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