|From the 2013 edition of MISSION - time to scooter! (race report here: http://www.emilykorsch.com/2013/05/race-report-2013-mission-18hr-ar.html)
|Jeff R. with his normal team, 30-something Down.
|Pack choice infographic!
Prep for the race was a little bit frantic, as we had to divide all of the mandatory gear normally carried by Erl into my and Jeff's packs. I opted to use my Nathan VaporAiress pack, which is basically a hydration vest with a bit of extra storage. It is much smaller than what I would normally use for adventure racing, but the forecast hot weather, the minimal gear list, and the looped nature of the course meant I wouldn't have to carry too much at any one time. That, plus Jeff was using an Osprey Talon 33 so he had plenty of room to carry my shoes when needed! I think this pack selection was critical for me to have a good performance. I saw other 2- and 3-person teams, all with normal sized packs, and they just looked HOT during the race. My super-light pack kept me cooler, happier, and therefore faster.
Anyway, fast forward to the bus ride (a first for MISSION, and well-timed), we unloaded at about 0540 on the banks of the East Fork White River and grabbed a map to learn about the race for the first time. There would be 5 CPs on the first paddle, requiring a fair bit of attention be paid on the twisty-turny river to find the best take-out points for each of them. We grabbed a boat, which had a broken front seat, so quickly opted for another one with two functioning seats and handles. Jackpot! We put into the river and struggled to maintain position against the current and other teams while Brian went through the pre-race announcements. I just wanted him to say "GO!" instead of the standard speech because we were hanging onto the bridge pier by a thread. Finally we were released and paddled into the race.
LEG 1 - PADDLE (CPs 1-5, 0600-1000 ??)
|Map of the first leg of the race - paddling from CP1 to CP5. Thanks for the pre-plotted CPs, DINO!
LEG 2 - TREK/BIKE (CPs 6-10, 1000-1200)
|Leg 2 - We are at CP5, bikes are at CP10, do you get CPs 6-7-8-9 by foot or by bike or both?
The next leg gives us the option to use either our feet or our bikes (which are back at Camp Pyoca). The first checkpoint, CP6, is rather obvious to get on foot, but after that we could run back to camp, get our bikes, and get 7-8-9-10. However, we choose to get everything on foot to avoid double-backing on the bikes. We set out running on a busy road into the town of Brownstown, grab CP6, and then continue heading east out of town instead southeast back to camp. There are a few teams with us, who we're able to catch on foot. We're first into the woods on the attack to CP7, making sure to avoid the (unmapped) private property. We run with Michigan Racing Addicts to the CP, which Jeff nails. From there it's a subtle ascent of the backside of Pinnacle Peak. We try to work with the unmapped logging roads, using them when possible but also staying true to our intended course. Finally we hit the trail up to the peak and punch the CP. There are two "regular people" up on top who say they haven't seen any other teams, which surprises us. So we run down the steep trail, eventually popping out onto the gradually downhill trail that leads us straight back to Camp Pyoca, and our bikes. On the way, we see Rib Mountain and Kuat running in their biking gear up to the top of Pinnacle Peak (CP8). From our position, we think we can beat them back to camp, thus making up the time lost on the paddle. This is huge! We run hard, but actually too fast and right past CP9. We have to back-track a bit and end up losing our advantage, but at least we're still even with the leaders instead of 15 or more minutes back (like we were at the paddle).
LEG 3A - ROPES (CP11, 1200-1300)
|MRA on the ropes course (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy08mE8v97Q&feature=youtu.be)
LEG 3B - BIKE (CPs 18-15-16-17-13-14-12, 1300-1600)
LEG 4 - TREK (CPs 24-25-28-27-26, 1600-1845)
The volunteers at the TA are wonderful. They have shade, a table, cold water, cold Gatorade, and coordinates for the next section. And, they're friendly despite getting attacked by ticks! We quickly plot the next checkpoints in the shade, re-fill bladders with cold water, and head out into the woods. Jeff is overheating, and I don't feel spectacular either, so we decide to hike uphill to the first checkpoint and focus on re-fueling. This strategy works, we're able to nail the descent into CP24, and then continue to 25 and 28 at a moderate pace. We honestly don't run very much in this section due to the hot temperatures, but Jeff's navigation is very direct and we don't waste any time looking for checkpoints. We see Kuat and MRA going the opposite direction (it seems), and hear the voices of another team but aren't able to see them through the thick underbrush. We finally punch CP26 in the extremely thorny saddle and quickly debate how to return to our bikes. We could either go somewhat direct on trails (with at least one major climb) or go around on roads (relatively flat). At first I wanted to go direct on the trails, but after looking at the map again and talking it through with Jeff, we decide on using the road. To make this option faster, we have to run the whole way (about 5 km), which will be difficult. But we hit the road and start shuffle-running, using the easy terrain to eat some food. We arrive back in TA, and the volunteers tell us that Rib hasn't returned yet, but Kuat left a while ago. Unexpected on both accounts!!
LEG 3C - BIKE (CPs 19-22-20-29, 1845-2200)
The route back to camp, with all of the biking CPs, is long. But mostly flat. The Race Director has told us that after we complete Leg 3, the fast teams will need 2 hours to clear the last trekking section at camp. He had also told us we could clear Leg 4 in 2 hours, but it took us almost 3. So we estimate that we'll need to be back at camp by 2100 to have a chance at clearing the course. That means we have to bike a long ways...57 km...about 35 miles...in 2.25 hours. But it's mostly flat, paved roads so we think we have a chance. We head out and Jeff is not feeling spectacular. Thankfully, I am feeling OK, and have been putting in a ton of biking training, so can pull for most of this section. As we approach CP19, we turn onto a gravel road right next to a pasture full of baby cows and mama cows. They are so cute. All of the baby cows are right next to the road, and they run away as we ride by. They are so cute. We punch the CP and ride back past the pasture to the paved road. They are still so cute!! But the fact that no other teams have scared the baby cows make me realize we might be the first team to CP19. Which maybe means we are in the lead!! This is motivating to me, which is fortunate because Jeff is going through a low spot so he sits in my draft as we ride northward. I am able to pull to CP21 (covered bridge) and then it's gravel to CP22. The sun is starting to set and it's a beauty - pinks and purples everywhere. On the way to CP20 (out and back, similar to CP22), we see Rib going the other way. CP20 gives us some issues since the stream junction is well south of the plot. When we finally punch, we've wasted valuable time. So it's full speed back to Camp Pyoca (CP23) and Rib catches us! But we're able to hang onto their tail and chat a little bit on the approach to camp. Jeff ventures the all-important question, "Did you get all the bike CPs?" and Rib answers, "No.". That's huge information to us, and confirms that we are in the lead!
Leg 5 - TREK (CPs 30-35, 2200-2330)
|The final trekking section.
|Me punching CP35.
|We won a medal!
POST-RACEI had such a great time at the 2018 MISSION 18-hr Adventure Race. I thought the course was one of the most well-designed courses that the DINO has offered, and made effective use of a bus ride. There were some good navigation choices, and I think the RD's time estimates would have been pretty close if the temperatures had been cooler (i.e. in the 50s/60s). I felt like the pressure to "race" was completely removed when we dropped into the 2-person co-ed division, so we just spent the day navigating accurately and taking care of ourselves, which gave us the advantage late in the day. I was surprised to be in contention for the win but it felt great to be strategic and have those choices pay off. Jeff was a great teammate, always staying positive and we collaborated on the navigation really well. We helped each other where we could, didn't overthink the course, and kept up with eating/drinking. I think the day exemplifies one of my favorite quotes, which I'll leave you with: