We came in 1st!
Out of the 57 teams that came and raced the Florida Xtreme, Reunion with Rice Creek Adventure Race, we absolutely dominated the competition. The 2nd place team didn’t even finish until 45 minutes behind us. Go check out the FLXAdventures website for the latest race results and it’ll show how we obliterated the pack! What’s that you say, there are no results posted on the FLX website. Hmm, funny that. Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it then…guess you should have been there.
Actually, the term “Guess you should have been there” was what I was thinking throughout the entire race. Really, you should have been there. When FLX announced that they were going to host an AR on remote and unused portions of the Sea to Sea race and that they were limiting it to only 20 teams, I was up at the crack of dawn on registration day to make sure that Team Disoriented would be one of those 20. I then waited for the race to sell out, but it never did. In fact, only 6 teams registered for this race. Six! So, my initial fear that we wouldn’t be able to register for the race turned into fear that they would cancel it. Ana and I hadn’t done an AR since October 2014 and we were itching to do one. Luckily, it wasn’t cancelled and we were rewarded with a beautiful day for racing with temps in the low 80’s and no rain. You should have been there.
Race maps and descriptions (to be posted)
Bike to Boat
The race started off with a quick bike section where we had to pick up 2 of 4 controls on the way to the boat TA. It didn’t matter which two, but it was a strategic choice. 3 out of 4 CPs were on the way, but the other one (CP3) required an out and back. With fresh legs for biking, we opted to go for CP3 and then CP4. Plus, CP1 was placed high in a tree and racers were getting delayed as they waited their turn to climb the tree and punch it.
Rice Creek is a very shallow creek that twists and turns through primeval marshland. We went slow on this section, allowing other teams to go ahead of us and scare away the water moccasins and gators. Yep, that’s why we were slow…seriously! With all the turns in the creek, and having to portage over partially submerged logs, it was difficult for me to keep track of distances and we struggled finding CP5. Once we found it, I fine tuned our canoe navigation. And by that I mean that I thought, “Boy, it took us much longer than I imagined to get to CP5. It’ll probably take us even longer to get to CP6.” Yep, that’s about as in-depth as my navigating/orienteering skills in a canoe go.
Almost to CP9 (the last CP on the boat section) we got passed by 3 teams heading back to the take out. So, we’re thinking that we’re in 4th place. But, at the boat take out we learned that one team decided to portage from the power lines close to CP9 all the way back to the take out. Yeah, that’s right, over 2 miles of carrying a canoe. Ana would have to beat me with an oar to carry a canoe for 2 miles.
Back at the Boat TA, we grab our bikes and raced to pick up the two CPs that we left. This is when we found out that Sonia from Dead Reckoning went all Evel Knievel off the Rice Creek Bridge on their way to CP3.
Luckily, Sonia just missed landing on a cypress knee–those roots that stick straight up 1-2 feet and look like little stalagmites. Undaunted by her test of gravity and hard surfaces, Sonia brushed herself off and continued the race. Below is a pic of the Rice Creek bridge in case you wanted to imagine launching yourself off of that.
Bike to Foot 1 TA
From the Start/Finish TA, we were to bike to Foot 1 TA picking up either CP10 or CP11 on the way. We decide to get CP10 and I made the mistake of biking the Florida Trail (red dashed lines) instead of the parallel forest road (red solid line). Damn maps and their symbols. Luckily, I realized that we needed to be on the forest road instead and we bailed from the trail just north of CP10. After finding CP10, we bike-whacked to the hard-pack road (dark red solid line) and raced on to Picknick Table. At Picknick table we were given the option of doing either Foot 1 or continuing on bike to Foot 2. Not being able to process options on the fly, we decided to stick with our plan and do Foot 1.
At Foot 1 we’re told that we will be given UTM coordinates and we’ll need to plot the CPs on a new map. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator, which I believe is latin for WTF, but you’ll have to verify that. I’ve never had to plot UTM for an AR before so I was a little nervous about making a mistake, which I did, but that’s not something we need to talk about. After plotting the coordinates we were off. We also had to collect CP10 again on foot which was cool because we already knew where it was. It also allowed us to take a few minutes to locate CP11, since it was on the same trail along the way to CP10, and we knew we’d have to get it on the race back to the finish line. We did Foot 1 counterclockwise and didn’t have too many problems locating the CPs. CP13 gave us a little trouble mainly because the scenery was awesome and I got distracted looking around and lost my pace count. I did get to see a wild pig though. The best part was that the CP was inside of a dead cypress and Ana had to crawl in it to punch the control. During this section we were just behind Nature Calls and got in a couple of their videos:
Bike to Foot 2
Back at Picknick, before we could bike to Foot 2, we had to run to the Rice Creek Hilton and write our team names in the log book kept in a mailbox.
Once we did that, we had to run back to Picknick and start a fire using a magnesium fire starting tool that we were given at the beginning of the race. Having two small boys and being a fan of survival shows, we were pretty fast on this task and it helped us creep up from 3rd to 2nd.
Biking to Foot 2 we kept running into Team Jax as they were leading the pack. They would be coming back from a control as we were just going for it. We also knew that Nature Calls was closing in on our heels and since some teams opted to do Foot 2 before Foot 1, we weren’t really sure what place we were in and how close the other teams were. CP19 and CP20 we picked up on bike and then headed onto the Florida National Scenic Trail to pick up CP21 and CP22. This portion of the trail is beautiful marshland with small raised walking platforms that allows you to traverse it without getting mucky.
After clearing Foot 2, we raced back to the Start/Finish TA but had to first check in at Picknick TA and then grab CP11 on the way. We flew through Picknick TA and Craig or John or somebody, I wasn’t really looking, yelled that Team Jax was just in front of us. We were racing to catch them and to get CP11. Having already scoped out the location of CP11, we knew where to go. I ran into the woods, punched CP11 and popped out just in time to see Off in the Woods right behind us. Damn! Where did they come from! Now, I was concerned about another team passing us right at the end. We bike-whacked east through some of the muckiest, rutted marsh to the hard-pack road and flew to the finish. Team Jax had already come in, beating us by 8 minutes or so. To the winners go the spoils and Team Jax walked away with 2 sweet MS-1 packs from Out There. Yep, you should have been there!
For a video recap of the race, check out Manny’s video…blatantly stolen by me.
A big thanks to Florida Xtreme for putting on this race. Craig did an amazing job laying out the course. In fact, this was our favorite short course so far (less than 24 hours). The controls were placed in amazing locations requiring us to go inside of a cedar tree, traverse logs that stretched across streams, and climb trees to punch controls. The location was remote, rugged, and beautiful. Best of all, the duration of each event was spot on. There was a perfect mix of bike, foot and canoe without any one section taking so long that we lost interest. We got to plot UTM coordinates for the first time and the additional surprises of the fire-starting task and the sprint to the mailbox made the race really interesting. Best of all, socializing with fellow racers, volunteers and race directors at the finish line.