It was 30 degrees when I woke up the morning of Smithville. I had my coffee, my gear, and I was getting everything ready outside, waiting for MO to come pick me up. First thing we notice, I had a flat on my front tire. Again. This was the 4th tube I had changed and I was starting to get annoyed. We decided there must be something in the tire that keeps puncturing the tube. Wonderful. We (by we, I mean MO) changed the tire at the bike drop and hoped it would hold air through the race.
Even with all of the required gear and layers, I was cold waiting for the start. There were people everywhere with packs, lights, maps, coffee, food, and God-knows what else. I felt woefully unprepared. And more nervous for a race than I've felt in a long time. MO seemed fine - he had more faith in my navigation skills that I did.
The race started with orienteering, then transitioned to canoe, orienteering, bike, orienteering, then bike to finish. The Adventure Racing atmosphere is informal and laid back, exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of people who were ready to spend their day tromping through the woods. We started with a simple "Go!" from the RD and everyone took off.
The beginning is chaos - people everywhere in dark wilderness. Really, you can follow the steady stream of headlamps for the first half hour or so. We were doing well, running some sections until I made a very stupid mistake. After check point (CP) 6, we followed a team dead ahead of us to #7. Except it didn't make sense. I felt disoriented and confused, I couldn't make sense out of where we were or what was on the map. We wandered around for a little while until I realized that was CP 8, not 7. Damn damn damn damn! So we quickly backtracked to 8, punched it in the correct spot on our passport, then headed to 7 to punch that in one of the "do Over" spots, and then get back on course to CP 9. I felt awful. I should have been paying attention. Newbie mistake, I guess. But we were the only team that backtracked, so the team ahead of us had to have missed it too. Oh well, on to the canoe!
We canoed for 1.5 hours and I really enjoyed that part of the race. I was in the stern, since I have raced canoes back in college. I knew I was going to be sore the next day, because that is a specific muscle set that doesn't get used often.
After we landed, it was more orienteering, which actually went very well. Team had spread out and the points were more difficult to find, which meant I had to pay attention. This was the first time I really ate anything, even though I wasn't hungry. It was somewhere around 11 am and I couldn't believe how fast the race was flying by.
Next, we picked up our bikes to start the first bike leg. We also had a random gear check. MO started giggling when the volunteer asked about my headlight. Real mature, MO. :) I was apprehensive about the bike after the last few weeks and my biking frustration. But actually, the bike was my favorite part of the race! It was definitely the fastest I have ever biked. We did get passed by one co-ed couple, but we passed 2 co-ed couples, a 2-person female team, 2-person male team, and a 4-person male team. I was starting to feel good about myself! Back to the trail head for the final orienteering section.
The last section was going to be tough, but I was feeling good after Orienteering #2. We had 4 CPs left. We found the first two right away, and they were not easy. At the second, I talked to a team and they said they looked for CP 33 for an hour but gave up. They were hoping we hadn't found it either. But we did. I wished them luck as we headed out to the last point.
This point was going to be a lot of bushwhacking, but shouldn't be hard to find. There's an access road on the map, so we needed to get to the road, head west until it made a 90 degree turn, then shoot a bearing to the point. Easy-peasy, right? Wrong. There was no access road. So we walked, enjoying the afternoon sun and the gorgeous weather, until we hit the paved highway and I realized we had gone way too far. Damn damn damn damn! Not again! At least we didn't have to backtrack, we just had to get to a known location so we could shoot a bearing and get the last damn point. We got it, and still cleared that section of the course faster than most, but I was disappointed that I again screwed up because I wasn't paying attention.
The last bike was 30 min, and we made quick work of it. It was an absolutely awesome day, but I was glad to finish. We crossed the line at 8:00 exactly. If we were playing by The Price is Right rules, we would have won!
This was the most fun race I've ever done. Hands down. When we finished, I was tired and I was sore the next day, but it wasn't like after a hard 1/2 marathon or 70.3, where I can barely stand and want to throw up. It was just plain fun. Not everyone enjoys being tossed out into a park with nothing but a compass, map, your wits, and your partner, but I absolutely loved it. There are definitely more adventure races in my future!