Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sandmann AR

Bo, Julia, James, Tony, Andy and I all ran the Sandmann AR today. The course was again a wide open format where you could obtain the points in any order, by any means of travel. Some were obvious, like the paddle points, and some were in "no bike" zones, but it still gave teams a lot of route choice.

We started with the orienteering section on Vineyard Mtn. This was a sprint section with a prize for the fastest time which was a Hang gliding Trip off of Lookout Mountain. Hells yeah, I wanted to go hang gliding for free so we booked it on this section and pretty easily nailed all the points.

Next it was a paddle on the Etowah River - not very eventful until the end when we had to drag our canoes up a shoaly section of the river. By drag I mean get out of the boat, wade in the FREEZING COLD water, and pull the boat along. Did I mention it was 35 degrees??? Our feet were blocks of ice and we weren't very coordinated so Julia and I managed to slip and submerge ourselves in the damn cold river. She got the worst of it, going in except for her head, and I went in up to my waist. No worries though, as I had plenty of clothes for the both of us at the Bike Drop.

After everyone thawed out and put on what dry clothes they had, we hopped on our bikes and rode to the summit of Pine Mtn. We picked up a point, then dropped our bikes to go on what should have been a short foot o-section. We nailed the first three points and continued on a bushwhack to the last one. I took us right to where the point plotted on the map, but no CP. It was pretty overgrown, so I wasn't 100% sure (but I was at least 80% sure) we were in the right place so we reattacked from a bend in a known trail. This took us forever since the underbrush was really thick. Again we ended up at the same place and STILL NO CP!! Argh!!!!!! I could feel the displeasure of my five teammates who were likely wondering if I knew what the hell I was doing and when this death march through over-seeded pine trees would be over. But this time I was 100% sure we were where the point was shown on the map. We even checked the coordinates again just to be sure. So we had to bail and head back to our bikes, which was no small task since it was all uphill, my teammates were wearing out, and it was a little confusing to find the bike trail again. After CP 16, I was discouraged and all the nav from this point seemed sooo much harder....I was just fried mentally becuase I HATE to let my teammates down.

Once we finally found the trail it was more uphill back to our bikes and we were running out of time. The outlook was dismal at best. The penalty for missing the 4 pm cutoff was DQ, and it wasn't looking good for us. James' team was done, Julia was tired, and Bo was on his way to checking out mentally as well. It seemed hopeless. I felt responsible for this entire debaccle, so I was up front pushing the pace, trying to keep my teammates motivated and moving forward. We kept plodding through the mud up to our bikes. We finally got to the bikes, I grabbed mine and Julia's and started jogging back down the trail with both bikes to save some precious time. Thankfully she kept pushing on the hike up and it wasn't long until I ran into her and could give her bike back. Time-3:46...we can still MAYBE make it...or at least we wouldn't miss it by much.

It was a slip and slide back down on peanut butter mud back down to the trailhead, then a short ride back to the canoes. We saw James and company on the way back down...they appeared to not be in a hurry anymore at this point. We arrived at the canoe drop and just dumped our bikes, grabbed the boat and jumped in the water. Time-3:55. We still had to paddle back through all those freaking shoals to the boat ramp, leave our boat there, then run to the finsh to be the outlook was still incredibly dismal. Instead of stumbling on the rocks in our bike shoes, we opted to portage along the shore for the last 700 meters. It was physically demanding and pretty much sucked, but missing the cutoff by 30 seconds would have sucked even more. As we went past the finish on the way to the boat drop it was 3:58:30. We had to lug that damn canoe another 100 meters or so and then run back to the finish. Amazingly, and to my teammates suprise (ok..and mine too) we made it back in with a scant 30 seconds or so to spare. So we were still official....whew! What a rush!

We aren't sure of the results or the ruling on CP 16 as they need to go check it out tomorrow. The point was supposed to be near a trail, but there were no trails within over a quarter mile of the plot location. It appeared that the coordinates we were given were just incorrect, as the race volunteers said they hung the bag right off a trail - even visible from the trail.

Unfortunately we spent so much time on CP 16 and didn't really pay close enough attention to our time, so we missed a few easy points that we intended to get. I'm sure that will hurt us in the final standings, as I'm pretty sure there were many teams that didn't even attempt CP 16 due to its apparent difficulty. We also found out that the Hang Gliding prize was likely going to go to the fastest beginner team on the O-course - they had a faster time than us, but they had two less (way far out) points to get on their course so I don't see how that is fair. Grumble Grumble. Despite all the CP 16 frustration, it was still a good day in the woods and a good workout. We'll see how everything shakes out in the next couple of days.

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