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From the monthly archives: March 2012

Jared, followed by TJ, arrive at CP 23 to discover a fiesta of bocce and bourbon. Custom gel in flask at chest.

Contributed by Jared Macary | Race Date: 3/17/12 | www.AdventureAddictsRacing.com


The 12-hr Adrenaline Race Elite Race by Adventure Addicts Racing (AAR) encompassed 15-20 miles of mountain biking, 10-15 miles of trekking, 6-9 miles of paddling, and intermediate-advanced navigation.  This was my first race of 2012 and I was joined by racers Andi Ballou and TJ Hoff.

Andi, TJ, and myself registered as TeamHalfwayThere.com/Spokes, Etc. and were the fourth team to do so.  That’s right, there were four TeamHalfwayThere presences at the Elite race.  I served as principal navigator, but welcomed input from my teammates in efficient route selection.  From 9 AM to 9 PM we maneuvered inside Andy Guest State Park, along the Shenandoah River, and outside the towns of Bentonville and Browntown, Virginia.

The 12-hr Adrenaline Race Elite Race was Adventure Addicts Racing’s first-ever adventure race.  Race Directors Andy and Michelle, who have become important figures in my life, started AAR late last year.  Not only did I want to support them in their new endeavor, I wanted to see what madness they cooked up.


There were several reasons I wanted to do this race.  The first being that I wanted to start off the racing season early and with a bang; 12 hours sounded like just the ticket.  The second being that I wanted to get some direction as to my development for the season.  For example, last season was about becoming familiar with racing.  I think this season is shaping up to be about moving quicker and smarter (e.g. thinking strategically).  Third, I wanted to test some new equipment and nutrition.

The high point of the race for me was arriving at the last TA with roughly and hour or so left in the race.  Our team decided to hit the O-course to see what damage we could do.  Damage was done as we worked together to quickly snag 8 CPs in the dark.  This was my first time navigating and leading a team in the dark.  I found that when night fell I had a new intensity.

The lowest point for the team, I believe, was more about dread than anything else.  The rules of travel stipulated that Elite teams had to make a 2 p.m. cut-off in order to get to the paddle section.  We wanted to get on the water badly for the sole fact that it would be fun.  We made an effort to find CP 20, but ultimately decided to abandon the charge in favor making sure we could do the water event.  We pulled it together and made steady, positive strides all the way to the put-in.  We were one of the final teams to get on the water.  The views were amazing from the river.

On the paddle I saw turtles, darting fish, and bocce-ball-tossing, bourbon-drinking race volunteers.  I thought my eyes and ears were playing tricks on me as I looked onto the shore.  I was no sooner at CP 23 and staring at Paul Morris’ hip-flask.  The man volunteers in style.

The moment that will stay with me for some time was nearing the finish line flanked by several great teams, and hearing the cheers of volunteers and other finished competitors.  TJ insisted that our team cross the finish line together.  We complied by adjusted our pace, running down a cement path, and cresting a small incline to meet flash bulbs, smiles, and wonderful AAR gifts – pint glasses!

Barry, Victor, Michelle, Andy, Cathy, Shane, Candy, Kelly and other TeamHalfwayThere teammates were alongside me.  They shook my hand and congratulated me.  Receiving their kind words at the end of a slog was comforting and motivating.


In the end, our team placed 21 out of 34 teams of all categories and with 31 of 48 possible CPs.  I highly recommend the 12-hr Adrenaline Rush Elite Race from Adventure Addicts Race.  It is fun, challenging, exciting and certainly cheaper than therapy.  I must give shout-outs to the race directors and all of the volunteers who were awake earlier than and went to sleep later than many racers.  I must also give a shout-out to my teammates, Andi and TJ, as they taught me about keen leadership, patience, and teamwork.

Lessons Learned

My Osprey Talon 22 pack was perfect in terms of fit and functionality.  The folks at Osprey really know what they’re doing.  This is my 3rd pack with them, but my first adventure race style pack.  I also used lock-laces for the first time.  I found them to be very easy, but I found myself adjusting them frequently, especially during the paddle.  The tops of my ankles swelled and I fiddle with the lock-laces a fair amount to relieve pressure.  Perhaps this was much more about my anatomy than a product.  At any rate, loosening the lock-laces was very easy.  In terms of nutrition, I created my own sports gel from a recipe in the Thrive Diet. Thrive is a vegan-based endurance race-focused diet.  The gel had a base of dates and agave mixed with lemon juice and raw cocoa.  It provided me with the performance I had hoped it would and it tasted good.

Next Race

10-hr Yough Extreme as a solo racer.

Brian, Todd, and Antoinette stomp toward CP 23

Contributed by Todd Davis | Race Dates: Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Shenandoah River “Andy Guest” State Park | Adventure Addicts Racing

“This is really out there!  I mean I’ve done ultras and stuff, but you guys – well – this is hard” – That’s a quote from our rookie teammate Antoinette somewhere late in the race on Saturday.  And it was delivered with a supremely satisfied smile.  I think she also said something beaming about this “being really just a big kid’s game on a huge scale” too, but the smile was great because as any adventure racer will tell you, we knew at that moment she was hooked.

Ultimately, this race report is going to focus on “lessons learned,” because we learned a few big ones the hard way Saturday, but we want to first focus on the positives.  Brian, Antoinette, and I were racing together for the fi

rst time Saturday and we were thrilled to be a part of our friends from Adventure Addicts Racing’s inaugural race!

The Basics

Started on trek/O-course, then mountain-biked park trails, then trekked to paddle, then paddled, then trekked back to bikes, then big road biking section, and finally back for a big O-Course.

The Good Stuff

1) Our top team goal was simple: Make sure Antoinette wants to go again.  And despite a somewhat disappointing result, we definitely achieved that since she’s charged up about Wild Wonderful already.  This was her first AR of any kind and she rocked it.  I’ve been touting her prowess for over a year and she did not disappo

int.  Her fitness level on foot and while road-biking are truly impressive and she dove right in to punch points deep in re0entrants late in the race when us tough guys were struggling.

2) The weather was spectacular and made for a really fun, stress-free race experience.  Even what might have been a monotonous paddle section was a breeze enjoying weather like that.

3) Andy and Michelle – What can we say?  Just a fantastic job putting on their first race!  The maps were outstanding and there wasn’t a single point (that we got anyways) misplaced or misplotted.  Also got a pint glass, a t-shirt, a bottle, and oh yeah, discounts for Spokes and REI.  They’ve set the bar high for themselves in future races for sure.

4) Nav/Strategy (Micro) – This was really only the third race of any length I’ve navigated for a team.  Unfortunately for Hyland he’s been a part of two of them.  But fortunately for him, I’ve improved a good bit and generally with his help, we did a great job point-to-point and on our strategy within each section.

5) Maybe I really am a masochist, but despite the travails we’re about to share, I always take a bit of perverse pride in being the final team to check back in before the finish cutoff.  As usual, that was us, including finishing up with me swimming back from that island and that creepy statue that I guarantee was 100x creepier in the dark than it was for those who did it during the day.  Or maybe I’m just a fraidy cat.  Very proud of the team for hanging together and milking that course as best we could to come back from our bad decision.

Best Decisions

1) Brian making the call to quickly transpose the points for the second O-Course onto the map from the first bike section that had the park trails on it.  This was huge!  I’m incredibly familiar with the park trail system by now and as soon as we did this, I was immediately able to identify our best route that saved us some serious up and down bushwhacking and allowed us to cut from trail to trail when possible.

2) Bike-whacking during the middle of our mountain bike section.  We decided to bike-whack for 5 brutal minutes straight up a 100 meter hill, but this saved us both a long road climb and an initial climb on the next trail loop.  Needless to say, prior knowledge of the park was huge for us on this one.  It was also just kind of bad-ass.

Scariest Moment

Guess we should have learned from Ben Affleck’s Dazed and Confused character O’Banion that you just shouldn’t prod a bully, but man did the guy driving the very same bright orange muscle car from the movie scare the hell out of us after we saw him try to murder solo racer Scott Pleban.  We were pretty sure the redneck was wasted and definitely sure he was pissed that a bunch of citified folks in fluorescent spandex were out ruining his Saturday cruising, but after he tried to mow down Scott, he hooked a U-Turn and waited until he was abreast of us to rev his ridiculously over-the-top engine and near about scare us off our bikes into the ditch.  Then we even passed his “compound” later on the Bentonville/Browntown road where he appeared to have a weekend Stars & Bars fiesta under way in all its drunken bigot glory.

Lessons Learned (the hard way)

1) Nav/Strategy (Macro) – For our team, this race came down to a single strategy decision: Choosing to do the second bike leg.  It basically turned into a three-hour time-suck for three points, of which we only got one.  Even going for those points pretty much cost us a chance to clear the second O-Course.  Of course, it wasn’t until we were way the hell out on the bike leg and fully committed that we realized what a blunder this had been.  In the end, I’m not sure we would have made the decision any differently had we known because when we set out on that section we still really thought we might be able to clear the course.  (Plus the three teams that ended up on the podium did clear the course, so it wouldn’t have gained us anything in terms of hardware).  But seeing Jeremy and Jeff’s team happily finishing up the second O-Course with the sun just fading in the sky while we desperately were just beginning scraping around out there after all that biking was a real blow.  (Fabulous recognition of the bigger picture by Jeremy and co. by the way!)

In hindsight, maybe the biggest lesson is that this bad decision was really the culmination of a lot of smaller bad decisions that started even before the starting  gun went off.  First, because we weren’t staying the night before the race and we felt confident in our knowledge of the area, we arrived fairly late to the race.  This prevented us, at least in part, from spending enough time with our maps that we might have realized this was a potential strategy.  Second, I need to think more seriously when switching between maps of different scales.  After zipping through the first trek on the 1:15,000 map of the park, I needed to account better for the scope difference moving to the 1:24,000 for the bike loop.  Third, we should have focused on our strengths, which in this race were foot sections and navigation.  Although Brian’s incredibly strong on the bike, since this was our first race together we weren’t overly organized in terms of paceline or towing on the bikes.  While on foot, Ant and I felt great and we had a huge home-field advantage with our knowledge of the park terrain and trail system.  We had even guessed the second O-Course would be back in the park on the other side.  Overall though, I’ve just got to keep an eye on the bigger picture (i.e. 45 out of 48 CP’s would’ve been better than 37) and we have to manage our own egos.

I also got a random flat on this purely road section, which thankfully Brian fixed in no time, but definitely didn’t help the morale.  Tubeless by my next race for sure!

Oh yeah, on the bike leg, just because you’ve committed an error and then you’re down because you’ve realized your mistake, you don’t have license to get lazy like we did with the clue sheet and blow right by a CP without looking in the storm drain either.  Needless to say, this was entirely my fault and had we at least nabbed that CP it might’ve at least cheered us up about the effort.

2) Help each other earlier in the race – We were slow on the road biking for two reasons.  First because I’m just slow out there.  But second because we didn’t get organized in paceline/towing setup early on.  Part of this may have been due to the scariest moment previously mentioned which happened right at the start of this section.  But we should have forced ourselves to get organized.

Maybe more importantly, I should’ve towed Brian more on the trek-to-boat and trek-to-bike mid-race.  Probably should’ve even made Antoinette give Brian a pull too.  He was hurting a bit on his feet in the unexpected heat and sweating a ton.  I towed him a bit, but then got concerned with using up my own energy.  Would’ve been better off spending it while I had it, because I couldn’t help him nearly as much on the second O-Course later on.  Again, we all have to check our egos.  Brian could’ve asked for the help and I shouldn’t have hesitated to give it in order to save myself.

Best Piece of Gear

Can’t speak for the team, but as a navigator, I borrowed a great bike map board for the first time and it makes a world of difference.  I used the AR Nav MBO-2 Rotating Map Holder and it was outstanding.  With just the straps and a couple of binder clips I was able to move it around easily while riding and save serious time and headaches from looking down at a map around my neck.

Contributed by Paul Morris | Race Date: Feb 26, 2012 | http://www.runriderace.com/overall-monster/

TeamHalfwayThere.com/Spokes, Etc @ Monster Cross 50M

The cruel iPhone alarms began sounding off their marimba tones @ 6 a.m. inside of a cramped cabin at Pipsico Reservation near Spring Grove, VA some 51 miles away from the morning’s start line.  Several members of TeamHalwayThere.com/Spokes, Etc. competed in a 12 hour orienteering rogaine the previous day hosted by Soggy Bottom Boys Racing.  These racers were looking to complete the weekend double dip by then riding 50 miles of fire-roads amidst the gorgeous backdrop of Pocohontas State Park in Chesterfield, VA.  After quickly packing up the cars we departed Pipsico headed for Pocohontas, by way of McDonald’s and a much needed Egg McMuffin and coffee.

Once at Pocohontas, the principal protagonists of the day (Michelle Faucher, Nate Graham, Brian Hyland, Paul Morris, Barry Nobles and Paul Ruchlin) checked in and suited up before mounting our mountain bikes and heading off to the start line.  Just after 9am the race began with nearly 400 riders streaking up a road climb and circling a roundabout before departing the pavement in favor of dirt fireroads and the pace was fierce (see video of start).

Nate, Brian and Paul rode together early jockeying for position amidst a sea of cross bike roadies.  There certainly were numerous sketchy corners and blistering descents as the roadies tried to maneuver their cross bikes around the course.  After witnessing a host of flat tires (thankfully no flats on our team due to all of us riding a Stan’s NoTubes setup) and steering clear of several crashes, Nate pulled away towards the front of the pack on his trusty single-speed and would be chased by Brian and Paul for the remainder of the day.

In the dead leg category (which consists of those Ironmen/Ironwomen that raced for 12 hours the day before), Michelle rode with her personal pacer Paul Ruchlin and managed to put some distance on Barry (still recovering from his 3 day race across the entire state of Florida earlier that same week).  At the end of the first lap the Garmin GPS read 22 miles and then instead of returning onto the same loop, the course turned across Swift Creek and took racers on a delightfully fast and fun 6 mile loop before returning to the start/finish area for the final 22 miles of the Monster Cross.  The pace remained high with heart rate monitors routinely chiming in the 165-175 BPM range and riders working together across teams to help deliver one another across the finish line in this first early season test following a winter spent riding on trainers.

Personally, I worked incredibly hard in my second lap and saw the entrance to the infamous “pain cave” but was never lured in by its siren song.  I refused to enter the dreaded pain cave and sit down to rest since I knew the consequences of such action.  Instead, I focused on my eating right to keep my energy level up and led a train of 5-6 riders.  I drove the pace for nearly 45 minutes before ceding the pace making duties to a Marine whom proceeded to shatter our pace line by dropping those barely hanging on, but our collaborative hard work delivered the two of us to the finish line well under 4 hours.

Special thanks to our personal cheerleader and post-race driver following back to back days of racing, Cathy Hovis.

Team results

It was a day highlighting off-road cycling’s youth movement in which two of the top four finishers were aged 17 years young.

  • Nate Graham  3:35 (In his first ever off road race and on a singlespeed no less)
  • Brian Hyland  3:40
  • Paul Morris  3:47
  • Michelle Faucher  4:29
  • Paul Ruchlin  4:29
  • Barry Nobles  4:48