Monday, March 23, 2009

Natchez Trace Adventure Race

Yes, I just HAD to do one more race! I'm thinking this REALLY will be my last one until Nov/Dec.

Julia and I made the 5 hour drive to Natchez Trace State Park on Friday afternoon, and thanks to the time zone change, barely made it there for check-in. Thankfully Kevin was already there and had our TA set up so all we had to do was unload the car and go to sleep. I couldn't find any info on this race, even though it has been going for a few years now, so I didn't know what to expect.

We didn't get our race maps and instructions until the next morning when the race started. Nothing like plotting on the clock! Each team had a certain sequence they had to do the various bike and trek sections in, so this helped to eliminate follow-the-leader situations. It also meant you had no idea how you were really doing, but it did a good job of taking the pressure off.

We started with a bike section, which had 15 checkpoints and a lot of road riding. Ugh..road riding. I've been avoiding road riding like the plague, unless I'm doing a recovery ride and poking along at a 135 HR. The terrain was gently rolling with short climbs, so by the end, my legs were starting to tire from all the big-ring mashing that they just weren't used to. One of the special tests was apparently figuring out which trails to use to get to all the points, because there were a ton of trails and roads out there that weren't on the map. Once we kind of figured out that they hung the CP's relatively close to the next unmapped trail you were supposed to take, the navigation became pretty easy. We finished that section in less than 3 hours and made it back to our TA.

Next we had a running section where I gladly handed off the map to Kevin so I could just relax (ha!) and concentrate on following along. It was mostly bushwhacking and pretty short, so we were back to the TA 40 minutes later.

Next a 4 mile bike to another short run section, where we again knocked all the points off without incident. I think this section took us a little over an hour. I managed to roll my ankle on this section, but it thankfully didn't cause any permanent damage.

Our final section, was to be the paddle so I was happy to just plop my butt in the canoe and knock out what looked to be an easy 4 mile paddle with 5 easy CPs to pick up along the way. At the far end of the paddle, we had saw another team - an all male team - coming into some CP's right as we were leaving. Now we had chasers, so now we had motivation! No matter that they weren't in our way were we going to let them catch us without a fight!

We paddled pretty hard to ensure they didn't creep up on us and hustled into the finish after 6 hours and 20 minutes. There we were were greeted by a smirking race official who handed us another sheet of coordinates for another (SURPRISE!) running section. All hopes of chowing down at the post-race buffet were shot and we had to go retrieve more points!!! Worse than that was the fact that we had to move somehat quickly since we had that all male team still close behind us.

Thankfully Kevin got us through this section quickly and we finished about an hour and 20 minutes later. We were not surprised with any additional tasks or checkpoints, so we headed straight for the buffet without even changing out of our bike shorts.

The all male team that was chasing us came in close to 40 minutes later and the next coed team was several hours later. A fun day in the woods for sure!


randall said...

great job!!

Neal said...

good work....nice to hear you are still a winner!