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From the daily archives: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The inaugural Equinox Traverse starts Friday morning. Nike Air Max 2017 Heren blauw Doug Crytzer of American Adventure Sports has teamed with Chris Caul to put together what promises to be an epic event (http://www.americanadventuresports.com/traverse.htm). Goedkoop Nike Air Max We are fielding one coed elite team of Bryce, Nike Air Max 1 Heren zwart Andy and Michelle, chaussures asics pas cher while Andi B. Air Max Goedkoop is joining forces with a team from Odyssey. asics gel lyte pas cher This will be a 48 hour unsupported race, Peyton Manning Jerseys essentially a two day expedition style race. Nike Flyknit Donna As a bonus, Fjallraven Kanken Sale this is both a double points race in the Checkpoint Tracker series (www.checkpointtracker.com) and a USARA qualifier (www.USARA.com).

We came into this race with one goal, a top 3 finish. We feel like we are very much a team on the rise and a Top 3 would never be considered a guarantee for us. Tough competition has seemed to follow us this year and ‘Wild and Wonderful’ was no different. But we had our goal, the team was united behind it and we knew it would be and extremely tough slog. Odyssey put on a great race, an extremely tough race, and one that posed a tremendous challenge to any team in the field, regardless of whether or not they had raced in this area before over the last 15 years Odyssey has been putting races on here. I’m certainly proud of everything the team did, we left it out on the course, ran a very good race, every time we needed to push, we all pushed and did what we needed to do as a team to move forward. We ran our race, and came up tantalizing close to our goal. We have to thank Spokes Etc, WTB, Crankbrothers, Ellsworth, and all our other sponsors who help us along the way.

So often in adventure racing you have “what if” moments. It rewards mental toughness and strategic thinking, and forces you to have those qualities at 3am, while you’re under varied degrees of physical stress. Afterwards, when not in those conditions, you have time to look back and figure out how well you did and what you could have done differently. I’m not talking about bad stomachs, cramps, sleep monsters, etc. Those are things all teams have to suffer through; I’m talking about that decision to bushwhack vs. taking a trail, hitting a road that no one else finds, saying “we have to head” back when it seems like you have more time to finish the course. Our race essentially came down to a point “J” moment. We missed our cut-off by just over an hour. It took us roughly an hour to unsuccessfully get this point. That one decision (my decision) sent us from 3rd, to 23rd.

It’s what I love about this sport, and making those mistakes kill me, it’s the sort of thing I’m still working out as a racer.

Race Registration

Odyssey Race registration is always a bit of an experience, they’ve got it down to a science, a chaotic science. Given the website had us plotting 20+ points I was glad we got there early. After we got our maps and cracked open the passport we had…8 points to plot, and a 15 pt o-course that we would get later. We plotted our points, got our gear ready, did all the pre-race stuff you have to do, and slept a luxurious few hours before our 6am wake-up.

Race Day

We loaded on the buses to head to the raft put-in. Funny as these things are, my team said maybe 5 things to each other and we tried to sleep most of the hr long bus ride. We get to the put-in, start getting our boat positions…and wait, and wait, and wait. We’re on the last boat of the last flight of boats…AGAIN. Odyssey’s random drawing has had us pulling rear for the 2nd time in the 4 times they’ve had the rafting. Oh well, we had a 4 person male team with us and those guys looked like they could pull a boat…and they could. We ended up catching the flight in front of us, getting off the river, and on our way to CP2/TA2 in no time.

The path up to CP 2 was straight forward, you turn up, head up, and keep going up some more until you reach Fayetteville. Despite our boat position, we got to CP2 in 6th place, transitioned, and out of CP2 in 3rd or 4th place. CP2-3 was a fairly straightforward bike along the rim of the Gorge to a day use area near Thurmond. We headed into CP3 in 3rd place, right were we needed to be, and we set about getting ready for the o-course.

O-course

After doing all our initial plotting and planning for the race we knew the o-course was going to make or break the race for the entire field. When we got the map the first thing we noticed was the course was set predominantly in an area that had been heavily strip mined, which meant the piece of paper in our hands was, at best, a only good approximation. We set an initial pace that was going to get us as much daylight on the o-course as possible. We set out about 2:30 in the afternoon, giving ourselves about 10 hours out on the course. By sunset we had 8 points, and were halfway to our 9th point, having a few twists and turns but nothing terrible and feeling pretty good…oh what a few hrs of darkness will do to a racer’s morale.

We made the ninth point without any major issues. On our way to the 10th point we ran into some sort of industrial wood chipping outfit…all roads led into and out of this place. The very nice night-shift worker and his dog led us through the back way, telling us that we were pretty far behind other folks who had come through a bit earlier. We made it up to the point we were looking for, unhappy because of the 400 meter scramble through thigh high stinging nettles and made our way back to…the wood chipping place. We worked our way around to the backside of the place, eventually getting to the road we needed to find with the 2ish hrs left before our drop dead time, we set out to try to get as many of the final points as we could. We hit our attack point for our 11th point (J) and set out to get it…no good, we went back out and reattacked it… same. We tried one more time pressed on trying to use a little side trail to cut around…we gave up and headed back. We’d spent at least an hour trying to attack that point (didn’t find it) and now we and to rush to make it back.

We made the decision to try for two more, gave ourselves only 10 minutes to deviate off of our main trail for each one. Luckily, we were dead on for both of them and only took about 15 minutes of extra time to bag them….1 am, way late for our jump out and we had to cruise. No shape to run it out, we had to hustle the best we good…It was going to be close. The route out seemed simple enough, but like everything on this o-course, looks were deceiving. We had no major navigational issues, just took way longer than we estimated, and we came in much, much too late to CP 4, at 2:45am. Found out we were in 3rd if we could make the cut-off….If only I had not bothered sending us after J!!! After what seemed to be a long 22 minute TA (but pretty much what everyone else did) we were off at 3:11…and we had a flat. We pumped it up and got going, but we knew it would need to be changed eventually.

The Final push

So, doing the math, we had a 15 minute credit from being in the last wave of rafts, so just over 4 hrs to make the 7am cutoff at cp6. We had originally said this leg would take 5 hrs, we now had 4, this was going to take a herculean effort, quite a feat if we could pull it off. I set the initial pace guessing we’d need an hour from CP5-6, we needed to go 40km in 3 hours, mostly uphill. I could only handle that pace for about 5-8 km. Luke took the lead and we pushed, and pushed, and pushed. Time kept slipping by and it became apparent that we weren’t making the Cut-off. Our pace slowed, a bit, we kept moving forward, eventually coming to the turn-off and hike-a-bike.

This section was slow moving, we were all hurt, Nate had saddle sores that could be considered cruel and unusual punishment, everyone was looking forward to getting back to the road. We made it to CP5 a bit after 7am, 10 minutes to make the cut-off that was 10 km away. No surprise we weren’t going to get there in time. We make it to CP6 with me taking one very nasty spill on the bike along the way, but no nav issues to contend with. The area had changed considerably, much to the benefit of racers as that whole area is normally strewn with deadfall. After CP6 it was a short road ride up to Washington Carver for our finish.

All in all a great event. Our team worked well together, we pushed through, some very challenging sections. We tried to hit a goal, didn’t miss it by much and we’re getting ready to give it another go.