How do you prepare for 6 hours of canoeing followed by a 4 hour bike ride. Pretty easy actually. Just drop your shorts, sit your bare ass on your driveway, and have your teammate grab you by the ankles and drag you for 30 feet or so. I stand here writing this, not wanting to sit on anything for the next week.
Butt, enough with the training, let’s get down to the fun stuff. (See what I did there? Yep, only the best from yours truly)
Maps, instructions and all the other goodies needed to follow along:
Ana’s knee has been bothering her since Sea to Sea, so I teamed up with Broccoli Covered Powder Babies for this race. I registered as a solo, but we would really be running this as a 3-person team. I didn’t want to be responsible for DQ’ing Broccoli, if I had to fall out for some reason. Anyway, the Earth Day Adventure Race started at 6PM from the River Rise Preserve State Park and leading from the very start was Good Nuf. They tore out of the TA like Road Runner from those old Looney Tunes cartoons, you know the ones where the road runner is going so fast that the road flies up in the air behind him. Yeah, it was pretty much like that. I think I even heard a faint “Beep Beep” in the distance.
Since we couldn’t go off trail for this section, due to park rules, this was pretty much follow-the-leader and we hit all the CPs without issue.
Ah, the beginning of the boat section…I remember it fondly. There I was, staring at the beautiful Santa Fe river and my fiberglass canoe seat, anticipating how intimately connected we would become over the next 3.5 hours.
Stephen provided the motor in the front, Todd navigated from the middle, and I flung buckets of water on top of their heads for hours from the rear. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
It was nighttime when we paddled down to CP10 at Blue Springs Park. As we struggled against the spring’s current, our headlamps illuminated an aqua-colored pool of the clearest waters I’ve seen. It was absolutely stunning.
Our next checkpoint, CP11, was a gauging station just east of Ginnie Springs. We actually nailed the navigation to it and saw a tall piece of wood sticking out of the water. But, we didn’t see any numbers on it and thought that perhaps the gauging station was little further downstream. We paddled a little further until we ran into some drunk locals hanging out at Ginnie Springs.
Todd yells across the river, “Have you seen a gauging station around here?”
Y’all lookin’ for a PlayStation?
No, a gauging station!
Todd, they wouldn’t know a gauging station if their 6-pack was hanging from it.
Up river we paddled, back to our original location, where two other teams were marking the level of the Santa Fe river. Come to find out the numbers were on the back of the board. Oh well.
Cruising past Ginnie Springs was interesting, part campground, part Rave, part spring break…there was a dude wearing a light suit and people dancing around with glow sticks. If you’re looking for rednecks, drunk women, beer guzzling and loud music, then Ginnie Springs is your place…Todd was in Nirvana and once Stephen and I wrestled him to the floor of the canoe and tied him to his seat, we commenced paddling down the Santa Fe. It was straight out of Greek mythology were they tied Odysseus to the mast so that he could withstand the Sirens’ call.
We arrived at the Santa Fe TA after 3.5 hrs of paddling and began our first orienteering section.
I think we were in 4th place by this time with DeChunkers right in front of us. The Foot section map shows a beautifully outlined trail following the river. Some people say there was a trail, some people say there wasn’t. We fell into the “wasn’t” category.
You can see our track above. We started with CP1 then a straight south bushwhack to CP6. From their, straight east to CP2. We tried to pick up CP5 on the way, which was silly since we were going due east and about 150m too far north to see it. From CP2, it was straight bearing shots to CP3, then CP4. Then back up to CP2 to attack CP5. All this time we kept running into DeChunkers. They’re like freakin’ Space Ghost. Here we are in the dark searching for a CP thinking there is no one around and all of a sudden, there they are, at the control ahead of us, as if they could materialize out of thin air. “Hey DeChunkers you want to work together on the next…hey wait…where’d they go!” Spppaaaacccceeeee GGGGhhhhhoooossstttt!
We struggled on CP7, having no clear attack point, and no clear trail. Eventually, by wandering around, working from the river bend and triangulating off of headlamps, we found it and beat feet to the TA where DeChunkers were once again just ahead of us.
One hour of boating from Santa Fe TA to Tudeen TA with no CPs along the way in the middle of the night. About as exciting as it sounds. I’m kidding of course. It was a really nice paddle and the blisters were forming beautifully on my posterior.
We arrived at Foot 3 slightly in front of DeChunkers. I think we were now in 1st place by a good 15 seconds or so. I don’t know what happened to Todd and Stephen on this section, but once we hit it, they turned into a pair of bloodhounds.
My navigation wasn’t all that great, but man you put those two within 50 yards of a CP and they would sniff it out. As we were heading to a CP, I’d say something like, “Should be right about here.” and then I’d here “Got it!” and off we’d trot to the next CP. There’s not much more to say on this section, they were bad ass and I was along for the ride.
Transitioning to the boat, we knew we were in 1st, but had no idea what kind of lead we had on any team. The race had been really close from the beginning and there were some fast teams out there. So, we got on the water as quickly as we could for a final 2 hour paddle with one CP along the way.
Some people like 3 in a boat…I say they’re wacko. I hate it. I feel like I’m on the verge of capsizing with every paddle stroke and my butt is trying to attach itself to the seat like a sucker fish so that we don’t fling ourselves into the water. We found the sole CP without issue and made it to the final transition area.
Yep, love this pic! Middle of the night, headlamps on, rockin the USARA jacket.
Can you believe it, there’s actually a bike section in this race. We hit the final TA knowing that we had some of the fastest bike teams right on our tail and a 4+ hr ride ahead. Talk about feeling the pressure.
We knew our navigation had to be spot on if we were going to win this thing, so we decided to screw up the first CP. When the clue says, “Boat Ramp” and you see a sign on the road that says Boat Ramp –>, you gotta take that turn, even if its 1500 meters too soon. It’s a really good way to waste 15 minutes and get the adrenal glands pumping.
Once we fixed that issue, we formed a pace line and hit the rest of the CPs without much issue until the second to last CP.
We’re racing down sandy horse trails less than 30 minutes away from winning this 18Hr race, knowing that we have speed freak teams behind us and I can’t find the stupid westbound trail that CP24 is on. Thank god Stephen and Todd were there to sort it all out. I got turned around on an unmarked westbound trail and couldn’t make sense of where I was. After studying the map, they got us pointed on the right trail and we raced off to the finish.
And with that, we took our first win of the season. Although I tried to keep the trophy, Stephen said he had a special place for it and wouldn’t let it go.
As always Craig and FLXAdventures put on another excellent race. I always look forward to Craig’s races as he takes the time to find really interesting areas with great history. Glad to see all of our adventure racing friends out there again. A big thanks to Broccoli Covered Powder Babies for letting me race with you guys. Y’all are awesome and I always have a blast racing with you guys. I only wish that Ana could have been there racing as well, she always adds to the fun plus she let’s me drink her beer.
This was primarily a night race with heavy paddling and I relied heavily on my Epic paddle, Lupine lights, and KanPas compasses. I’ll be writing a review of my Lupine light in the next week or so, but let me say they are AWESOME!