June 22, 2011

Goomna Adventure Race 2011

Once again the Goomna Adventure race came on with a bang, of course it was from thunder, lightning and pouring rain with just a few tornado warnings on top of it all. This being Goomna race day, I should have been prepared, out of the six times I have competed in this race, five of them were in these exact conditions. I quickly packed the adventure van and headed out of the driveway, stopping at the end of the driveway for a quick picture of the weather conditions.

I quickly made it to Korte Recreation Center in Highland where the start/finish would be.

I pulled the adventure van into a parking sport, Patrick pulled the adventure truck in and we had a quick chat with Mark Rosen the race director about a delay in the start of the race. All the while the thunder and lightning continued. Chuck pulled up next and we quickly unloaded and started setting up camp.

We hung around under the tent waiting for the weather to pass.

Mark called all the teams into the Rec center to pick up maps and give out pre-race instructions. Plus it gave us a chance to hit the bathroom another time, it wouldn’t be a race if I wasn’t in the bathroom at least ten times before the start, and don’t let my guys make you think they are any different, they go as many times as I do. So after a quick trip to the bathroom where I stood under the hand dryer for a while to try and dry off my rain coat, we headed upstairs to find out the fate of the race start. This just proves how much rain we had, our water proof jackets were wet all the way through. We did find a nice place to sit during the map pick up.

After picking up our maps, Mark told us the storm had about blown through, so we would be starting the race in 30 minutes. We quickly made our way out to base camp and plotted our maps using the master map and then highlighted our route. When we were planning our route, we had no idea we would be plotting for two teams, more on that later.

Mark called all the teams to the start, where one team member would have to run to the gazebo about 400 meters away and pick up the team clue, then run back to the transition area. Patrick took this task on since he is the fastest runner on our team. Since we did not know what discipline we would be doing first, Trek, Bike, or Canoe, he decided to run in his sandals rather than put on his running shoes.

The run was fast, but Patrick rocked it and made it back to camp super fast, where we tore open the envelope and found that we would be trekking first. I call it trekking because that is what it is in most adventure races, but in this race where it is so short 5 to 7 hours, we don’t trek we run, and we run as hard as we can, or as fast as the slowest teammate, which happened to be me. I think we did ok though, we were passing teams on the run. If we knew Highland better we could have cut some time off, but Chuck being the master navigator that he is got us right to every point.

Off to the first CP we went, when we arrived at CP1 we found that we would have to do a 2 minute plank before we could move on. Since we are probably the masters of the planks, this was one easy task. If you have been following the blog, you would have seen our planks in the past. After finishing our planks we grabbed a new clue and headed for CP2. During our run to CP2, we figured out the clue and decided to hit it after CP2. On arrival to the CP, we found out that each teammate had the task of carrying another teammate down to the end of the tennis court and back, we each had to carry someone. I went first and carried Chuck since he weighed a bit less than Patrick. Then Chuck carried me, and then I was lucky enough to get a second ride from Patrick. Even though Chuck has been accused of being a skeleton with skin, I still had a hard time carrying him.

The next CP was on “the unluckiest street with the tallest water fountain”. It was the water tower on 13th street. The challenge was a math problem, where we had to figure out what race number five different people had. We figured it out quickly and moved on. Next we ended up at the playground next to the fairgrounds, where we had to do 30 pull ups between all team members. Me and Patrick really sucked at this, so Chuck had to do most of them. Patrick and I are now starting a P90X club, so that we will no longer be an embarrassment to Chuck.

The next CP was at the pool at the fairgrounds, I had to run to the rock wall, get into the pool and climb up the rock wall, while Chuck and Patrick did a 1 minute wall sit. I quickly pulled off my jersey and shoes and ran to the wall, as soon as I stepped on the first few rocks I started slipping off the wall, Patrick yelled across the pool telling me, to take off my socks. It seems that even IceBreaker socks can’t take on a wet rock wall. As soon as I pulled the socks off, I scrambled up the wall even beating the guy next to me who had hit the wall the same time I did. I have to say, I did rock that wall. When I made it to the top, I just dropped into the water rather than climbing back down, it was faster and way more fun. I swam to poolside, Chuck pulled my jersey and pack over my head and we were off to the next CP in less than 30 seconds.

On the way to the next CP we came across the Red Bull van, we had to stop for a photo opportunity such as this.

The next CP was a basketball toss, we each had to make two free throws, no matter what Chuck says, he sucked at this. He went first and it took more than a few tosses to make his two baskets. Next I went making my first basket on the second shot, too bad it took about a hundred more shots for me to make the second one. It’s just a good thing we had Patrick there to save our butts, he made his two baskets in about 5 shots. It’s a good thing there were 10 year old volunteers there to show us up, when we came in they were making shot after shot, but I have to hand it to them, they didn’t laugh at us once and encouraged us the entire time we were shooting baskets.

We had a longer run this leg, where we ended up at the Highland Bank. Originally we were to take a flashlight and navigate through a drain tunnel under the road, but due to the heavy rain, we wouldn’t be allowed to swim through the rushing water to get to the end of tunnel. Instead we got our passport stamped, grabbed our flashlight and ran back to transition. At transition we found out that we would be going to Silver Lake for the canoe leg next. After we all ate a Honey Stinger waffle and drank some Gatorade, we headed out on foot to the lake.

The wind was really starting to pick up, we hoped it wasn’t too bad once we were in the canoe. Chuck and Patrick drug me through some grassy fields and out onto the road where we ran to the water works and found out that we now had to do 60 jumps between us. Ok, so I know you think big deal, how hard can that be, well it’s not as easy as it sounds. We had to jump onto a concrete block that was about 2 foot high. Patrick was great at it, that Insanity training he had been doing really came in handy. Chuck was ok at it, but I sucked, I think I only did 10 out of the 60 jumps, Chuck didn’t do much more then me and Patrick did the rest. I guess you could say Patrick rocked the concrete block.

Adventure racing is a great sport for discovering your weaknesses, but luckily it’s a team sport, where not everyone has the same weakness. We are definitely a team that has better endurance skills rather then game skills.

We headed across the dam, where we chased off a bunch of geese and ducks, and then we ran through a bunch of geese poop, then slide around in some mud, finally making it to the canoes. Once at the canoes, we received our first CP location on the water. We pulled the canoe down into the lake where Chuck took the front, Patrick took the back and I sat in the middle on the bottom of the canoe. At first we really sucked at paddling, which was a surprise because Chuck and Patrick have been paddling for months in preparation for the MR340. We finally figured it out at the first canoe CP, we traded paddles around so that Patrick had the longest paddle and I had the shortest, then we were flying. We started passing other teams on the lake. At the next CP, I got out of the canoe and ran the trail to the next CP where I met the guys. I was having a great time running through the trails around the lake, but I came to a Y in the trail and didn’t know which way to go, so I stayed right, well come to find out both ways would have gotten me to the CP, but of course I chose the longer one, the guys had to wait about two minutes for me to show up. I jumped in the canoe and we headed for the next CP, we flew past 3 teams on this leg, and then headed back across the lake to the canoe takeout. The problem was the wind had really picked up and we were paddling against the white caps.

After some really tough paddling we made it back to the take-out and drug our canoe over a steep, muddy embankment. I kept slipping back down into the lake, finally Chuck yelled, “we have the canoe, go climb up the other side”. I was on the verge of a face plant into the mud, but don’t worry the guys said if that happened they would have been sure to get it on video for later use. Good thing I was able to crawl to the top without face planting.

It was now a fast run back to transition where we grabbed food and jumped on our Treks, me and Chuck on our 29er Superflys and Patrick on his 26er. I think it’s time for Patrick to move up to a big boy bike.

We headed out eating, the boys were eating Honey Stingers, but I chose a hamburger, that was a mistake. Although in 12 and 24 hour races a burger is great, it doesn’t work so well as quick energy in a short race. I know that now, but it’s just a little too late, lesson learned. My energy level was just not up to par and the guys had to keep slowing down for me. I was doing ok for a while, but wasn’t on my usual pace. A couple miles into the ride, a team caught up to us, but they didn’t pass us, actually they sat back and rode our wheels. A couple times they pulled up to us and asked if we race much. At first we weren’t sure what was up, we thought they were just taking advantage of us and using us for the draft since the wind was so strong. We even slowed down to a really slow pace to let them pass us, thinking we would take our turn at drafting. After a while we figured out what they were up to, they didn’t know where they were going so they were just following us to all the CPs. We kept riding out front, we went through the flooded section of road then when we hit the gravel we tried to do a shake-n-bake by setting up a draft line, but they were staying on.

First they had youth on us at least 20 years, they were strong and we started calling them the meatheads and legs, because the guys were muscle bound and the girl had legs. We devised a plan to see if what we thought they were doing was correct. Patrick had broken a spoke, so we decide at the next intersection we would stop and look at his spoke then they would have to pass us. Guess what, they stopped right behind us and just stood there until we took off again and then followed us. We knew what was going to happen. They would make the last CP and then burn us on the way back, since the course was an out and back, there was no navigation on the return trip. That is exactly what happened, when we hit route 4 we stopped, let them pass us, because now they would since they knew the way back. We then took a risk on a different route thinking it might be a little faster, but ran into them at the next intersection.

I know that there are no rules against following a team around during a race, but it’s really poor sportsmanship. If you can’t navigate, learn how, don’t just follow another team. It really is poor racing etiquette. Not to say that I wasn’t part of the problem, had I been on my game, we would have smoked them even with the fact that they were riding bikes that were more of a hybrid than a mountain bike. Smaller tires go faster on the road. We followed behind them and about 3 miles from the finish they shook us which was about the same time I bonked as hard as I ever have. I was out of water so we stopped and Chuck gave me some of his. I was shaking and on the verge of puking and crying, I held it in, and Patrick and Chuck talked me into forcing down some sport beans. I got a handful of them down and we headed to the finish. What’s really incredible is, in just minutes I began to feel better and picked up the pace all the way to the finish line. We crossed the finish line to the cheers of the volunteers and the race director.

All in all it was a good day, we finished the race and found that it had to be a good day because I had blood, it’s always a good race if there is mud and blood, and we had both.

We also should feel a little bit flattered, I mean the meatheads and legs would have never beaten us without following us the entire bike leg, even though, we were all at least 20 years older and me being the oldest on the team probably had 25 years on them. They may have trumped us this time, but more often then not experience will trump strength in traditional adventure racing.

We all sat down and didn’t want to get up, it was so relaxing to be hanging out under the tent lounging in chairs.

Mark came by to chat and we had a volunteer take our picture with one of the greatest race directors, who pulled the race off in the worst of conditions.

We want to thank Mark and all the volunteers, this is such a fun race and without them, there would be a hole in our race schedule. Oh and Mark if you’re reading this, I have one suggestion, every year the volunteers have these great distressed t-shirts that are so cool, next year forget the tech shirts we have tons of them and give out those really cool t-shirts like the volunteers get.

One last picture or maybe two, this is me trying to look tough after the race, even though I could barely stand up. And the last is Chuck and Patrick looking tough before the race or maybe they were looking at "legs", I'm really not sure.


  1. Great report. I agree about the sportsmanship comments but there's not much anyone can do about that.
    Shirts will be considered for teams.
    Thanks for the comments Robin. I love having your team part of the Goomna; as well as everyone else of course.
    Rock-on and happy racing!
    Mark Rosen
    Director of Parks & Recreation
    City of Highland
    a.k.a. goomna race director

  2. Great job! I would've been toast on those pull-ups, but part of my strength program right now is designed so that you can work up to them. We'll see how that goes. Glad the weather cleared up for you guys!

  3. Kate, you've got to do this race next year. It is so much fun.

    Mark, Hope you can bring the tunnel back to next years race, maybe it won't be flooded....I really wanted to run through there!

  4. Great job! Looking forward to seeing you at Berryman. Epic Machinery.

  5. I love those pics, it reminded me when I'm in a race before too. You really did a great job !

  6. Wow, I loved those bikes. Great job ! Nice shirts, looking forward for more adventure race. Loved those pics too.