December 18, 2009

Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run

This race was not a team event, ROCK racing competed individually in it. The race is advertised as; and has earned the reputation of being ‘The toughest trail run in the Midwest’. This was the 21st consecutive year the race has been put on by the Metro Tri Club. After this many years of putting it on, the club has race execution and mgmt down to an exact science. All this combines to make it one of the most popular races in the area. It is limited to 625 racers and sold out in less than 11 hours this year. This year at start time it was 30 degrees, and the trail had plenty of icy areas to steer around.

The race is 7.5 miles of trail through Pere Marquette State Park, and contains 4 ‘hills’. There is always debate about which hill is biggest and/or toughest. We’ve settled on hill 3 being the toughest. Hill 1 is long and rocky, but it’s early in the run and you are still fresh. Hill 2 is long, but there are spots to recover. Hill 3 goes on and on and on and never gives you a recovery. Hill 4 is easily the steepest, and one section even has stone steps placed randomly into the hill side, but it not long.

The tri club maintains a great ‘results; page for this race, with all years available. Here are ROCK Racings results:

Newbie Chuck:

And 13 time race veteran Robin:

December 9, 2009

Castlewood 8 Hour

Alpine Shop hosted racer check-in this year. This is one store I never mind going too, they have the coolest gear you could ever want. Like every Bonk Hard event, check-in was fast and efficient. We were each given really nice black fleece blankets with the Castlewood 8 hr logo embroidered on them, but no maps! They told us we would get those on the course. We also had a bike drop to make. We drove out to Eureka and found the pavilion at the Wyman Center near Greensfelder Park where we left the bikes overnight under a bright pavilion with a big stone fireplace on one end.

We got to Castlewood Saturday morning in plenty of time to board the 6am bus. The bus drove about 40 minutes west to a deserted gravel parking lot in Greensfelder Park where we were given a 1:15000 pre-plotted orienteering map. The race director announced that it was 17 degrees on his thermometer. Luckily Robin had some cold weather racing experience (Bonk Hard Chill 2007) so we knew to keep camelbak tubes blown out, and tucked inside jackets to avoid freezing them solid. The race started right at 7:00am with a hilly road run to a park pavilion, where we received our passport.

Checkpoints #1 through #11 could be done in any order, so we picked a mostly circular route with as little backtracking as possible. Checkpoints #1 and #6 were on rock faces, so we got to practice a little climbing. We hit all of the trek checkpoints right on except #4 where I navigated us up the wrong creek. That resulted in about a 15 minute delay and a hill climb over to the next creek valley. Several other groups made the same mistake, and luckily we were able to recover from the mistake faster and gained positions on them. It was a cold morning, but not as bad as I had expected; we had apparently made good decisions on which clothes to wear. I pulled my Smartwool hat off and on to regulate temperature. Somewhere along this trek I had to laugh …Robin had a giant icicle hanging from her hair, it was just swinging around like some Christmas ornament earring. We made our way through the course to #12 which was the same park pavilion where we got the passport. We checked in with the volunteers, and it was here I noticed some racers trying to thaw camelbak tubes over the campfire. We each tried to eat some turkey sandwiches as we headed back out. We ran a trail east along a ridgeline to #13, where the checkpoint punch was hung up against another rocky wall. We followed a creek down the valley and made a big hill climb to a boulder on the backside of the next ridge for #14, it looked like some teams were having trouble with this one, but we got it quickly and gained some advantage on them. We went down into the valley for #15 which was the bike drop pavilion from the night before. We ended up using up 3hrs 17 minutes completing the first trek section. The pre-race instructions had an estimated time of 2 to 6 hrs for this first trek, so we felt like we were making pretty good time.

We were given four new maps at the pavilion. Three of them had to have UTM points plotted. Two map scales were 1:30000, and one was 1:15000. The fourth map was a satellite photo with four pre-plotted points. We took care and used our new method of reading the UTM numbers, with Robin reading and me plotting. The new method worked great, and saved a lot of time over our usual re-reading and double checking the strings of UTM numbers. We will use it anytime we plot in the future. It took us 25 minutes to complete the plotting and transition to the bike leg.

The Gatorade bottles we had left overnight with the bikes were frozen. I stuck my bottle inside my jacket to help it thaw. It eventually thawed enough to get a little fluid out. We had several miles of road riding (the hill climb on Alt Road is amazing!) and collecting checkpoints until we got to the Al Foster trail along the Meramec River. The trail ride was single track but not very technical. We did have to ride a narrow spot between a couple of trees with vines hanging in them. One vine looped Robin’s right grip and she was thrown over the handlebars. She was back up and riding again before I even knew it happened. It was after noon by now and the sun had warmed the trails enough to turn the wet sections into some slick and snotty mud. It got really thick right before checkpoint #21. My Kenda Nevegal tires threw the mud off and maintained traction really well through this gunk. Robin had Michelin tires, she was sliding all over the trail. We eventually had to stop riding to clean the mud build-up off her tires/wheels/frame just to continue riding. She’ll be changing to Kenda as soon as possible. Kenda rules in the mud!

We reached checkpoint #22 at 5:05 after the race start. It was the transition to the canoe. We had received a pre-race update earlier in the week so we were prepared with bungee cords to tie the bikes into the canoe with us. We had done this at previous races and knew the best method was to remove the front wheels, to keep everything inside the canoe and center of gravity as low as possible (this same race last year, a team capsized their canoe). We had about a 1K paddle upstream from the railroad bridge at Sherman, to the first canoe point #23. There was still ice in the back of the shallow cove where we stamped the checkpoint, which was strung up above the water from an overhanging log; Then continued a 4 mile paddle downstream to the Castlewood boat ramp. In our earlier races we always had slow paddling legs, but this time we did not get passed at all and we actually caught and passed another team! The toughest part was carrying the canoe across the wet sandy beach, up the ramp, and across the parking lot. After dropping off the canoe we found out this checkpoint #24 was the gear check. We both had our gear organized well, found it all and got through pretty quickly (the iodine tablet lesson at LBL paid off). It was now 6:30 after race start.

The competitor field had thinned out by now. We rode the trails around Castlewood picking up 4 more checkpoints without seeing any other racers, while hearing occasional sirens and yells from the finish line. We did a time check at #26, and were excited to find that we would finish our first race under the advertised time. We got #27 and #28 with no problem and rode into the finish at 7hrs 31mins elapsed time with all checkpoints completed. We talked to the race officials and found out that we had finished in 7th place for two person co-ed, and placed 39 of 97 teams overall. The pizza party and awards were still several hours away so we left in what felt like the middle of the afternoon. Haha, quite a change from the usual after-dark finishes.

November 24, 2009

Whats in a name?

A lot of people seem to be confusing us with a team that shares our name, especially after seeing us ride (Ha! I wish!). Let’s straighten it out right here, right now… ROCK Racing is not the professional cycling team seen in the Tour of California and TDF. Gotta hand it to them though, that other Rock Racing team has the coolest jerseys, and we really like the ‘Never Give Up, Never Surrender’ motto on their website:

This (aka THE) ROCK Racing team is a two-person coed adventure racing team competing in the Midwest (MO, IL, KY and CO). Events include adventure racing, mtn bike racing, trail runs, off-road triathlon and duathlon. Team members are: Chuck Vohsen and Robin Rongey.

The ROCK Racing name came about shortly after our first race which was entered under the name: ‘THE GIRL and some guy’. We wanted a new name and ended up simply using letters out of our first names: RObin chuCK = ROCK. Bet the other guys can’t make a claim like that.

In the end, the best way to tell our teams apart is not by the name but by the race venue:

Miles of asphalt, a million screaming fans: That other Rock Racing

Dirt, mud, wilderness, no one in sight: THE ROCK Racing

November 8, 2009

November 5, 2009

Berryman Epic 2009

This was ROCK Racings second year to compete in the Berryman Epic.  In 2008 we suffered our way through the 55 miles and completed the race in 9:34.  Both of us agreed that was the hardest thing we had ever done,  Robin even swore the race off and said she would never do it again….so we signed up immediately when 2009 registration opened.

The Epic takes place on the Berryman trail and the Ozark trail between Steeleville and Potosi, MO.  There is a short section of gravel and paved road between Checkpoints 3 and 4, the rest is all beautiful singletrack. The paved piece is just a long climb and is steep enough that you are glad it’s paved.  Race start/finish is at BASS resort, with great parking, campgrounds, and cabins.  I hope to get back down there this summer for some float trips.

The week preceding the start was marked by almost constant rain and several big thunderstorms. This left the Huzzah River well out of its banks for race start, all the creeks in the area were full, and there was plenty of mud.

The race started on time (8:30) with a quick ride to the Huzzah River crossing. This low-water bridge was now an under-water bridge, somewhere about waist deep. The race promoter (Scott from Springfield Bikes) backed a giant flatbed trailer into the river, and with pallets piled on each end, created a great makeshift bridge for the racers (of course there were a few that tried the river crossing and washed out).

The ride to the first CP at Brazil Creek was fast; the trail had enough hardpack and rock to stay easy to ride. There was a crash up among the leaders that sent someone the hospital. We scrambled across the temporary bridge that had been built just for the race. Riding from CP1 to CP2 we caught and passed a couple of riders. At CP2 the volunteers grabbed our drop bags and ran them over to us. This was a nice touch. We refueled, dropped some of the cold weather gear (pants, hat) and took off for CP3. We decided that we were well ahead of our last year time, and were really feeling good compared to last year.

The ride to CP3 had another creek crossing with a 2x6 ladder bridge built across it. It was deep and fast but we stayed dry thanks to Scott again.  It was a longish ride to CP3 and it started to rain off and on.  We started getting pretty muddy and the derailers, chains, and pedals were jamming up with mud, sand, and leaves. We had to stop a few times to clear them.

We got CP3 and had a long gravel and short paved ride to CP4.  We rode in to get the drop bags in a steady downpour; it was starting to get colder.  The volunteers asked several times if we were doing Ok or needed anything, and told us we made it in with only 7 minutes before the time cutoff.  So we didn’t waste any time heading out for CP5/Finish.

We were tired by now, but not dead-beyond-caring like the previous year.  We rode off in the pouring rain thinking we were still going to make a good time this year.  We hit some really soupy muddy spots, parts of the trail had running water in it, and I crashed twice eating up time. So, it wasn’t long before we were caught by the sweeper. The sweeper (whose name I can’t remember now) was a great rider and offered just enough encouragement and conversation to keep us moving along. We finally made it back to the Huzzah river and seen that the temporary bridge had been removed.  We tried to ride across and found out it was deeper than our skills allowed, so we used it as an opportunity to dunk the bikes a few times and rinse some of the thick mud off.

We crossed the finish line at 9hrs 14mins, slower than we hoped, but still beating last years time by 20 minutes.  We decided that was pretty good considering the mud, rain, and flooded creeks and river.  Scott made sure we were well fed on bbq'd hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, and even a beer trailer from Springfield Brewery.  Despite the conditions we both felt much better than last year’s race. A good sign that all the training is paying off. Can’t wait for next year’s race....Is it possible to do the Tour and Race in the same weeknd?

October 15, 2009

Land Between the Lakes - 2009

Team ROCK Racing learned some serious lessons in the inaugural LBL challenge; our first 12 hr adventure race in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. I’ll record these lessons in the next few paragraphs describing the experience.

We entered the race with the goal of Finishing, Doing our Best, and Learning where we needed to improve. In the weeks leading up to the race, there were some posted updates about mundane thing like ice storms, national disaster area, forest service cleanups, recommended protective gear, and recommended spare bike parts. Its funny how easily underestimated internet postings can be. It all became real while driving into the race area Friday afternoon. The sheer quantity of downed timber and destroyed tree tops was beyond anything we had imagined.

Check in was fast and efficient, the race shirts are excellent. The pre-race meeting started at 8. And after dire warnings from the forest service and race staff, the maps and clue sheets were passed out. An hour of plotting UTM coordinates and we were feeling confident enough to only partially highlight and plan the next day’s route. LESSON 1 – an extra 20 minutes here can save hours of pain and backtracking. ALWAYS plan the route to the greatest level of detail possible.

The next morning our excellent spousal support and photography crew (Lori and Rob) drive us to the 6:00 am bike drop we had plotted the night before, then back to race HQ for the 7:00 start. The race started with the national anthem (nice touch, I’m glad they do this), and the first leg of the trek. We ran off to checkpoint 1 and 2, and found 3 for the beginning of the canoe leg without a problem. Was surprised to find that we were in 2nd place for two-person teams!

The canoe leg was 7 miles and the orienteering was dead easy, but somehow we started getting passed by one team after another. We pulled harder, changed up our strokes, blamed the paddles, blamed the canoe, lack of specific training, the wind, and ourselves, and still we gave up positions. One thing was obvious….LESSON 2 - we’ve got some more learning to do, and two bladed paddles are the only way to go.

Checkpoint 6 was transition from the canoe. Our families were wondering what happened to that 2nd place team as all the canoes were coming in ahead of us. We finally made it in and took off on the run, downing sandwiches while moving. Checkpoint 7 through 15 could be done in any order, it was also the most challenging part of the orienteering. We found checkpoint 14 around the backside of a graveyard, so heading back to the trail we decided it was time for more food. I pulled out the Ziploc of iced oatmeal cookies I had been carrying. They were so good. LESSON 3 – Always bring iced oatmeal cookies.

It was during that search for the next checkpoint that another lesson presented itself. We had stepped over well disguised barb wire fences that had been partially crushed by all the downed trees several times already. One fence happened to be about 8 inches above the ground…I stepped over, took about two more steps, and hear: “Thud!”, Robin never seen the wire, tripped, and fell hard. She picked herself up and kept on moving hardly missing a stride. LESSON 4 – if you’re gonna have a co-ed team, you gotta have a bad-ass girl.

We got hung up for a little while on ‘lucky 13’. But we later found that several other teams had problems there too. We pulled off an excellent shortcut and passed two teams nailing the last two checkpoints before bike transition. I sucked the last water out of my 100 oz camelback on the way to the bike (checkpoint 16), leg cramps had started already so my teammate shared some Enduralyte capsules and water from her Camelbak. LESSON 5 – Good teammates are priceless.

We were expecting to refill camelbacks at the transition and gear check but were told no water was available. So we were down to one bottle each left on the bike during the morning drop. Gear check had us digging through our packs to display required gear to the volunteers. I could not find the bottle of Iodine tablets, dug through everything a 2nd time, no bottle, dumped everything on the ground, no bottle. I announced that I did not have the bottle, and would have to take the hit for missing gear. Luckily, Robin was not ready to take a hit and had me dump out the dry bag…BAM…iodine bottle. LESSON 6 – Good teammates are priceless….I know that was 5, but this one is worth adding twice.

The bike leg started off with no water, legs scratched and bleeding from all the bushwhacking, bright sun, and close to 70 degrees. On the way to the first checkpoint we rode a big downhill to a creek with a low water bridge. It had about 6 inches of water running over the top. We hit it pretty fast and got a good ice cold rinsing, it felt great. This was going to be our fast section, we guessed three more hours. The orienteering was dead easy, all points right along obvious roads and trails. We nailed 17 quickly, on the backside of a small pond. We rode some monster hills to 18. Remember Lesson 1? Go read it again, because this is where we get burned. I had folded the map obscuring the right road, we ended up dead-ending on the Trace (restricted highway). We burned an extra hour recovering the route. Not only did we lose the time, but it was time without food or water, re-riding those big hills. It took a LOT of gas out of the tank. We caught up to several teams at 18, and kind of joined with them, for the ride to 19.

I don’t know if I have the words to explain this…but, if you’ve been ‘there’ you’ll know what I mean. Somewhere between dehydration, bonking, and following the group mentality, we ended up miles too far east on the wrong road. I had seen the right place to turn, blew it off, seen the power lines, even commented on them, but blew them off too. We were even far enough gone to turn into a field because we both ‘saw’ the highway. Ha, the other teams even followed us in there! We finally called a stop, reoriented the map with the compass and discovered the error. Another ½ hour to recover the route and punch checkpoint 19.

The ride to 20 gets us in even deeper. Another wrong turn, and we need water BAD. Robin filled water bottles in a creek while I read the iodine instructions. Here I am two days later with no known intestinal parasites so I suppose the tablets worked as advertised. Recharged with water we rode some great single-track trails to checkpoint 20. LESSON 7 – Drink every 20 minutes, eat every hour.

We found checkpoint 20 and a gathering of 3 or 4 teams discussing options. It was too late in the day to complete all 23 pts and make the cutoff. We decide to ride on and make a decision after the boat ramp. We passed several more teams on the ride and climbed the hill leading away from the boat ramp, we caught a couple more teams in discussion at the top of the climb. We stopped to see what was up. They swore we were on the wrong road, it was almost like they were in a panic. I was convinced it was the right one. Another team rode up. The consensus of all the teams debating was that there was no time to finish, so we should all take a DNF and get rides home with the fisherman leaving the ramp. As they argued, Robin and I quickly decided that we would ride our bikes under that finish line even if it took all night. Robin announced to the group “We’re riding in.” and while the other teams continued arguing and flagging down fisherman, we rolled out. LESSON 8 – Teams must share the same goal.

At the top of the big climb to the highway, we turned on our lights, and checked the time. 28 minutes to the 13 hour cut-off and a DQ. It was pitch dark, cold again, we decided to burn this ride with everything we had left. We did the down-hills in an aero crouch, the flats in the big chain-ring, and the climbs with whatever was left. Sounds funny talking about mtn bikes being fast, but I swear we were really moving. Somehow, I don’t know how, but I started feeling great during this part of the ride. Adrenaline from the final push? Happy to be so close to the end? Whatever it was, we came in across the finish to our kids and spouses, applause, bells ringing (or did I imagine those), and cameras flashing, at 7:51. Nine minutes before cutoff and DQ. LESSON 9 – Not only must Teams share the same goals - they gotta back ‘em up.

So after reading all these LESSONS you may be wondering if I would want to do this again…. Hell yes! We loved it. We ended up with a 10th place finish for the 2009 race. Oh,,,I gotta add these last few things which may not be big enough to call lessons…but always remember to bring: Smartwool socks (they soak up blood really well), enduralyte capsules, bug spray (never did mention the ticks, did I?), and sunscreen.

September 23, 2009

Berryman Adventure - 2009

Berryman Adventure 2009 - Race Report

The Berryman Adventure was the 3rd twelve hour race for ROCK Racing. We had heard the stories and read some race reports from previous years, so we expected it was going to be the toughest challenge so far. We weren’t disappointed.

We arrived Friday afternoon as planned, got through race check-in and set up campsites at the Big Spring group campground that had been pre-arranged by the Bonk Hard Racing. The pre-race meeting was a short drive away in Van Buren on a Current River sandbar in front of The Landing. We were given three pre-plotted maps, a clue sheet, and directions to a bike drop. The bikes had to be dropped at 9:30pm, se we had time to get back to camp after the meeting, load them up and drive south and west about 35 minutes. Bike drop completed, we came back to mark up the maps with our planned routes between the checkpoints. Needless to say, what looks good on the map the night before doesn’t always work out during the race.

Jason (Bonk Hard race director) had warned us to be on the busses before 5:30, so we climbed aboard at 5:15 Saturday morning, took some time during the hour-long ride to fold maps and get them to fit perfectly in the map case. The busses dropped all the racers off at a small parking lot near the boat ramp on the Eleven Point River. The race started at 7am with a short orienteering leg. Funny thing we seen during the early part of this leg: A couple of guys were down in the river, knee deep running along the bank we were travelling. We were wondering why get soaked shoes so early? We found the three checkpoints, but had trouble on number 2, and ate up a big chunk of time running up a Jeep road to confirm our location. At each race it always seems to take me a couple checkpoints to get the ‘feel’ for the map and area. Maybe with more AR experience I will start getting that feeling right away and not waste so much time on the early checkpoints.

Checkpoint 4 was the boat ramp, Robin checked us in, punched the passport and we carried our canoe to the river. Surprise! This was the first race that we had a downstream canoe leg. Our paddling was great, went through several shallow areas, rapids, log jams, and picked the best route around the islands without a problem. Bonk Hard supplied us with nice canoes, plastic Old Towns, no leaks, and comfy seats. We hydrated and ate turkey sandwiches; I dropped part of mine in the canoe bottom, and ate it anyway with some extra sandy grit. Checkpoint 5 was at the canoe takeout. It was hidden around a tight bend in the river, but we swung in easily, punched the passport and started the biggest trekking leg.

There was a long climb up out of the river valley which we hiked instead of running thinking we had a long day still ahead of us. Once over the top we started running a couple miles of gravel road. We had planned our turnoff from the gravel to be about .3 mile past an intersecting road. Robin did her time/pace/distance calculations and stopped us at the right place in the road, I shot the bearing and we climbed down the rocky, wooded hill right on top of checkpoint 6. We noticed some of our limited race experience paying off now. We had both chosen to wear thin nylon zip-off pants, and were nicely protected from thorns. A team near us had worn bike shorts; they were all cut up and had shredded their shins. We crossed the creek and climbed back out of the deep valley to the Ozark Trail. We did this whole trail section on the run, passing several teams. I tripped and fell hard on a mid-trail rock just as we were passing another team. One of their guys stuck out a hand and pulled me back on my feet. Adventure Racers are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. We finally got to the bend in the trail we had been looking for. I told Robin to time/pace us for 1800m, she nailed it again, and we turned off the trail at the perfect spot and punched 7.

Back to the Ozark Trail for a couple more miles of running and we came to a decision point. Follow the trail (and our pre-race plan) up a long climb to the top of the ridge and drop down to 8, or run up a creek to 8. We saw two other teams head up the creek. We decided to stick to the plan and follow the trail. This turned out to be a mistake, the trail was steeper, longer, and had more switchbacks than the map showed. We got to the top of the ridge in time to see several teams we had previously passed already heading away for 9. We climbed down, punched 8, and then climbed right back up the brutally steep and loose hillside to start chasing the other teams.

Another couple of miles running on the Ozark Trail and I made the navigation mistake that cost us two checkpoints. Hindsight says I should have stuck to the pre-race plan and ran all the way to the creek/trail intersection before shooting the bearing for checkpoint 9. I guess I was anxious about the time lost on 8 and turned us east off the trail too early. We climbed to the top of a ridge and worked back and forth over it several times, talked to a couple other teams doing the same thing. Checkpoint 9 was a tough one to find for some other teams as well. We finally decided to call it quits on 9 (after having learned a painful lesson on this subject the month before at Thunder Rolls). The problem with that was…the only good way to hit checkpoint 10, was with a compass bearing from 9. In the end we missed both checkpoints, and shot a due east bearing through some thick brush and ever-present thorns to hit a gravel road connecting into the bike transition. Two checkpoints missed, we were getting discouraged.

We made it into the bike transition (Checkpoint 11) with 6 hours to go. We discussed the opportunity to run back down into a jeep trail to checkpoint 10 from here, but we had planned for a six hour ride the night before. Combined with the pre-race meeting warning of “Don’t underestimate the bike leg”, we decided to let it go. We were getting very low on water, Robin was completely out, and had been keeping our eyes open for a good creek to refill in. Another team at the transition offered us a almost full gallon jug of water, so we re-filled camelbaks and started the bike leg. Adventure Racers are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

We rode to Checkpoint 12 and 13 without any problems, at 13 we had to make another route decision. Ride a long section of Ozark Trail with a steep hike-a-bike dropping down into a valley, or ride a few miles out of the way on gravel road. The pre-race plan was to do the hike-a-bike, but after spending hours on the Ozark Trail we decided that the road would be the wiser choice. Turns out it was a good call, we climbed maybe the biggest hill we had ever ridden, and were chased by three dogs, but we got to 13, punched it, and were off to the next point. We had to pass the dogs again but this time we tossed some leftover corners of sandwiches at them for distraction. The sky got dark, and a storm came up with a lot of wind and blew branches and leaves all over, but it only produced a quick little shower that did little more than cool us off. We found 14 quickly afterward right on the trail and rode to 15.

It was time to adjust the plan again. We had planned to ride road from 16 to 17, but the race instructions said it was required to ride the singletrack trail instead. Another team near us said they rode the same section last year and it was really rough. It was getting late in the day now and we only had about 2 hours before the 13 hour time cutoff. We started riding pretty hard through the singletrack and passed several teams. Robin crashed coming around an S turn, the trail was grown up in some thick weeds and a rock slid out from under her tire, she went off the left side of the bike and landed on a downed tree in a thick patch of stinging nettle. Nettle sucks, always good for 10 minutes of burning and stinging. I hit my rear derailer on a rock so hard I was sure it broke, stopped to check it, and no damage. At 17 we were low on water again, and it was getting close to dark. We switched on bike lights and got the last big drinks of whatever water was left. There was nothing left now but paved road for a speed run back to race HQ.

We made it back to the finish in 12:06, and were bummed about missing the two checkpoints, but glad we had finished inside the time limit and uninjured. Had a few pictures taken, ate a great baked potato, drank a hot cup of coffee, and waited for the post race awards. We spent a few minutes second guessing the decision to leave the bike transition without checkpoint 10. We had finished 54 minutes before the cut-off, so maybe we would have had time to back into from 11. We finally decided that would have meant riding the last section of singletrack in the dark, and we would never have made it back to race HQ inside the time limit.

I ended up wandering around HQ talking to some of the other teams hanging around, and it began to sound like, there were plenty of teams missing checkpoints and quite a few that still hadn’t come in off the course. I started thinking maybe missing two checkpoints wasn’t so bad after all. Not long afterward Jason got up on a picnic table and announced that there would be no award ceremony tonight. There were several teams still out on the course that needed pick-ups, and racer safety was his primary concern. Park Rangers started showing up and someone overheard that the National Park Service was even sending out a helicopter to assist in recovery.

So the adventure ended with a nice hot shower at the Big Spring campground, and two giant bowls of beef stew cooked over charcoal by Robin’s husband in a huge dutch oven, perfect post-race food.

We ended up 21st overall for two-person teams, and if I counted it up right….2nd for coed!