On July 11, Scooter, Erl, Mo, and Biz raced in the 8th annual Adventure-O, hosted by the Minnesota Orienteering Club (MNOC). The race started in Minneopa State Park, southwest of Mankato, MN. In store for the racers over the next 7 hours was a challenging course with standard AR disciplines, and a few surprises....
After receiving maps and the UTM coordinates for three checkpoints 5 minutes before the start of the race, we were in hot pursuit of CP1 along with 30 other teams. Minneopa State Park has a mix of deciduous, grassland, and riverbluff/bottom vegetation - several erratic glacial features, including 2 meter boulders, also dot the landscape - which made precise navigation somewhat challenging over the 11-point O-section.
We arrived at the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River with a slim lead over the other teams, and were then directed to trek 1.5 miles upstream (instream) to CP 15, finding CPs 12-14 along the way.
We passed under a few bridges over head, then through a small tunnel for a road. Then we came to a huge tunnel that we couldn't see the other side of - it was completely pitch black. Maybe this is why the race directors had "recommended" that we bring a headlamp!
Holding tight to our make-shift "trekking" poles that we found on the way to the river, we precariously traversed the rocky, unknown ground, step by step, in total darkness. Sure Biz could have gotten that headlamp out of his pack before we got to the darkest part, but what fun would that have been? After a bend in the tunnel, we could finally see a small bit of light at the other end. We picked up our pace into the sunshine, and finished the creek trek at CP15 - the bottom of Minneopa Falls.
A short jaunt to the top and we transitioned to biking. We pushed the pace on the bikes a bit, as Andrew Kroese and Tom Puzak of Free Candy (24Seven) closed the gap from the O-section on the upstream trek. On the bike leg, we took a few different route choices, they had a flat tire (or two), and we made it to the paddle TA with a 5 minute lead.
We jumped into our inflatable kayaks and started paddling down the Le Sueur River. The water level was fairly low, around 200cfs, so we got caught on rocks and sandbars, and had to boat whack once or twice, emptying our "bathtubs" in the process. After about an hour and 40 minutes on the paddle, we exited river right to clean and rollup our inflatables and gear up for the next biking section.
We left the TA with a slim margin of 10 minutes over Free Candy, and we knew the next section, mountain biking at Mount Kato (a local ski hill), would suit their strengths. This score-o mountain bike leg had 9 controls that could be attained in any order, but had to be completed by staying on the trail and only going in the proper direction (no bike-whacking). A few of the black diamond trails were a bit sketchy and we were forced to hike-a-bike certain parts. After obtaining 8 of the CPs, we found ourselves at the bottom of the mountain with 1 CP to go. With only a 15 minute penalty for each missed CP, we decided that biking up and down Mount Kato for the last CP would take longer than 15 minutes. We cut our losses and biked back to Minneopa State Park in a hurry, not knowing if other teams had finished before us, or if others would be able to garner all the CPs and reach the finish less than 15 minutes after us.
We crossed the finish line in 6:16:02 and waited nervously as time ticked ever-so-slowly. Nobody had finished before us, so the wait was on. Ten minutes later, team GearJunkie.com came across the line, but they had skipped 4 CPs to our 1. Another minute later Tom and Andrew (24Seven) came across the line, finishing with all the CPs from Mount Kato.... With our 15 minute penalty for skipping a CP, we came short of the overall win by 4 minutes. It was an awesome race though - very competitive from the get-go with several Minnesota teams pushing us the whole time. We definitely enjoyed hanging out at the post-race picnic with the local AR community as well.
Top 4 Overall - After Penalties
1) Free Candy (24Seven) - 6:26:53 (2PO)
2) WEDALI - 6:31:02 (4PC)
3) Gnome Hunters - 7:22:34 (4PC)
4) Team GearJunkie.com - 7:26:05 (4PC)