I don't even know where to start on this one. I raced with a guy named Jake in the 2-person co-ed division as Wahoo 2, but we were actually racing with Wahoo, a 4-person co-ed team. The plan was to stick together, so I told Josh, Wahoo's navigator, that he was making all the calls and I was just along for the ride. Too many cooks spoil the pot.
So then there were six. Other than SF, I didn't know any of my teammates, which was a little unnerving since I was going to be spending all day with them out in the woods. Oh well, I thought it would be interesting no matter what, and I still believe that an 8-hour race is good training for a 50 mile ultra. Did I mention that I was racing with a sinus cold which just happened to move into my chest the day before the race? I am a snot-rocketing machine!
OK, so the race. We parked at the finish and were taken by bus to the start at a different park. They could have used a few more porta potties. I don't actually know what time we started or what time we finished. This course was a little different than Smithville in that almost all of the CPs could be done in any order. Since there is usually a bottleneck at the first CP, we decided to go to #5 first.
The race started and we took off. Josh was moving fast, and I was working hard to keep him in my sight. SF was just ahead of me and one of the Jasons passed me. I looked back, but I didn't see the other two guys. So I walked. Still nothing. Crap. I yelled ahead to get the rest to stop. The other two guys missed the turnoff and followed the main pack to CP #1 so we had to backtrack to find them. Not a good way to start the race at all.
We got the first orienteering section with no other problems and headed for the first paddle. I had taken off my fleece since we were running pretty hard and I didn't put it back on. Big mistake. I was freezing by the time we made it to the first bike section. It didn't help Jake dropped his paddle in the water and I had to pull it out for him.
Back on land, I put my fleece back on, put my heavy MTB gloves on and tried to warm up. There were teams everywhere on the bike trails going in every direction. We lost two of the guys again. Crap. We waited at an intersection until we found everyone. By this point, I think we all knew any chance of finishing well had flown out the window and it became a race to finish and not freeze. This MTB section was pretty tame, boring almost. We hit all the CPs and headed back to the canoes.
This is where is gets interesting. We had to put both of our bikes in the canoe with us and paddle to the next orienteering section. We took off and Jake and I got ahead of our leader and almost missed a CP that was in a back channel off the river. We navigated through some downed trees and other obstacles and made good time. At this point, paddling was still fun.
The sun started to peak out during the first paddle, but then changed its mind. There was no sun, only clouds and wind followed by more clouds and more wind. We'd work up a sweat only to freeze the next time the wind blew. You had to keep moving.
The last orienteering section was brutal. Hills and bluffs are an understatement. We were trekking into and out of 200-300 ft steep ravines. Everyone was getting tired and a couple of the guys were having knee issues. Team dynamics were... let's just say sketchy. It was probably good Shelley and I were there to buffer a little of the tension.
We had to hop back into our bike-laden canoes and paddle to the final bike section. The paddle never seemed to end! Then, Jake and I were on an open section of water when a huge gust of wind hit us broadside and the canoe tipped. Holy shit! We had two bikes tied to the canoe, if it tipped over, we were screwed. We held on and then wind calmed down but our hearts were racing. OK, paddling isn't fun anymore. I couldn't feel my finger tips and I was having a hard time gripping the paddle. I just wanted to be warm. I started daydreaming about warm, cheesy pasta.
SF and I were so cold after the last paddle that we put our rain jackets on as a wind breaker for the last bike. This section included carrying our bikes up a huge stair and some major descents over loose rocks. We hit all our points and headed for the finish.
We finished in 8:50 and we were glad to be done. We did make it back in time to get some of the free beer at the finish, always a priority. It was a great experience and a gorgeous and challenging course. I'm really looking forward to getting a mountain bike of my own. But in all honesty, it might be the last cold-weather AR I do for a while.
Afterwards, we went out for Italian and I had the best penne alla vodka con mare I've ever tasted. I slept like a baby that night.
2 days ago