March 8, 2011

AdventureMax 2011

Rock Racing was offered a mission, if we chose to accept it, we had 10 hours to finish before we would self-destruct.   So AdventureMax was where our mission started.  The mission started off with a bang or a lot of bangs, as we were driving to the pre-race meeting on Friday night, we drove right into a thunderstorm, complete with hail.  There was so much hail that the ground looked like it was covered with snow.  To top off the hail we had torrential downpours.  The ditches were full, the fields looked like lakes and we had to cross roadways with rushing water, but we finally made it to the stables at Innsbrook, for the pre-race meeting.

We grabbed our race packets and waited for the meeting to start.  We were told that the course was going to be very challenging and that we had 10 hours to complete it. We also found out that the race was going to start at 6:30 am and since I live 2 hours away that was going to be an early start.  Since I had a 2 hour drive home compared to Chuck’s one hour drive, he volunteered to plot the maps without me. I jumped at that offer.  I have to say “thanks” to Chuck’s wife Lori for standing in for me and reading coordinates to Chuck while he plotted.  The good thing was there weren’t many points to plot because we were getting most of the coordinates on the fly during the race.

4 am came pretty early, but I jumped in the van and drove through more thunder storms to meet Chuck.  We loaded all my gear the night before, so all I had to do was jump in and go.

We had our new Hardnutz helmets and they came with this really great glowing bag so they are easy to carry and easy to find in all the gear we have to load. 
It stopped raining on the way to the race, but everything was flooded.  Before the race started we were told to delete checkpoints 23 and 24 due to dangerous water crossings.  That was a relief to us since we had no idea how we could get 32 checkpoints at the distances they were plotted in 8 hours.  One other warning was given, the race director said, this is just a race, do not cross high, fast water crossings if you are unsure for your safety.  Now this is kind of funny, because if you know adventure racers, they don’t think anything is unsafe, you may as well just throw us in the Colorado river because we were walking in if it meant finding a checkpoint.  And that is exactly how it turned out too.
The first point was pretty easy to find, it was at the beach, we also retrieved a second set of points at CP1a, on to CP1b, and there were a lot of hills to get to it.  If you know me, you know I really hate hills, but I wasn’t whining, I just kept following Chuck, he loves hills.  I have no idea how we race so well together, except for the fact that I sometimes grab the loop on Chuck’s pack and let him pull me up the hills.  We picked up CP2 and headed back to race HQ where CP3 was.  We also made use of Chuck’s van to plot points 10-20.  We jumped on our bikes and headed out to CP 4 which was the canoe launch.  As we were coming to the beach, it started sleeting, we stopped and picked up another set of points and by the time we had the canoe in the water, there was sleet with giant snowflakes mixed in.  The icy mixture stung when it hit your face.  We were laughing because who canoes in this kind of weather. We both pulled out a Honey Stinger Waffle and woofed it down before we got in the canoe, we were going to need the extra energy.

We quickly started paddling to the CP’s.  To get to one of the CP’s we had to drag the canoe over a section of land at the edge of the dam.  Our hands were so cold by then that we had a hard time picking it up, plus the rocks we were walking on were very slick, but we made it across.  I am just grateful that it was a short distance.   
At the beach we came upon another team that almost capsized, they were lucky and kept the canoe upright.  Of course as soon as that happed they started fighting, we figured, they had to be married.  As we headed back toward the canoe takeout, we had one more CP to pick up, the problem was although the snow had stopped the wind had picked up and there were whitecaps on the lake.  We bounced around and were freezing by the time we picked up the last canoe CP. Then we paddled back across the lake to the take out, and pulled our canoe out of the water.  This is where Chuck stepped in the lake and got his first wet foot.  It didn’t stop him though, we jumped back on the bikes while eating Honey Stingers and headed up a monster hill.  If you haven’t tried it, then you can not understand how hard it is to ride up a steep hill while trying to eat at the same time.  It is really hard to breathe and swallow at the same time, but we were doing it.  I almost crashed into Chuck’s back tire because we were both swerving all over, we are not good multitaskers on the bike.

We were now on our way to CP 9 which was also the mystery event.  Since the clue was shooting range we were hoping that we were going to get to shoot guns.  We were both skeptical about it because we would have thought they would have made us sign some kind of waiver if we were going to shoot guns, so we doubted we would get to shoot.  We hit a nice long downhill only to find that we would have to cross a 30 foot wide creek that was at least 2 feet deep in the middle. Chuck went first and made it, I followed and barely made it out.  The thing is we still got wet feet because the pedals were under water.  So Chuck had to quit his whining about his wet foot, we both had wet feet after that.  We made a turn off the road into the woods, where it looked like CP9 should have been, but instead of finding CP 9 we found 4 other teams wondering around.  We also found CP18.  After some discussion we all thought that the coordinates had to be wrong, the other teams punched CP 18, although, that was cheating because the rules stated that we could get CP 10 thru 20 in any order, but we had to punch CP 9 first.  We explained this, but the other teams punched it anyway.  We did not punch CP 18, we did not want to win by cheating.  We also thought that there would be someone checking passports at CP 9 and these teams would get caught.  Guess what, they weren’t checking passports at CP9 and the other teams didn’t get caught, this really made us mad and gave us something to talk about for the rest of the race.  We found CP 9 about 1000 meters from the coordinates we received.  I think they just made a typo, but it sure messed up the race for everyone.  I feel for the race directors, being a race director myself, I know what a nightmare this was for them.  We took it in stride though, many teams were not as forgiving as we were, but many teams were also cheating by punching CP 18 before CP 9. 

Oh! But, the mystery event was fantastic, it made the miss-located coordinate not seem so bad.  We did get to shoot, it was just a bb gun, but still fun.  Each team member had to hit a cow bell from about 20 yards.  Chuck went first, he was told how to load the gun and to pump it 4 times then shoot.  It took him a few tries to hit it, but he did.  I was next and one bb later, I was done, one shot that was all it took, yeah call me Annie Oakley.  Well, maybe it was really 5 shots and maybe Chuck said he only took 4, but I wasn’t counting and I’m sure he said 4, just to be one less than me.  The problem wasn’t because I’m not a good shot, but the guns were shooting low, I think they should have let us pump them 6 times then it would have been right on. I had to aim higher than the bell to hit it. Kind of lob the bb out there.  It was really fun, these are the kind of mystery events that make a good race.

We were now heading out for CP 10-20, and we could do them in any order, so we had a plan and since we figured out the issue with CP 9, we knew exactly where to go.  We were stopped along the way by teams who were completely lost when we showed them where CP 9 really was on the map they got back on track. We hit the first CP with no issue, then we found a CP by the pond, the next one was at the ruins, it was a kind of cool looking area, so we thought it was perfect for a picture.  So Chuck pulled the adventure cam out of his pocket and I snapped a picture of him punching the passport.
Throughout the Rogaine section, we had to continuously cross the creeks.  The water was so high from the rain that came down throughout the night and early that morning, there was no good place to get across.  We tried finding places with flat rock, but even those had water running over it like a rushing river.  We finally got to a point where the only way across was running through the deep water.  Chuck said “grab my hand, then if one of us goes down the other can pull him out”, so that’s what we did. I have to give a shout out to Solomon, I had on a pair of Gortex trail shoes and not a whole lot of water got in.  I think having my gaiters on helped a lot too, because the water didn’t go over the top of my shoes. Chuck was wearing his INOV8’s and he said they did a great job, keeping the water out.  Don’t get me wrong, our feet were cold and wet, but they were not a puddle like most shoes would have been.  
We picked up another CP and had to cross the creek again, this time there was no shallow water in sight and the crossing was 15 or 20 feet across.  We slide down a steep bank, and I jumped because I thought I saw a snake.  It wasn’t a snake, it was the biggest worm I have ever seen.  I guess he was drowning in the saturated soil and decided to come out for some air. 
We were on a small rock bar, but still had to get across the biggest part of the creek and there was only on small glimmer of hope.  We saw a downed tree reaching across to the bank where it had fallen from.  Chuck, being Chuck was all for crossing the tree.  I was starting to whine a bit and said, “that tree looks rotten and slick, I’m not sure about this”. It was rotten, it had green slick moss all over it and it was very shaky.  I’m not sure how deep the water was because it was so muddy, but I could tell it was at least past my waist.  The water was rushing under the tree like rapids in the river and the roots from the tree where all tangled around the bank area.  We decided that we had only two options, try crossing the tree or swimming.  We chose the tree.  Chuck went first the tree was shaking and he said it was really slick, but he made it across in no time. Then he did what no man should ever do in this kind of situation, he got out the adventure cam and put it in video mode.  He was not only videoing my trek across the tree, but he was narrating it.  If I had a rock I would have thrown it at him.  As I started to cross the tree, my life flashed before my eyes.  I saw me falling into the water and getting tangled in the roots, then drowning while Chuck videoed the entire thing, not even thinking he should drop the camera and pull me out of the water.  Next I saw my poor kids with no mother, going wild, having parties and then I saw Rob, their dad, at the parties with them, being what he would call a chaperone, showing them how to party the right way.  This made me think I had to get across this tree.  But wait then I saw Chuck, looking for a new adventure race partner, and he couldn’t find one, because reliable teammates are hard to find.  This made me think if I drown it will serve him right.  So then I was stuck, should I make it across the tree or just jump to prove a point.  Well let’s just say we finished the race, but my tree crossing was not pretty. 

Now we headed down a trail and were at the road where we crossed the creek on our bikes earlier, there were some people on the other side and I think they were debating on whether to take the chance to cross it or not.  I think they decided to skip the next checkpoint and turned around.  I guess when there is a fire truck at the cross to save people, it might be a little daunting to new racers and they may decide not to try it. We headed through the woods and picked up CP 18, you know this was the one that we saw at least 3 teams pickup before CP 9, I like to call it the cheating checkpoint.  We wasted the extra time to go get it, without cheating and hoped that it didn’t hurt us in the end.  Chuck and I think that winning by cheating means nothing, so we don’t do it.

We headed to the last two CP’s of the Rogaine section.  We noticed by the tire tracks that a least a few bikes rode to one of the CP’s.  This just made us mad again, because it was a trek point not a bike point, but we saw the tracks so we know someone did it.  We punched the passport and headed to our last point.  It was a spur and we made it to the end of the spur, but didn’t see the CP, so we headed back up the spur looking.  Chuck tripped and fell, so we decided it was time to grab something to eat.  Chuck had a Honey Stinger, while I ate a turkey and cheese sandwich on a hotdog bun, it just happened to be in my jersey pocket.  We both quickly felt better after the snack.  As we were walking up the spur we found the CP, all we had to do now was get back to CP 21 which was at the shooting range where our bikes were.

We saw the race director at CP 21 and Chuck talked to him about the misplaced CP.  We were not mad about it, we were only mad about the people cheating and using it as an excuse.

We got our bikes and headed out, we had to cross the creek one more time on the bike, we both made it across, but again our feet were wet.  My Trek Top Fuel did great crossing in the deep water and loose gravel.  Chuck’s Superfly 100 was even better, there is a lot to say for those 29er’s.   We quickly made it to CP 22, and then headed off for the hike a bike section.  We hit the single track only to find out why they call it hike a bike.  The mud was deep and our tires just slid around, we finally had to get off and do some bike pushing.  At the top of a long hill we were in a position that we had to decide what CP’s we could pickup and still have time to finish in the 10 hour limit.  So we planned to grab CP26 and CP32 then head to the finish.  When we made it to the point where we would have to trek to 26, we only had 30 minutes to finish. Since 26 was a long trek from our bikes we chose to skip it and go directly to CP32, we made it there quickly, then found a rock road to take us back to the finish.  Chuck downed another Honey Stinger and I chose to hold off to the finish to eat.  That was a bad decision on my part.  By the time we made it to the finish line I was in the middle of a bonk.  I could barely ride across the finish line and then almost fell over trying to get off my bike.  Next time I will down a HS right along with Chuck. 

We finished and a volunteer kept apologizing for the error in the map, but hey, things happen, we can deal with it, no big deal, that’s why they call it adventure racing.  It was a great race, the race director probably learned a few things, and racers had fun.  I just hope the complaints don’t ruin the opportunity to have this race in the future. 

I do have a few suggestions though, have a manned CP when coming out of a section that is to be punched in order, so there is no opportunity for cheating.  Oh and make sure the food it hot, I think the food would have been better, but it was cold and the chips were more like crumbs than chips.  OH, but the cookies were great and I will confess Chuck and I both had more than our share of the cookies.

Now, as I write this, I get a note from Chuck telling me that the results are out.  We finished 1st in the 2 person co-ed and 3rd overall! What made the difference for us was that we took the chance and went for the extra checkpoints in the hike and bike section which was a wise decision on our part.  Considering the distances and number of CP’s in this race, I hope the race promoters will consider making this a 12 hour race next year.  This was great test for the new helmets our team will be racing in this season.  They are made by Hardnutz and are light and comfortable.  Also very cool and unique looking.  Check them out if you are tired of wearing a helmet that looks like everyone else's.


  1. Great report! Congratulations on your 1st place/3rd place finishes...awesome! You sure earned it this time.

  2. Great report, it would have been better if Robin fell off the log though. Hopefully she will get another chance at Goomna.