Monday, April 4, 2016

adventure race report

A couple months ago I was invited/hand selected/included on an email chain gauging interest to be on a team for the Stubborn Fool adventure race.

Real quick, an adventure race is a four to eight hour race (sometimes 12 or 24 or more!) featuring some combination of biking, hiking/trekking, paddling, trail running, rock climbing, and puzzles - all while orienteering and trying to find checkpoints. You get a time limit, hit as many checkpoints as you can, report back to the headquarters by the cut off, and hope for the best.

Our race was cycling, paddling, and trekking for six hours. Sadly, due to the weather, the paddling leg got cancelled. So did the surprise repelling section, bummer!

Where: Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI.

Weather: Shitty. Mid 30s, up to 50mph wind gusts, lots of snow blowing sideways, and generally very strong winds constantly.

The race: We started out with a two mile trail run, hitting all four checkpoints. We must have jogged for a quarter mile, then resorted to walking. I was happy with that. Nothing too eventful on this opening leg, just wind gusts. Got back to the shelter to get our cycling directions.

Onto the bikes! This included some of the steepest hills I've ever done. As the weather jumped from really shitty to sunny, back and forth throughout the entire day, it made for a tough 19 miles. Wearing my running shoes on this part was horrible. The water on the roads splashed right back onto the toebox of my shoes, soaking my feet completely. With the brutal downhills and winds, both my hands and all of my toes were numb, sometimes when we'd pedal, I would be able to feel them again. Sometimes not though. A lot of times not though.

We hit three of the five checkpoints and decided to head back to the shelter to get our trekking directions. I think we were all over the cycling portion anyway.

Got back to the shelter, put on a dry pair of socks and my shitty gore-tex hiking boots. Wise choice, as it was pretty snowy out there. This part would have us climbing a very steep bluff made entirely out of large snow-covered rocks, in addition to wandering through a forest, and descending very steep dirt hills. And then climbing them too. We got two of the 11 checkpoints, but it seems like not many of the other teams fared much better.

For being pretty a brutal day, it was really fun. The crew put on a really well organized event. Having an awesome team helped too. Jereme and Sarah are adventure racing pros and knew exactly what to do. Danny, like me, was new to the sport, but ready to hit it, and hit it we did. Nobody got pissed, nobody argued, All the other racers and teams were really nice, always sharing words of encouragement as we would pass.  Also, furiously cat-6ing other racers on the bike does wonders for the inner-PUMP fun meter.

Well what did I wear!? I nailed the gear. Aside from the running shoes getting soaked, I felt really good. Tall gaiters kept my legs dry, packing extra socks was a cr00sh choice, four pairs of gloves kept my hands mostly pretty good, a nice light vest kept me warm when I needed to be, a Camelback daypack hauled my crap nicely, and the sweet rain jacket I purchased a day earlier was perfect.

One sour note though: I was advised that these events generally have pretty good post-race food. So after six brutal hours, I was ready to crush some noms, ya feel me. We get back, and guess what it was. Fucking Pizza Hut. I like pizza as much as anybody, even Pizza Hut, but dog I'm on vacation and I ain't trying to eat chain pizza.

Last thing: shout out to both Gem City Saloon and Eatery and the Thunderbird Motel in Baraboo. Good food, and clean enough rooms.

Fun trivia: we got to Baraboo Friday night, had dinner - pizza. I ate my leftover pizza on Saturday morning for a pre-race breakfast. We had pizza after the race. I got home to Eau Claire and Heckyeahwoman and I ordered pizza. Then I ate the last slice of homemade pizza on Sunday evening.

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