June 18, 2012

Goomna Adventure Race 2012

It seems like I just wrote the Goomna race report for 2011 and here I am again.  Time really flies when you get old.  I guess it has been an entire year, you would think in a year I would be in better shape, but life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.  So coming into this year’s race, Chuck and I were struggling and weary due to Ironman training.  We both hoped that all the long workouts we had been doing would give us an advantage this year.  Well, we were foiled again this year for a couple reasons, but neither was because we were overtraining or bonking during the race, in fact we raced strong all day, but more on that later.

So this year our teammate Patrick opted to do a kayak race, but his plans were also foiled by a change in the race format, so he ended up doing a Mississippi paddle with an island camp and oh believe me, it was killing Chuck not to be there with him, but Chuck had committed to Goomna so he was with us.  We had to pick up a replacement for Patrick, and Jenny was willing to try it out, she did the Castlewood 8 hr with us this past December and was ready to try a summer race. Here’s the thing, Jenny is smoking fast, so Chuck and I would have to work to keep up with her.  She is an awesome teammate, plus since she is the rookie she had to do all the stuff we didn’t want to.  Like the initial run at the start of the race, of course she rocked it.

While Jenny grabbed her gear at our most excellent headquarters, Chuck and I looked over the information she brought back from the initial run. 

We were on our bikes and out on the road very quickly, only to find out that we would be fighting the wind for most of the day. We chose to ride the bike trail along the road rather than the road like most other teams were doing. This gave us some advantage, because we were able to pass teams without having to maneuver around them. The first stop was a food drop, we had to bring a non-perishable food item for the food pantry, but Jenny and I thought we would be dropping it and check-in and we had big items.  Jenny had crackers and I had a very large can of soup.  It’s a good thing we have Chuck, he figured it out and brought some small cans and mac n cheese, so we carried the small stuff to the checkpoint.
When we dropped the food we were given the map for the next CP, this was at a public pool, we were thinking we would be swimming, but instead we had to run down a hill and memorize a list of 15 items which happened to be president’s names, then run up the hill and list them in order on a sheet of paper.  We split them up, I took the first 5, Chuck the second 5 and Jenny the third 5, It didn’t take long for us to complete the task and get back on the road. 

The next stop was a long haul to a campground, we were covering some of the Highland Biathlon course to get to it.  We came to a corner where all the teams were turning, but opted to take a different route, which worked out, we passed a lot of teams and arrived at the lake in good position. Good thing we have Chuck, the Mater Orienteering guy on our team. At this CP, we put on life vest, swam across the lake, each picked up a wood timber and ran it back around the lake, barefoot, through the rocks. I’m no Indian maiden and am not good at the barefoot thing, but we made it.

Here is the funny part, Chuck and I both swim like rocks and we were right next to each other the entire way across the lake, but just as we hit the middle of the lake, I look up and see Jenny already on the bank waiting for us.  Chuck and I just look at each other, we were both thinking the same thing, “we are such losers when it comes to swimming”. Ha Ha, and we are both doing an Ironman in September, hopefully, we will make it out of the swim alive.

We picked up the next map and got back onto the bikes, still in good position.

This would soon change and let me tell you why, this is where I get frustrated, about this race. This race is pretty much an urban adventure, but the rules state, you must have a mountain bike with knobby tires, and every year people show on with hybrid bikes, with road tires and this year was even worse, I can’t tell you how many people were on hybrid, cyclocross, and road bikes. This gives them such an unfair advantage because all of these bikes will just walk away from a mountain bike on the roads, especially in the wind.  This puts Mark the race director in a bad position because he has to decide what to do, but he really wants to just have a fun event and not disqualify anyone. We like Mark and as a race director myself, I know what it feels like to be in his shoes, so even though I may have gotten a little pissy a few times when it was really affecting me, I kept it to myself, well maybe not myself, I voiced my opinion to my teammates, but they were pretty frustrated about it too. 

When we left the lake we were in a really good position, and we were really on our game, keeping up a really nice pace, actually a fantastic pace for being on mountain bikes and fighting the wind, but we still got dropped by 3 teams, all on bikes other than mountain bikes. 
Going into the next CP, we hoped that we could make up time on the run and canoe, but since we had no idea what was in store, we didn’t know. This CP was at a gym, A somewhat non conventional gym.  Once inside we found out we would be doing a number of tasks of strength, and let me tell you strength is not my strong point.  The first task was to swing from tie-down straps and land on balance balls, it was harder than it looked, but really fun.  I do well with balancing so liked this and we all three were synchronizing our jumps, so we made it though very quickly.

Then we climbed fireman pools 3 times each, since we were so sweaty and the pole was too, we kept sliding back down, so we instead climbed into a teammates hands then onto their shoulder and did a final push to the rafters, we actually did this very well and very fast.

Next we rolled a giant tractor tire for two laps, that was not hard, but took strength and my arms were getting tired. 

Oh then we hit the hardest task of all.  We had to do 50 pushups, not your standard pushups, not that I could do 50 of those either.  This is how it worked, Chuck was in the standard pushup position, then I had my feet on Chucks back, hands on the ground at a 90 degree angle, Jen had her feet on my back, hands on the ground at a 90 degree angle, then we had to complete 50 pushups like that.  Well, we couldn’t do it, we did 31 and couldn’t do another. There was an alternate course of action, we could instead stay in the same structure and hold a plank for 3 minutes instead, but since we had already done 31 pushups, we only had to hold it for 90 seconds, it still took us 3 tries to do it. All of our arms were shaking when we were done. I wish I had a photo of that one. 

The last task was really frustrating, not because of how hard it was, but because of the confusion on the line of people waiting to do it.  When we got in line we were the next team, but then we found out we had to move to the opposite end, then when we walked down a team moved in front of us, we were then sent back down to the other end, to find another team in front of us, so we ended up waiting more than 15 minutes just to do the task. The task itself was hard, but doable.  In fact a took a couple photos of another team doing it and Chris a Metro Tri Club teammate was on the team that was completing the task. I noticed he had the cushy job of laying on the sled.

This is how it worked, we had to pull a male member of the team, and since we only had one male that was Chuck, on a weighted sled down the length of the building, the trick was we had to go under 3 lasers that were about 3 foot off the ground, without setting them off.  If a laser was set off, a 45 pound weight was added to the sled. We had a nice system and Jenny is really good with counting out the beats as we go, so we would count for 1,2,3,4 beats while pulling then rest, then pull again for 4 beats and we finished really fast without setting off any lasers. By then my legs and my arms were shaking. 

Once outside and back on the bikes we decided that worrying about the time setback in the gym and the inconsistencies on the bike was only going to take the fun out of the race.  So there and then we decided it was all about the fun and not about trying to win. 

Back at transition we were told to run to silver lake, where Chuck and Jen got in a canoe and I took a mountain bike on the single track around the lake to the CP.

The single track was awesome with tons of roots and cool yet sketchy bridge crossings, I made it to the CP about a minute ahead of the canoe.  Jen then took the bike down the trail to the next CP and Chuck and I canoed. I told Jenny to be careful, there were some hairy spots on the trail and she didn’t have a helmet on, I didn’t want to lose a teammate out there.  It was really lucky that Jenny and I ride the same size bike frame, it made for a perfect bike swap. Chuck was upset that he didn’t get to bike, but the bike would have been way too small for him. He would have really loved those trails, I didn’t want to say too much and look like I was having too much fun riding the single track while he was busy paddling our butts around the lake.

At the next CP Jen and I switched again and I got to ride some more awesome single track, I even passed 4 people on this section, did I ever tell you how much I love riding single track.  The bike I was on was great, it was a Specialized 29er, I don’t know where it came from, I guess borrowed from someone for the race, but it was a great bike, made me want to be on my Superfly flying through the trials.  After passing 4 people on this bike section I got to the CP and there was a backup of canoes waiting for their teammates, so I stepped out into the water to get to my canoe, the water was cool and felt so good on my feet.  It had really heated up, I was hoping for another water event, so I could cool off, but there were no more to come for the rest of the race.  Chuck and I finished the paddle and Jenny was waiting to help pull the canoe out of the water. 

I need to digress for a minute and talk about my xx2i sunglasses, the entire race had been brilliantly sunny, but my sight was fine because I was wearing my sunglasses and due to the forecast for bight sun I had chose to pop in a darker lens at the start of the race. I was concerned when I headed for the woods with the serious shade and thick humidity, I thought I might have to take the glasses off while riding the single track. In the Midwest the humidity just hangs like pea soup in the shade of the trails and sunglasses end up steamy like a mirror in a hot shower house. To make it even worse I was going from the shade and thick humidity on the bike to the bright hot sun in the canoe and even though I was sweating buckets, my glasses never once steamed up. I have to chalk one up for xx2i, my Oakley’s never worked that well.
We got the next map and ran to the next CP, where we were greeted with ice cold energy drinks and a round of Frisbee golf.  Jen was a pro at it, we took her throw every time, I really sucked at it. After golf, we headed to the next  CP which was back at headquarters.

We ran most of the way back to headquarters which was at the Korte Rec Center, there we had to do a word find, we worked together and quickly completed it, it also gave us a few minutes to cool off in the shade of our tent. Now we were off to the dock on a little pound where we found that our next CP was based on a bearing and a distance, we found it on the edge of a cemetery. We got another bearing and distance, we could have gotten to the next CP so fast if it was legal to run through a corn field, but since it wasn’t we had to take the long way around.

We arrived at the Korte Construction Company where there was an obstacle course setup.  First we had to run through some rip rap rock and under some construction tape.  I’m a little closer to the ground then Chuck and Jenny, so that was pretty easy for me. Then Jenny got in a wheel barrel and we pushed her through an S shaped course.  We then had to knock a can off some tires by throwing a rock at it, it reminded me of a carnival game, Chuck got the win and hit the can first. Now we were back to rolling a tractor tire end over end again, but this time it was outside, hot and the tire was dirty.  We all had black hands after that, good thing I had black shorts so I could wipe my hands on them. Then two teammates had to climb over semi truck containers, so Chuck lifted Jen and I lifted Chuck, then I ran around to spot them jumping down, it went pretty fast.  The next section we had to duck under saw horses after the third sawhorse, I started getting cramps in my abs, I think I was about dehydrated by then, and my muscles were tired from all the crazy gym stuff. When I got through, Jen told me to lift my arms over my head and that really helped. It’s nice to have a physical therapist on the team. The last task in the obstacle course was to build a bat house, Chuck was all about this.  He loved every minute of it. In fact it was his favorite part of the entire race, well it might be second to us pulling him on the sled.  I have to say, it was a really cool bat house. 


After getting some cold water from the volunteers we headed back to the finish line with our bat house in tow.  We were told that the bat houses would be put up in a nearby park. I thought that Chuck might fight them to keep the bat house, but he was too hot and tired to put up a fight.

We finished with smiles on our faces and a great sense of accomplishment.


Looking back, my favorite event was the single track mountain biking, I know Chuck’s was the bat house, I’m not sure what Jenny’s was, but I would guess the swim, of course we all enjoyed the swim, it was a great way cool off and gets some of the dried salt off our face and out of our eyes. I do know what our least favorite event was… the pushups, we will all attest to that. 

A BIG THANKS goes to Mark Rosen our fearless race director, he put on another fantastic race and even warded off the thunderstorms this year. 


I need to thank all the volunteers too, it was a long hot day and they all did a great job, of course they did once again, get the most cool shirt.  How can I convince Mark to give the competitors the same shirts, I love the volunteer shirts, I have way too many tech shirts, I need a really cool t-shirt like the one they get.  I guess I just have to volunteer next year, rather than compete, but with my luck, they won’t get the cool shirts next year.


  1. way to go chuck, robin, and jen. dam that looks like fun .....Russ

  2. What a good time, and good decision on just having fun when it got to the point where stressing out would have taken all the fun away. Only so many things you can control. Hoping I can manage to do this one next year!

  3. Out on the Island there were no push ups or skinny tires!