Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Boonecrusher Race Report

Written by Dave with comments by Leisha
In the days leading up to the Boonecrusher we were doing normal prerace planning.  Looking at gear, equipment, food, but now that we have started blogging our race reports I was feeling the itch to take pictures to go with the stories.  We don't have a camera suitable to take racing with us so we decided to by a disposable waterproof camera.  Man that thing took me back to before junior high school.  You had to look through the hole, wind it manually, and when you take the picture it is just a click and nothing else.  Really hard to get used to in this world of technology. 

So I was allowed to leave work one class period early, Leisha had just gotten home from a field trip with our oldest girl.  On the road for about a 3 hour drive.  The plan was to arrive at Seven Oaks Recreation area about 6:30 check in, get maps, clues, etc and find a restaurant back in Boone to eat and plot maps.  We didn't know where we were going to eat so we found what looked to be a main road through town and would try and find good food and maybe a beer.  As we drove we saw all of the typical fast food places but nothing was looking like what we wanted, until I saw this big building that looked like a bar with a parking ramp next to it.  As I rolled along I saw the name and that it was a bar and grill I said, "this is it!"  Then I attempted to parallel park our Ford Excursion aka, "The Bus," with the bike rack on the back.  Leisha got out to help me not hit the other cars.  I think it only took 3 tries and we made it.  We grabbed our map gear and went into the "Giggling Goat" bar and grill after a photo op with the Tardy Rooster member with the looks.

Perfect place to eat for the team with the rooster name.
I don't know if I had ever been in a race where we had to plot every single point but we did for this one.  I like plotting but I also get a little nervous because my error could cost us lots of time and effort if there was one.  Knowing all of that, I knew plotting 32 points was going to take a while because I was double and triple checking most of them as I went.   Anyway it took about 2 and a half hours to eat, plot, plan routes and laminate the map.  Then we were off, back to Seven Oaks to set up camp.

When just Leisha and I race, we use the back of the Excursion to sleep in. With the seat folded down the area is about 7 feet by 5 feet.  Very spacious compared to some tents.  Man I am glad that we have that option because it rained, poured and stormed like crazy that night.  Before lights out we double checked packs for gear, laid out race clothes and made a morning check list.  It was around 9:30 or 10 when we laid down.  We were glad to have the opportunity for lots of sleep.  Then the storms rolled in.  I woke when the rain started and I don't think I slept much after that.  Oh well another AR on little sleep.

We got up about 5:15 finished last minute preps, took bikes to bike drop and did our prerace rituals (see CAC report, "Race day" for details).  There was a meeting at 6:30 before the 7:00 start time.  One big thing in the prerace meeting was the option to do the single track.  Because of all the rain that week and especially the night before it was really muddy and we could ride/push as designed or we could do it on foot.  I think I heard my wife sigh out loud.  She HATES single track!!!  I knew that we were going to trek it because of this and it would have to be way faster. 

Race started at 6:55 and we had some options.  There were 2 smallish trekking sections and the single track/trek section.  We could do either trek first but must do the single track/trek in the middle of the two.  At the start we started in a jog because it was flat and on road.  We all are passing a team that is very adamant about walking and not wasting energy, our friends, Orange Lederhosen.  I believe I heard Kyle yelling to everyone to "slow down we have all day!"  Those two are great!  We get to the woods and many teams are in front of us. We are somewhat just following at that point...which I don't do unless I am lost.  So I stopped, oriented and checked the map.  My brain must still be fuzzy at the beginning of races because the first point is always tricky for me.  But anyway, Leisha, who is just beginning to learn navigating says something along the lines of, "what is so tough, there is the trail, there is the creek, we are facing North we have to go to the right not left."  Alrighty then!  I don't know if I was more proud of her for figuring it out or more pissed off that I didn't see it quicker!!  Well we found the first and knew we wanted to use the road to get to the next two, because of preplanning and scouting the road the night before. 
One big hill then all flat or down hill.  We were able to run lots of it.  Right to those cps and back to TA for the single track/trek.  Plan looked easy and again were able to avoid all hills except one major hill that we had no other option.

Then TA for next trekking section.  Long flat road run to the woods found first right away then we over shot our second and lost about 15 minutes wandering for it.  Stumbled across the pond that was given as the clue while back tracking (we went too far).  
IN the pond...of course!
Then to the last cp of this section and back on the flat road to the cp.  First trek took 1:10, single track/trek, :34, and trek 2 1:50.

Next a section of biking on soft gravel and some paved roads.  There were a couple crazy hills but no walking...yet.
 It took 1:29 to get to the canoe section, very middle of the whole group.  Upon arrival of the canoe section  we see that we are using the orange life vest around neck and canoe paddle (could bring own if we wanted to carry it).  But the bigger issue is the 300 meter portage to the water down a fairly steep hill.  I am pretty sure that Leisha was thinking that she couldn't make it to the water with the boat, but I immediately was thinking how the heck are we going to get back up when we are done (we will worry about that later).  Leisha made to to the water without stopping once to adjust carrying the canoe but she was pretty close to tears. 

Side note:  nearly every race we have done, the canoe portaging brings on the moment that Leisha has her "soup sandwich."  For those of you who don't know it is a term coined by the best woman adventure racer in the world, Robin Bennincasa.  We have used it ever since we heard her talk in person at a camp.  The soup/sandwich refers to the point in a race when you reach your limit and break down.  You are exhausted or hurting or both and you just want to be done.  Usually involves tears.  Just to be clear, I DID NOT cry about carrying the canoe down the hill.
Anyway the canoe was pretty easy for us and straight forward.  We gathered the 3 cps and hammered away on the paddle.  I knew that the end was near and we were going to have to carry that boat up that hill.  I was feeling pretty good at that point.  So, like I always do leading up to a transition I verbally went through everything we needed to do.  I said that she would grab our packs and paddles and get her butt up the hill, I would get the boat.  I think the biggest problem for me was getting the thing onto my shoulders, but when I did, I started up the hill about 50 steps and realized I was on my own and I couldn't see.  I was yelling for Leisha but I got no answer for the first couple attempts.  I finally tipped the canoe way back so I could see, realized that was more comfortable anyway, and I hammered to the top.  Later come to find out Leisha was worried that I would beat her to the top of the hill so she took off.  Canoe time:  :54 only 9 minutes slower than Wedali, one of the best teams in the country, too bad they were 2 hours ahead of us already.

Then to the bikes for a 8ish mile ride to another trekking section.  We hammered it out passing 2 teams and taking :36 to get there up and down some more big hills, still no walking though.  This trek looked pretty straight forward on the map and we could stay on the flat top until dropping in for the cps clued creek and, draw.  When we got there we were in 11th place and doing well.  As we were heading in we were seeing some very good teams coming out and they looked to be in rough shape and had nothing good to say other than, "have fun"  (and I am no genius but I don't think that was "good").  But my confidence was still high and I was planning on nailing it.  Holy crap was I WRONG!!!  I messed up something going to the first point and had to do the up down and all around looking for it.  No luck!  It is very deflating mentally when you realize you have to move on and were not going to clear the course.  I decided maybe I was one ridge too far south and decided to go north up and over the next and if no luck then it was toward the direction of the next cp anyway.   At this point I was becoming very intimidated by this park.  The hills were bigger and steeper than any I had seen or raced on.  I don't know how to describe it but I would guess there was 600 to 800 feet in elevation change in a very short distance in some of these places.  If anyone says that Iowa is flat and that racing here is easy I would love to take and show them this place.

I have to add here that we had heard 'rumors' all day of a guy doing this race barefoot.  There were two guys in Jesus-type sandals (just a flat sole with leather straps) and I thought that was what they were referring to.  But no, there was actually a guy barefoot on this course.  Barefoot. I was in awe because I have embraced the barefoot running method but I still wear shoes. I think I could imagine going barefoot on the road but this was woods. Thick brush.  Sticks poking everywhere. So at one point, I was resting with another team when the barefoot guy showed up (with pink toenails).  I will call him BG and he had a conversation with another guy. 
Other Guy: Dude, are you barefoot?
BG:  Yep.
Other Guy: Let me look at those things.  (You know I had my head in there gawking at his soles) Don't they hurt?
BG: No
Other Guy:  How long you been running like that anyway?
BG:  Forever, I was born this way.

Anyway after the up and down to the north we found another team coming toward us looking for the  same cp coming from the one we decided to skip to.  They gave us a clue or two and we had nothing to offer other than, "good luck."  We did find the cp in the creek without any problem other than the hills.  Then off to the 3rd and final cp for this trek.  In the back of my brain I was still considering taking another shot at the first one if this one doesn't take too long.  I don't know what my problem was but I got completely lost.  I was trying to use the compass and take a direct route so that I wouldn't but it didn't work.  The flat top was so big (bigger than I thought) and very thick that I didn't have any reference points to move across it so when we got to the next re entrant or ravine I didn't know which one it was.  At one point I stopped and said to Leisha, "I don't know what to do."  I don't know what she was thinking but I seriously started to get scared that we were going to get seriously lost and not make it out for a very long time.  When I got it together I decided to get a compass reading and head in the direction I knew there was a jeep road and a fence intersection.  I held the compass in front of me and made a bee line for it.  I didn't vary from that compass heading at all only move slightly to go around a tree but other wise I was going over and under everything in the way.  The good news is we made it back right to where I wanted to but the bad news was it had been 1:45 and only 1 of the 3 cps.  I again considered going in again with a different attack plan but we were both mentally and physically drained from those crazy hills.  Plus we knew we had about 16 miles of biking and another trekking section left.  So we agreed to hit the road and get away from there.  Official time 1:50 and 2 missed cps.

We had about 5.5 miles to the next trekking section that was again very hilly.  We actually had to walk one monster.  It seemed to take FOR EVER but our time was :45 and the best teams were around :30-:35 so we again were not that slow.  The last trekking section we knew was also very hilly will 6 cps scattered quite some distance apart.  We were beginning to feel wiped out and knew it would be tough to make the 13 hour hard cut off.  So we made a plan that involved cutting off the two furthest cps.  By that point we had already missed 2 so we didn't seem to care much about missing 2 more.

We started off on our plan and crossed a gate which we didn't think much of it because the race director said everywhere you will be going will be public or we have permission.  The camp for that trek has lots of private property signs but we are ok to be there.  Evidently, we didn't take a route he was expecting because the property owner we came across wasn't mean but made it clear we were not supposed to be there.  He gave us the go ahead to continue but said come back a different way, so we walked a little faster.

After we left the home owner we thought we saw Big Foot, that rock is about 17 feet tall   ;)
We heard about 30 seconds later that he turned two other teams back.  We continued down a scary big hill and found one cp quickly and headed to the next by following a creek. 
It was pretty flat but very rocky and not very quick but found the next one about 500 yards off the creek straight up another monster hill.  Our plan then had us go back down to the creek and back up the other side to the camp, another huge climb!!!  When we got there we were going to grab one that was up on top on the opposite side of the TA.  We were so tired when we saw the TA we said screw it one more miss won't kill us.  So we checked in and geared up for the bikes again.  Official time 1:15, 6 minutes faster than the leaders but we skipped 3 cps.

On the bikes we had to ride down the monster hill we walked before into the valley and then back up one just as bad down the road after one cp.  Another side note:  When transitioning there were a couple other teams there, one we had talked to earlier the guy said they had not gotten 1 of the cps but when they checked in the girl said yep, got them all so far.  We were wondering what was going on.  Well at the bottom of the monster hill and around the corner were the two cps that we cut off because they were about 1.5 miles from the TA.  We saw them there with there bikes on the shoulder.  I said I bet they got a flat.  Wrong...they were changing their shoes to run up to get the two that we cut off.  I was then getting mad. 

We continued on with 3 cps on the bike back to the finish.  By the way, we walked for the second time on the monster hill back up out of that valley.  We managed to pass two teams along the way and were stopped at where we thought the last cp was, off by 100 meters.  But when the cheaters flew by us Leisha swears the girl said, "your loss."  I thought I heard, "on your left," If you know Leisha you know that she is NOT confrontational and not too competitive in general.  But she was about ready to throw down!  When ARing, she is worse than me.  She often gets frustrated with me for sharing info with other teams.  I checked the results and I remember this team was 911 and was 4th of 17 teams in our division and 10th of 30 overall.  Disappointing...

Riding to the 2nd to last cp we just passed team as spec in back!! 
After punching the last cp we had a mostly downhill or flat 4.4 mile course so we hammered home.  We were glad to be done.  I am not exaggerating when I say this was the hardest, most hilly course I have ever seen or raced on.  We ended up getting 27 of 32 cps in 12:04, 12th of 17 in our division and 20th of 30 overall.  I am still kicking myself we left 5 cps out there with 56 minutes left.  I always go out wanting to clear a course and if I had been on for that 3rd trek we would have made it because we would not want to have missed those in the final trek.  Any weekend racing is a good weekend, but I will always have that pit in my stomach. 

At finish

1 comment:

  1. We were supposed to be at that race, and after reading this I can't decide if I'm still sad we missed it or relieved we missed it. No, I'm still sad, but maybe not as much. Stinks about the cheaters, though. Especially if they DID say something nasty.

    I am SO not the navigator, but my first (only so far) solo orienteering meet I was so lost so frequently that I had some of those "am I actually going to get out of here before dark?" moments.