Thursday, June 9, 2011

9-1-1 Adventure Challenge 2011

The Thirsty Turtles 

911 Adventure Challenge 2011 Race Report 6/7/11

Thanks to Bruce, Marcillyn, Rob, Pat, and Don for putting on another great Bushwhack event! More thanks to all of the other volunteers and racers who made this an exciting and fun race. With 5 of us wanting to race, we formed 2 teams, a 3person male team (Chris, Matt, and Bob) and a 2person male team (Jinyoung and Don). We welcomed Bob back to racing with us after a couple years’ hiatus, and this was Matt’s first adventure race. On Memorial Day, Bob, Matt and I went for a 4hr “practice ride/hike” around Umstead and Schenck Forests using last years map. We found the ropes course and imagined what it would be like – challenging.

We all met up at , the race start/finish and a great choice, about 7:30am to check in and get the map (mytopo 1:24000) and instructions sheet. One instruction jumped out at us – Teams will begin and end the race by biking along Sludge Trail. This was the only allowable approach to and from the start/finish location. Ugh!

We attended the 8:30am pre race briefing. We learned there would be 31 checkpoints worth a total of 800 points (400 biking, 250 orienteering, and 150 points for completing the ropes course). Teams would receive a second small (1:10000 scale) map and a second race passport for the orienteering course (O-course) at the transition area (TA) located in Schenck Forest. The race brief lasted right up until the 9am start when the first race passport was handed out containing the UTM coordinates. We had 8 hours to go out and find as many checkpoints as we could, but had to be back by 5pm or suffer a 10 point per minute penalty. The weather forecast was sunny in the low 90’s with moderate humidity and a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. I filled up my camelback with 90 ounces of Gatorade and also carry a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle on my bike as a backup since I can never quite tell when my camelback will go empty.

After picking up our race passport with UTM coordinates for the bike checkpoints (CPs) and TA, we headed back to our bikes and plotted the CPs and TA on the map. It

Jinyoung has a RunKeeper app on his iPhone and recorded most of our race. He missed the first hour and the last half-hour, but you can follow most of our path here  it may not be that accurate as some of the trails we rode don’t match with the route, but you can get the gist of it.

Our plan was to make a southern ride through Umstead picking up CPs 10 and 11 then head to Schenck so we could get to the ropes early and then do the O-course before making a northern loop through Umstead to picking up the remaining CPs in Umstead. When we got back to the I-40 bridge on
Old Reedy Creek Road
, we could decide if we had time to get the CPs on the Lake Crabtree and the one along Black Creek Greenway. This allowed us several options to cut out CPs if time ran short.

The start down Sludge Trail was a bit technical (for me anyway) and crowded so we walked a fair bit and made our way through CP1 and then out to Umstead. As often happens, I was reading the map on the way through Umstead and decided to make a detour to CP 8 on Cedar Ridge Trail, this was we could attack if for up top and not have to ride up the steep eastern approach. Unfortunately after 15 minutes of looking for it on the South side of the trail where we plotted it we could not find it so we headed back to the original plan and picked up CP 10 and 11 on the way to the TA in Schenck.  We checked in about 11:40 as a handful of other teams started to arrive. We got the O-course map and passport, filled up our camelbacks (thanks for having water at the TA – we needed it), and headed for the ropes course.

After a little wait (didn’t mind much, gave us a chance to eat, drink, and learn a few tips on good ropes technique by watching the teams ahead of us), we were up for the first ropes challenge – climb a pole to the top, about 25’, and then cross one of two ways. On one path you had to traverse about 30 across on a wire using ropes hung about 6’ apart for support. On the other path you had to cross using two wires (one for each foot) about 2’ apart using a rope offset to the side a couple of feet and with slack in it making for a challenging crossing. We split up for speed and used both crossings. Bob chose the 2 wire challenge and could not quite get his balance so ended up making most of the crossing leaning back which used a lot of arm strength.

The second high ropes challenge was a Pirates Crossing which we all crossed. Once again, Bob struggled for balance and did the crossing leaning back using his arms. We started ribbing him by calling him off balanced Bob (he also crashed his bike on Sludge)

After completing the ropes course we hit the O-course (my favorite) and wandered through Schenck picking up the 15 or so CPs without any problems, and for those of us who managed to keep our feet dry up till then we all got wet feet on the O-course. Our favorite was checkpoint 27 where we found a cooler of cold beverages but no bottle opener – we made quick work of conquering that challenge!

We got back to the TA about 2:30pm with 2.5hrs to get to the finish. While talking to some other teams we learned that CP was on the North side of the trail so we made plans to get it on our northern loop back through Umstead. We picked up CPs 9 and 7 and then headed through the creek and up the big hill on Cedar Ridge Trail and bingo there it was – CP8! If only we had gone a little further down the trail the first time we would have probably found it.

After CP8 we only had about1hr30min left and I wanted to get back on Sludge with 40min left. We debated getting CPs 5 and 6 but decided in the interest of time to skip CP6 but get CP5. CP5 was worth more points. After CP5 we headed back to Sludge. We had to skip the Lake Crabtree and Greenway CPs. We got onto Sludge with about 55min left. Uphill Sludge was more hike-a-bike than riding, but we slowly made our way to CP31 and back to the finish with about 20 minutes left. Bruce told us there had not been many teams return yet, so we relaxed and watched the teams come in to the finish. It was inspiring to see the perseverance as teams tried to beat the clock.

We finished with 27 of 31 checkpoints and completed the challenging ropes course. My bike computer showed we biked 27 miles. I estimate we hiked (we don’t run – hence the name Turtles) 7 miles. All while navigating and strategizing on the best route to get the most points within the allotted time and within our team’s abilities. We never got lost, but missed CP8 on the first try. We really enjoyed the post race food and drinks while being able to hear the stories of other teams – especially from those new to adventure racing. With a little navigation, strategy, and perseverenace, anyone can do this!!!

We look forward to racing on our home turf again next year.
Our next race will be… tbd


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