Three months without Adventure Racing is almost as bad as three months without sex.
Actually, no it’s not…not even close. But, now that I’ve got you reading this, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and read on.
Although we’ve been training in preparation for the Sea to Sea, Ana hadn’t raced since October and we were feeling a little rusty. So, we drove down to Bushnell, Florida, stayed the night at a skanky hotel, and prepared to compete against 23 other teams in the 8-hour elite race.
Manny Otero from Florida Xtreme Adventures had put in a lot of effort on this race and with the weather forecasted to be 73 and partly sunny, it was going to be a good day no matter how we did.
Damn, where the hell did that double chin come from…stupid mid-life body changes. Anyway, here are the maps and such if you’d like to follow along:
The race kicked off with a short sprint to a couple of volunteers handing out the punch cards, and then we were off on bikes for CP1. The first three stages: Prologue, Bike 1, and Trek 1 were very fast sections really set up to separate the teams somewhat before hitting Paddle 1.
The canoe section had us launch at Silver Lake and paddle north along the Withlacoochee River to collect CP5-CP9. CP5 was a straightforward paddle to the end of the backwater but it probably would have been faster if we had landed the canoes and bushwhacked from the west to get it.
After CP5, we met up with our good friends, the Canyoneros, and paddled together to CP6. Lucky for us, Hien had a better feel for where the CP was, or else I would have overshot it. From the map, I was expecting there to be a bridge crossing the river, or something, but the tracks had been removed long ago. Onward to CP7 and our big blunder of the day.
You see the picture above? See that CP right in the middle of the picture? Well guess what wasn’t there when we arrived? MmmHmm. It seems some bear, or drunken fisherman, decided to decorate his den with an orange and white flag. Now stare at that flag for 45 minutes and you’ll get the idea of how much time I wasted hunting for it. Yep, pretty stupid.
Back in the canoe, we headed off and collected CP8 without issue. But, when we got to where CP9 was supposed to be, that control was missing too. I was starting to doubt my nav skills. We pressed northward to Hog Island before calling it off and heading to Iron Bridge TA for the O-Course.
Unfortunately, my GPS was turned off or I would show you how well I botched this section. We knew that CP11 was the same as CP7 (the one that wasn’t there on the canoe) so we weren’t even going to try for that one. Since I knew where the powerlines were, the plan of attack was CP14, 15, 13, and 12. Let me tell you how uncool it was to have every other team running this section in the opposite direction as us. Not a good feeling.
We did okay finding the controls, but I missed the southwest trail leading to CP13. I mean I saw it, but I guess I didn’t feel like taking it the first time. Nope, what I really wanted to do was climb over that big hill to the north and then turn around, run over that big hill again, and then take the correct road. That’s called gumption…or something. After getting CP13 and CP12, we backtracked to the main north-south road and took off for the Iron Bridge TA. It was at this point that Ana said something about CP10 and I looked at her like she was crazy. I hadn’t realized that CP10 wasn’t plotted on the map and we almost skipped it entirely.
We transitioned back to the boats and paddled to the Main TA, where we had a quick foot section for 3 CPs (Trek 2). It was here that we met up with Florida Xtreme and Epoch Adventure Racing. It was also here that I lost my nice Gerber knife. It seems that I really enjoy donating sweet gear to the woodland fairies. We all cleared this section quickly and went to the W. Trail TA to transition to bikes.
While we fiddled around at the TA, Florida Xtreme and Epoch blasted off down the Croom mountain biking section. We weren’t going to see them again until the finish.
If you haven’t ridden Croom, you should go now. Seriously, just turn off the computer and go now. Still here? I understand, with a race report this awesome it’s almost impossible to tear yourself away.
Croom is a blast and we had lots of fun riding it. Most of the controls were straightforward but we had a hard time locating CP25 (Lowest point inside Volcano Rim) because honestly I couldn’t tell you where Volcano Rim was and with all of the crevasses or cracks or whatever the hell you call the deep drop offs, I couldn’t tell you where the lowest point was either. Lucky for us we met up with Erik from Chunk and Craig and crew from Wet Feet and they helped point us in the right direction. CP26 gave us a little grief as well because I just couldn’t make out distances with the map. Eventually we found it and life was all good. We collected the remaining bike CPs without too much of an issue and transitioned once more to foot in order to collect the final controls.
We started the foot section off by going down the wrong trail, traveling southeast instead of west. You may wonder how someone could mistake such opposing directions but let me tell you, to be on this team you’ve gotta earn the name Disoriented. We quickly got on the right trail and dashed to collect CP29, 30 and 31 before getting back on the bikes and making the final push to the finish line. We cleared the course in 7hrs and 41 minutes, coming in 6th out of 22 teams. I was really proud of our effort, feeling like we kept the pace up the entire time. Of course, the winning team cleared the course in 6hrs and 17 minutes, but they’re freaks and nobody likes them either. I’m kidding, they’re awesome and we’re jealous…why do you think our jerseys are green 😉
Awesome job again to Manny and crew. What a great race. You put a lot of effort into it and it showed. We loved the mix of sections. It was a fast-paced race that kept us moving from one event to the next.
Want to join in on the fun? You’re next opportunity is at the Heart Breaker where Craig and Ron are sure to put on another awesome event.
Race video produced by Jared & Brianne: