After our success at the Extreme Break-Up Adventure Race in Kansas, Andrei and I have been planning on doing another race together in 2012. However, I took 3 months away from AR to prepare for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, and July looked like the first chance we would get to race. Fortunately, Andrei's home club MNOC hosts an 8hr AR near Minneapolis with a reputation for tough navigation and great terrain. Even though it's a super long drive for me, I thought I could work in some family visit time (my parents and grandparents are in Duluth, and more relatives are in Cedar Rapids) on the way. He rustled up some teammates and soon enough we had a committed, 4-person coed team!
|The maps waiting for teams to pick them up.|
|Just before 8:50am.|
TREK 1 (CPs A-E as B-D-C-A-E, 3.3 km redline, 33:17)
|First map - short trekking section through Kinnickinnc State Park|
PADDLE 1 (4 km redline, 29:20)
BIKE 1 (6.5 km, 23:27)
|Start at TA3, then to CP1, then to CP2, then to TA4 (green highlighter added after the race).|
TREK 2 (CPs F-H as G-F-H, 1.7 km redline, 24:15)
|Short little trek in the middle of biking.|
BIKE 2a (3 km, 14:04)
After a quick transition, it's back onto the bikes and back to the Afton Alps Chalet. As we are climbing back up the rollers, 2 cyclists pass me and Andrei. They are fast. My heart flips into my throat, scarcely believing that we are getting passed at this speed. But as the cyclists come fully into view, it's clear that they are not adventure racers. In fact, they are on road bikes, out for a training ride. No wonder they are so fast. My heart settles down and we proceed to the Chalet. As we descend back into the ski area, we see lots of teams still on their way up to CP1. Some of them are walking up the monster hill. We try to encourage them, but I know it's disheartening to be in that situation (I've been there...paddle leg at Mission 2010 when, ironically, it was WEDALI passing us on an out-and-back and giving the same encouragement).
BIKE 2b (CPs I-N in order, 6.5 km, 1:09:48)
|Afton Alps mtb map. This was really tough to nav on.|
|Yup, we're in the middle of a race, jus chillin.|
|Yeah, we're rockin the lead, crushing this hill, total superstars (R-L Dave, Jason, Andrei, me)|
|Uh, guys? See that other team? They're going the other way. Can someone check the maps?|
TREK 3 (CPs O-X as P-Q-R-S-W-V-U-T-X-O, 4 km redline, 58:08)
|The biggest trek of the race.|
|This is not me, but it's checkpoint R. I had to wedge myself in those roots to get hands free to punch.|
As we make our way around the loop, it's clear we are all struggling except Andrei. I run out of water, he finds 500mL of Powerade in his pack for me to consume. He carries packs. He takes the punchcard on a few steep checkpoints. And, he's keeping the navigation exceedingly clean and direct. Good job, Space Monkey!
Finally, finally, we reach the beach where our canoes are waiting to be paddled back to Wisconsin. We are all running a bit ragged here - the heat is getting to us. But, somehow, we still have the lead. The beach has a public water spigot so we refill bottles and bladders and my mind is put at ease now that I can rely on my own hydration again.
PADDLE 2 (4km redline, 30:42)
|Jason and I paddling into Kinnickinnic Beach.|
|Cleaning my shoes after we finished cleaning the boats.|
TREK 3a + MYSTERY CHALLENGES (CP3, 0.5km)
Our first task is to make our way up the massive paved climb from the river to the start/finish line, where we punch the mandatory CP3 and receive instructions for the 2-part mystery challenge. The first part requires our team to spell "GearJunkie" out of things we have on our person. We burst into a flurry of activity and one of the guys has the idea to spell it in nutrition product, namely gel. The race director, Tom, is on hand to officially approve this option so the boys spell "G-E-A-R" with packs and bottles and shirts and I write "J-U-N-K-I-E" with my remaining 400 calories of LiquidShot. Done. The second part of the mystery challenge is some sort of game with a hammer, stump, nail, and Kanye West glasses. I'm not really sure of the rules, but Dave understands it and completes it easily. We are doing these challenges basically side-by-side with GJ/W and I sort of feel sorry for the volunteers - minutes ago they were sitting peacefully in this beautiful state park and now they are overwhelmed with eight intense racers. Thank you, volunteers!!
TREK 3b (CP Y-CC as CC-Y-Z-BB-AA, 3.5km redline)
|Last mini-rogaine. Checkpoint Z was our only foot nav confusion of the day.|
The final two checkpoints are clean and we are running scared as we return back to Race HQ with our completed punchcard. RD Tom inspects the card and I hold my breath, terrified that I've mispunched somewhere along the way. But, he approves everything, and gives us one more set of instructions. We have to take PFDs with us to grab one more checkpoint - the appropriately-coded DD, located in the Devil's Den.
TREK 3c (CP DD, 1.7km, 1:17:44 for 3a+3b+3c)
|To the Devil's Den! It looks so boring on the map, but it's really cool in person.|
POST RACE (final time: 6:08:15)
|Andrei's GPS track of the entire race.|
|Winner winner ice cream dinner!|
After the awards ceremony, most everyone packs up and goes home. Andrei and I return to Erin's house, along with Peter, and we feast on pizza, ice cream (thanks Peter!!), beer, slacklining (I'm terrible), dog cuddling (I want one), and creek standing (brrrrrr!) until the sun goes down. The next morning I pack everything up and say my goodbyes to Erin and her wonderful house, and start the journey back to Missouri. I stop in Cedar Rapids to hang out with my relatives (and their crazy adorable kids!) for a late lunch and then I'm back in St. Louis as the sun sets.
Even though this race had a dismal travel:race time ratio, I feel it was completely worth it for me. As I've written about before, I'm pretty much a free agent when it comes to AR and this race gave me a chance to meet some other adventure racers and put my fitness to the test. Hopefully I'll be able to find some teammates for the upcoming fall races. I was immensely proud of our team during this race - I hadn't known Jason and Dave before Friday but we meshed together to form a fast fast squad. We each had our problems during the day but we pulled together to keep the team going strong. And mentally we never gave up - even when some of the most talented adventure racers in the country was breathing down our necks, we kept the confidence that we could compete, and came away with the victory. Pin It