|WEDALI: Erl, Tom, Monika, Amy, Andrei, and Biz. And the Silver Bullet.
|ALPINE SHOP: Jeff, me, Carrie, and David. We may not have an awesome RV but we have this furry pimp hat!
Race morning we were up at 0500 for breakfast, and then down to the lodge at 0600 to collect race maps and start plotting. We found a quiet spot in a service corridor that had great light, so we settled down there and planned our day. The plotting was short and easy which left us plenty of time to strategize and take bathroom breaks (planned or...unplanned). We packed our packs with about 5,000 calories and our bikes had another 1,000. Pretty soon it was time to line up for the 0800 start. My nerves were on high alert. I hugged Jeff and David and we all encouraged each other to have a good race. Let's do this!
TREK 1 (1.2mi prologue run on marked trails)
|Start at Race HQ (the triangle/TA4) and run the yellow trail clockwise.
BIKE 1A (CP1, 15mi mtb on marked trails)
|We started at Race HQ (the triangle/TA4) and then got on the singletrack. I really can't remember exactly which trails we took, the yellow line is just a guess, but we popped out of the woods at CP1 (Hesitation Point).
|Jeff, me, and Biz heading into the singletrack!
BIKE 1B (CPs 2-6 as 2-3-5-4-6, 31mi)
|Started at CP1 (lower right map image), then got CP2, then out-n-back to CP3, then west for an out-n-back of CP5 and CP4, then north to CP6, then into TA1. Sorry the pic is weird - we cut our maps up later in the race.
|Me, Jeff, and David in TA1, preparing to paddle!
PADDLE 1 (CPs 7-11, 5k "adventure", 11k river/lake, 1k raft, 4k trekking for CPs)
|put-in at TA1, then follow Beanblossom Creek west.
|Wild Hares on the adventure paddle section.
|David, me, and Jeff paddling on a later section of the river.
Then we paddle to CP9 which requires choosing to go up and over a roadway or through a tunnel over it. I've actually raced on this lake before, in the 2011 DINO MISSION 18hr AR (with Mid-Rivers Adventure, but Alpine Shop did it too) and we remember the tunnel is completely paddle-able. And we're delighted to see super USARA staffer Stephanie with her video camera out as we approach! Check it out:
After successfully navigating the tunnel, we paddle over to a mud flat and beach the boat for the trek to CP9. We see WEDALI in the woods ahead of us, and SOG and Bushwhacker in the woods behind us. My legs have really started to complain about the sticker bushes so I stop briefly to put on pants...ahhhhhh sweet relief! When we return to our boat, we find a present left by a mystery admirer. It's a huge plop of mud left smack on our bow. It very closely resembles a cow pie. We instantly start cracking up! We scrape the mud off easily, hop back in the boat, and paddle back through the tunnel, all the while discussing who could have left this hilarious gift. Our money is on WEDALI so we are looking forward to interrogating them.
|Dart-nuun towing their raft.
TREK 2 (CPs 12-16, 16km redline, ~20km travelled)
|Start at TA2 (lower left corner) and trek back to TA1 (lower right corner).
I remember our route pretty well to 15, but from then on it's a guess.
Except...there is no CP16. David is very confident we are in the right reentrant, in the right creekbed, but there is no flag to be found. What to do, what to do...we start by searching downstream. Nothing. Then we come back to our drop-in point and search upsteam. Still nothing, and now SOG has joined the party. Crap! David climbs the opposite ridge to relocate, comes back exactly to our original drop-in point, still nothing. And then, Jeff spots the flag in a brushy side channel of the original creek. Agony! Odyssey Masters' headlamps are just leaving the area so we chase them out onto the road and back to TA1. We're a little shaken by the blunder but we encourage ourselves that David's original nav was spot-on, we just couldn't find the flag once we were in the circle. Team error. Regroup and move forward. Carrie and Crystal (Mike's wife from Bushwhacker) are patrolling the road in a vehicle so they spot us and start yelling that 3rd and 4th place Untamed New England 1 and 2 are only 30 minutes ahead of us, having left TA1 just recently. Wow! We are super stoked to still be in the mix after our mistake so we fly through transition and onto our bikes in 5th place.
BIKE 2 (no CPs, 9mi)
|Start at TA1 and ride to TA3.
The rest of the ride is pretty simple and we are all enjoying the cooling breeze. My stomach started getting a little iffy at TA1 so I have stopped eating and am just taking in water in sips. Usually I have an iron stomach during races, so I'm a little worried, but I've eaten so much already (guessing about 3,000 calories in the first 13ish hours of the race) that 1-2 hours of reduced intake shouldn't be too bad, as long as I can rally later. We hit gravel into Yellowwood State Forest and are excited to see the blinky lights of TA3. There even seems to be activity in TA! We couldn't possible have caught Untamed, could we????
TREK 3 (O-map, choose 4 out of 7 pairs, ~10k?)
No. We didn't catch anyone. Those lights are SOG and Odyssey Masters who have somehow taken a better route here. We are really confused because besides our 5min stop for water, we had great pavement and smooth gravel the whole way. But, there's no time to ponder because we've got a TA to complete and some decisions to make about our next leg. We've been given a 1:10k o-map with 7 pairs of controls in a dogbone layout. We have to collect 4 pairs, but which ones we pick are up to us. While David is taking in the map, Jeff and I prepare for trekking by putting pants back on. The second I pull mine on, I'm in pain. The tough thorn-repelling fabric is very hurty on my scratched up legs. I've never experienced this before with these pants, but trekking in them now is going to be challenging. Jeff hears my whimpers and offers to switch pants with me - he has orienteering pants which are lighter and silkier. It doesn't take me 2 seconds to be convinced. Jeff's pants fit great on me, mine fit great on him, and pretty soon David's got the plan of attack all sorted so we run off into the darkness.
|me and Jeff switched pants!
BIKE 3 (CPs 17-20, 13mi)
We roll out of TA3 a little bit defeated, but we have a plan to regroup. Go slow, no more towing for me, eat some yogurt-covered pretzels one at a time, and keep each other drinking. We ride easy to CP17 which is up a big hill, but my legs seem to be churning out the granny-granny with decent energy. Then we have some blissful descents back into Nashville, which is just about the cutest town you can imagine. Think Gilmore Girls, in Indiana. We grab CP18 on the bridge and then do a little bikewhack back to the road. Then it's an easy road ride to the north entrance of Brown County State Park, and 2 more CPs on the singletrack that we take as out-n-backs. At CP20, we see lights, and learn they belong to Odyssey Masters! And how! We don't know how we caught up to them, but we're not going to ask questions, and instead hustle back to TA4 (same as start/finish line) and onto the final, decisive trekking section.
TREK 4 (6 CPs, 11.5km redline, ~20km travelled)
We start this last trek in 7th overall, behind Tecnu, Dart-nuun, Untamed 1 and 2, SOG, and Odyssey Masters. We check in at TA and then go back to our cabin where we've got dry shoes and water. I also take time to put on some capri tights under my trekking pants to help protect my scratched up legs. I also switch from my Cascadias, which I've been wearing all race, to my Hoka Stinsons which are a new experiment. Sure, it's a slight risk to wear newer shoes, but my feet hurt and I wore the Hokas off-trail last weekend where they did fine. Jogging out of the Abe Martin Lodge area, the Hokas are pure bliss. My feet have never been so happy! We have all recovered from the sweatbath of Trek 3 and are ready to finish this race strong. Odyssey Masters is jogging along the road just in front of us so we use them for pace motivation. Just as we're passing them, we see three headlamps bobbing down the road coming toward us. I have my suspicions who they belong to, but I call out anyway "Who are you?"....no response. I try again "What team are you?" ...nothing. Finally, they are getting really close, I yell "Hey silent people, what's your name?" And then, a voice from the darkness..."We are Team Tecnu." We know they've won so we freak out, yelling congratulations and slapping high fives as we run by. They've just crushed the course and we're really happy that they had such a great race. Nice job, Tecnu!!
We continue our long jog to AA, the lookout tower, with Odyssey Masters and both punch there at the same time. Then it's a long leg to DD, and we start looking for the trail off the main road before Odyssey does. No trail. We descend a little further. No trail. This is really weird since the trail is overlaid on the map, and the same overlay was used for the mountain bike trails which was accurate. So either we're really failing at our nav, or the map is overlaid inconsistently. Bummer, either way! We spend some more time hacking through the woods before regrouping and coming up with a new plan. We'll just descend into the creekbed and then work off of features to find the correct reentrant for DD. No biggie, we do this all the time, let's get started. As we're trekking in the low area, the rain starts. It's not a big deal since we've all been hot and the rain helps cool us down. But, it makes visibility in the dark woods really difficult - our headlamps ping the raindrops instead of features. Somehow, we get really turned around and have a hugely difficult time with DD. We finally end up on a ridge and just start checking the tops of all of the reentrants. Finally...jackpot! dadada! dadada! We've probably lost at least 45 minutes with this debacle, but we're really proud of ourselves for constantly adjusting our attackpoints and persevering until the flag was found. I've started to get cold so I dig out my rain jacket and am silently pleased to be actually using most of the mandatory gear.
|Just keep reading, this will make sense soon...
We have a long leg to CC which is the beginning of the end for me. My feet are not happy any more in the Hokas - somehow the shoes are holding a lot of heat, and my toes are a bit more cramped than normal, causing excess sweat and friction, causing blisters. Suboptimal! And it's dark, and I'm sleepy, and we're low on team mojo. I retreat into a silent zombie trek - mostly hiking with bursts of painful jogging. My headlamp is growing dim, and none of my food sounds good any more, not even Oreos. What a sad panda! Jeff and David continue to be awesome, asking what they can do the help me, but my feet are the driving factor of my slowdown and there's not much to be done there. We complete CC and BB in a daze. Looking back, I'm really not proud of this part of my race. I should have asked my teammates to get me talking, start asking me crazy questions to keep my mind in the game and off of my problems. Lesson learned for next time!
|It was almost this pretty.
We cross the finish line just a few minutes after our friends from Bushwhacker. Somewhere there's an official photo but I can't find it! Carrie is there to greet us, and the race staff tells us that after 24 hours and 19 minutes of racing, we're the 7th place coed team, and 8th place overall (Odyssey Masters finished ahead of us). With the caliber of teams racing here, we thought a Top 10 finish would be awesome and a Top 5 finish incredible, so we are very pleased with our 8th place overall.
|my feet look like a topo map!
Thanks so much to everyone who cheered for us, both in person and on the interwebz! We really, really appreciated it. Thanks to Carrie who was an awesome volunteer and then race-update-provider! And finally a huge thanks to Alpine Shop for supporting our crazy crazy adventures!
Team Commie Bar: http://teamcommiebar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/2013-united-states-adventure-racing.html
Off The Front Racing: http://www.karenholtmann.blogspot.com/2013/10/usara-nationals-2013.html
William L Snyder race photos: http://prints.williamlsnyder.com/Adventure-Racing/USARA-Nationals-2013/32414400_FccmtC#!i=2822735421&k=3r2kD9k
BDAR/Adventure Capitalists: http://heathersyapcrap.blogspot.com/2013/10/2013-usara-national-championship.html