Pangea – Nocturnal Challenge 18hr

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The Pangea Nocturnal Challenge was going to be our first race as a 2-person team.  Why have our first race be something like a sprint when we can just sign up for an 18-hr race?  Off we went to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and we didn’t have Stu to blame for being late this time.  The pre-race meeting started at 1PM so we, of course, roll in about 1:10PM to sign in, collect our maps and start the planning.  I swear, one day we will get to a race before the pre-race meeting.

Prerace 3

25 teams had signed up for the elite race and the Start/Finish line was crowded with teams getting ready.  Click on the links below to check out the Instructions, maps and our GPS track.

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Route

Foot 1

The race largely followed the Suwannee River with multiple transitions through the Start/Finish TA.  Having multiple transitions through the S/F allowed us to not carry a lot of gear during the race, unlike the Atomic AR where we had to carry our gear, food and water along the entire course.  The race started at 3PM with a 7-mile death run in 95+ temperature.  The run went well, except for a 0.5 mile detour that took us nowhere and allowed a few teams to pass us.

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Boat 1

The end of the run had us transitioning to the canoe for an 8.5 mile paddle down the Suwannee river.  Along the way we were to encounter Big Shoals, the only Class III rapids in Florida, and it’s sibling, Little Shoals.  We had just run the Class II rapids at Coosa River so we had our game faces on for the Big Shoals.

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Unfortunately, due to the lack of rain, the river was down and instead of Class III rapids, we found ourselves doing the bump and grind over submerged rock formations.  But, that wasn’t enough to keep us from earning style points.  Just look at us taking the rapids backwards.  All I remember is Ana telling me, “But, I don’t want to go backwards!”

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The Boat 1 section was uneventful and, like usual, we were passed by a number of teams that put in after us.  I don’t know why we are such slow paddlers.  2 hours and 44 minutes later, we finish Boat 1 by arriving back at the S/F with aching backs and sore butts–ready to start Bike 1.

Bike 1

It was starting to get dark as we geared up for Bike 1.  Of course, we were completely prepped in advance for the dark…I mean come on, it’s called the Nocturnal Challenge…who would show up without any batteries in their flashlights for the “Nocturnal Challenge”.  So, after putting batteries in our lights, and eating a Heater Meal, we headed out for Bike 1.  The first checkpoint, CP11, turned out to be a real B*&%%^$*&! We searched and searched and other teams showed up and searched too.  Someone finally found it, not us, and everyone rushed to get the punch and move on.  Continuing onward to CP12 and CP13, the thunder we had been hearing since the end of the canoe leg started growing louder and by CP14 all hell broke loose.  The storm was right on top of us and the flash of lightning was immediately followed by the booming thunder.  We could hardly make out the trail in front of us and we ditched CP14 for the trailhead, hoping to take shelter.  At the trailhead, we found a small sign post with a roof that we huddled under with another team.

trailhead sign

We had no idea there was a large pavilion a few yards away, where a couple of teams were already huddled, until Brendon from Team America rode over in the storm and told us.  Adventure racers are awesome people!

Elite - Team America

 

While the storm raged, a couple more teams showed up and the next thing we know there were almost 15 people crowded together under the pavilion.  And that’s when the party train began.  Once the rain diminished, we all headed back for CP14.  With the gang of people, it took us no time to find it.  We all then headed off to find CP15-CP20.  Since the CPs were all on one single track there was no reason to push ahead only to be caught by the train as your team went looking for the CP.  If you opted to stay behind to hunt the CPs on your own, you risked being killed in the standings because the large group would find the CPs much faster with so many people searching.  I thought it would be fun to stay with the group to get a feel for how other people orienteer, especially since I’m new at it and the group had much more experienced racers such as Ron Eaglin and Craig Sheriff.  Craig was leading the pack and I think he did a fantastic job.  We were going so fast that I couldn’t keep track of where we were on the map and with as many twists and turns in the trail, I would have definitely gotten turned around and taken much longer to finish this section.  Night navigation is tough, night navigation on a bike going down a single track is extremely tough.  Great job, Craig.

The party train separated at the trailhead after finding all the CPs in Bike 1.  Ana and I watched the taillights of the other racers quickly diminish in the night as we wondered aloud, “Why are we so slow on the bike.”

Boat 2

Back at the S/F for a transition to Boat 2 we saw Aargh Maties packing up for the night.  This was one of the teams that kicked our butts on the Boat 1 section with regular canoe paddles.  Such strong paddlers and runners, we hope to see them again in future races.

Elite - Argh Matie

 

Boat 2 had us paddling 5 miles on the Suwannee in pitch darkness with steam rising from the waters creating such a mist that you could hardly see the river banks on either side.  We were on the River Styx paddling straight to the underworld and Ana was NOT THRILLED.  Ana had already seen one alligator during the day and now at night, with just the two of us in a small canoe in this pitch black, we were a little concerned.  Ok, I may have been poopin’ bricks, but I was putting on a good show of bravery.  You have to recall, we’re the same team that dumped our canoe at the launch a few months ago, so we’re not really experts here.  We crawled down the river, trying to stay calm knowing that once we had launched, there was no turning back.  There was a little freak out moment when a pair of eyes came off the shore and into the middle of the river, right where we were heading.  I didn’t think the gator was ever going to dive below and I ended up hitting the water with my paddle, hoping to scare it.  It finally dove underwater and I thought to myself, “I don’t really feel any better knowing it’s below us.”

alligator eyes at night

We finally found CP21 and had just started approaching the shore to look for CP22 when Team America came upstream looking for CP22.  We decided to band together to hunt for CP22 and continue the canoe journey together.  Let me tell you, it is amazing how having one or two other people can take the scare right out of the situation.  Everything was once again right with the world.  We had gone from dreading the canoe to almost enjoying it.  We were buzzed by bats a few times and ended up seeing 3 gators before finally finishing Boat 2.

Foot 2

Foot 2 was an amazing night hike along some of the prettiest sections of the Florida Trail.  Team America was with us and we were finding the checkpoints without too much trouble.  By this time, our pace was a moderate walk but I was ok with that.  Night navigation is really tough when I try to go fast.  We found CP24, CP25, and CP26 without many problems and were going to attempt CP27 until we ran into Florida Xtreme/Hunter and they said they had looked for CP27 for an hour and couldn’t find it.  If they couldn’t find it, I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have found it.  So we gave it up and pressed for the others.  We were hoping to find CP28 but after looking for a while, we gave it up as well.  Looking at Google Earth, I think we were close but my bearing and distance are off a little.  If someone knows the GPS coordinate of it, please send it to me.  I’d love to know how far off we were.

CP28

 

We found the remaining CPs on Foot 2 and discussed whether we were going to try for any Bike 2 CPs or not.

Bike 2

Team America decided to try to pick up CP31 and CP38 before calling it a day and since we still had a little over an hour, we decided to tag along.  The newly forged Team Disoriented Americans was doing pretty good so far and so we decided we might as well go for a few more points.  CP31 and CP38 were right on the bike trail so we found them easily.  I also found that I can throw myself off my bike while swatting my helmet off my head when I decided to catch a 3-inch Banana Spider with my face.  Oh yeah, I definitely squealed like a little girl.  It’s okay Ana, you can laugh now.

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We tried to pick up CP37 but time was getting short, and the trail was getting more difficult to follow, so we packed it in and called it a race.

Conclusion

We really liked working with Team America but didn’t enjoy the Party Train experience of Bike 1.  Having so many people congregating on the same path took the fun out of the race.  Although it was nice not to have to navigate, we felt like we were just following the herd.  And, in the end, it almost feels like cheating when other teams are finding the checkpoints.  That’s why, even though we may have come ahead of the Canyoneros in points on this race, we didn’t beat them.  We only got lucky enough to fall into the herd for CP15-CP20.

Oh, and precooked bacon at 2AM is a blessed thing!

Many thanks to Greg, the Pangea crew and volunteers.  Another excellent race!  And thanks to all the racers that make these events so much fun.

Stats

17 hours 23 minutes

55 miles covered trail running, mountain biking and canoeing

5500 calories burned

15th place out of 25 teams

1 hell of a good time

Pangea – 2014 Atomic Adventure Race

Sometimes, life likes to give you a swift kick in the ass to show you who’s boss and knock your pride down a few notches.  That pretty much sums up our experience at the Pangea Atomic 30-Hr Adventure Race.

First let me say that Pangea did another amazing job.  We loved the course, what little bit of it we saw.  The single track was amazing, the views were spectacular, and the volunteers were awesome as always.

The day before the race, we drove up to Camp Skeenah Creek.  The final 40 minutes of the drive were so twisty that Ana was getting car sick in the backseat and we made her drive the rest of the way hoping that would ease her equilibrium.

Camp Skeenah is a neat place to stay, although we didn’t see much of it since we arrived after 10PM.  Martha set us up in a room in the big house with 3 beds and no indoor plumbing.  There, we met The Derailleurs who were settling in for the night.  We went about getting our gear packed and ready before dropping off for sleep around 11:30PM.  For some reason, I can never fall asleep before a race and the 2 NyQuil tabs I took didn’t help either.  Next time, I’m doing shooters until I just pass out.  The next morning, after some last minute prep, we headed off to the staging area

Of course, we were late getting to the staging area, but we had enough time to get somewhat setup before the maps were passed out.  And that was OK.  On the ride up from Florida, we talked about what our goals were for this race.  Having only completed 4 races with a combined duration of 29 hours, we knew we weren’t going to do very well on this race.  Plus, looking at the lineup of All-Star teams that had signed up, we knew where we were in the hierarchy.

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We got our maps and Stu and I started forming our plan.  For the first time, we were using topographical maps and not Google Earth snapshots of the course.  It took us awhile to get our bearing and figure out our course of action, but we decide on a plan to head north, pick up Hwy 60 and then get on Rock Creek Rd.  Well, as soon as the race started and all of the racers head south instead of north, that plan was shot to hell.  You see, everyone but us had decide to catch a shorter trail that would take them to Rock Creek Rd.  I, of course, never saw the trail on the map.

The good thing about following other teams is that you learn something new, you sometimes are shown shorter paths that you never knew existed.  The bad thing about following other teams is that sometimes they have no stinking clue where they’re going.  Luck for us, everyone knew where they were going, so we just tagged along.  And that’s when we discovered Georgia’s little secret, they have hills…big ones…some might even call them mountains.  And the magical thing about these hills is that they always seemed to go up.  I don’t recall a single downhill.  Maybe they were there, but we were probably so lightheaded from sucking wind trying to reach the apex of the hills that the downhills didn’t register.

We found CP11 and CP12  without any difficulties and from there we started on some amazing single track to pick up CP13-CP23.  Not having much single track experience and even less hill experience, this first bike section almost completely wiped us out.  I don’t think that I’ve ever pushed a bike so far in my life.  We basically got in the mode of pushing the bikes on the uphills and riding the flats and downhills.  let’s just say that I’m pretty sure this was an 80% uphill to 20% downhill ratio.  It took us 9 hours to complete the bike section.  NINE!  Aargh!  We were the last team pulling into Bull TA.   But, we did clear the first bike section even though we had to do some backtracking to get the CPs that we missed.

At Bull TA we realized how dehydrated we were and stocked up on ice cold water.  There are many sources of water on the course and I regretted not picking up a water filter or Life Straw for this race, it would have really helped.  After Bike 1, we set off on Foot 1, taking the checkpoints in decreasing order.  I thought it would be easier to attack them going clockwise.  CP30 was straightforward and we bushwhacked straight to it.

We then hit CP29, finding it without difficulty.  From CP29, we bushwhacked straight north to the trail that ran along Lance Creek.  After getting on the trail, we decided to stop for the first time and eat some food.  We knew it would be a long time before we made it to our gear bins so we settled down to eat before it got too dark.  We had packed some self-heating meals and I thought they were pretty good.  Unfortunately, before that, I couldn’t really stomach eating any of the other food that we brought and the thought of consuming another gel almost made me puke.  Our nutrition plan had failed us and no one was hungry for anything that we had brought along.

After dinner, we headed for CP28 and here is where things got really interesting.  It started to get dark, really dark.  Like, go in your room at night turn off all the lights then go into your closet and close the door and throw a shirt over your head, dark.  The sky was overcast and the fog was rising from the mountains so there were no stars or moonlight.  It was just black.  On the way to CP28, we came across Crew Zen and they said there were a couple of teams looking for CP28 and they hadn’t found it and that they had lost their map for this section.  They decided to move on to the next section and we went to look for CP28.  While looking for CP28, we found Crew Zen’s map and also the checkpoint but we never saw Crew Zen again to return the map.

CP28 was a real high for us and we pushed on to CP27. Our plan for CP27 was to find CP17 and then follow the jeep trail north 550m before attacking due east for 400m.  At first, we couldn’t find CP17 again.  Once we did find it, we lost count of our paces going north and had to go back to CP17 to begin our pace count over.  After counting the paces, we headed due east for 400m and looked around for the CP but never found it.  We went in further and still couldn’t find it.  Then, another team came past us in about the same area looking for it, so we were pretty sure that we were in the right area.  By now it was starting to rain pretty hard and we couldn’t hear each other talking.  Ana was on top of a hill serving as a beacon so we wouldn’t get too far off track and Stu and I continued to look for the CP.  After awhile, I went in the direction that the other team went and came across them.  They had found the CP, a little farther NE of where we were looking, and pointed me in the right direction.  If it wasn’t for them, we would not have found it.

I regrouped with Stu and Ana and here’s where things went crazy.  We knew we had to bushwhack due west to hit the north/south trail we had come up.  However, looking at the terrain we could have sworn that the compass was pointing us in a direction we did not come.  We felt that we had come almost 90 degrees to the left of where the compass was telling us to go.  It was really hard to follow the compass west rather than the direction our minds were telling us to go.  But in the end, the compass was correct.  We headed west and thought we found the trail and began following it, only to discover that either we were never on the trail or had lost the trail.  In the dark, things get really confusing and following a faint trail is very difficult.  We knew that if we kept going, eventually we would come out to the main trail. So we bushwhacked in the rain looking and hoping that we would pop out of the woods at any second.  It was raining hard, it was dark, we were confused and really tired.  It was a real low point for me as I knew my navigation had failed and I was beginning to get worried that we were lost.

Eventually, we found the main trail.  We were relieved but at the same time I knew the race was over for us. We decided to give CP26 a try, if we could easily find CP16 as the attack point.  We halfheartedly walked towards CP16 but never found it, so we headed back to Bull TA to pick up our bikes and call it a race.  Of course, we couldn’t find the red trail that was a shortcut back to Bull TA.  I was absolutely pissed that we couldn’t find it  I knew that I had seen the south exit of it when we were close to CP30 but I couldn’t find the north entrance of it.  So, we had to walk the winding yellow trail going south to Bull TA.  So frustrating.

Foot1

By the time we got to Bull TA, I handed Drew our punch and asked him if he would give us a ride back to the S/F.  He agreed and for the first time in the entire race I was scared enough to almost poop my pants.  I don’t know who taught that guy to drive but Oh My GOD! does someone need to take his license.  I swear we were going to die in a fire ball at the bottom of some cliff that he had sent us careening off of.  White knuckled, shaking and scared completely awake, I told Drew thanks for the ride and we slinked back to our vehicle for a couple of hours rest before the long drive home.

So, what worked and what did we do right?

  1. Planning/Orienteering: Overall I think our planning and orienteering went pretty well.  Yes, we did a lot of backtracking, especially towards the end, but we quickly realized our errors and found all of the CPs that we attempted with only 1 giving us some difficulty.
  2. Goal Setting and Expectations: Given the course, the duration and the competition our expectations were pretty low to begin with.  We discussed the race beforehand and decided that we would attack it like a challenge and not a race.  Could we push ourselves 30 hours, could we navigate in the dark, could we handle single track and hills, could we not end up killing each other?  This is what we wanted to find out and use the knowledge in preparation for next year.
  3. Having Fun: My motto is racing at the speed of fun.  In the end, if it wasn’t fun we didn’t do it right.  No one is winning a big pot of money for doing these things, there are no medals handed out, so the only true reward is adventure and fun.  Make sure that you’re not sacrificing 50% of your reward just to get points.
  4. Gear: I think for us, we packed well and I don’t think that we over packed.

What didn’t work and what did we do wrong?

  1. Nutrition: Our food and hydration plan completely failed us and we struggled immensely for it.
  2. Training: We were not prepared to handle the terrain of Blue Ridge, GA.  We were also not skilled enough to handle the single track with any speed.
  3. Blow ups:  I had two blow ups directed towards Ana during the race for which I am immensely sorry.  It isn’t acceptable and I will try my best to not let it happen again.  I don’t find it acceptable to blow up at your teammate and especially if that teammate is someone you love with all your heart.

Conclusion:

Some might wonder why we continued with Foot 1 rather than moving on.  The answer is that by the time we started Foot 1 it was already dark and given our lackluster performance on the single track during the day, I didn’t think it would be wise to do Bike 2–even more single track–at night.  Since we were already night orienteering, there wasn’t any reason to quit Foot 1 to do Foot 2, which was more night orienteering.  The only thing that would have made sense to move on to was the canoeing section.  But, we would have to bike from Bull TA to the canoe TA at night.  Then, we would have to take Class II rapids in our already tired mental and physical state.  This didn’t seem wise to me or the team, so we called the race and went to Waffle House instead.

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Pangea – BOAR AR (aka: Damn You Canoe!)

Team Disoriented made the 6.5 hr trek to Christmas, FL to race the Pangea BOAR Adventure Race.  Unlike last time, we actually showed up to the Main Transition Area (TA) prior to the 7AM registration time so that we could get our maps and instruction booklet as early as possible.  

Boar AR Elite Instructions

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We even had a gear bin rather than having our stuff scattered in the back of the SUV.  However, as we tried to map out our course using the top of the gear bin as a working surface, we quickly discovered how nice it would be to have a table (next item on the gear list).

Planning

The funny thing about Adventure Racing is that I can never get it in my head what we are allowed to do and not.  The Main TA was right next to a cow field and Checkpoint 1 (CP1) was located within the field with real, live cows and I’m asking Ana and Stu, “Are we supposed to go through the cow field?  Are we supposed to hop over this fence or somehow go around?” Well the answer became evident as soon as Greg directed us to stage our bikes on the other side of the fence, in the field.  OK, game on, let’s go play with the cows.

The race started with a short sprint to spread the field prior to getting on the bikes and getting CP1-CP4.  We hit CP1 by following the pack, and headed toward CP2 where we started encountering our first cows.  I hear Stu shout, “That dude just got attacked by a cow.”  It seems that Nate from the Canyoneros did something to piss off one of the bovines and it decided to charge him.  I don’t think the cow actually did anything but that charge would have been enough for me to add my own cow patty to the field.  And speaking of poop, there were cow patties a plenty in Christmas.

We picked up CP2 and the on our way to CP3, the terrain got worse.  At one point, I hit a hole that just swallowed my front tire and I did a beautiful pirouette over my handlebars.  The terrain had us moving so slowly that my flip looked like one of those slow-motion clips from the Matrix.  There was nothing I could do.  Of course, when I put my hand down to catch my fall, it landed right in the middle of a cow patty.  Somewhere in Christmas there’s a 12-inch high pile of poo with my palm print in it.  After hopping the fence between CP2 and CP3, the ground got so rough that we couldn’t pedal our bikes and ended up running with them for about 200 yards.  Pedalling again, we picked up CP3 and CP4 before heading to the Boat TA.

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We got to the Boat TA and I thought we were doing pretty well.  Of course the fast teams were already gone but I thought we were solidly mid-pack at this time.  But then it all started to fall apart.  Our transition to the boat was slow as we trepidly launched, trying not to capsize at the start again.  Of course Ron heckled us by saying, “Let me know if anyone plans on capsizing so I can get my camera ready!”  Well, we didn’t capsize but we didn’t break any speed records either.  Realizing that canoeing isn’t our strong suite, our plan was to go east and pick up CP5 and CP6, then head back to the Boat TA where we would head north to pick up CP14, 13, and 12 since these looked easy enough.  We figured that CPs 7-10 could get tricky given all the twists and turns of the river and we would have to make the call on the fly, depending on how settled we felt in the boat and how much time we had been on the canoe.

canoe portage 4

From the Boat TA, we zigged and zagged across the large lake towards CP5 and joked with the canoes behind us that we were maneuvering to keep them from passing.  Of course, being so slow, there was no way we could keep anyone from passing us.  We got CP5 and CP6 without issue but then saw other teams portaging east from CP6 to pick up CP7.  This made us reconsider our plan and we decided to follow suite.  Stu practically yanked the canoe across the wetlands by himself while I had to keep pulling Ana out of thigh-high muck.  We got to CP7 by following the SW bend in the river, while other teams simply cut across.  We then headed down to CP8, which we got without issue.  From CP8, we started running into issues.  I hadn’t measured the distance between CP8 and CP9 so I wasn’t sure of how far it was and we ended overshooting CP9.  We paddled all the way to CP10 where we ran into other racers and learned of our mistake.  At least we picked up CP10 while we were there.  We then decided to pick up CP11 since it was so close, skip CP12, and head back down to pick up CP9 before returning to the Boat TA.  We landed where we thought CP11 was and hunted around for WAY TOO LONG before finally giving up.  That was totally my fault as I didn’t want to give up on the CP.  Taking a look at the GPS track, you can see we weren’t anywhere close to CP11.  We had once again overshot our target.

CP11 Where are You

Giving up on CP11, we started to head south to CP9 but then got turned around in the numerous channels between CP11 and CP10  We were frustrated at this point and ready to get off the canoe and I am grateful for not being smacked with a paddle.  We finally got to CP9, made the punch and headed north again to hit the east-west channel just south of CP10 that would take us to CP14.  Once again, we overshot our target and went all the way back to CP11 and picked up a channel there that ended up taking us to CP14.  Not measuring the distance between checkpoints and estimating paddling time was plain stupid on my part and cost us.  We picked up CP14 then CP13 without incident and headed to the Boat TA.

From the Boat TA, we went to the Foot 1 TA to begin the orienteering section.  We decided to hit these in order, CP15-20, after some gentle coaxing from Ron.  We found 15-17 without incident but lost some time finding CP18.  We did find a snake basking on a palm frond, but didn’t get close enough to identify the type.  I’m sure it was poisonous, probably the deadliest snake in Florida because, well, that would just make my blog post cooler.  Anyway, CP19 and CP20 were found alongside a trail straight out of Tough Mudder and I’m proud to know that my shoes and socks aided the demucking processing going on at the Orlando Wetlands.

Snake

From Foot 1, we went to the Main TA and decide to hit the final Bike Segment picking up the CPs in reverse order.  Here I almost made another stupid mistake, thinking that CP22 was our last checkpoint on this segment.  Luckily, we checked the punch before heading back to the Main TA and noticed that one punch was missing.  We picked up CP21 and then headed back, arriving at the Main TA at 2:55.  Not wanting to give up without a fight, we decided to try for at least one if not two Foot 2 CPs.  I knew we should be able to get CP31 and return before time expired, so off we raced.  Thinking that I had seen CP31 from the road earlier in the race, we ended up overshooting it.  We backtracked, read the Instruction Booklet and realized it was buried in the woods off of the blue trail.  We finally found it but had no more time to lose and raced back to the Main TA, checking in at 3:07 and just missing a 1 point penalty.  (Post race note: If you’re used to Pangea races you probably realized that if teams are 1 second over the stop time they are docked 1 point.  During the race I was recalling another AR that we did where racers had up until 10 minutes after the stop time to check in without being docked.  So in the end, that extra point we raced off for was fruitless since it was subsequently taken away because we came in late.  Another stupid mistake but at least it didn’t really cost us anything.)

In summary, I thought we had done really well in all the segments except the Canoe leg.  I was really proud of how the team pushed to get that one extra CP at the end.  I know that I made quite a few navigational errors that cost us time but in the end we did okay for our 3rd race and we had a great time.  I couldn’t find two better teammates.

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Pangea – Sea 2 Sea Adventure Race

We didn’t race the Pangea Sea 2 Sea, so I can’t offer much from a racer perspective.  For a race report, you’ll have to check out Ron Eaglin’s blog or the Canyoneros.  Plus, I’m a noob, so what do I know anyway.  However, since we hope to race it next year, I thought I would be a race volunteer so that I could get a better appreciation of a 72-hour race.  I did come away with a few tidbits that may be of use…maybe not.  So, if you’re interested, read on.

#1 Grab bikes by the handlebar and seat POST

If you’re a volunteer loading bikes and a racer passes you the bike that they have been riding for multiple hours, don’t grab it by the seat pad as one might typically do.  That seat has been sponging up butt sweat for the last few hours and is just waiting for your hand to splash down onto it.  But don’t worry, if you forget this rule, it’ll only take one or two incidences before it’s committed to memory for life.

#2 Florida can get cold…really cold…and wet…and sometimes it is really cold and wet, and that sucks

Adventure racing in Florida, “The Sunshine State”, how bad can it get.  Well, it can get really bad.  There is something about the damp coldness here that can chill you to the bone making it almost impossible to warm up.  So, don’t let the moniker fool you, sometimes this isn’t the sunshine state so don’t be fooled into not packing adequate cold and wet weather gear.

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#3 Chill dude, it’s going to be OK

If your bike, paddle bag, gear bin or whatever is not ready at a transition area (TA), relax, don’t get upset.  Sometimes, because of the way the racing field is spread out, racers get to TA’s before the volunteers can set it up.  Just make a note of when you arrived at the TA, the race director will be informed and concessions will be made.  The delay will not negatively affect your outcome and you can and should enjoy the moment to grab extra food, a little nap, or some friendly team bonding.  And, please don’t get upset with the volunteers, we don’t have any control over when we are sent to set up a TA.

#4 Lose the love for your bike

We all love our bikes, especially if you’ve sank $6k into a carbon fiber masterpiece.  Volunteers understand this and we really try to load the bikes in such a way as to avoid damaging them.  But, if getting a scratch on your bike is going to give you an embolism, it may be better for you to bring a trash bike that you don’t mind getting damaged.

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#5 I’m not stupid, just really tired

Volunteers probably don’t know as much as you would hope, or perhaps I should say this volunteer may not have known as much as some racers would have hoped.  For the Sea 2 Sea, some volunteers are there for the whole event and not getting much more rest than some of the racers, so they may not be as mentally alert as one would hope.  In addition, this may be the first event they have volunteered for so, unintentional mistakes will be made.  Just know that all volunteers are trying their best.

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#6 Herding cats

Getting 24 teams and all of their associated gear across the state of Florida is not an easy task.  The race director, the staff, and volunteers are working very hard to make your race go as smoothly as possible.  If the race seems to go smoothly, believe me that it is organized chaos behind the scenes.

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#7 Mark your shiznit

It’s your stuff, you’d probably like to find it quickly, especially in the dark when it’s cold and raining.  If your stuff is marked well, the volunteers will try their best to put all of your gear together.  What do I mean by marked well?  Each team member’s bike should have the team name clearly marked in a conspicuous location.  Gear bins should have large markings on them.  In addition, I would suggest using geometric shapes to mark your bins so that you can quickly find them.  See the bin marked with a large X below?  Super easy to spot, right.

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#8 Dude, where’s my crap?

Bring all of your team bikes and bike bag to the drop off location together.  If you bring all of your gear to the drop off location as a team, you won’t have to worry about your stuff getting separated.  In addition, it will probably be loaded and unloaded at the same time, meaning that all team bikes and bike bag will be placed in the same area.  If you bring gear separately, it may not be unloaded and placed together, and worse yet it may get loaded on separate trucks and delivered at separate times. Note, this didn’t happen at the Sea 2 Sea because the volunteers were so awesome.

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#9 Make it a quickie

Teams train very hard to increase their endurance and speed and then they waste minutes in the Transition Area (TA).  Yes, some transitions will be slow but most can be sped up.  It’s hard to make up 10-15 minutes on the bike or canoe, but it is super easy to waste that time in a TA.  Make your transitions as quick as possible when you are planning on moving out, especially if you are cold and/or wet.  If you are already cold coming into the TA and your transition is slow, you will get increasingly colder the longer you hang around the TA.  When you come in, your body is still warmed from the physical exertion but as you linger around, that heat dissipates and you may find yourself too cold to continue.

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#10 Can we cuddle?

Florida can get very cold and wet, see #2 above.  With this in mind I would make 2 recommendations, keep a small tent in your gear bin and carry multiple emergency blankets and don’t hesitate to use them.  There may be times when you have access to your gear bin and need to rest your team.  Maybe the weather is particularly crappy, or a teammate needs a break before going on, wouldn’t it be nice to have a small tent that you could set up quickly to get out of the weather and rest a little.  Remember this is a 72 hour race and things happen.  A small tent is a nice luxury, especially since you won’t be carrying it.  Also, have multiple emergency blankets.  They are small, easily stored and you should have more than one so that there is never any hesitation to break one out.

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#11 Be somebody’s beyotch

Volunteer for a long race.  It is almost as fun as being in one and you will learn a lot.  Plus you get to scope out the competition’s gear and see if there are any ideas you like.  The other cool thing is that you get to meet many of the racers, and believe me Adventure Racers are the coolest people you’ll ever get to meet.

#12 Easy?  I got your easy right here!

Don’t be fooled, the Sea 2 Sea is not easy.  While most of the teams will finish, most of the teams will not clear the course.  Many will skip sections in order to make it to the finish in time.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Greg, all the Pangea staff and the other volunteers for allowing me to be a part of this event.  I’d especially like to thank John and Jamie for sharing their sandwiches with me on those desolate TAs.  I had a great time and learned a lot.

Atomic AR – 30 Hour Adventure Race

The Pangea Atomic AR, thirty F@$*%! Fun-filled hours of adventure racing!  I’m at a loss, I don’t really know what to say.  I can’t even imagine what a 30hr race is going to be like.  I have an idea what my bottom is going to look like after being on a bike for that long…

Atomic Booty

Like all things that we do that are difficult, painful, and outside of my comfort zone, I blame Stu.  You see, instead of getting out of the Air Force so that he could continue to work with the coolest guy ever–me–he decided to stay in.  As a thank you, the AF has decided to move him to the great metropolis of Dayton, Ohio.  What this means is that Stu will soon be leaving Team Disoriented and the Atomic AR may be the last time we get to do an epic adventure race.

The Atomic AR is May 31st, so we have 17 weeks to prepare.  How does one prepare for a 30-Hr race?  I have no clue.  Ana keeps asking me how we’re going to train for it and I keep answering, “Well, we should probably do a lot of running, biking and canoeing…definitely a lot of canoeing based on our past results.”

Probably not the training plan she is looking for.  So, if you know of a good plan, please drop us a note in the comments section.  For now, we are putting together a plan based on David Kuehls book, “4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon.”

We’ve used this book to train for a marathon and 1/2 marathon and we really like it.  It’s very easy to follow and has an easy step-by-step plan for achieving a 4 hour marathon pace.  I’ve tailored the plan for a 2-hour, 1/2 marathon while adding biking and canoeing into the schedule.

While not the training plan of an elite team, I hope that this plan is enough to get us prepared for tackling the Atomic AR.  One thing that I’m really looking forward to is the night training.  The final 2 weeks prior to the Atomic, we plan on doing our long training at night so we can get an idea of what it’s like to run, bike and paddle in the dark.  This will also give us a good opportunity to check out our gear before the race.

If you want to see how a real team trains, check out this video from Team Tecnu.  These guys are amazing.

  • 2Hr paddle
  • 1Hr Crossfit
  • 3Hr bike
  • 2Hr run

Want to know more about the Atomic AR?  Check out this video from Pangea.  It’s a little dated but you’ll get the idea.  And don’t forget, leave us your training suggestions in the comments section.  Oh, and if you’re in the area and would like to come train with us on our long days, send us an email: teamdisoriented at gmail .com

Pangea: Turkey Burn AR

Turkey Burn AR

It’s official, we have signed up for the 12-hour Pangea Turkey Burn Adventure Race. Unfortunately, Super Stu won’t make it this time, which is a real bummer. Ana and I will do our best to guilt him relentlessly for his abandonment. We’re really excited and a little bit nervous about the race. Our first one was a 5-hour sprint and we did okay. We’ll see how this one goes. The race starts at 3 AM and goes until 3 PM, how cool is that! Click on the image above if you want to see more race details.