So why do I call it the non-race, because for me that’s what it was. If you have read my previous blog post you would know that I broke my tail bone, just six days prior to Nationals. So for six days I laid on the couch taking pain pills and crying every time I thought about missing nationals. If you know me, you know the entire time I was crying I was trying to find a way to go to nationals, and I finally found a way. No there was still no way I could compete because I could barely walk, but I did find a way to be at the race.
I emailed Jason, the race director, and asked if he would have a volunteer spot open where I would not have to walk much, and he quickly replied that he had a spot for me at race headquarters, which was the start and finish line along with CP 4. Next I had to find a way to get there, I couldn’t ride with Chuck because his family was going and there was no room, so we planned on him stopping at my house and me following him, and if I couldn’t drive, we would pull over and he or his wife Lori would drive my van. It was a good plan and it worked out well.
We made it to Lake Barkley in Kentucky and although I had tears in my eyes a few times because I wanted to compete so badly, I keep thinking at least I’m in the middle of all the excitement. Lori was my stand-in for the race and this would be her first adventure race and it was 30 hours to boot. So I would be the cheerleader and team photographer at this race.
We all signed in Chuck and Lori for the race and me as a volunteer. We checked into the hotel which was fantastic, my room looked out onto the Lake, it was beautiful.
We all headed to the pre-race meal it was the best meal I have ever had at a race.
Next we went to the racer meeting where the racers got their maps and instructions, then were sent off to plot points before the race start.
I stayed for the volunteer meeting where I got my instructions and found out that I would be working with Jollett and Beth at race HQ. We would be recording times as the teams came through CP4, and then when they finished. We were also in charge of making the coffee, hot chocolate and chili for the racers when they finished the race. Lucky for us, Beth’s husband Martin helped out also, so we had plenty of backups if anyone needed to leave during the race.
At 6:00 on race morning I was at HQ helping with setup and strategically placing my lawn chair to see all the action. I was sitting out on the beach with the bikes to the right of me and the canoes to the left of me.
The race would start with a run across the beach to grab the paddling gear and run out to the canoes where they would do a quick paddle and land back on the beach to start a trekking section. The racers took off and made the first paddle loop really quickly then headed out on foot.
After an hour teams started coming back in, so I had to put down my cold diet coke and get to work.
I would yell the time and team number, while Beth would document it.
Jollett was busy using the cow bell to try and lead the racers to the tent, so she could punch their passport.
A few hours later we sent the last racers out on the second paddle, we tried unsuccessfully to call the lodge to turn in times so we had to change the plan and start texting the times in. Since that was one thing I could do without much movement, it became my job. Once we had all the times reported, we had many hours of nothing. Jollett took a drive to the airport to pick up one of the racers girlfriends, and Beth and Martin took their son into Murray to do some skateboarding. I had nothing pressing to do, so I just hung out at HQ and watched the guys move truckloads of bikes to the bike drop. I also spoke with random people who wondered what was going on. I spent a lot of time explaining adventure racing. Most people thought it was crazy, but they wanted to know everything about it. I might have even converted a few non-athletes into adventure racers.
At almost midnight I went back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before the racers started finishing. When I came back to HQ at 6 am Saturday morning, two teams had already finished, Wedali, a four person team and I soloist, who I happened to know, Bill Stevens.
So I went back to sitting and waiting, my tail bone was killing me so I also spent some time laying on the picnic table.
It was really foggy out and we could hardly see the water, but we kept ringing the cow bell hoping the racers in the canoes could hear us.
Soon a few more teams came in and then I saw them, it was Chuck and Lori and they were smiling, I was so happy for them, I thought I might cry. They ran up through the finish line and I knew they had fun, they weren’t yelling divorce threats or anything, they were just two happy racers, finished with a long hard race.
While Chuck and Lori ate baked potatoes and chili, I continued logging in times and reporting them via text messages. Chuck and Lori headed to the hotel for a much deserved shower and nap, while I stayed and waited for the last racers to appear. The fog had finally cleared early in the afternoon and I took a few pictures of the beautiful scenery.
So race day ended and I got some really great schwag for volunteering, actually more than the competitors got. I was given a pair of HI-TEC running shoes, a cool fleece jacket, a pair of Swiftwick socks and a really great Checkpoint Tracker ball cap. I made out like a bandit. Maybe I should think about being a volunteer instead of a racer in the future. Well… maybe not, I could never give up adventure racing, no stupid broken tailbone will stop me.