I leave work early on Friday and drive over to Sunny's house, where we load gear & bikes into the minivan and head south to Osage Beach, MO. The drive is easy and we chat about science!, things to expect tomorrow (this will be Sunny's second AR ever), and triathlon. We get into Osage Beach about 6pm and head straight to Quail's Nest hotel to meet up with Alpine Shop for dinner. The six of us also join another St. Louis team, Testemax (can you guess what division they are in?), for dinner at Lil Rizzo's. I am delighted there is pizza on the menu (my new favorite pre-race dinner, tried and tested at the Bonk Hard Castlewood 8hr, PMETR, and Possum Trot). We have a really fun dinner and we finish up with just enough time to complete pre-race check-in at Oz Cycles & Kayaks. From there we head to the pre-race meeting just around the corner. Gary and Ellen Thompson, the new owners of Bonk Hard Racing, give a short overview of the course instructions and hand out a TON of schwag. Then we receive maps and are dismissed at 8.45pm. There is a little bit of plotting to do so we return to the hotel and get to work.
Sunny and I plot the first 29 CPs of the race and then go about route selection/planning. My newly-purchased map wheel has some issues, but she fixes it so we can nerdily measure distances of some different bike routes. We have 2 mystery checkpoints on the clue sheet, but they are located between known CPs near Bridal Cave, which is coincidentally one of the race's sponsors, so we are reasonably sure that the mystery event will involve the famous cavern. Cool! After the maps are done, we focus on packing and deliberate over clothing tomorrow - the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40s and a slight chance of rain. We finally get to sleep about midnight and I surprisingly don't have that many anxiety dreams!
We wake up about 4.15am and get all of our stuff packed in the van. Quail's Nest has graciously opened their breakfast area at 4am so we have hot water for oatmeal and coffee. We drive to the bike drop, and find a good spot for the bikes to wait for our return. Then it's off to the race HQ for final packing, peeing, and socializing before the race starts.
TREK 1 (CP1-5, 4mi, 0:36)
|The first trek, starting at HQ and then CP1-5.|
TRANSITION 1 (trek to paddle)
We arrive in TA1 in about 3rd/4th place, punch, select a boat (they all look mostly the same to my untrained eye so we pick one with seat cushions), put in, assemble paddles, and shove off. We're not fast here but there were no big issues, which I was worried about because neither of us have assembled paddles in a race situation. Success!
PADDLE 1 (CP 6, 2.5mi, 0:50)
|The paddling legs. Put in at CP5. Bridal Cave is just north of CP6/9. Take-out at CP11.|
TRANSITION 2 (paddle to mystery)
Just as we reach the TA2 take-out, Alpine Shop comes cruising up and tells us they misplotted CP4 on the first trek. So that's why we were ahead on the paddle. Bummer. But we beach the boat and receive instructions from the volunteers to proceed uphill CP7 through the Bridal Cave gift shop. Maybe the mystery event is a Price Is Right-style shopping challenge?
MYSTERY 1 (CP7-9, .5?mi, 0:16)
|Packs waiting outside Bridal Cave.|
TRANSITION 3 (mystery to paddle)
We climb back into the boats for the return trip down-lake, plus a little extra distance to CP11. The put-in goes smoothly!
PADDLE 2 (CP10-11, 5mi, 1:11)
We are encouraged by the thought of having the wind at our backs for the remaining paddle. While this does make us a little less cold, it doesn't help my steering abilities one bit. I'm just not very good at it! We have a few sections where we are in sync and moving straight, but they are few and far between. Sunny is exceedingly gracious and positive throughout the paddle - it's clear that neither of us enjoy being slow, but we both know it won't do any good to get mad, so we just keep paddling. I am so happy when the take-out appears.
TRANSITION 4 (paddle to trek)
We are cheered on at the take-out by awesome volunteer Rachel from Bushwhacker (sitting out the race with an injury). The process of putting the canoe away and disassembling paddles takes a few minutes but is again smoother than expected. I realize I can't find my running tow (must have left it at CP7??) but I try not to worry about it.
TREK 2 (CP12-14, 1.5mi, 0:29)
|Trek 2. The 316 stairs are just after CP12.|
TRANSITION 5 (trek to bike)
We arrive at TA5 closer to the middle of the pack than I would have liked. We lost quite a few spots on the paddle. But, I am hoping that Sunny's exceptional fitness to will move us up if I can keep the nav clean. We successfully add our trekking shoes to our packs (which have paddles too) and are able to ride without too much interference from the load.
BIKE 1 (CP15-29, 30mi, 3:04)
|The first part of the bike: TA5 is at CP14. CP15 and 16 are doubletrack, then we take the road to CP17/HQ.|
|The majority of the biking leg was on roads.|
|Sunny and me leaving CP25/gear check.|
TRANSITION 6 (plotting & bike to trek)
We cruise into TA6 exceedingly ready to start running. We have moved back up into 5th/6th place and we both consider the trekking to be our strongest discipline if I can keep the nav clean. We have 8 CPs to plot so Sunny calls UTM coordinates and I mark the map. Then I route-plan as she transcribes some of the points onto a supplemental park map (the blue one) we were given in our map packets. We decide on 33-35-37-36-34-30-31-32-F and hustle out of the TA before other teams can latch on.
TREK 3 (CP30-37, 7mi, 2:54)
|The last trekking leg, CP30-37. I wrote our order in black on the side of the map.|
After we hit CP35 cleanly, I start to get confused about the trail system and exactly where we are on the map. The night before, we transposed the Turkey Run trail from a park map onto the 1:24000 map I'm holding, but the trail is hard to find and I'm also struggling with the scale. I don't have much experience running on 1:24000 so it takes some time to get my distance perception calibrated. We take lots of walk breaks here as we use both maps to figure out just where exactly we are on the trail. Finally we figure out a reasonable location and are able to pick up the pace. A few hundred meters later, we find a park sign with a "You Are Here" sticker which matches what we thought...relief! It's time then to crash down a big reentrant and climb another one to CP37.
|Around CP37, we pick up a tail. We shake them with a new route between CP36 and CP34 (shown i n dashed dark line)|
We punch cleanly and set out for CP31. The route is tricky because it is mostly flat, but I am checking off features in my mind and everything looks good. The checkpoint is hung in the middle of a reentrant system and as we descend into it, there is no checkpoint. We canvass the area and still come up short. Crap...things were going so well! Where are we?! I focus intently on the map and determine the system we are in is oriented north/south, and the system we want is east/west. There are 2 north/south system on the map and I'm pretty sure we're in the southern one, but to be safe I want to retrace our steps back to the powerline to 100% relocate. Sunny suggests that we just go directly to the next system over (which will be faster), and I agree to try it. What follows is one of my proudest orienteering achievements to date - relocating on a tough map without being 100% sure where we are. So we carefully climb out of the north/south system and head northeast to the next system over. We enter and start checking the spurs, and I SPOT THE CHECKPOINT! I have never been so relieved. Sunny punches and get out of there, only 2 more short legs to go!
|The route from 30-31. Orange is my intended route, blue dashes is the actual route.|
|Sunny and me! Yes, she is sitting and I am standing.|
I can't say enough how happy I am with this race. It was my first try at being the 100% navigator, and it was Sunny's second ever adventure race. We were the only 2-person female team entered but we represented well, beating 39 other teams! Sunny is a most excellent teammate - her fitness is a huge asset, but her positive attitude ensured our success. I have seen other teams implode in anger when one person can't steer a boat, or when they get lost in the woods, but we stayed committed to the team's success and that is how we ended up close to the front. Pin It