Monday, April 21, 2008
Savage Adventure Race Report
And the word of the day was... "F___!!!" That's the easiest way to describe today's venture in the woods, creek and hillsides of Brandywine Creek State Park in Delaware. For those that race the MASS Mountain Bike series, this Park borders the Granogue mountain bike race course to give you an idea of the terrain we raced on. Now take your mountain bike race at Granogue on an unmarked course (but you DO have a map with checkpoints you must find), add a running race, a canoe race, finding and recording 17 checkpoints along the way, lifting and carrying 80 pounds, and balancing and guiding your blind-folded teammate on a scooter around cones and that's the race today. Chrissy and Sam finished a little early after the run and bike portions. Sam was not feeling up-to-power and pulled out. Dick and Cathy did quite well at about 6 hours and 15 minutes (I think), and Miss Sheena and Team blazed through the course in about 5:30! The fastest team of the day took 4:20 minutes to finish the race. Donna and I eeked out 5:49. Adventure racing holds true to its name. Think small-scale "The Amazing Race" and that's fairly close. Donna and I were not at a loss for choice words at many parts of the race. This race was full of surprises, like a checkpoint up the side of a very steep hill (it may as well would have been a mountain), numerous trails unmarked on the map...leading us in a variety of directions we couldn't be sure of since we were both unfamiliar with the Park, making us double back at spots and stopping at every intersection. Donna used her orienteering skills to figure where we were..using the map's features as a guide (i.e., open fields, root stock, creek crossing). She did a great job getting us through the course, contrary to her belief she wasn't as good a navigator as she thought (you done did REAL good girl!). She got pissy at a couple points (don't we all?), as did I at the start. One of us had to run about a mile to get the passport (the chart that records where you've been through certain sections and reached the checkpoints -- race officials mark your passport after each section). It was decided the flatter, easier (longer) trail would be best for faster running. The other option was a washed out ditch down an steeper section (shorter distance). Well, it was the case of many trails to choose from while running and I chose a wrong trail following everyone else (forgot the map -- didn't think I'd need it for a 1 mile run! - DOH), and ran about 10 minutes out of the way. That sort of set the tone for the race at first, but we both loosened up at about the 3 hour marker when we were getting too tired to think about the wrong trails. By the 4th hour, after finishing the bike leg, the special tasks (carrying that heavyweight in a stretcher - ouch), and the run leg, we wanted to be done. But the canoe remained. Have you ever tried to paddle a canoe upstream in faster moving shallow water after you've been racing for 4 hours already? Well...it doesn't happen. So there were many spots I was out of the boat pushing. At one point I fell, which was actually pretty funny at the 5 hour marker. The canoe was L.O.N.G. - maybe 5 or more miles (as was the run - had to be about 6 miles) and both of us had hurting arms. All said and done, we finished in 5:49 minutes. No other women enter the two-person Master Women class, so we took home the blue ribbons by default. But we like to compare ourselves to the other women finishers when there are no others in our class, and we were 3rd of the 9 women's teams that entered. The majority of them either didn't finish, took time penalties for not completing certain sections, or didn't find all the checkpoints. That's part of the results -- did you do it all, did your find all the checkpionts. We were proud to have found all our checkpoints. This race was really hard given the terrain and my lack of endurance and strength like previous years. Adventure racing is being crossed off the list of things to do for next year. One down and one to go - the Capital City Adventure Challenge is in September and that will be my last Adventure race - ever!