We Eat Dust And Like It

October 31, 2009

2009 USARA National Championships - Yeehaw!

On Friday, October 23, Scott (Erl), Molly, and Justin made the trip to Pilot Point, Texas to represent WEDALI in the 2009 United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA) National Championships. The pre-race briefing held a bit of a surprise, as much of the course had to be adjusted within the last three days due to the 5-inches of rain this area had recently received. Reports were that the reservoir in the area had raised several feet in a 24-hour period. Things sure looked to be a sloppy mess!
The race started with a 200 meter LeMans run to our bikes, then a road ride around the reservoir from Lantana Lodge to Ray Roberts Lake State Park. Lots of pace riding and a little bit of tire rubbing. Someone apparently dislocated their shoulder less than 1/4 mile from the start - that's a bad way to start a race.
We transitioned to a tough open water pa
ddle on the reservoir. A fair bit of wind created a white-capped lake. We bypassed CP5 with Nuun and Bushwhacker, and got it on the way back (after doing a 1.5 mile portage, getting CP4, and another 1.5 mile portage - most sections were Score-O format). Steering the boat in these conditions was especially taxing. We brought 3 double bladed kayaks for this section, but Biz only ended up using half a kayak paddle on the same side of the boat for 90% of this section just to keep us going in the right direction. We didn't lose too many spots, but we were a bit worried about our earlier portage. In retrospect, it likely saved us a few miles of paddling, which felt better in the long run.
We then biked around a finger of the reservoir to complete a short trekking section. This orienteering leg was on a peninsula in Ray Roberts SP. We made some pretty good time and caught back up with the leaders despite the scratchy/thorny terrain.
Another road bike to a short O-section on a private property ranch. There was a barbed wire fence through a portion of the ranch that threw Biz off the nav for a few minutes, but other than that a pretty clean run with no noticeable time gained/lost. Click on the video below to see our shout out to the WEDALI Army going into this section.

Another decent road ride ensued to a one trek CP at some ruins on a peninsula. It got dark on the trek leg and so we took our bike lights with so as to not have to break out the emergency headlamps. Upon return, we hammered the night ride back to Lantana Lodge (the start/finish/TA). After a modest transition, bathroom break, and cheering/snacks from none other than AR superstar Robyn Benincasa, our crew hit the bikes again for a mix of mostly two-track and horse trails from Lantana Lodge to the southern part of Ray Roberts SP and the dam for the reservoir. We biked south along the outlet to I-380 and back, getting on and off the bike for a few short trekking CPs.
We completed one final three point O-section before heading back on our bikes to the finish. We ran into Granite Gear AR 1 & 2 (current race leaders) on this section at our 1st CP, their 3rd. Knowing that we were close gave us a bit of go-juice, but they warned us of some fairly significant vegetative problems ahead. Unfortunately, our crew had difficulty finding the 2nd control, circling the wrong location in thoroughly dense, gnarly, and prickly veg. The lack of visibility and undefined reservoir edge gave us some problems, and we lost about 30 minutes to most other teams. Pretty crazy for us to spend 4 hours on a 3-mile straightline trek, even if it was in the middle of the night.... We later found out that we were passed here by ImOnPoint.org and dropped from 3rd to 4th place.
Not knowing how close the next team behind us was, our bike back to Lantana Lodge/finish was done with haste despite the muddy conditions. We came into the line at ~6:40am, with a racing time of 23:40 for a very respectable 4th place of 67 teams.Good race for us overall, but the thick vegetation and tough paddle took it's toll. It was awesome to see a lot of other teams out there throughout the race, even if it wasn't under the best circumstances for either of us at any given time. Congrats to Granite AR for rocking the course.
We all agreed that it would have been fun to see what the course would have been like without the rain two days before the start - this course was understandably heavy on biking, with a total of 108 miles for us.
Trekking sections will be remembered for the gnarly conditions and the open water paddle for the blowing wind. The stiff competition and Texas itself won't be something we'll "mess with" anytime soon, but we were happy to come away with a great experience. Thanks to all of those who followed us throughout the 2009 season!

October 16, 2009

SKMC Me Now?!

Molly and Justin (MoBiz), once again under the guise of the Rainbow Unicorns, traveled to the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest (Southern Unit) in Wisconsin for the annual Southern Kettle Moraine Challenge adventure race on October 10. This 8-10 hour race, put on by Andy McCarthy of the Wisconsin Adventure Racing Society (WARS), drew a large field of over 100 racers.
The race started off on a black and white aerial photo orienteering section from the D.J. Mackie Picnic Area to Ottawa Lake. After arriving at the lake, racers paddled 5.5 laps Nasboat style - things always get interesting in the later laps with 40+ boats jockeying for position. Biz's last experience with this paddling format left him in the drink not once, but twice!We finished the paddle shortly after Ya Mule, and were able to keep up on the short road ride to the Emma Carlin mountain bike trails where we were instructed to complete the green loop. A decent lap completed, we found ourselves in 3rd place overall behind Ya Mule and hard-core bikers Elk Bones (who raced on speedy road slicks for the entire race, despite the 5-miles of greasy single track at Emma).
Racers then completed a 10-CP Score-O orienteering section on an enhanced USGS topo map at Stute Springs & Homestead Nature Trail. We put forward a strong effort, and came into the TA just as Ya Mule was leaving, gaining one spot in the process.
Competitors traveled on gravel and paved roads from Emma Carlin back to D.J. Mackie picnic area via Gus's Drive-in, located in East Troy, WI. This 27-mile bike section pushed us to the max as we persevered through the cold temps and blowing wind and snow in our faces, arriving at the TA less than a minute behind Ya Mule.
Transitioning fast was of the utmost importance, and we took to the last 4-CP aerial photo map with haste. Pushing the pace hard in the woods and making the road run back home with urgency, we didn't know how things would turn out. In the end, we came across the finish line in 6 hours and 3 minutes for 1st place overall.WARS puts on an awesome race and it's always a great time hanging out with the Wisconsin AR community post-event. A tough and challenging sprint race made fun by the competitive but friendly crowd.

Top 3 Overall:
Rainbow Unicorns - 6:03
Ya Mule - 6:09
Elk Bones - 6:14

September 30, 2009

Navigating the Berryman Adventure

On September 25, WEDALI headed south to the Land of the Ozarks for the Berryman Adventure Race, an annual 36-hour sufferfest in the Mark Twain National Forest of Missouri. With a tough late-season race schedule taking it's toll, Andrea stepped in for Scooter five days before the race to join Erl, Mo, and Biz for this competitive event, put on by Bonk Hard Racing. Jason made the trip as well, and was a great help in finalizing team logistics. He also raced in the 12-hour as a last minute sub and volunteered for the Bonk Hard Racing crew.
To begin the event, racers were transported by bus from race headquarters in Big Spring Park to Round Spring, where the race was started at 11PM on Friday night. With the initial orienteering/trekking section, things were a bit crazy at the start, with teams crawling all over the woods. We took a few "interesting" route choices, and a few minutes here and there led to a confirmed 20-minute lag on the night O-section behind lead team
Alpine Shop.

We made a decent transition onto the Current River and paddled from Round Spring to Powder Mill. The first hour or so was in the dark and we watched the sun burn off the fog throughout the trip. A couple small sets of rapids and a few wildlife sightings made things fun. Molly fought the sleep monsters a bit, and was entertained by a few impromptu songs by Justin.The recent rains and fast current made the paddle section go decently fast. It seemed like we lacked a bit of urgency to catch up here (or at least maintain our time loss) though, and Alpine Shop handed us another 17 minutes (total of 37 minutes) of time to make up.

After the paddle, we received a few bags of supplies that the race directors had transported to this stop. We refueled our supplies and waded across the Current River to avoid an additional one-mile run.

We then trekked from Powder Mill to Rocky Falls, again taking a few routes that in hindsight may have been iffy - lots of longer road routes around features instead of shorter/straighter bushwhacking routes. The CP at the top of Barnett Mountain had a great view of the Missouri countryside from the top, but most racers agreed that the gnats and logging slash were less than desirable. We pushed decently well on this section, but a couple of minutes searching for controls and a few minor 5-minute mistakes added up to an even larger time deficit behind Alpine Shop by the time we got to Rocky Falls.

The last 1/3 of the race was a hefty biking leg of 60+ miles. We completed a fair portion of the ride in the daytime, but definitely hit the more challenging portions (such as the single track on the Ozark Trail) at night and at the end of the race. It's a tough trail and we were forced to hike-a-bike a fair bit. A few additional navigation errors/stutters ruined our flow through the latter part of the course, but we finally came into the finish at 11:30pm, with a total race time of 24 hours and 27 minutes.

Alpine Shop had a fantastic showing and crushed the course in 22 hours and 20 minutes - awesome job by that crew to bring it home. Bushwhacker rounded out the top 3 in 32 hours, 8 minutes.

We had a decent race, but after back-to-back weekends of 24-hour+ length events, it will be key for us to rest up well (physically and mentally) before USARA National Championships in Texas next month. Thanks again to Bonk Hard Racing for another fantastic event!

September 24, 2009

Wild AR Fall 24-Hour

On September 18, WEDALI teammates Scott, Scott, Molly, and Justin prepared for the last Wild AR of the 2009 season; a 24-hour near Carlton, MN. This was also a USARA Nationals qualifier and the last race in the 2009 Minnesota Adventure Race Series, so an important race in our schedule to say the least.
We took a bus to Nemadji State Forest for the 5pm start. Wild's race directors, wanting to get things off to a good start, began the race with a 17.5-mile trek on mostly gravel roads with a bit of sand, forest, and two-track paths. This was a tough go for our team, as the Gnome Hunters pushed the pace from the very start. We kept up despite the effort, not wanting to fall behind on the first leg of the race. We stuck together as a team, traded packs to whomever was feeling up to it, and pushed/pulled each other through the section in about 2 hours and 52 minutes.
We made a quick transition to our bikes for an off-road section of trails, mostly ATV and OHV. Doing this at night added to the technical element. Biz did an endo over his handle bars at one point, for which Scooter gave him a 10. We passed the Gnome Hunters on this section, but we knew they were hot on our tails. We then popped out onto the Gandy Dancer gravel trail, which took us northeast out onto pavement at Patzau.
The road ride from Patzau to the boat launch on the west side of New Duluth was fairly uneventful, taking County Road B to County Road W to State Highway 23. We tried to push the pace on this section to create a gap, but really had no idea how much faster we were going than the other teams. We arrived at the paddle TA in decent shape, but our TA was a little slow at about 20 minutes.
We then paddled from a boat launch west of New Duluth into St. Louis Bay. Our team ran into some problems on this section with leaky boats, stomach issues, and a 20-minute navigation error. This section wasn't our highpoint, and we lost a bit of time and effort.
We transitioned back to our bikes and rode from the boat launch at Smithville onto the Munger trail heading west.
After a short ride to the TA, we tended to some foot issues and made our way on foot to Ely's Peak for a bit of ropes fun. We hike up to a railroad grade and went east to a tunnel under Ely's Peak. After Molly reached the top of the ascent, The Beautiful People showed up and started to get their gear on. After Scooter was up, the Gnome Hunters had shown up as well. Ascending takes a fair bit of time, but having both of these teams catch up to us while Erl and Biz still needed to get up the ascent made things interesting.
We knew we had lost a bit of time on the paddle, but more so we realized that we would have to keep up a strong pace to finish well. We passed Orion on our way back to our bikes, further emphasizing the competitive nature of the top teams through the race thus far.
We rode on Munger trail west to Jay Cooke State Park, including a quick 1.5 mile loop on dirt trails along the way to pick up two other CPs and prepared for the final major leg of the race; a 12-point rogaine section set by members of the Minnesota Orienteering Club.
We knew we had probably a 30-minute lead over Gnome Hunters and the Beautiful People (since neither team had shown up at the rappel while we were on our way out), but we weren't moving too fast at this point and had no idea how far behind us the other teams were.
After getting the three O-points to the north, we caught up to Beautiful People since they had just headed out on the southern O-section less than 7 minutes ahead of us. That being said, we figured our lead was slightly under an hour over the next teams, as we knew the Gnome Hunters would be right behind BP and would be likely to do the O-section faster. With their strong navigation and faster run pace, we knew nothing was a given and had limited room for error. After clearing the orienteering section in a little under 4 hours, we were relieved to find that no other teams had come back to the TA. We hopped back onto our bikes and rode west from Jay Cooke back out to Munger Trail and State Highway 210, finishing at the Black Bear Casino Resort in a total time of 17 hours and 15 minutes.This race definitely pushed our limits, and it was a team effort to come out on top. We had a bunch of issues to deal with, but stayed tough and got 'er done. We were definitely impressed with the Minnesota teams that showed up to race - truly a competitive event. Hopefully more teams from out-of-state will join the mixer in the future. Rumor has it that this race will be part of the Checkpoint Tracker series in 2010....

Top 4:
WEDALI - 17:15
Gnome Hunters - 18:05
The Beautiful People - 19:11
Orion - 21:18

August 27, 2009

WEDALI takes 5th at Primal Quest - Badlands

On August 21, 2009 WEDALI became the 5th team to complete Primal Quest - Badlands. Our epic journey is now complete, but our appreciation to everyone who has supported us over the past few months will continue. As we collect our thoughts and organize our photos over the next few weeks, we will post stories/race-reports here to share some of the details. We can't thank everyone enough for being our 5th teammate!

July 28, 2009

Odyssey One Day AR

Thanks to a gracious photographer (and race director for Wild Adventure Race) named Jason Perreira, our team was able to garner a free slot into the Odyssey One Day adventure race on July 25. We submitted Jason's photo of Ellen sleeping on a tub, which was picked as 1 of 4 winning photos for the adventure racing stimulus bill contest, put on by Odyssey Adventure Racing and Checkpoint Zero.
With two weeks to go until the race, Molly, Justin, Scott, & Scott set out to organize a weekend soiree into the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia....

After flying from Minneapolis to Washington-Dulles on Friday morning, driving 4-hours into central Virginia, putting our bikes together, eating dinner, attending the pre-race briefing, driving back to our hotel, plotting UTM coordinates, deciding routes, and finalizing gear, we finally hit the beds at 12:15am. Just in time for our 3:15am wake up call to drive back to the host venue, Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing (WAEL), for the 4:30am start.

The race began with a 2-mile "prologue" trail run around WAEL. We returned to our bikes after about 20 minutes, and tried to make a quick TA into our biking gear. The first bike leg started off with a 1 hour, 30 minute (2300') climb up Bald Mountain on gravel roads and forest service two track. What a view with the sun almost rising! We then rode down the other side, through Lignite and Surber to the Hoop Hole parking area for a trekking section.
CPs on the mostly-trail trek from Hoop Hole parking area were located in a swimming hole on the Hipe Branch, Rich Knob (3704'), Roaring Run Falls, and Roaring Run Furnace (ruins from an iron furnace operated in pre-civil war days).

We ran back to the Hoop Hole parking area via road, stopping at a convenience store along the way to fill up on water and buying the last three Gatorades they had.
Returning to the TA, we passed a comprehensive gear check and transitioned back to bikes for a speedy pavement ride from Hoop Hole parking area to Eagle Rock public boat ramp, about 8.5 miles east.

We then loaded our bikes into our canoes and strapped them down for an 18-mile paddle from Eagle Rock to Horseshoe Bend public boat access and on to Springwood public boat access.

Erl and Scooter rocked Aquabound kayak paddles (that we carried with us the entire race) while Mo and Biz used the provided canoe paddles. Class 1 & 2 rapids made the trip exciting as we paddled during the hottest part of the day.

After getting off the water, we felt baked - wish we would have remembered to put on sunscreen at 4:30am! We hopped onto our bikes for a 24.5-mile ride back west on a mix of paved/gravel/two-track from Springwood to the intersection of FR5020 & FR184. The climb up to CP 12 and over the pass near the SW part of Price Mountain was straight out of the Tour de France (Twisty, +800'). We arrived at the Patterson Creek TA(Elev.1133') for the last trekking section about 30 minutes behind a solo racer, Triangle AR.

After finding the first two score-o CPs in daylight, night began to fall on the Patterson Creek area. A lightning storm passed overhead just as we were coming down off the top near CP K going to CPs E and A, which quickened our pace greatly. Biz was pretty sure that he has never navigated at night in such a downpour - visibility was seriously lacking at about 20 meters. Vegetation was also thick below thigh level along most "trails," which slowed the pace. Climbs to ridge tops at CPs K (2285') and G (2250') were "highlights." Erl and Biz also picked up 12 littered glass bottles at CP B and carried them through the rest of the race for a 12-minute time credit. Our team battled some stomach issues throughout the night, but was able to keep a steady pace late in the game. Here's us not looking too pretty...

We returned to the Patterson Creek TA about 8.5 hours later to find ourselves in basically the same position as when we left - 2nd place overall with a 40-minute gap behind solo racer Triangle AR.

We biked the final leg from Patterson Creek area back to WAEL pavilion, crossing a knee deep stream along the way (maybe that's why the directions to WAEL don't tell you to go the short way?).
We finished the race in 24 hours, 21 minutes, garnering 1st in 4-person coed (and 2nd overall). Our 12 bottles brought our official time down to 24:09, with all mandatory and optional CPs. Triangle AR finished about an hour ahead of us and was the only other "team" to obtain all CPs. This was a tough race that definitely pushed us to the limits. A great east coast event put on by Odyssey AR with lots of awesome views from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

July 20, 2009

WEDALI in the Star Tribune

On July 19, WEDALI got a bit of press in the Star Tribune, the main newpaper in the Twin Cities area. The article, The anatomy of an adventure race, was written by local adventure racer (and nationally syndicated columnist) Stephen Regenold . Also known as The Gear Junkie, Regenold was named as one of Outside Magazine's Top Ten Adventure Twitters in April 2009.

July 14, 2009

MNOC Adventure-O-Rama

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)

July 1, 2009

City of Lakes Tri-Loppet

Molly and Justin, sporting their Minnesota Orienteering Club jerseys, competed in the City of Lakes Tri-Loppet on June 27, 2009. This sprint triathlon, which consisted of an 8k paddle, 5.3k trail run, and 11k mountain bike, took place in the heart of Minneapolis on the chain of lakes and in Theodore Wirth park.
MoBiz, paddling together in a Wenonah Minnesota II and rocking their Aqua-Bound kayak paddles, began with a swift start near the front of the pack. Several hard-core paddlers enter this event, so it's always interesting to see what types of racing canoes and kayaks will show up (and smoke you) in the first leg of the race. After ~45 minutes as racing as a doubles team, we beached our boat on shore and each of us set out on the run, trying to catch up with the lead crowd.
The run in Theodore Wirth was a scenic tour up and down most of the larger hills on the southern end of the park. Molly and Biz both pushed hard, passed a few racers, and completed the run course in 28:53 and 25:00, respectively.
Onto the bikes to pick up more spots, the course had a wide range of terrain, from smooth paved to muddy single track. A few ups and downs were thrown in to keep the course interesting, including the high point of Minneapolis, located in Theodore Wirth Par 3 golf course. Molly finished the bike leg in a time of 34:13 and Justin in a time of 29:14.

After we had caught our breathe and consumed a bit of watermelon, Molly had posted the 4th fastest time for the women in a blistering 1:48:07. Justin had a solid effort and claimed the 8th fastest overall time in 1:39:15. It was a great day for us and the rest of the MNOC crowd, as several other members posted top spots and personal bests.

June 25, 2009

Iowa Games Adventure Race Victory

Jason & Andrea, racing as SDK (the initials of their 3 children), traveled to Iowa State University in Ames, IA for the Iowa Games Adventure Race on June 14. With a few FEET of less rain for the 3rd annual AR (and one less broken toe), this year looked much better from the start.
In typical fashion, we showed up an hour before the race start and found out that the "surprise" pre-race task was plotting half of the 30 checkpoints, which made for good transition training. No fear though... Andrea and Jason made it to the start line with almost a whole minute to spare. No sense in standing around, right? So off to the races!
The first 13 checkpoints could be had in any order and it appeared that almost everyone figured that CP 2 was the way to go. With a 5-8 hour race forecast, it seemed like a lot of folks were ready for a sprint. We stuck with the man-teams for the first couple of CPs before heading north looking for CPs 3-7. Andrea loves the semi-urban aspect of this race (not so much), but whatever kept us out of the Ames area stinging nettles and poison ivy couldn’t be all bad (we still bear poison ivy scars from the 2007 race....).
Many teams ran into problems around the Ames Laboratory, which contained tricky terrain and a maze of chain link fences. Being a bit over-anxious ourselves, we ended up overshooting three CPs in a row before finally getting to the inner tube pickup and floating down the river.

At that point we were approximately ten minutes behind the leading 3-person man-team, floating down the river with Phil Nicolas and Adam Wheelock from Mantis. The water was quite chilly after the latest rains, but we were only on the water for 1.5 miles before getting out and doing the sprint to the climbing wall at the ISU recreation center.
This is where Andrea had made a great call.... We had decided to pack our own harnesses because the race directors stated that any team that did would have a dedicated rope once they got to this section. Arriving simultaneously with the 3-person team and Mantis, we slipped our harnesses on, climbed, and got out of there a good 2 minutes up.
After the ropes, we were on and off bikes for the remainder of the race - in and around the city of Ames and a stop at a shooting range for a little air gun target practice (which later proved to make the difference). Somewhere in there we met up with Bike Iowa and raced together pretty much for the last hour. However, one checkpoint before the finish we decided to split up, and it proved lucky for us, because we got to the last CP and Bike Iowa was nowhere to be seen.
We sprinted into the finish (well, Andrea sprinted and Jason did his best to keep up) and arrived approximately four minutes in front of Bike Iowa to finish first.
BUT, and it was a big "but," during this race, there was also a scavenger hunt to collect different items along the way. Collecting certain things gave you time bonuses and others merely kept you safe from time penalties. We collected about half of the items, so we knew our placing could go either way. The target from the shooting range was a time bonus for how close you got to the bulls eye and luckily Jason was inside the first ring from the center on the target. After everything was added and subtracted, we finished with a slim 5-minute advantage. Since Andrea had to sit out last year with the bum toe, this one made up for 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.

June 10, 2009

Planet Adventure "Old School" AR

Erl, Scooter, Mo, and Biz represented WEDALI at the Planet Adventure "Old School" adventure race near Rusk, Indiana on June 6, 2009. The race directors warned racers that the course was a bit longer than they had expected (originally billed as a 24-hour), and everyone went into the event planning for 30+ hours of AR fun - and this race delivered!
After picking up Scoot at the Indianapolis airport Friday afternoon, we drove the rest of the way down to Rusk, checked in, did a short ropes skills check, and futzed with gear until the 9pm pre-race meeting where we would be given maps and instructions. We soon found out that the race would start at midnight, giving teams a little over two hours to plot points, choose a route, and finalize gear. Biz and Scooter focused on maps, while Erl and Mo worked hard to prepare food and mandatory gear for the team. Mo was able to catch a short 1-hour nap, Erl "rested" for 20 minutes, and Scooter and Biz would work on maps until ~15 minutes before the start.

The race started off at 12:07am with a short road trek to the bikes and a short ride (including a bike-whack) to a river crossing on foot for CP1. The water was pretty chilly and was an "adventurous" way to get things going before 1am on Saturday.
Another decent bike leg was followed by a tough night score-O section. With only a few minor mistakes, we made our way to the front of the pack and were the first to emerge at the swim section, which entailed another cold effort half a mile downstream. We trekked back to the bikes and then hopped on our steeds for a ride through Shirley Creek Nature Area and on to CP8. A trek to CPs 9-14 yielded an awesome ropes section: a zipline across a 100' deep sinkhole.
After the trek, we hit the paddle just before dark and hopped in for a ride downstream. The team was able to break up in 2s to obtain 2 additional CPs, so Scooter and Biz trekked while Erl and Mo paddled the canoes the long way around on the river. Before the end of the paddle, a 100-foot rappel awaited, just off the north side of the river. We finished the paddle (just after the 24-hour mark) and the race directors were nice enough to serve up a bit of warm soup.
Back on the bikes, we made our way into Martin County State Forest. A maze of trails greeted us, but we gradually made our way through to the TA, where we transitioned to another trek. After bobbling one of the CPs for over an hour during the witching hour before sunrise (and after two sleepless nights), we made our way to the TA with haste, not knowing where the other teams were at (since a supported 24-hour AR was being run concurrently). We arrived with news that all of the other Old School teams had been short-coursed around the trek that we had just finished - fantastic! As long as we would be able to make it to the finish before the cutoff, we would be the only team to complete the entire course. On the bike ride home, Molly rallied the troops as Scooter, Biz, and Erl struggled with sleep depravation and stomach issues. We made one stop on the way to the finish for an ascent up a 60-foot overhanging rock face, which was frosting on the cake.
We crossed the finish line at 10:32am on Sunday, 34 hours and 25 minutes after the start. It was a tough race, not only due to the course length, challenging terrain, and competitive teams, but also from the lack of sleep two nights in a row. We were all happy to pull off a 1st place finish.

May 12, 2009

Wild AR Spring 12-Hour

Scooter, Erl, Mo, and Biz represented WEDALI at Wild Adventure Race's Spring 12-Hour on May 9, 2009 in Red Wing, MN. The race started in Colvill Park, just south of Barn Bluff along the Mississippi River.
Out of the gate, teams ran most of the way up Memorial Park Drive and back down into Red Wing via a foot trail.

An urban O-section routed teams to a few more hills and a bridge crossing into Wisconsin. A dash to the boats ensued after the hour-long run, with 24Seven less than a minute behind. WEDALI made a quick TA into the orange duckys and, with the help of their 4-piece Aquabound paddles carried during the trek, were able to put a small gap on the field during the ~7 mile paddle. After returning to Colvill Park, teams biked to Barn Bluff and completed a short trekking section that included two traverses and a sweet 50-foot rappel.
The course then took teams out on a 27-mile bike through the river bluffs of Wisconsin and back to Memorial Park in Red Wing, MN. A few trekking CPs later, WEDALI cruised back down Memorial Park Drive and into Colvill Park, finishing the race 1st overall in a time of 6 Hours, 55 Minutes. Less than three minutes separated 2nd and 3rd places, as The Beautiful People and Midwest Mountaineering finished in 7:18 and 7:21, respectively. 24Seven rouded out the top 4 in 7:34.
A BIG thanks to all of our "fans" that came out to see the race! We had an awesome time hanging out afterwards, sharing stories, and catching up with all the Minnesota (and non-MN) AR folks.

May 4, 2009

Psycowpath Success

On May 2, Andrea rocked out at the Swanson River City Shootout, the second XC mountain bike race in the Nebraska Lottery Psycowpath Series. The race took place in Swanson Park, located near Bellevue, NE. Andrea pushed hard and pulled off a 3rd place finish in the Women's Cat 1 race, knocking off four laps in less than 2 hours.

April 30, 2009

Timber Doodle Adventure Race

Molly and Justin (MoBiz), guised as the Rainbow Unicorns, traveled to Dexter County Park in Wisconsin for the Timber Doodle Adventure Race on April 25. This 10-hour race, put on by the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Adventure Racing Club, was anything but your run-of-the-mill AR. The race's namesake, also known as the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), live in brushy woods near rivers and streams and eat worms and insects that they catch by probing in the soil with their long bills. MoBiz embodied the life of a Timber Doodle during this AR - battling a dizzying series of bike/hike O-sections, gnarly marsh treks, several team challenges (including a river zipline), and unfavorable racing conditions (rainy and 40s) - to come away with a 1st place overall finish. If you see Molly, be sure to ask her about the blindfolded worm search - meep meep!

April 22, 2009

Racing Trifecta

On Saturday, April 18, three WEDALI teammates challenged themselves in different athletic endeavors. Here's a quick breakdown:

Scooter traveled east to race in Infiterra Sports' Spring Fury, a 10-hour adventure race in Michigan. Combining forces with a few Michigan natives, Scoot paired up with John as team Jeep and raced along side Darrin and Ed as team Chrysler. Jeep (Scooter and John) sprinted for a photo finish, holding off Frog Stompers by under a minute for the overall win in 7 hours, 51 minutes. Chrysler (Darrin & Ed) finished in 3rd place with a time of 7 hours, 55 minutes.

Molly traveled north to Sand Dunes State Forest to compete in the Minnesota Orienteering Club's Adventure Racing Tune-up, a short 4-hour sprint adventure race. Teaming up with Tom Puzak of 24Seven, Molly pulled off an impressive 2nd place finish overall, coming in less than 10 minutes behind the lead team.

Biz traveled south to compete in the Ragnarok 105, a 105-mile bike race on gravel and minimum maintenance roads around Red Wing, MN. Biking with four buddies (Chad, Grant, Dan, & Jesse), Justin was able to finish the punishing ride in 14th place (out of 65 riders) in a time of 7 hours, 13 minutes. Elevation gain for the ride topped 8000', an impressive amount considering the lack of "mountainous" topography in Minnesota.

April 10, 2009

LBL Challenge

Jason, Erl, Molly, and Biz competed in Bonk Hard Racing's Land Between the Lakes Challenge near Grand Rivers, Kentucky on April 4-5, 2009. This 24-hour adventure race featured a strong lineup of teams from the Midwest, along with some east coast visitors.

A few thoughts about the race:
1) The first trek and bike were crazy - like herding cats - with all the different route choices team's had. We often wondered how we passed (or got passed by) other teams.
2) The trekking section from Cravens to Demumbers was stellar - we gained ~15 minutes to catch back up with the lead teams.
3) Paddling alongside EMS - Erl & Jason crushed this part, and pulled MoBiz for a ride. We were all ready to get off the water after this 15-mile leg.
4) Rogaine-style (Score-O) sections of ARs are the best from a navigating perspective - lots of route choice, tricky nav, good times*.
5) The bike back from the rogaine section pushed us to the limits. Molly biked her heart out and we knew we had to push the whole time with EMS right on our tails. We took a not-so-stellar short cut later on, which created a bike-whacking section towards the end of the race - our navigation got us there in the end, but probably not the best route choice.
6) Finishing 1st!
7) Placing 6th!

*Good times indeed, until we found out the next morning at the awards ceremony that we had unintentionally skipped a CP on this section.

Finishing "1st" and placing 6th are two entirely different things, and our team was crushed to realize our mistake. Even though things may not have turned out the best for us in the end, we had an awesome time and wouldn't give up the experience for anything.... Bonk Hard Racing put together a fantastic course - scenic, challenging, and well organized. We'll be looking forward to racing in Kentucky again next year!