Written by Jared Macary | Race Date: May 5, 2012 | www.americanadventuresports.com
The 10-hour Elite Yough (pronounced “Yock”) Xtreme adventure race by American Adventure Sports was in its 13th year on May 5th, 2012. The course set by race director Doug Crytzer offers 60+ miles of trekking, biking, and Class I whitewater throughout OhioPyle State Park in OhioPyle, Pennsylvania.
Having earned myself a 3rd place solo finish in EX2’s Rocky Gap (may it R.I.P.) last fall, I wanted to again test myself by undertaking a longer solo effort. From 8 AM to 6 PM I boosted my own morale, kept myself entertained, and took care of my boo-boos.
I was very excited to do this race because last year when I raced with Barry, Michelle, and Kelly, the whitewater paddle was extracted from the race due to high water. In exchange, we paddled the reservoir. That paddle left something to be desired. I wanted to do whitewater in a race, and I knew that the mild winter would allow me to paddle the Middle Yough this year. I learned however, that in gaining the whitewater paddle this year, I had forfeited the O-course toward the end of the race. The race I found myself engaged in was fairly linear and did not require much navigation at all, making it more about speed than strategy.
The lowest point of the race for me was seeing the soon-to-be-second place solo racer pass me on the uphill and maintain that lead. To his credit he had more in the tank than I did. My attempts at strategy didn’t pay off in the long run. This is a part of any race. I knew that if I just stayed the course and raced my own race, I would continue to enjoy my experience. Besides the best part of the race was before me – barreling down the Baughman trail that I had trekked twice, one of which was with my bike. I flew down the the wet, muddy trail from the top of the ridge to the finish line. I maintained confidence, focus, and determination avoiding dangers along the way.
The race began with a short out-and-back trek to separate the mass of racers at the starting line. After CP2 I hopped on my bike to the Baughman trail. I interwove trekking and riding until I reached the ridge. I then biked to CP3, dropped the bike, and jogged to CP4. I descended a steep slope to the towpath and ran to the paddle put in at CP5. I paddled the Middle Yough for about 1 hour 45 minutes to CP6. Following a very quick transition, I trekked back up the Baughman trail to CP7, where my bike lay. I biked to CP8 and then to the finish line covered in mud and smiling.
If you have not done the Yough Xtreme race, do it. You’re guaranteed a safe, fun race. However, having tackled the race twice, I would not do this race again. The linearity of the race doesn’t interest me as much as a non-linear race requiring more strategic decision-making. In addition, race design does not alter much each year, as I am told by peers. If I’m going to pay $140 to race I’d like a little more diversity and adventure.
To Barry for allowing my precious hands to utilize a dry pair of full-fingered gloves during the paddle section, and for granting me a spot in his campsite for the night. To AAR for hosting a smooth and safe course with lots of great prizes to choose from.
I came in 3rd place for Men’s Solo at 8 hours 38 minutes (the second place finisher arrived at 8 hours 30 minutes). Michelle came in 1st for Women’s Solo. Barry, Victor, and Amber came in 3rd for Co-ed 3-person. I arrived ahead of my other THT peeps. I was pleased to be present to welcome them toward their finish.
- The helmet leash on my Osprey Talon 11 was a great addition, holding my Specialized hard hat in place for a soundless smooth trek.
- Sweet and salty is important. I dumped some Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blocks into my nut, seed, & pretzel mix. Over the course of the race, the savory pieces clung to the shots, coating them completely. Chewy and crunch goodness.
- Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel was like warm apple pie in my mouth. Yes, I said it.
- Trust your instincts and keep going. In descending a sharp slope to get to the paddle leg, I bush-whacked through uncharted territory with several teams. As these team members mulled path options with me on their heel, I found myself accepting their contemplation. That is, I’d weigh their option as if they were my own. While teaming with others not in category may have its place, this, for me, was not the situation. I quickly diverted from teams whenever I came into contact with them. I made quick decisions and kept pushing through the wet under-brush. Sure enough, I was in the water and on my way faster.
- Be selfless, if you can afford it. That statement sounds dodgy, and perhaps it is. But I witnessed Michelle, an exemplary racer, picked up another racer’s helmet and carry it from the bike transition to the paddle transition. Michelle knew that a racer would need that helmet in order to get on the water or risk disqualification. Would she do it in another, more competitive race? Perhaps not, but she did it this race.