Team Disoriented wins one!
Wekiwa Springs State Park was the location of the 2016 Florida State Championship AKA Turkey Burn 12Hr Adventure Race. Dave Brault and Jim Feudner teamed up to design another amazing race that pushed all the teams for everything they were worth. This was our first time at the Turkey Burn. Unfortunately, we were missing our #GetRad guy, Stephen, who was off doing stuff like getting married, adopting a dog, and working his ass off over in Europe…
Bike 1 (~8 miles)
For the 4AM race start, Dave led the teams to the bottom of a sugar sand covered jeep trail. At go, we put on our best hardcore faces and pedaled for everything we were worth, until we passed the volunteer snapping photos 20 feet ahead. Once safely past, my race face changed to Mr. Huff and Puff and I concentrated on staying upright and not hyperventilating as my back tire churned up sand. In front of us, Good ‘Nuff kicked up a cloud of sugar sand as they powered through, their taillights vanishing in the darkness. I have words for moments like that…special words.
This section had 4 CPs that we had to get in order, and as much as we wanted to pull away from the other teams, they were having none of it. Behind us was a steady stream of lights with mere seconds between teams. This was no time to screw up and we cleared the section quickly, racing back to the Main TA where we had our first special test, making S’mores at a campfire. Pretty sweet!
Foot 1 (~3.5 miles)
The start of Foot 1 presented us with our first strategic decision. We could either do the foot section while carrying our paddle gear, or clear the foot section and then go back to the Main TA to get our paddle gear before heading off to the canoe section. We decided to carry all of our paddle gear and raced out of the TA. Then we realized that they probably had PFDs at the canoes and it would be smarter to not carry ours. We ran back to the Main TA, dropped our PFDs, and raced out of there only to realize we forgot to grab extra water for the 4 hour canoe section. Crappy, crappy transition. Luckily, I helped us recover by totally screwing up the first checkpoint on the foot section. Why stay in second place when 5th is much more fun.
Y’all ready for a pro tip? Here it is. The scale on an O-Course map is probably different than the scale on a 1:24000 map. You see, CP5 was only about 200 meters from the bend in the road if you use the right scale. Use the wrong scale and it looks more like 350 meters. It’s pretty stinking hard to find a little orange and white flag when your 150 meters past it, at night, in the woods. What’s really cool is if you can watch the headlights of other teams pass you as you struggle in vain to find the CP. I have plenty of these pro tips, ya just gotta ask.
Boat (~12 miles)
The canoe along the Wekiva river was beautiful. The canoe along the backwater channels was hell. Of course, all of the CPs were along the backwater channels. According to many race directors, the word “canoe” is Native American for “hunk of fiberglass you push and pull over many downed trees.” Todd was nailing the nav on this section as we struggled to regain the time we lost on the previous foot section.
After 3.5 hours of paddling and getting soaked to our waist from jumping in and out of the water, we were freezing and just wanted to get off the canoe. Once we landed, we ran back to the Main TA on numb feet and chattering teeth. It took the entire 15 minute run back for us to warm up.
Bike 2 (~12 miles)
This section had us going in a clockwise direction to collect the CPs in order. Somewhere close to CP24 we ran into Ron, Courtney and Erik from Lost Cause. It was the first time we had seen another team since the paddle section. We ventured to CP24 and CP25 together, and after punching CP25 away they all flew like the down of a thistle. What the hell does that mean?! Seriously! I’ve heard that line for 44 years and still have no clue what it means…down of a thistle…whatever.
In more tortoise-like fashion we raced back to the Main TA and almost got ran over by Good ‘Nuff as they were flying up to CP25. They are crazy fast!
Foot 2 (~7.5 miles)
Foot 2 is where the strategy started to come in. We were clearing the course up to this point. But, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to clear the entire course and doubted any other team would either. So, we had to make decisions to maximize our points. Todd and I debated two far away CPs. We estimated it would take us 30-40 minutes to grab them both and get back. I wanted to get them. Todd wanted to leave them and save our legs for the last foot section. In the end, I agreed with Todd and it ended up being a wise move. Mentally, it is hard to drop any points when you’re clearing a course, but who can resist Todd’s Cheesy McPleasy smile?
Bike 3 (~11 miles)
Not much to say on this section. I have little chicken legs and knew we wouldn’t be able to get many bike points, so we didn’t try. With the sugar sand trails that suck the life out of you, we knew we’d end up killing ourselves for just a few points when there were more to get on foot. Instead, we raced to get the first easy bike CP and then headed right back to the Main TA and transitioned to foot.
Foot 3 (~4.5 miles)
The final foot was the make or break section. We knew we had to clear it and get back as quickly as we could to have any chance of winning. There wasn’t any room for errors here and we tried to be as solid as we could with the navigation. With Ana pace counting and Todd spotting CPs with his super x-ray vision, we cleared this section efficiently. One final push to the Main TA and we finished after 11:31:00 of solid racing.
There is this feeling you get in your gut when you get to the finish and realize you left 30 minutes and a whole bunch of checkpoints out on the course. It is not a pleasant feeling. It’s more like that feeling you get the day after you eat bad sushi. You have no idea what the other teams got and your mind replays the whole race and every point you left out there. Should we have gotten those two far checkpoints? Could we have picked up one more on the bike? 30 minutes is an eternity to wait.
In the end it turned out great. We tied Lost Cause on points but won on time. Only thing left to do was eat some delicious spaghetti, check Todd over for ticks, pack up, and drive the 6 hours back home.
As always, a big thanks to Dave, Jim, and all of the volunteers that made this event awesome! There is nothing better than racing hard with great friends out in the beautiful woods of Florida. This is why we do it: