Sunday, June 6, 2010

Siege on Fort Yargo Adventure Race

This year our plan was for Julia, Chris and I to race as a coed team. Unfortunately, Chris came down with some nasty bug that took him out of commission for almost a week and thus he wisely decided not to race on Saturday. Since the entry was free (prize from winning last year's race), Julia and I just raced as a two person team. The competition was tougher at this years race, so we knew we would have some work to do out there.

After taking a look at the maps and instructions, we decided to bike first. We chose to do the entire bike loop (skipping the o-course at that time) so that we would have a clear trail. Anyone who has done this race in the past knows how much of a cluster the singletrack can be once you dump a bunch of adventure racers on it - so we wanted to avoid that at all costs. We would then do the trek and o-section, then finish up the trek with whatever remaining time we had left.

The prologue took about 20 minutes and thankfully Julia was in the top 10 off the water on the opening float, so we were able to get back to the TA and get out on the bike trail before anyone else.

The bike was pretty straight forward and similar to past years, but it seemed at many CP's we would spend a couple of minutes looking in various tree clumps and thickets to find the actual checkpoint. Maybe they put them out early and didn't want them to get stolen, but it sure seemed like they were much more hidden than in years past. Thankfully there was no one behind us who was capitalizing on our ferreting out the CP's. We then ran into a team who "mistakenly" took the paved road all the way to B5, and when I pointed out that it wasn't allowed, they high-tailed it out of there (perhaps before I could see their bib numbers..)on their way to CP6 via the bike trail. Not sure what they were thinking there, as we were SUPPOSED to be on the paved road for B6 and B7 (both hung close to the road). Sigh...

We finished up the bike loop then headed out on the trek. I was going to put my trekking pants on, but forgot and put my shoes on first and didn't remember the pants till afterwards. Not wanting to take my shoes off, I just said screw it on the pants....bad bad idea. Julia ended up carrying both rafts so I could have my hands free to flip through the maps. Running with those pfd's on in the hot weather was completley awful, so I was glad when we reached the O-section where we could drop all that crap.

The o-section was kind of nasty, with both gnarly vegetation and exposed, hot, sunny red clay sections. We collected the points counter clockwise, with OP5 being the first one we headed out for. We missed it the first time down, so just continued to OP6 and OP7. The vegetation around OP7 was about as nasty as I've seen at the Siege..and that was AFTER several other teams had trampled some of it down. Really regretting the no-pants decision at that point. Got clotheslined by some barbed wire type briar on my way out and let out a string of about ten curse words.... We then headed towards the dam and again had to hunt in various tree clumps to finally find the OP. The next few points weren't very eventful, with the exception of the one that was near a neck-high (for me) kudzu field. We should have attacked from the powerline where it was clearer instead of straight-lining and getting torn to shreds in the kudzu-briar thatching. Ugh...again wishing for my pants...

The points that required running on the exposed powerline were just evil in my opinion and the heat was really hurting more than I would have thought. I ran out of water near the end of the o-section but figured I had a Coke stashed at the drop, so that would get me through the remainder of the race. (after all, it IS a fluid source..) We still had to go back for OP5, which seemed much further down the reentrant than I would have expected. As we were getting close to the OP, I heard some newbie team yell out "its down here to the right" so we profited from their find. Earlier we found another team's passport that they had dropped out on the course, so we turned it in at the drop before we left.

We chugged the Coke I brought and again, Julia took both cumbersome rafts. We picked up T3 but decided to skip T4 and just run directly to T5. I thought this would be a better use of our time, as I wanted to hit T7-T9, as they were in pretty close proxmity to each other. We could then bail early if we had to. The run to T5 seemed like it took forever, running in our PFD's..getting cooked as we ran across the exposed dam. We picked up T5 and T6 without incident and headed to T7. I remembered them saying something about arrows painted on the ground for this one and sure enough, they were there. I thought the point would be across the small inlet based on the map, but it was on the same side of the inlet as the arrow was pointing. From T7 we floated across the lake to pick up the trail and run to our launch point for T8. I made the mistake of trying to get on my raft in 4 ft of water and ended up looking like a beached whale and almost had a full-on all body cramp from all the contortions I was in, trying to get on my raft. Once I finally mounted my raft, my arms were feeling tired and I was wishing the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. Thankfully it was short and Julia was able to pick up the punches. Even on a raft she has much better swimming form than I!

Once out of the water it was just a hilly run back towards the TA with one CP on the way. I opted to follow a dirt road to the back side of the cemetery, and in hindsight, we should have just stayed on the paved roads most of the way. We ended up finishing with about a minute to spare, so we made good use of our time, though we probably wasted a combined total of 30 minutes out there. We only missed one CP, but maybe we'll get credit for it since we turned in a dropped passport! (sorry couldn't resist..)

We don't have official results yet, but the 5 person Checkpoint Zero group was able to clear the course, but it is unlikely any other teams did, or even came close. Most were back to the TA long before us - opting to bail on CP's in lieu of cold beverages and food.

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