Saturday, February 27, 2010

Challenge Four Adventure Race

Today Chris and I had a "spa day" (meaning we had a sitter!) and got to race the Challenge Four together. It was sunny and nearly 50 degrees so we were pretty excited to get to run around in the woods. We had some formidable competition in the form of Kevin (one of my NGAR teammates), Bill (a past OME teammate), and Gina.

The race started out with a trail run along a mandatory route that was supposedly marked with flagging tape and volunteers. The problem was that the majority of the volunteers were teenagers who only spoke when spoken to (and even then it was just a mumble), and there were some confusing intersections that didn't have arrows, flagging tape or a volunteer. I'm not sure what happened, but somehow we (meaning us, Kevin's team, and some other front running teams) got directed off course and were kind of running around in circles wondering which way to go. We made our way back to the TA with a couple of other teams and headed out on our bikes.

We had to fight traffic on the way out, as there were runners coming back in, and on the way back in we had to fight bike traffic heading out in the wrong direction. We managed to lose the marking tape on the bike section as well and ended up going out of our way. We also had to contend with a nasty mud bog section that my drivetrain could have done without. When we returned to the TA, Chris scaled the climbing wall while I did the rope maze. The wall actually turned out to be pretty tough, as Chris had to climb the "hard" side since they were working on the easier side when we got there...and he climbed in bike shoes. Next it was off to the log pull which wasn't too terribly bad, but I'm glad I didn't have to do it by myself.

The next section was the canoe and we managed to get to our boat just before Kevin and his team. They had a much faster canoe so they blew by us on the water. The first two paddle points required a climb up a rocky embankment and I humped it up there and back pretty fast so we could stay close to Kevin's team. After CP 6, we could thankfully ditch the boat and head out on foot, which was much faster than paddling or dragging the boat in the 2-3 inches of water. We caught Kevin near CP 7, but they headed out before us. That was a good thing for us, as they managed to get a bit turned around and we were able to sneak by and nab all the CPs before they got back to their boat. Chris did a nice job with the navigation on that section and we were pretty efficient. We needed a buffer, as we knew they'd probably make up at least 5 minutes on the paddle back to the YMCA. The paddle back was a bitch as we had to drag the boat through the shallow section again (and the water was probalby 40 degrees! Cold!!!) The wind was horrendous as we came around some bends in the lake and at one point we were blown sideways into a bunch of stumps. We had a bit of reprieve for about 3/4 mile but again were nailed by the wind as we rounded the last bend to the YMCA. I had visions of the wind catching us and pushing us all the way across the lake, but thankfully that never happened and we were able to keep the nose straight and paddle back in at about 1.5 mph. We didn't see Kevin behind us, so that was good for us.

The last section was an orienteering section that we did on foot. It was mostly on the same trails as the earlier run and bike. We picked up the points without any issues, other than a slight hesitation as to what order to go in. We went in numerical order so we could just run across the muddy inlet to shortcut the trail on the way back in. We arrived at the finish at 5:12 pm, and it was fairly anticlimactic as no one really noticed we came in. Chris ran through the finish with his arms raised in an attempt to draw some attention. Kevin and company came in about 15-20 minutes later. I'm not certain, but I think we were the only two teams to clear the course.

We had burgers and awards afterwards at Little River Grill and even though Kevin's team was technically in a different category than us, the competitor in me still wanted to duke it out with them. We chatted afterwards and they joked that they should have followed us on the trek in the middle of the paddle, and then just smoked us on the paddle back in (which they would have). That seriously would have sucked, but I knew it wasn't Kevin's style to idly follow. Even though there were some issues with the race, it was still a fun day in the woods.

No comments: