A few days after I got back from Africa I got an email from another orienteer/adventure racer asking me about a race in Kansas...did I know the promoter, had I ever done it, etc. I replied back that I didn't know the promoter but since they are in the same series as Bonk Hard events, they are probably okay and, by the way, if he needed an extra teammate I might be interested. So we traded a few more emails and, despite not really having met each other except for about 5 minutes at the Possum Trot, decided to race as a 2-person coed for Lake Adventures' Break Up 10hr AR in Milford, Kansas. How did I ever agree to race with someone I've barely met? 3 reasons: first, Andrei's a super-good navigator; second, he lives in MN; and third, his Attackpoint log tells me he's super-fit. Done, done, and done. Team Space Monkeys FTW!
Andrei and I have our second official meeting in the parking lot of a Days Inn on the west side of Kansas City. In any other situation this might sound completely sketch but something about the AR community makes it totally okay. We load up his gear into my car because it has a roof rack for 2 bikes and hit the road for the remaining hour's drive to Milford for the pre-race meeting. At the meeting we collect one 1:24000 map, 2 aerial photo maps, and coordinates for 30 CPs. The race instructions are a little confusing because we have a few loops we can take in any order, but I'm pretty sure that once the points are plotted we will be able to visualize the course. Just in case, though, I save the Race Director's phone number for questions.
|Race check in. Andrei and I are at the registration table while other teams are already plotting maps.
We have a bike drop on the way to the race start and we decide to take the long way so we can check out the condition of the gravel. Turns out the roads are in great shape and should be quite fast. We also pass the Kansas Landscape Arboretum where some of the CPs are located and stop to check out the posted map. It's the same as the one we've been given in the race packet. But, the larger scale of the posted map shows that what we thought was a trail, is actually a creek! So now we know not to ride there! We drop bikes at a park, making sure tires are properly inflated, and then drive over to the Start/Finish area at North Timber Creek on Milford Lake. There, we double-check our packs which seem disturbingly light but it's mostly a result of the great weather and minimal gear list. The RD clarifies the rule on personal paddles, making us leave ours in the car. Soon, it's time for some jogging and assembling at the start line!
TREK 1 (CP 1, 2.5 mi, 0:18)
|The first trek, from the CP8/S triangle in the upper right corner to CP1 in the middle of town. The map really did have that crazy mis-match on it.
|Leading the pack across the bridge.
BIKE 1 (CP 2-7, 9 mi, 1:23)
|The first biking leg, we went 2-5-3-4-7-6 and then back to the start (off the map).
BIKE 2 (CP 16-18, 1.5 mi, 0:??)
|First leg of the cloverleaf...biking 17-18-16.
PADDLE 1 (CP 13-15, 4 mi, 1:17)
|Second leg of the cloverleaf...paddling 15-13-14.
|Finally back at the beach!
TREK 2 (CP 9-12, 3.5mi, 0:??)
|Third leg of the cloverleaf...trekking 11-12-10-9.
|Finishing up the trekking cloverleaf.
BIKE 3 (CP 19-23, 15? mi, ?:??)
|First part of the third bike leg...CP19-20-21-22.
We hit the gravel and try to go fast, but it's clear the tubes are slowly leaking, the front one especially. We make the turn onto a faint gravel road to CP19 and have to hoist the bikes over a gate again. Because we're stopped we put a few pumps of air into the front tire and continue. We locate 19 easily enough and as I punch, Andrei puts more air in. We catch up with 3B&AS and follow them as the track dead-ends into a farmer's field. Crap. Good thing Andrei is reading the map's contours more than man-made features so we just bike-whack up a hill and find the gravel road we need. We make another turn and soon we have a huge tailwind on the way to 20 and 21.
We are looking for a jeep track that's shown on the map but there is nothing on the spur that we need. On the next spur, however, there's a similar-looking track so we take that instead and cobble together a route to CP20. Again, since Andrei is reading contours/features more than man-made stuff, we are able to locate the CP pretty well and find the track we wanted originally to bring us to CP21. In between, we run into the other top teams (3B&AS and Rev3/MK), all having tire issues. I'm bummed for them but also relieved that we're not the only ones. We make it back to the main gravel road only stopping a few more times for re-airing. Then, it's a long southward haul into a strong headwind. I try to pull as much and as fast as I can, thinking in some way it will make up for the crash I caused earlier. As we near CP22, Andrei decides he wants to put the new tube in the front tire and be done with it already. Since we're on a long straightaway and in the lead, we pick the next valley so our stop won't be in sight of the other teams (and potentially act as a carrot for them). We change the front as fast as possible and, incredibly, no one passes us.
We continue biking south to CP22, and as we punch I spot 3B&AS cresting the hill behind us, not more than 5 minutes back. Crap!! We race to CP23 where we will transition to a short trek. We hold 3B&AS off on this segment, and as we roll into the TA I don't see any other bikes, meaning we are currently leading the race, but not by much. We check in with the volunteer, transition into trekking shoes, and practically sprint out of TA just as 3B&AS is rolling in. Since Andrei is so good at nav we want to get far away from them so they can't follow.
TREK 3 (CP 24-27, 4mi, 0:45)
|We went 24-27-25-26.
We have plotted CP25 on the north side of an inlet, and the clue is "dead tree" so as we arrive we scour the shore and surrounding area, but with no luck. The area has been recently burned so every tree looks dead! We are wasting an alarming amount of time and as we regroup, I see some fishermen on the south side of the inlet and decide to go ask them if they're seen anything. On my way over, the fisherman points to a downed tree at the innermost point of the inlet and sure enough, there is a CP hanging there. RELIEF!! (Note: after the race we compared maps with the RD and we did indeed misplot by about 150m.)
We have to take a slightly circuitous route to CP26 and I'm feeling the effects of unseasonably warm temperatures and a brisk pace. I'm basically out of water in my bladder but I know I have a 1/2 bottle left on my bike. Andrei reminds me to be strong like a buffalo as we run to 26, punch, and run back to TA. Despite the time-wasting at CP25, we haven't seen 3B&AS again, and Rev3/MK at all. We are either in still in first or really far behind in second. As we transition, I don't even want to ask the volunteer what the placings are so we just throw shoes on, add some air to Andrei's tire, and get out of there.
BIKE 4 (CP 28-30, 6? mi, ?:??)
|The final biking leg, we went 28-30-29-F
As we leave CP28, two really bad things happen. First, I get a flat. Second, we see another 3p coed team crest the hill on their way to 28. Thankfully I have a tube so we perform a smokin-fast tire change and Andrei reinflates the 29" tire, with a frame pump, with an injured shoulder, in about 60 seconds flat. I am in awe. We hustle out of the area and commit to going as fast as possible for the remainder of the race. Neither of us want to lose after driving so far and being so close to the lead all day. We are motivated.
There are two route choice options to CP30 and we pick the longer, safer route since I am pretty sure we are in the lead and we don't want to mess things up with missing jeep roads now. So we go around a large, marshy-looking reentrant and pick up CPs 30 and 29 without incident. Now all that's left is to hammer back to the finish. We haven't seen any other teams so far so we're either way in front or way behind. Not taking any chances, we keep the pace high all the way back to Start/Finish. As we roll in I'm scanning the beach for bikes. There are none. The Race Director asks us if we are finishing, we say yes, and she says we are the first team back from the long course. That's good news, but we can't celebrate until our passport is checked. I crash into a camp chair, put my feet up and nervously wait for the verdict.
And the verdict is...WE WIN!!
FINISH (total time 7:39, 1st place overall)
|Posing with our punctured tubes!
After taking a few quick photos at the finish line, we load gear back into the car and I decide to go sit in the lake as a pseudo-ice-bath. It is cold but feels amazing and I'm hoping it will speed my recovery (mostly because I have a healthy respect/slight fear for GoSonja's schedules). Rev3/MK rolls in for second place overall (7:56) and 3 Builders & A Shocker is in third (8:06). It's fun to meet these athletes and we even have a little map-pointing session! Joy! Lake Adventures has promised a full-on BBQ buffet so you know I have to stick around for that. It's a really nice finish line atmosphere with a campfire on the beach, good food, good people, and awesome prizes!
|This is one of my favorite pictures. Space Monkeys hanging out with 3B&AS after the race, on a beautiful beach, with a beautiful campfire. Adventure racers are the coolest people!!