behind the 1st place team. My brother immediately started telling us how if it wasn't for getting the wrong punch card, we would have finished 1st. He is probably right, but what is funny is that this is when I knew I had succeeded in creating two new adventure racers. They were addicted and already talking like the rest of us experienced racers talk after our races. Later on that afternoon at a family event, he was telling everyone how we really should have finished 1st. Hilarious!

So in summary, the race was a complete success. I did what I had accomplished to do, introduce two new people to the sport. They are already taking about the next race. David even told his wife he wants a new bike.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Turkey Burn 12-Hr AR (2014)

There's a special place in my heart for the Turkey Burn. It was the very first adventure race I ever did, back in 2003. And to this day, I have never missed it. In  fact, Dr. Ron and I are the only two people that have raced every single Turkey Burn (all 12 so far). So it's a pretty special race for me.

The 2014 Turkey Burn Adventure Race was held at beautiful Wekiva Springs State Park, FL. It was Pangea Adventure Racing's last race, and they made it a great one. This year I would be racing with my friends Trung and Sway as Team Nature Calls. My usual teammate, Jason, was racing with our friend Aaron (and Jim Musial) on Team Endeavor Racing.

WSSP is basically in my backyard, so I had a pretty good knowledge of all the trails and features in the park. I had spent the last six weeks riding around and getting to know the park even better. And I would like to think it paid off...

The Prologue

As always, the race started off with a short prologue in order to split the teams up. it was a very quick run around the parking area which took us no more than a few minutes. And just like that we were off on our bikes.

Distance: 0.36 miles
Time: 4:34

The Bike (01)

The first bike leg was a fairly easy and straightforward one. From the Main TA, we had to ride up to the Wekiva TA, picking up one CP along the way. As you can imagine, it was a mass train of bikes heading down the trails. We arrived at Wekiva TA and quickly went off on foot for our first trekking leg.

Distance: 3.18 miles
Time: 18:23

The Trek (01)

There were a lot of teams starting this leg together. There were people every where. We quickly headed out towards CP02. From there it was a pretty easy job to find all the CPs on this leg. The maps we had were awesome. Using the contours and scale, we were able to attack each control straight on. We we right on the money on almost every one. So by the time we finished this leg we had caught up to all the front teams.

Distance: 2.01 miles
Time: 31:32

The Bike (02)

Other than the fact that it was still pitch dark out, and that my headlamp gave out on me halfway through the ride, we did very well on this leg. We rode well and found the five controls very easily.  The ride to CP10 was mostly underwater which was fun (and cold!). The ride from CP10 to CP11 was a tough one though. My headlamp was out so it was hard to see. We rode most of the way along side Team 'Mojitos on Monday'.

We arrived at Big Buck TA not too far behind the front teams.

Distance: 5.78 miles
Time: 1:05:07

The Paddle

When I first saw the paddle map I almost cried. It looked like a pretty long paddle. But it would end up being a perfect distance for a 12 hour race.

We started the paddle in pitch darkness. The cold air and slightly warmer water made for a lot of fog on the river, which made it hard to navigate all the tight turns. Slowly but surely we made our way down Rock Springs Run (picking up two controls along the way) and onto the Wekiva River.

Heading up the Wekiva River the sun finally started to pop out. Finding the CPs was fairly easy. We missed CP18 on the way up the river, but easily found it on our way back.

As we approached CP20 we got our first glimpse of how we were doing. The first team heading back from CP22 was my friends Jason, Aaron, and Jim of Team Endeavor. They were followed closely by Hien and Nate of Team Canyoneros. We arrived at CP20 and ran into Dr Ron and the rest of Team Honey Stinger. My timing told me we were about 25 minutes behind Team Endeavor.

To get CP21 we had to get out of the boats and run down a trail. I say run, but in reality, running was completely out of the question. We were all so cold, our legs could barely function. We were shivering. But we quickly found the control, got back on the boats and found CP22.

Then it was a very long paddle down the Wekiva River back towards the Main TA (and one more easy CP along the way).

Distance: 13.99 miles
Time: 3:55:13

The Trek (02)

We arrived at the Main TA and quickly put on some dry, warm clothes. Also, we ate, a lot. Then we took of on foot for the longest trekking leg of the race.

As I said before, I know the trails in this park pretty well, so finding the controls was pretty easy. We went straight to every single CP without issue, except CP27.

We arrived at the plotted location of CP27 and ran into team Mojitos, who had been looking for it for a few minutes. We all worked together looking for it, and after a short time two (or three) more teams had joined us, including Team Wet Feet AR. We all looked. And we were all positive we were on the right location. But none of us found it. Finally, we decided to give up on it and skip it. Four of us who were looking for it never found it, but one of the teams, Team We Feet AR, found it on their way out. Come to find out later from both Dr Ron and Jason, that they too found it completely by luck because it was mis-plotted. Oh well. It happens.

Other than CP27, the rest of the trek was awesome. Although, by this time I was getting pretty tired.

Distance: 9.84 miles
Time: 3:19:12

The Bike 03

The longest bike section of the race would turn out to be the make or break leg of the race. Mostly break. As soon as I received the map for the this leg, and saw that we had to head way up north into Rock Springs, I knew it would be tough.

It started out tough from the get-go. From Big Buck TA we had to cross Rock Spring Run with our bikes. The water level was just over waist high, and cold. CP37 was just across the river and easy to get. CP38 was east on the main trail. When we arrived at CP38 Team Honey Stinger was heading back down past us. As they past, Dr Ron yelled 'Nope. Time management!'. So Trung and I took a few minutes to look at the map and consider our options.

We had 2 hours and 50 minutes to finish the race. We still had a whole lot of bike points north of us, way north. Plus we still had another trekking section with eight controls, and finally a 15 minute bike ride to the finish line. After some quick calculations we decided it would be better for us to skip the rest of the bike points (on the north side) and simply go try and get as many trekking points as we could. So we turned around and headed towards Wekiva TA. On the way down we picked up two controls that were located along the way.

Distance: 8.54 miles
Time: 1:19:02

The Trek (03)

The last trek was almost identical to the first trek. In fact, the first four controls were the same exact ones. So navigation wise, this trek was super easy. But I was really tired and could not run. So it was slow going.

We moved as fast as we could and hooked up with Team Wet Feet AR for most of it. When we arrived at CP53 I made a decision to skip the last two controls and head back because time was short. So we ended up picking up six out of the eight total controls on this leg.

We headed back to the Wekiva TA to get on our bikes and head to the finish line.

Distance: 2.87 miles
Time: 57:00

The Finish

Now it was just a matter of making it to the finish before 1600 hours. We had about 25 minutes of so. Since I knew the trails I picked the route I knew would have the least amount of sugar sand. And with just about five minutes to spare, we crossed the finish line.

Distance: 3.08 miles
Time: 20:49

Post Race

Our few strategic decisions paid off. Even though we skipped several CPs, we ended up finishing in 4th place overall. I was kinda surprised, but of course very happy.

One last time I want to thank Pangea, Dave, the volunteers, and especially Greg for all the awesome years of racing they have provided us. Great times indeed!

And of course thank you to my two great teammates, Trung and Sway. Yesterday, the day after the race, they went out and did the Space Coast Marathon. They finished in 3:55 and 3:57. Incredible.

Hope to see you all at The Resolution AR, and more of FL Xtreme Adventures upcoming races!