Segment 9 – Spring to Spring Bike (45 miles)
We finally made it to TA8 where we were to switch from canoes to bike. Broccoli hit the TA and were gone in a flash. I needed a cup of noodles, a full body massage and a hot cappuccino to sooth my tired soul…I settled for the cup of noodles. While I fumbled through the maps plotting our route, almost every other team came and went from the TA. We definitely need to get faster at transitions, and biking, and running, and just about every damn thing you can imagine.
Off we raced to try to catch the pack. This section took us along the Spring to Spring bike trail with a first stop at Gemini Springs. It was closed, but there wasn’t a fence so we snuck in to take a quick snapshot. Up next was Green Springs and it was definitely closed, with a locked gate and everything. So, I attempted to squeeze through the gate and once Ana dislodged my head from between the two poles I was off and running for the CP. I guess I should have taken my bike helmet off.
The remaining checkpoint on this section, other then CP59, were bonus points and the cutoff time to collect them was well past, so we planned to bike straight to TA10. However, at CP59 we found out that the deadline had been extended. I guess teams were also allowed to collect CPs 60 & 61 by bike rather than foot. Who knew? It seems I wasn’t doing a very good job of making sure that I got all of the race changes at the previous transition areas.
Somewhere along the way to TA10 we met up with the Canyoneros. We were right behind but making sure not to get on their back wheel because drafting without asking permission is bad cycling mojo…and nobody needs that. So, I pedaled up to Hien and asked if he wanted to form a pace line. “If you nav, I’ll pull”, I said. He was on board so we formed up and away we went. When I got tired, one of their teammates took over, what was his name…not Nate or Hien, oh yeah Captain America. So, Captain America is pulling on the front and we’re flying to collect CP62 and make it to TA10 in time for it to count. Ana, Hien and Nate also took turns pulling and for a brief time we felt like part of a well-oiled machine…thanks guys, that was fun! We rushed into the TA with 1 bonus checkpoint and 5 minutes to spare.
Segment 11 – Final Trek to Fox Lake (16 miles)
BURGERS! I could have eaten the tires off the U-Haul but instead we were greeted with burgers. I may have even cried a little while eating them, they were so good. A big hearty thank you to all of the volunteers that made this race amazing!
We met back up with Broccoli at the TA and decided to tackle this next section together. It was promising to be an epic trek that would take us through the night. We started the trek at 11:30PM and by the time we collected our first CP we knew we wouldn’t make the next transition, TA11, until 9AM or so. From TA11 we still had a 35 mile bike ride, a 7 mile canoe and a 2 mile run to do before the race finished at 11AM. There was no way to do it all. In hindsight, we should have never tried for any CPs on this section and marched straight to TA11. In hindsight we should have done a lot of things differently.
Jeff Leininger made the call to the race directors explaining our situation and soon we were in the back of a U-Haul getting a lift to TA11 along with 15 other racers, 30 bikes, 12 paddle bags, and 27 ticks. Although we’re all smiles in the photo below, I think everyone was pretty disappointed to have to call for rescue.
But, we weren’t sad to miss the 4AM, 42 degree water crossings…suckers!
Segment 11 – Canaveral Bike (35 miles)
At TA11, we were held until 6AM when the teams would be released for the final push to the finish line. I stayed up to do the map work for the bike and canoe section while Ana took an hour nap. With 5 hours to complete the race once released, there wasn’t any room for errors. I also got to break out the JetBoil and make coffee, lots and lots of coffee. At 6AM I woke Ana, handed her a hot cup of coffee, and subsequently earned the best husband of the year award
After spending a good portion of the race trying to chase down Broccoli, or doing sections with them, we were really happy to finish out the race alongside them. They made us snort with laughter and we, well, I don’t really know what we brought to the mix. Charm? Good looks? A certain je ne sais quoi. Who knows. Anyway, three more sections and we’d be done.
Our first bike CP was a photo of the space shuttle. You may wonder how someone could miss a 56 meter high space shuttle, but I did. I vaguely recall Ana yelling, “Hey guys there it is, we don’t have to go all the way around.” But, I was in a total daze. Look at this stupid picture I took, thinking this was the shuttle they were referring to…
It wasn’t until we rode all the way to the security gate and were turned back that I noticed the extremely large, extremely obvious orange thing…IDIOT!
The rest of the bike section was cleared and we made our way to the final paddle.
Segment 13 – Final Paddle (7 miles)
I think we were the first team to make it to the final paddle, and that was probably a good thing because had we seen other teams being tossed about in those waves and winds, we probably would have just ridden our bikes to the finish. I can’t describe it, it was madness. Ana and I have become much better paddlers than when we first started racing and this was the ultimate test of our abilities. We nearly capsized many times but eventually we made it into the shelter of the mangroves.
Broccoli was navigating and they could have it. We had our hands full just trying to stay afloat and keep up with them. After collecting the first two CPs, we had a small portage by the high school.
I think Ana got a little nervous with my canoe reentry, but I know what a good swimmer she is so I wasn’t nervous at all.
At the old pump CP, we took the time to snap a selfie and it turned out to be my favorite photo of the race. Good times!
Finish – Lori Wilson Park (2 mile)
We could have walked the remaining 2 miles to the finish, but that just didn’t seem right. I wouldn’t say that what we did was “run” it was more of a shuffle, but I was glad we were giving it everything we had until the end. And after 75 hours and 19 minutes, we crossed the finish line, completing our very first Florida Sea to Sea Adventure Race and our first multi-day race. I couldn’t be more proud of my #1 teammate and favorite racing partner, Ana. She was amazing the entire race, never once complaining or wanting to quit. I’ve raced with plenty of people and there is no one I’d rather be out on the course with. Thanks baby, you are amazing! Oh, and by the way there’s this really sweet bike I’ve been looking at…
A big thanks to Todd and Stephen from Broccoli Covered Powder Babies, you guys really made this race fun. I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so hard during a race! We hope to race with you guys again someday.
As always, thank you to the race directors, Dave Brault, Junos Reed, Manny Otero and Ron Eaglin. We could tell that you poured your hearts and souls into this race and we loved every minute of it. We’ll definitely be back next year!
A huge thank you to the volunteers that make any race like this possible. You always greeted us with a smile and tried to help out whenever and where ever you could. Thank you! We can’t say it often enough.
We’d also like to thank KanPas, Geigerrig, Skratch Labs, Klymit, and Lupine North America. We only use brands we know and trust, and your products never fail us. I’ll be doing gear reviews in the next few days to describe the equipment we used and how it performed.
And thanks to our readers. Your comments make putting together race reports like this worthwhile. I hope you enjoyed the write up and if you have any questions or comments, drop us a line below.