We Eat Dust And Like It

June 20, 2009

Wild Spring Sprint is a Sprint to the Finish

Scooter, Erl, Mo, and Biz, a week after their 34.5-hour soiree in Indiana, competed in Wild Adventure Race's Summer Sprint, a 6-hour adventure race out of William O'Brien State Park on June 13, 2009. Wild AR mixed up the format by trying a score-O for the entire event, including both mandatory and optional checkpoints, on each of three discipline sections - trek, bike, and paddle. Teams had the option to choose the order of events for their team and how much time to spend on each discipline. The kicker was that if you were late, even by one second, your team was disqualified. We decided to start off on the bike leg, an event that we figured would be fairly straight forward. After receiving the maps and heading out on the trail, Biz realized that there was no way that he could possibly organize a route to all of the points, both mandatory and optional, while biking.... We had been given six legal-sized sheets of paper that overlapped in several locations, so we laid out the maps and made sure that our route contained all of the CPs - our goal was to get all of them on this section, but every minute planning was a minute not biking.... After a brief hiatus, we were back on the bikes and able to complete the ~30-mile loop in good form, returning to the TA in roughly 2 hours.
We transitioned to paddle, to give our legs a rest, and the cool water provided a bit of relief to the warm temps that had been creeping upward. We paddled downstream first, obtained one optional CP, then turned north/upstream and collected the remaining mandatory CPs. Two optional CPs remained and we had been out ~1.5 hours on the paddle, so we went for the closest optional CP, less than half a mile upstream. Unfortunately, the round trip took us longer than we had hoped (~25 minutes for this CP only), time that would have been much better used on the trek. On the return trip, we decided to portage our boats a quarter mile to save about 2 miles of paddling, and this strategy paid off. All of us were pretty smoked after carrying the boats and our packs, but the choice appeared to save us at least 10 minutes, coming into the main TA at just over the 4-hour mark.

After our 10 minute mandatory boat cleaning, we headed out for the last leg of the race, an orienteering loop in William O'Brien State Park. We had about 1 hour and 45 minutes to gather all the CPs that we could, but we had to push the pace knowing that we had spent so much time on one paddling CP. Our nav was spot on and Scooter's extra energy was put to use, sprinting to each control. With 45 minutes to go, we decided to skip one outlier CP, a half mile dogleg out and back that we just didn't have time for. We figured that with our distance to go and the time we had remaining, we would be able to clean the rest of the course.
Continuing to push the pace in the heat of the day, we scrambled to locate the last 2 CPs on the course. CP A - located on a hilltop - was thought to be in a patch of thick woods, briars, and vegetation, and our team searched for about 10 minutes around the hilltop with no luck. Since this was an optional CP, we started talking about skipping it to make sure that we made it back before the cutoff. Biz hates giving up on CPs, so he begged us for just one more minute... and then one more again. With everyone starting to get pretty nervous, we agreed to let it go and proceeded to head down the hill to the final mandatory CP, located near a trail where we started our run home (we later found out that CP A was misplaced).
At this point, our time check had us at less than 10 minutes, and we still had a long distance to run to the finish - approximately 1.5 miles. We were cutting things a lot closer than any of us had hoped, and we all had to give eveything we had to even think about making it to the finish line in time. After almost 6 hours of racing and a solid effort in each of the disciplines, we were sprinting as fast as we could, holding hands to keep us all together to the finish. Cramping, stomach aches, and bonking were the norm 15 minutes ago, but in those final moments, we could only think about breathing and the general fuzzy feeling all over our bodies. Each one of us gave everything that we had left, and then found a bit more to pull us home.
We finished 8 seconds shy of the 6-hour DQ cutoff....
It was a painful and emotional finish that included some collapsing, some crying, some "I need a minute before I can talk to anyone," and a lot of relief. In the end, we finished with the most optional CPs, which gave us the 1st Place win, but we all felt a bit lucky to have escaped the DQ cutoff.
In related news, Dan Williams and Rebecca Lundberg, longtime race directors for Wild Adventure Race and Minnesota AR pioneers, announced at the end of the race that they will be passing off the torch to Jason & Gayle Perreira. We can't thank Dan and Rebecca enough for all of their hard work and leadership over the years. The new race directors for Wild AR will have big shoes to fill, and we wish them the best.