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!

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