Monday, May 9, 2016

The Little Big Econ Adventure Run (05.07.2016)

This past weekend my brother-in-law David and I (Nature Calls) raced the FLX 4-hour adventure run at Little Big Econ State Park.

The race had us looking for as many of the 35 total controls as we could find. There were 22 controls located north of the Econ river, and the rest were south of the river. David and I decided to try and get as many of the control on the north side as we could, and if possible, a few of the ones south.

The Race

We started off great, finding CP01 by shooting a bearing to it from the trail directly south of the control. Our bearing took us directly to the control with no issues. From there we bushwacked west to try and pick up the main trail were CP02 was on.

As you can see on our race route (map at the bottom of post, green line), we came out on to the trail and started to head south to look for CP02, but suddenly we came across a trail intersection that was not on the map. We were both confused as to exactly where we were (not realizing we were right next to CP02). So we decided to head north to try and get our bearings. Soon enough we came across the park boundary fence and knew we were near CP03.

We decided to not backtrack to CP02. There were plenty of controls to get, and we wanted to keep moving forward. We picked up CP03 through CP15 with little issue. We did skip CP04 because it was out of the way and not worth the time it would have taken. There was some really cool bushwhacking and some great control locations. Our navigation was excellent. I navigated half of the race, and then David navigated the other half.

After CP15 I suggested we should head to the bridge and cross the river so we could try and get a handful of the controls south of the river. But, as we neared the bridge, I started to realize we would not really have much time. We had about an hour left of racing. So we decided to backtrack and pick up controls CP17-22 on our way to the finish.

Again, CP17 through CP21 were fairly easy for us to find. But we were not able to find CP22. The clue said the control was located along the dry creek. So we took that literally and actually walked on the very twisty and small creek looking for the control. After a while we had to turn around because we were running out of time. Turns out the control (from what I understand) was visible from the trail just west of the creek. Oh well.

We ran to the finish line and made it in just 1 minute before the 4-hour cut off.

We collected 18 controls in 3:59, which was enough to give us the 1st place win. Not a bad day, especially considering we really should have found at least two more controls (CP02 and CP22). But that's racing!

We had a great time and I think David picked up a lot of good navigating and orienteering tips.

Can't wait for the Father's Day Adventure Race!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Earth Day AR (2016)

The 2016 Earth Day AR toook place in and all around the Santa Fe river area (High Springs, FL and Fort White, FL), just NW of Gainesville.

[click here for a short pre-race video]

Foot 1 (5:58PM-7:04PM; ~8.57km, 5.33 miles)

We started with a run around River Rise State Preserve, picking up seven CPs along the way. Navigation was very easy as all controls were right on the trails.

[click here for a short video during this section]

Paddle 1 (7:27PM-10:53PM; ~24.67km, 15.33 miles)

After the foot 1 we returned ot the main TA, picked up our paddling gear, then headed 2km up the trail to the start of the paddle. This section had four easy CPs, all along the Santa Fe River. But it was long. At 15.33 miles, a very long paddling section. After CP11 we continued up the river to the Santa Fe TA.

[click here for a short video during this section]

Foot 2 (10:53PM-1:10AM; ~6.95km, 4.32 miles)

When we arrived at the Santa Fe TA. We were given a new map with seven controls plotted. The map had a red trail leading to most of the controls, but everyone quickly learned that this 'red trail' did not actually exist. I tried to find CP1 for about 20 minutes before I realized that. So I started using the river as my guide and found CP2. CP4 was close to the river and the power lines, so I then attacked that one and found it pretty easily. From that point on it was true orienteering style navigation to find all the rest of the CPs. From CP4 I shot a bearing to CP3, from CP3 shot a bearing to CP5, and so on. It was fun as I love real orienteering. After finding all the CPs I returned to the Santa Fe TA and got back on the boat.

[click here for a short video during this section]

Paddle 2 (1:10AM-2:23AM; ~8.4km, 5.22 miles)

The second paddle was again heading up the river, this time with no controls to find. We just had to make it to the Tudeen TA.

Foot 3 (2:23AM-5:27AM; ~11.43km, 7.10 miles)

Just like at the Santa Fe TA, at the Tudeen TA we were given a new map, this time with ten controls plotted. I decided to attack them backwards, from CP10 to CP01. I started off doing well, finding 10, 9, and 8 with no issues. But at CP7 I made one of the biggest rookie mistakes of my racing career.

The clue for CP7 said "310* @ 130m". Now, as all racers and orienteers know, when you are given a bearing clue, it usually says 'distance @ bearing', as in "210m @ 156°". It's the way I have seen it since I started racing in 2003. So when I read '310 @ 130', I immediately thought, 310m @ 130°. So I shot my bearing and went off into the woods looking for the control. I must have spent 45 minutes looking for it, obviously not finding it, and decided to skip it. About an 30 minutes later, still fuming that I didn't find it, I re-read the clue, and that's when I noticed my mistake. Lesson most definitely learned.

The rest of the CPs on the section were easy to find. I made it back to the TA and got back on the boat.

[click here for a short video during this section]

Paddle 3 (5:27AM-7:53AM; ~13.56km, 8.43 miles)

When I looked at the map for the last paddle section, I almost cried. Paddling is my least favorite of the AR disciplines. I had already endured two long sections, and this one was going to be tough. But, I had to do it. Off I went.

Two bad things about paddling alone... One, it's obviously it's a lot more physically demanding as you are the only source of power. And two... the thing about paddling by yourself, as opposed to with a team, is the boredom! There's nobody there to talk to and keep you entertained. Jason, my good friend and longtime teammate, does a great job at always keeping me going when I am tired. But since I was alone, I started dozing off in the boat. I was tired. But I had to keep myself awake. Luckily for me, about 1/3 of the way into the paddle (as I neared CP12), the sun started coming up. When you have been racing all night, sunlight is like getting a shot of crack. It helped keep me awake. Unfortunately it did not help all the different pains I was experiencing, so I paddled very slowly. But I set a goal to myself to make it to the Lemon TA before 8:00AM. I made it at 7:50AM.

Bike 1 (7:53AM-11:47AM; ~67.81km, 42.13 miles)

I spent about 10 minutes at the TA eating, drinking, and getting ready for the upcoming, long bike section.

The navigation on the bike was really easy, but the ride itself was tough. We rode mostly heading east, and there was an incredibly strong wind coming out of the east. Halfway through the bike section I ran into Peter, Tom, and Jason, of team 'Off in the Woods'. The four of us worked together against the wind and picking up the CPs. They were a huge help to me. I was exhausted. It was nice to have someone to draft off of for a little while.

As we rode towards CP21 we realized time was short, and we would have to skip CPs 22-25 in order to make it to the finish line before noon. We planned an alternate route.

I finally crossed the finish line at 11:50AM. 17 hours and 50 minutes after starting.

[click here for a short video during this section]


I won't lie, it was a tough race. I think racing solo made it much tougher. Would I race solo again on a race this long? Who am I kidding? Probably.

In the end, there is still nothing as exciting to me as being out in the middle of nowhere in pitch darkness. It's hard to describe how much I really love it. And strangely, how comfortable I feel being there.

Thank you to Craig and all the volunteers!

Trekking: 6:49 hours, 29.25km, 18.18 miles
Paddling: 7:06 hours, 46.64km, 29 miles
Biking: 3:53 hours, 67.81km, 42.13 miles
TOTAL: 11:50 hours, 114km, 90 miles

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reunion wtih Rice Creek AR (2015)

The Reunion at Rice Creek AR was the first of the "Recap of Sea 2 Sea" race series in which we race through parts of the Sea 2 Sea course.

My buddy Greg Trainor and I, Team Nature Calls, headed up to Palatka to have a fun race.

The Bike (01)

We started the race with a bike section. We had to pick up two out of four possible controls along the way to the boat TA. These were all very easy to find and so we arrived at the boat TA in 2nd place.

~7.06km / 27:17

The Paddle

We quickly got on the boat and headed off towards the first paddle CP. The river was actually very nice to paddle and Greg and I moved quickly. We stay closed to the 1st place team most of the way down. ON the way back, we got a bit turned around at one turn and lost about 10 minutes trying to find our way back along the river. But all in all our paddle went very well and we got off the boats a few minutes behind the 1st place team, which had decided to portage a couple miles, to their advantage.

~9.19km / 1:50:19

The Bike (02)

After getting back on our bikes we quickly headed back towards the Main TA. En route we picked up the other two bike points that we had skipped earlier. Very simple and easy ride.

~5.25km / 24:14

The Bike (03)

After checking in at the Main TA, we headed back out on our bikes on the way to the o-course TA. Along the way we picked up one CP. Again, it wasn't a hard to find CP. But the roads were less than fun, which is reflected on how long it took us to ride the 3.49km.

~3.49km / 35:29

The O-Course

The orienteering section was the most fun part of the race. The trails were very cool and the maps were awesome. We ran into several teams coming and going all over the place. Greg and I navigated very well and found every control fairly quickly.

~7.01km / 1:33:47

The Fire

After finishing the orienteering course we had to a special test to start a fire using the tool provided. At this point we were in 2nd place overall, just a few minutes behind 1st. But for some reason, we could not get that fire started. Not only did we lose more time to 1st place, but we also lost 2nd place to a team that was able to get the fire going quicker than we did. I hate special tests.

The Bike (04)

After finally getting that damn fire going, we jumped back on our bikes once again to head down to the next trekking section. Along the way we picked up a few more controls. Again, the trails were nto in the best condition so our times were a little longer.

~5.27km / 33:14

The Trek (02)

We dropped off our bikes and headed off on the FFT looking for a couple controls down a very cool trail. The trail crossed over several swamps on some very cool bridges. Getting the CPs was easy.

~2.48km / 34:22

The Bike (05)

For one last time we jumped back on our bikes for the ride back to the finish line. We had one control to get along the way, which was right along the road. This ride was very fast for us as we were trying to stay ahead of a couple teams.

~4.42km / 17:58

We finished in 3rd place. We loved the course and hope to get back there in the future.

I made a very cool video of our race...

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!