Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thunder Rolls, Part 2

Go to part 1

DISCLAIMER:  It is very, very long!!!

About 11:30 we lined up, got first O map, slapped some asses (I think I still have a hand print from Bob), some needed to make last second bathroom breaks, and some were needing to use the bathroom but just stunk us out instead.  Looks like a 2ish mile run to the first cp then into the river for about 3 miles of "coasteering," picking up the first 9cps and 10 is a TA at bikes.

Bob wound up and put all he had into that one...and Leisha got a pic right before the SMACK!

First O map
 After the National Anthem Gerry counted down and "GO!" 

Racers behind the start finish line for Anthem

WTF, Tardy Rooster and Virtus are not known for running but you know at the start of the race you feel the need to get moving like everyone else.  I thought that we would run/jog for a while then walk, but no one wanted to be the one to suggest the walk so we kept jogging.  I thought it was great until I realized that all the glow sticks tied to packs were disappearing ahead of us.  At some point one of us looked back  and saw ONE team behind us.  What the hell, we were running and everyone still was blowing us away!!! 

We hit cp 1 with no problem and were into the river.  The water felt pretty good, not too warm and not too cold and I knew I should enjoy it now, it was projected to be in the mid 90s we were going to get hot later.  I don't know if we talked about it but Virtus and WTFARTR stayed together nearly the whole time.  I absolutely love racing with others.  I think it keeps it light and fun.  We had no problems finding he first 4 cps all in the river but I couldn't believe how slow we were able to move.  Someone was constantly falling, tripping, and cussing from stumbling in the river.  The actual physical act of this part of the race sucked because it was difficult, but ended up being one of the best part of the races just because of the company. 

We did notice at cp 4 we caught a couple teams that had walked past it and were coming back.  We grabbed and got moving.  At this point, I don't know if it was me pushing the pace or what but we lost Virtus on the way up, up, up to cp 5.  We grabbed it and I said lets go back down.  Should have taken more time to study the map.  We made it all the way back down to the river and I said, I may have just made the first navigational error.  I said lets try and fix it by going down river some more and trying to get up to cp 6 from the back.  Well that didn't work so I was really mad at myself and I am sure Brian and Todd were questioning me now.  I said we have to go back and climb back up past cp 5.  It cost us about 30 minutes, but the worst part was we never saw Virtus and I knew that Luke led them the right way.  I think we all realized that we had to pick up the pace to catch back up to them.  We hiked about as quick as we could.  Walked right to cp 6 once back on top of the cliff after a minor side track looking for the compass I dropped (which was Todd's back up because I left mine in my pants that were with my bike at the TA).  

After cp 6 we had to scramble, slide, free climb down a pretty steep hill/cliff.  But we knew where we were headed because the clue was cave and we have all been there before.  We moved quickly to the cave where WTF donned helmets (I am not to big on my own safety so I bypassed mine).  I didn't remember the cave being so long but would estimate it to be about 150 meters straight into the cliff and was about the size for one guys to stand/stoop in all the way.  Some sections we had to crawl but it was pretty easy.  After punching all of our wristbands to prove we were all there, we knew we had to keep pushing because Virtus was still ahead of us and the repel was next.  We MUST get there...this is where the golden speedo is supposed to come out.  

It looked like a pretty easy route to get there so we pushed the pace.  There was a path from most of the other teams but somewhere we lost it and we were doing some serious bush whacking.  Not too bad but when finished I was completely covered in burrs.  They were even tangled in my leg hair.  I couldn't get them off and I was having a bit of a panic attack about it.  I was brushing and brushing but they would not come free until I grabbed them one by one and I am not exaggerating when a I say there were hundreds and hundreds maybe even thousands on me.  I knew I didn't have time to pick them so, screw it. We kept going.  The good news was we made it!  The first thing I saw when the brush cleared a little was a pasty white Bob in his speedo and harness.

Brian in awe of Bob
We geared up, got some photos with Bob and got on the rope for a awesome repel in the dark into the river.  I loved it.  Bob and Brian ended up repelling next to each other.  Bob owned it.  He lost the bet and maned up...first of all I would never have bet something like that, but I would have said heck no and not worn it.  I felt a little bad for him, but I guess it is his own fault for the bet and loosing.

Todd getting to the bottom
We all got down the repel without incident.  Special congrats to Kate for her first ever repel, a 100' repel in the dark with a free fall overhang about half way down into the river.  All 6 of us were back together again.  Bob kept his speedo on and we were on our way to cp 9, then off to cp 10 which is the transition to bikes.  No problems with navigating we just kept walking along enjoying the night air, with friends and good conversation.  This was actually the first time I felt sleepy.  We made it to TA at 3:56am.

TA: everyone changed clothes but me...didn't have any.  I did take time to refill by Perpetuem bottle and wash out my shoes (lots of sand, and brought one pair).  We did pretty well. We were out of TA at 4:12, 16 minutes isn't too bad.  We took off ahead of Virtus thinking that they were stronger on the bikes and would catch us anyway.  Little did we know this was the last time we saw them...they had some issues and never caught back up.  You can read about their race at Virtus or SuperKate.  We enjoyed our time with them thanks guys!!

I measured the bike from TA 1 to TA 2 with cp 11 in between to be about 11 miles.  I knew it would be mostly gravel with hills but I was hoping for about a hour.  All of the navigation was straight forward but Brian was having some issues.  His stomach was hating him.  He had mentioned eating too much dried pineapple at the TA and though he was going to puke.  He was also fighting the sleep monsters.  At one point he went through a ditch of someones yard and hopped back onto the driveway by the culvert.  I thought he was just messing around but he said he was feeling tired.  He thought he was falling asleep.  At this point Todd was leading us and I dropped back to keep Brian on the road and to try and get him to speed up.  We were crawling.  Then Brian goes off the road again and almost got sucked into another ditch.  I kept talking to him and trying to get him to chase Todd but no luck.  We finally rolled into the TA for a huge O course.  I can't see my bike computer with my map board on but I knew we were slow.  Todd asked what the heck was going on...we were only doing about 5 mph nearly the whole time.  Well we made it but check in time was 5:46, 1:36 not too bad but we made it.  

We grabbed a Monster drink and headed out.  I had studied the map a little and knew I could get us pretty easily to the cps but I was concerned about the first one, cp 13 it was pretty flat without any good landmarks.  So I measured up and asked Todd and Brian pace count so I could get us there from a certain attack point and about 3 minutes into the hike they lost count and didn't know how far we went.  Not too big of a deal, we figured out another route.  We picked up 13 pretty easily and had some trails to 14, then trail to creek for 15.  Then I got us to a hay field where we could move quick.  We took slightly longer route but moved well.  As we gathered 16 and 17 from the hay field then to a road and trail right to 18, we noticed we started seeing teams everywhere.  We had not run at all but our route had us catching many teams.  From 18 to 19 there was a power line to follow which I think most teams did.  I had raced here before and knew it was extremely hilly there and looked for another option. I noticed if we went back into the woods we could stay low and go around all the hills except for one up hill.  We took it.  

I did not want to sound cocky but I said to Brian see those 4 teams climbing up and down the power line cut?  We are going to pass them all right now.  I wasn't sure but if we could keep up a pace that wouldn't be a problem.  My adrenaline must have kicked up a notch because I was dragging Todd.  Brian and I noticed that he had fallen behind a little on the one up hill.  We stopped and waited.  Todd asked for a break.  We all agreed to take about 2 minutes.  When we got back moving, we got to the top and adjusted course to walk the top right to 19.  We didn't see any teams around.  I was thinking crap we didn't catch or pass any of them...too much talking.  Or we had passed them and were ahead enough not to see them.  We didn't know.

At this point some of us were pretty tired and Brian and Todd were very low on water in their bladder.  I was ok because I was still sipping my perpetuem and hadn't used my water too much.  I told the boys to keep pushing.  I knew that cp 20 was at a camp ground and I was betting there was water there (I hoped).  Back down the big hill we just climbed and follow creek to the camp grounds.  Once there we noticed people were just getting up and were making breakfast.  I had noticed it was 8:09 and I said man it seems like it was the end of the day, but everyone we saw was just getting up.  We had been racing for over 8 hours without stopping or sitting.  We found a water hydrant and I said lets watch our time but take about 10 minutes to sit and refill and eat.  We all refilled water (and perpetuem again) as I was pulling out some ibuprofen and succeed caps when I realized oh man I had to get rid of all that pasta I ate the night before.  I was so relieved to see a bathroom right behind us.  It was the nicest bathroom I had ever seen in a camp ground.  Plumbing, tiled walls and everything.  After dropping a bunch of excess weight, back out to get moving again.  We threw the packs back on and were off.  

Not too quickly. But we were moving.  20 was easy, no hills just walked right to it.  Then I knew we had a monster hill to climb but we could do it on the road.  Part way up we grabbed 21 .  When we got to the top we were going to attach them all from the top trying to flatten things out but making it longer.  22, 23, and 24 were pretty easy terrain.  Then we had to climb down to the bottom of the cliff to 25 at a spring, which we were going to use to fill up but noticed a sign that the water was not safe to drink.  So we got wet a little to cool off and stayed low to 26. Had a minor navigational error but only cost probably 5 minutes. Then off to 27 where the ascending was.  We got there and were all kind of dragging a little.  I wanted to keep us moving so I harnessed up quick and asked who needed help.  The guys were also pulling theirs on and were almost ready.  So I said see you at the top.  The ascend was huge I think it was about 3 times as high as the practice.  I made it 2/3 of the way up very quickly then my body said no more!  I had to hang there for a few moments and regroup then push slowly the rest of the way up.  It was pretty tough.  

At the top my hands didn't want to work so I really struggled to get my harness off but I knew if I hurried I could get more rest while I waited for my team mates without making them wait for me.  I got all ready to go and sat down to rest.  After a little bit Brian made it to the top.  I think it was about 30 seconds after he sat that we both were sleeping.  Todd made it up to find us passed out.  I got up and pulled out my surprise for my team mates.  I packed 3 donuts in Ziplocs, in a plastic container.  The were pretty excited but my stomach didn't want any food.  So I threw mine away and kept sipping my perpetuem.  We were slow to move on but we got going. I decided to head back to the TA to attack 28 from the trail near there.  I think that this cost us a little.  We all wanted to stay and sit and hang out with all the volunteers there.  They are great!!!  

I was not very nice to Todd at this point but I had to get us moving to get the last three.  While looking for 28...I was off.  Kim, a friend from facebook, and her team showed up.  I know Todd and Brian were surprised to see them.  We all thought they would be way ahead of us.  They found 28 before us but we saw them getting it so of course we had to follow.  Sorry guys.  Then to 29 another cave.  We tried to find on top but no luck our two teams decided to go down the re entrant to the road and look from the bottom.  We were all looking and once again Kim's team found it first and we followed again.  We got to the cave and jumped right in.  It was incredibly cool in there.  I wanted to stay.  I bet it was 30-35 degrees cooler in there.  This cave was much shorter so we weren't in very long.  When we got out I realized that we jumped right in front of the other team.  I really truly felt bad (Kim if you read this I am really truly sorry, please forgive me it was my fault).  I hate it when people do things like that to me.  We then took off to 30 the last one before the TA.  

The navigation was easy but the terrain was tough.  We eventually made it to 30 and out to the TA.  12:41pm.  It took us 6:55 for this orienteering section.  Vounteer Chad said that he thought we passed 9 teams in that o-section.  We knew there was a ton of race left but it was only a little over half of the time gone. 

On the bike for a 1.5mile bike ride to the canoe.  It was flat and/or down hill the whole way.  We moved pretty quickly.  When we got to the bottom of a huge hill, almost to the canoe put-in, I had pulled ahead a little and all of the sudden I heard Brian yelling at me.  He said that Todd's bike had a problem with the brakes.  I went back to check it out.  His brakes were rubbing bad enough to almost lock up the wheel and were burning up his pads.  I spun the wheel a couple times and realized that his wheel was bent very badly.  I didn't know what to do...I didn't see any broken spokes or anything obvious, so I disconnected his brakes and said we would have to limp the last couple blocks to the TA.  We pulled in at 12:55 only :14 minutes for that bike section.  

After checking with volunteer Trent about Todd's wheel,  (He knows way more about bikes than we do) he dug a little deeper and found that there was a broken spoke and there was no way to fix it.  We may be screwed.  We decided to move on to the canoe and worry about it later.  

There is a big history about canoeing for all of us.  WTF is know for tipping a time or two and not keeping the canoe straight.  The Tardy Rooster team, on the other hand, does pretty well in the canoe but we don't really like water.  We have dropped out of races or skipped canoe sections before because of water conditions.  

We got started and I have to admit I was scared to death.  Our three fat butts in one boat on the main channel of the Mississippi.  The wind was blowing about 20-25mph up river.  We had to travel up river about 3 to 3.5 miles.  So we had current against us, wind behind us, and dozens of boats flying up and down the river.  The waves were pretty big so we choose to stay as close to shore as possible.  We struggled at times to stay in a straight line.  I usually paddle in rhythm and use a j stroke or reach and pull in rhythm to correct but it was not working at all.  I think it was the weight in the boat and all the wind and waves.  So I decided to paddle less in rhythm basically steered only.  The guys pulled us along at a good speed.  We got up to the first canoe cp #32 and collected after a hike up a creek to a bridge.  

Back at the boat I knew we now had to go around some islands and cross the channel.  I was pretty nervous about this.  We made it around the islands and just got started out to the channel when the wind was pushing the waves over the left side and front of our boat when I tried to steer into them.  Todd was pretty vocal at this point about getting wet a lot.  We were struggling to move and stay stable so we chose to pull back to hide behind the island and decide what was next.  We were debating if we should continue on or turn back.  The problem with that is we have to get the points in order.  If we skip one we would only be ranked as high at the last sequential point.  If we turned back we were quitting and done.  

We all agreed to turn back to head for home.  I was seriously sick to my stomach but all I wanted to do was get off this stupid river.  The way back took forever. The wind was very bad on the side of the channel.  I would estimate about 45 minutes to an hour to get back.  When we got back we knew we were finished but had to bike about 12.5 miles back to the finish on Todd's broken bike and no rear brakes.  It was 3:30 when we got out of the boat but since we knew we were done we sat around and sulked.  We didn't leave until 4:25. 

Todd had to walk some of the down hills because of the soft gravel and no rear break to slow him down.  But our pace wasn't terrible.  We pulled in to finish at 6:15.  We collected 32 of 55 cps and QUIT with nearly 6 hours to go.  I feel totally responsible.  I think that I could have talked the guys into going through with the canoe but I chickened out.  I am sorry team.  I know we all agreed but it shouldn't have happened.  

I keep trying to justify quitting.  We knew that we were well ahead of the only other team in our division.  So we knew we would get first in our division, we also didn't know how Todd's bike would hold up if we did try and continue, and to be honest we were all getting pretty tired.  But leaving all those cps and 6 hours out on the course is still eating me up.  We were 1st of 2 teams in 3 person all male, and 16th of 26 teams overall.  It was pretty cool because we were the very first 24 hour team to cross the finish line.

 After finishing we took photos, turned in passports and wrist bands, and were able to cheer in all the other teams finishing.  We also got our gear put away took a shower and had a blast eating pizza and sharing stories.  Most of the people associated with adventure racing are incredible and very fun to be around.  Thank you so much to the volunteers and everyone involved with putting the race on.  We got great swag from the sponsors and won a free pair of Solomon shoes.  I chose to give mine to Leisha as she needs them right now more than I do. 

Results for the food.  Perpetuem seemed to work great!  I mixed the drink in a 20oz bottle, half full of powder then topped off with water and mix. The down side is that I had to carry the powder with me.  I had 3 small gel flasks that I carried to refill when needed.  That worked ok but I have since found that Hammer sells a chewable solid that I will also be trying.  I had a small about of licorice as my only solid food all day.  Drank one Starbucks frapachino left with my bike, about 10 oz of gatorade, 4 20oz bottles of perpetuem, and water.  I felt good all day.  I was tired at times, which I expected but I did not ever really have a fuzzy head or felt "done."

Also, a big thank you to Brian and Todd.  I had a great time racing with you!!!  
I do regret quitting, but is not a huge deal.  I regret more not staying the night after the race for more social time.  Sounds like I missed out on some fun times.  

Overall an absolutely awesome experience, way better than I could have dreamed.  My first 24 hour race was a success and I am ready to take it on again!

Here are some random photos:



  1. Don't blame yourself for quitting. Blame somebody else. I blame Brian. See? It's easier to swallow now.

    And that was the most fun I've had while getting my butt kicked in a long time. I seriously think that if I wouldn't have broken a spoke, we would have continued on.

  2. Great job you guys! I wish we'd been able to see more of the course, or catch up with you all, but that whole yellow jacket episode took a lot out of me. We spent a LOT of time just hanging out on the course, though we weren't sulking. :) Once we knew we were done, we pretty much relaxed and enjoyed hanging out.

    Very fun getting to hang out with you all before and after and get to know you guys better. Great report!

  3. That was probably my favorite race ever. The coasteering section really put the "adventure" in adventure racing. Looking forward to next year!