I am going to start at the end. We won our co-ed 2 division of 14 teams at The Edge sprint adventure race Sunday. I don't want to be like that kid we all knew in high school who swore she failed a test and then set the curve but I don't want the fact that we placed well to negate the fact that we weren't overly happy with the way we raced the race.
Bill and I both know that we should have done better and shouldn't have left more than one, if any, checkpoints on the course. When we both realized we weren't going to clear the course we both yelled fuck. A lot. With some shits and dammits thrown in just to keep things from getting too boring.
The first four hours were sort of great. After a brief opening orienteering segment (teams had to find 6 checkpoints and could split up -- I found my three points all by myself like a big girl! And Bill fell into a thorn bush, rendering him covered in blood a mere 15 minutes into the race! Excitement!) we were on our bikes for a sprint to another checkpoint that would serve as the main transition area for the race.
A friendly volunteer handed us our passports and we learned that we would be heading out for the foot section first -- teams were randomly assigned foot, bike, canoe or special challenges. Eleven points that we hoped to clear. And we did, but not after ripping through some nasty thorn bushes, barbed wire(!), brier, a creek crossing or five, a thorn to my eye, a wrong turn (although I managed to figure out where we were in about two minutes by looking at the map ... I helped with navigation! Redonk!) and lots of running.
The course was great -- challenging but not impossible even for first-time teams and the design took advantage of the park terrain and features. The entire race was rogaine format -- each checkpoint was optional and had a point value. The team with the most points wins. A tie goes to the team with the fastest overall time.
Our legs were shredded, bloody disasters by the time we worked our way back into transition. I wore capris and bike shorts and Bill just wore shorts. Had we known that we'd spend more time dragging ourselves through thorns than on trail we would have worn pants.
If you don't like grody legs, skip over these pictures that you've probably already seen by now. In real life, Bill isn't bow-legged. And I also like how my leg has "XTC" carved into it. One of my favorite bands from high school, hooray!
We dropped our bikes and sprinted (sort of ) to the canoe put-in. Four points up- and down-stream. The down was easy and the up wasn't as bad as we thought aside from one narrow section of the creek where we were sprinting paddle-style and getting nowhere. I was expecting the paddle to take more than an hour but we were out of the water in about 45 minutes. Sweet, because after the Storm the Eastern Shore paddle everything else in a boat is boring.
Special challenges were next. For some reason, challenges seem to be a staple of just about every sprint race. And, frankly, I think that they are silly so I am not going to go into detail. Here's a tip, though: Never have a medical emergency if you are stuck with me or Bill in the wild. One of the challenges was a wilderness first-aid quiz. We failed miserably. Several times. Although we did mock ourselves a little and giggle a lot so that was sweet.
We headed out on our bikes with about two hours before the 6-hour race cutoff. After that points would be deducted for every five minutes we were late. We pushed the pace and found the first few bike points easily.
Then the trail got technical, at least for me. I had to get off and carry my bike over boulders and other junk that I didn't think I could ride.
And then we couldn't find a point. In hindsight we probably blew right past it without noticing but instead we rode around several fields for a while, getting progressively more frustrated as we realized we weren't going to clear the course. At one point we were even on our bikes in a pumpkin patch with toddlers and their parents. A bit disoriented were we.
Then we ran into the nicest team ever. They ended up coming in right behind us in our division and it was their first race of all time. Silly overachievers. We agreed to team up to find one of the bike checkpoints that was a bit confusing on the map, especially considering that we weren't entirely sure where we were.
It only took us about 10 minutes to get to the point we were looking for. A bit off the bike trial, the CP rested in a pit of steaming green and black filth. I made Bill go get it. And then felt bad because I started having flashbacks to Artax getting sucked into a swamp in The Neverending Story and got concerned that Bill was next.
I felt less bad just now when Bill watched this clip and said it reminded him more of when the swamp tried to eat me in the Storm the Shore.
We were down to 30 minutes and had neglected four points. We still had to check back into the transition area before continuing on to the finish line -- a ride that was all uphill. Not what we had hoped for. We quickly nabbed one more point (well, sort of quickly ... we only found it because I was stomping around having a minor temper tantrum because the point wasn't right where we thought it was when I happened to look up and see it on top of a rocky hill), sped back to transition and then headed off for the uphill slog to the finish.
We ened up in a line of more than 30 teams, all trying to cross the finish before the 6-hour cutoff. I've never seen a finish like it in the 20 or so adventure races I've done. Usually teams trickle across the line one at a time, minutes or even hours apart.
This, however, was a hot mess of teams all going for broke, not wanting to lose any points for crossing the finish too late. Some teams were going for broke better than others and, not to sound like a dick, some got in my way. The uphill trail was single-and double-track, and some teams got a bit tired and just hopped off their bikes and stood there, getting in everyone else's way. Sort of inconsiderate and, as we were in a bit of a rush to, you know, finish the race in time, I was pissed. We finally just rode a bit off trail to get around people and when the trail gave way to a giant open hill we pushed to the top.
Bill was off and riding and I realized I could run with my bike faster than I could pedal. I hoppped off, picked up my old Trek and ran up the hill. Lungs burned, legs hated me, but we got there with several minutes to spare.
We slumped over to our car, Bill threw the bikes onto the roof and we discussed what went wrong. A few minor nav errors, a lack of first aid knowledge -- but what it seemed to come down to was that we just hadn't gone fast enough to clear the course. Another 20 or 30 minutes and had we not blown past that one bike CP, we could have done it.
But we didn't do it. And we were grumpy.
As the results were posted and we saw that we won our division, our grumpiness was only mildly mitigated. And the sweet beer stein and Road ID gift card that were our prizes helped a bit more, too.
Alas, AR season is officially over for us. At least it ended on a fun, well-designed course. The rogaine style meant that most teams finished in the last 30 minutes of the race-- the winners cleared, the newer teams didn't, but everyone got to be on the course for just about the full six hours. Usually, the super-speedy teams finish a sprint in three or four hours, sitting at the finish for hours while the rest of the field completes the course.
Next up, the Philly marathon. That I haven't trained for a lot. A 20-miler is on tap for Saturday followed by about 10 miles on Sunday. The race is soon -- less than a month away. Little speedwork, nothing more than 18 miles as my long run up to this point. Should be a disaster! But hopefully a fun one.