back to Part 1
Jacob opened an Ensure and gave it to me. The calories helped clear my head. I pulled open my pack and got out our first aid kit and took some ibuprofen (three, four, more?) I dunno how many. And there was a long elastic bandage. I’ve carried that thing through so many races and always considered it a hindrance, just required gear weighing me down. But now I pulled it out silently thanking all the past and current race directors (Thanks Gary!) that put that on the required gear lists.
My ankle was swelling already so I was kind of afraid to take my shoe off. So I worked fast, pulled it off wrapped it tight with the tape and jammed it back on.
Gear Tip: Get the elastic bandage that sticks to itself. I can’t believe how well this thing worked. It stayed on nice and tight the rest of the day. I was also wearing tall Swiftwick socks when this happened. I’m sure the compression of those socks helped prevent this injury from being much worse.
I found a nice length of recently downed oak branch to use as a cane and slowly hobbled back up the hill. We changed our game plan from clearing the trek section, to just making it back out to the road. It was still an adventure race though, so we picked a route back out that allowed us to get two more CP’s. I maxed out the 100ft rule (but didn’t exceed it!) by having Jacob go down into the reentrants and the one pond to punch the CP’s. Once back out on the paved road I was able to manage this shuffling, wobbly, slow, barely-jog.
The rest of the race would be bike and canoe, so I just had to do these last few miles back to the bike CP. I felt like I would be able to ride OK since there would be no twisting or turning loads on my ankle once clipped in. Not fast, but Ok. There was a cut-off time for the canoe at 7pm. After plotting points and strategizing last night I had estimated our paddle time at 3 hrs, so we had to be in the water by 4pm. Thinking there was 2hrs of biking to get there (boat ramp) meant we had to finish the trek by 2pm.
We skipped the last couple of checkpoints to make it back to TA on my injured ankle to meet our 2pm goal. There were a couple CP’s (14, 15, and 16) that I hated passing, they would have been easy to pick up on the way, but there was no way the ankle could go down anymore reentrants.
SuperKate and Jim from Team Hangover were also heading back into the TA at the same time we were, so we got in a little fun-time goofing around with them while trying to keep up with Kate’s 6 min/mile pace. We came back in by gravel road and was sad to see only a few bikes left in the TA. I swallowed more ibuprofen and we got out on the road pretty quickly.
Ozark Trail. We turned in and were rewarded with some amazing singletrack. Despite my ankle screaming in protest I loved this section of the race. The trail was amazing. Long screaming downhills and smooth sailing. Jacob was loving this section too. The climbs were perfectly switch-backed to keep them manageable. I have to get a weekend soon to ride there again.
CP19 was placed in a creek junction just off the trail. We stopped at the perfect spot and Jacob ran off down the creek to punch the CP. He came back successful a minute later. We continued on the great singletrack crossing the highway and picking up CP20 just before turning north onto the Council Bluffs trail. Council Bluffs has always seemed pretty technical to me, so I was a little concerned about Jacob riding it. He hadn’t been on the mtn bike for a few months, but the kid was great, he rode or bounced over everything the trail threw at us.
We made it back to the 5/21/27 TA and we each downed an Ensure (and more ibuprofen for me) to keep our energy levels up for the canoe. I was so glad to be getting off our feet for awhile. We seen Bill and Laura Scherff finishing up the canoe leg as we were heading in. Bill gave us some great advice to attack the lake in a clockwise direction to make the most of the increasingly strong wind.
At the pre-race meeting we were warned about the lake level. Since Council Bluffs is a man-made lake water levels were currently sitting at the same height as the standing timber that was left when the lake was originally flooded. Jacob was up front paddling so he had stump-watch duty. We brought our kayak paddles to the race and we really made some good time on the paddle leg. We dodged stumps, and hit a few, but ended up getting all 6 paddle CP’s and stayed dry to top it all off.
We came back into 5/21/27 TA and had a hard choice to make. The next 3 CP’s would mean we had to ride the singletrack loop around Council Bluffs. My ankle was NOT feeling up to multiple click-in’s and click-out’s, as I knew there were places I would have to walk around out there on the very technical rock gardens on the southeast side of the lake. We had missed enough CP’s in the trekking section that we already knew we wouldn’t be finishing well enough to make any difference. So we decided to cut our losses and ride in the by the short single-track on the northwest side of the lake.
The final bike leg was over a few minutes before dark. We came into the finish to cheers and friends waiting. Bonk Hard also had some great post-race food for us. We sat around re-hashing the day with other teams, and were asked multiple times about Jacobs age. Haha, not many 15 yr olds in adventure racing. The best part is he loved it and is ready to go again!