|Friday night gear prep!|
Race morning comes along like so many other race mornings. Breaky, coffee, race clothes, frantic gear prep, and pretty soon maps are being handed out. We've decided Fredrik will be on the maps (duh), Rachel will be punching controls, and I will be e-punching TAs. Rachel and I are also both using super-small packs so we can help carry PFDs throughout the race.
|Bushwhackers just after receiving maps.|
TREK 1 (CPs 101-105, 1.8k redline, 0:14:44)
|Start at the triangle. 101-105 in order, then to TA1.|
|Me, Fredrik, Greg, Rachel, Erl, Amy, Tom, Erik. Clearly Erl is already trash-talking.|
|Yes, we really were that awesome in TA1.|
|Paddle from TA1 to TA2, no intermediate CPs.|
TREK 2 (CP 106, 1.8k redline, 0:13:23)
BIKE 1 (CPs 107-108, 6k??, 0:44:00 estimate)
The instructions for TA4 are to leave our bikes trailside and run down to the river's edge for the punch. When we arrive at the designated bike drop point, GJ/WEDALI are still there and we are able to pass them in transition. We run to the water together and I punch in to TA4 as we are preparing for the swim. We leave our shoes, helmets, and packs on the bank, just taking our PFDs and the passport into the water with us. Now we get to swim in the amazing Rum River! If you've read any of my other race reports, you'll know that I LOVE SWIMMING in adventure races. The water is cool as we wade through the reeds and out into the main channel.
SWIM 1 (CP109, 400m, 0:19:39 estimate)
|Drop bikes on the trail, run to TA4, swim to 109, punch, swim back to TA5, run back to bikes.|
|Bushwhackers swimming with GJ/WEDALI.|
We just casually swim along the river, trading jokes with GJ/WEDALI and having a good time. It really feels like a float trip instead of a race. Once we get close to the opposite bank, Rachel runs up with the passport to punch and we all follow since there's a required team photo.
I didn't know about this during the race (since I was taking my sweet time climbing up the riverbank), but the punch was located about 10 feet in the air so Fredrik and Rachel had to do some gymnastics to get up that high. After they punch, Greg and I arrive to take the photo and then it's back down into the water for the return swim. GJ/WEDALI has fallen back a bit so they're just coming out of the river as we're going back in. There is one obvious path through the reeds, and Erl is wading through it as we approach. Normally, I would find another path through the reeds, but since the race atmosphere has been so fun so far, I decide to head straight towards him to shake things up a little bit. Erl catches my line and we square off for a friendly round of water-wrestling. And then I'm not sure exactly what happens but as soon as we make contact, Erl falls completely backwards into the river. I'm still standing there, a little stunned. I really did not mean to knock him completely over. But the look on Erl's face is just as stunned and it's immediately hilarious. We all start laughing and it just adds to the awesomeness of the day. Thanks for being such a great sport, Erl!!
|After the "fight". Top 10 race memory right there.|
BIKE 2 (CPs 110-112, 9k??, 0:54:18)
|TA5, CPs 110-112, TA6.|
Using all of our available team resources (towing, switching packs, and pushing), we manage to stay ahead of GJ/WEDALI until CP112. There, we overshoot the flag a tiny bit and as we turn around the punch, they are breathing down our necks. Since they are strong bikers, I'm really happy that we've held them off this long! Once we are on the pavement to TA6, the blow past us and Erl tries to tell me a story about forgetting his helmet back at TA5. So that's probably why they took so long to catch up. We're not worried; we've been doing a good job of keeping everyone hydrated and fed and protected in a paceline. We roll into TA6 just a few seconds behind GJ/WEDALI and transition into trekking gear.
TREK 3 (CPs 113-117, 3.1k redline, 0:48:29)
|CPs 113-116 in order.|
Somewhere around the vicinity of 115 (can't remember exactly if it's before or after), we're running next to GJ/WEDALI when Rachel starts asking Greg if his bike tow can be adapted into a running tow for the final trek (she's always thinking ahead). We discuss this option, bemoaning the fact that we didn't bring a running tow, when Erl pipes up that he has one in his pack and he will give it to us (I think his direct instructions were "as long as you don't use it to your advantage"....ha!). We eagerly accept his offer and use the running tow to help Greg move through the woods more easily. We're not really running very much, but Fredrik has a killer speed-hike and he's making all of his nav decisions while still moving, so we hardly have any stationary rest breaks as a team. That is very much appreciated because the bugs have woken up and are now attacking us with fervor. Deer flies and mosquitoes are the most aggressive and persistent. I can't really believe how many bugs I'm wiping out of my hair every 10 seconds. It's really bad, and incredibly distracting. I can't even imagine how Fredrik is keeping is focus on the maps. But he is, and we're nailing just about everything, and the only way to escape the bugs is to keep moving forward. We are still with GJ/WEDALI as we finish up the trek, but we have a lightning-fast transition (aided by a friendly push from Tom when my bike was stuck in a super hard gear) and get out on the road in the lead.
BIKE 3 (no CPs, 6k, 0:15:40)
|From bottom right to top left.|
We immediately organize into a paceline and focus on keeping everyone together. There are only 3 more legs left of this race, and GJ/WEDALI will be on our tails before we know it. Fredrik does a great job continuing to tow Greg, and Rachel and I work together sharing pulls at the front.
|End of Bike 3.|
TREK 4 (CPs 301-315 rogaine, our route 7k redline, 1:30:06)
|The final trek. We could go in any order. This was our route, starting with 304 and moving counter-clockwise.|
|GJ/WEDALI heading out of TA8 with the coveted bug nets.|
At 309, we start our CP countdown. Five to go. Last big marsh crossing. Four to go. Fredrick is rocking the nav, Rachel is punching aggressively, and Greg and I have developed a really great rhythm through the woods. Three to go. Two to go. Short leg, we nail it. One to go. PUNCH!! Now about 500m of trail running and we're in. We spot a clearing in the woods. Then cars. Then our bikes. Then volunteers (who, by the way, have been amazing all day). We punch TA9 and they tell us we're first out of the woods!! Fantastic! We joyously transition back onto bikes for a short, paved ride back to the finish.
BIKE 4 (no CPs, 3.5k, 0:09:57)
|From top (TA9) to bottom (Finish!)|
|Heading out for the finish line!|
POST-RACE (5:43 total time)
|The finish line! We were wet the entire race.|
|Rachel, me, Fredrik, Greg after picking our prizes!|
I can't say enough good things about this event. It was incredible racing on the Bushwhacker team with Rachel, Fredrik, and Greg. I've competed against them enough times to know what fierce athletes they are, but to be welcomed as part of the team also shows what awesome people they are too. Andrei designed a really fun and interesting course that challenged all of the teams....and we got to go swimming! With Andrei's nav expertise, we didn't have to worry for a second about any mishung controls - everything was accurate and well-mapped to boot. All of the volunteers were informed and encouraging. There was tons of support on course and it's clear that MNOC has its act together when it comes to putting on a big event.
Facebook album from MNOC
Another Facebook album from MNOC
Splits on Attackpoint
|Mo, Amy, me, Rachel, Greg, Fredrik at the strawberry farm.|