|David and Jeff marking up maps with out-of-bounds and important roads.|
LEG 1 (0900-1230, 11.5 miles)
|Leg 1 overview|
Our routes to L6 and U2 are also exceptionally clean, with David and Garrison working really well together to choose highly efficient and accurate routes. We all take extra time here and there to adjust layers, and I borrow Jeff's extra pair of homemade hand-tubes, they are awesome! Rachel and I use this time to catch up on adventure racing girl talk, a luxury we don't hardly ever get. Not that racing with boys all the time is a bad thing AT ALL, it's just fun to have another girl to talk to. I am getting really wrapped up in a story that involves "feelings" and "it's complicated" and "but I just don't knooooowwwww" as we make the climb up to Q15, I think even to the point where we distracted Garrison from his navigational duties. And then, where the control should be, there isn't anything. What the what? I feel really bad about distracting the team from the race at hand! We fan out all over the ridge, double-checking the features (where the ridge splits to the southeast, the secondary hilltop to the northwest, the minor spur to the west, etc.), and confirm that we are indeed on the correct hilltop where Q15 should be. Gahhhhh! We decide to bail to the Fire/Water Station and inform the race staff of the misplaced control. Once we get there, we realize that there's a Radio Station, AND a Fire/Water Station, and neither of them are as shown on the map. Double gahhhhh! The race staff doesn't believe that Q15 is misplaced because they "set it with a GPS in the correct spot". Oh, if I had a nickel for every time a race director said this! GPS is NEVER the right way to set an orienteering course! We decide to let them hash it out over radio with HQ while we go get D4, the last remaining control on Leg 1.
D4 is an easy out-n-back with mostly road running, but as we attack the control from the highly visible private property line, the flag isn't there. Not again! Triple gahhhhh! We descend into the reentrant junction just to be sure, and, nothing. We even check the next junction downstream, but nothing there either. Instead of wasting more time, we climb back up to the road and return to the Fire/Water Station to see what the race staff says. It's really hard to convince them that not 1 but 2 checkpoint flags are missing, especially since we are the first team to have attempted both of them. We discuss this a little bit and they finally agree to give us the Leg 2 cluesheet. Just as we're finishing up plotting the next 6 checkpoints, Mattias and the Sedges show up, reporting the exact same thing, that Q15 and D4 are missing. They started in the 0930 group, so they have a 30 minute time advantage on us. We are not happy to see them so close to us in the race, but are relieved to hear that they had the same issues. We run out of the Fire/Water Station with renewed intensity and purpose to push hard on Leg 2.
LEG 2 (1230-1500, 9.5 miles)
We run out of the Fire/Water Station on a mission...get away from the Sedges! The first control, Z13, is a quick out-n-back with a healthy climb, and we see the outbound Sedges on our way back, which keeps the pressure on. We fly back through the Radio Station and down the spur towards C14. I mention to the team that I thought the pace on Leg 1 was pretty easy and that we should really run hard on this leg to get a gap. Garrison gives me a look like "oh, you thought that was easy, that's cute" and takes off down the creekbed. Jeff stops briefly to punch C14, and Garrison stops briefly to help a confused team, and the rest of us continue bashing through the underbrush at a wonderful pace. This is what I absolutely LOVE about adventure racing - friends running through the woods together. We have a long leg to H13 but choose to take it mostly redline, which means a fun climb!
|Leg 2 overview|
LEG 3 (1500-2030, 15.5 miles)
|Leg 3 overview|
|Rachel and Garrison, on a similarly steep hill, during last year's POCAR (no snow that year).|
|Pretty much what our road run looked like.|
|The woods kept getting bluer and bluer.|
|Leg 3, with "X marks the spot"|
Um....no. We're not done. The race director shakes his head, saying "A9 is still out there. You need to go figure out where it is." Whaaa?? Of course our first guess is at the "X" intersection we just plotted, and we ask if we're right. The race director gives us a slight nod and, instead of letting us stew on our mis-interpretation of the race route, Jeff herds us out of the shelter and gets us re-focused on running an extra 5km out-n-back. BONUS MILES, MY FAVORITE!! We are on a mission, Jeff and Rachel especially. They lead us out at a fast run, retracing our steps up onto a steep doubletrack trail that we used to start this loop, several hours earlier. We all grunt up the hill, onto the main road, and then to the area where "X marks the spot". There is another team there, headlights on full force, bashing around. Our collective heart sinks when we discover it's The Sedges! They've made up a lot of time on us, even without our mistake, and now we are looking for presumably the same control together. The terrain is really subtle here, and we can't find anything resembling a checkpoint flag within 100m of where we plotted the "X". But Mattias' crew is still looking, too, so we all keep pushing farther and farther into the woods, hunting for the elusive checkpoint. Finally, one of the Sedges hollers out in an encouraging tone, and we latch on to their location and find the flag. Relief! We quickly gather our team back together and decide to try and run hard back to the finish, even though there's no way we can make up 30min in 2-3km. We find our way back to the road, back to the doubletrack trail, and back into the Race HQ with an acceptably completed passport.
And then, we wait. No sign of the Sedges. We all change into whatever dry layers we've carried and eat our remaining race food. David starts a countdown with 10 minutes to go, shouting out minute numbers and causing people to give him even more funny looks than normal. We have no idea why the Sedges are taking so long, but after a painfully slow interval, 30 minutes have passed and we're announced as the 2014 POCAR winners! We gather up all of our things and proceed to the parking lot to drive home. On the way we see The Sedges coming back into HQ, and they tell us that after the "X" checkpoint, they still had 2 more checkpoints left, plus they had a nav error. Oh, so that explains it!
With our winning time of 11.5 hours, this is the shortest POCAR in recent memory, but none of us feel cheated from the lack of time in the woods. We have an amazing cabin just a few miles down the road, and more time to spend in it with our friends. There is even time for Garrison and me to drive into town and get PIZZA! And BEER! Want to get some weird stares? Find a Big Ten college town, go into a liquor store at 10:30pm on Saturday night, dressed in spandex and a puffy coat, with your headlamp still on, and buy some cider. Works even better if you're a guy. Try it sometime!
|More pre-race prep inside the cabin.|
|The view outside our cabin on race morning.|