Written by Jared Macary | Race Dates: June 2-3, 2012 | GOALS Web site
The Cradle of Liberty 24-hour Adventure Race by Gibbons Outdoor Adventure Leadership School (GOALS) Adventure Racing Association offers 100 miles of mountain and road biking integrated with trail running. Paddling was removed from the race due to the high, fast-moving waters of the Schuylkill River. Nevertheless, from 9:30 AM on Saturday June 2, 2012 to 9:30 AM on Sunday, June 3, 2012, there was plenty to see and do. The Cradle of Liberty covered a lot of ground, including the areas of Evansburg State Park, Neversink Mountain Preserve, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, and the Berk’s County Parks by Birdsboro, PA and Mount Penn. As I learned, GOALS is known for running a tight ship and the Cradle is no exception to the rule. Brent and Abigail set up a challenging course that served as a USARA Regional Qualifier, Checkpoint Tracker Series participant, and member of the East Coast Adventure Racing Series.
There were two TeamHalfwayThere teams at the race. The first was my immediate team, TeamHalfwayThere #1, which included Paul and Bev Richardson. TeamHalfwayThere #2 consisted of Jeremy, Michelle, and Barry. I served Paul and Bev as navigator during the land navigation portion. During the bike navigation portion, Paul took the lead.
I did this race to conquer fear. I’ve been afraid of racing for 24 hours for too long. Heck, I didn’t even pulled an all-niter studying in college. I couldn’t imagine performing physically for all that time. Barry has been at my heels telling me that I can be successful. I decided to bite the bullet and alongside Paul, who also had never done a 24-hour race, signed up. Barry proved to be right.
A lingering image from the race involved seeing how TeamHalfwayThere #2 worked together. Team #1 rolled into Mount Penn to find Jeremy suffering. Jeremy had led the first O-course flawlessly, but his stomach soured and he was now lying down, resting. Michelle and Barry supported him and problem-solved. Jeremy needing time to recuperate did not dampen the Team #2′s spirits; it was just a bump in the road and the race was only halfway over.
My lowest point during the race was getting a flat tire and having to split from TeamHalfwayThere #2. Bev and Paul helped me fix the flat and we powered on. We ascended back toward a checkpoint nicknamed the Witch’s Hut. Thereabouts we reunited with Team #2. My highest point in the race was feeling awake and alive in the magic hours (as Aaron calls them) of the early morning. I kept going with only two sips of caffeine and zero attacks from sleep monsters.
In the vain of flats, the team’s lowest point happened before the race had even started. Bev and her tank-like, white van got a flat. Time was ticking to race start and we still hadn’t registered. Paul troubleshot by calling Team #2, Barry responded by picking us up and shuttling us to the start. I then heard the wondrous phrase, “Captain Hairdo to the Rescue!” Seriously though, friends like Barry are clutch! Also, Jeremy allowed us to transcribe points from small maps to the largest map we were given. The highest point for my team was toward the end of the race. With an hour and change left in the race, we were challenged to gain more points by completing an orienteering relay. Bev headed out first and nabbed four checkpoints to earn 1 point for us. I then went out and found four more checkpoints, earning us another 2 points.
I would rock the Cradle of Liberty again. The race is challenging, offers many checkpoints, and the GOALS team is dedicated to putting on a fun and safe adventure for racers. If you like a scavenger hunt, this is the race for you.
Shout-outs without a doubt to Barry, Michelle, and Jeremy. Together they acted as great mentors. Michelle and Jeremy pushed through adverse health issues and Barry made sure Bev, Paul, and I were doing well and in good spirits. In short, TeamHalfwayThere #2 treated #1 like true teammates. They looked out for us and made sure we completed the 24 hours with hunger for the next 24 hours.
TeamHalfwayThere #1 finished in 4th place with 54 points. TeamHalfwayThere #2 finished in 5th place with 51 points. Finishing in 4th place landed an invitation to USARA Nationals in Paul’s inbox!
- Always have laminated paper in your gear bin to waterproof and make rigid any 8.5 x 11 maps you receive. This will greatly assist with map management.
- Coconut water is filled with electrolytes and can be found in most gas stations. I pounded about 4 of these during the race and overcame any hydration issues.
- Buffalo-blue cheese combos are pretty tasty at 1 AM.
- Pace line. Embrace it. Be efficient and if you need to drop, request that the team slow down or make another team modification. Keep the formation alive.
- Communicate needs to teammates at all times. In an adventure race, your issues are your team’s issues.