Like I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to stick with the sprint category for my first attempt at adventure racing. This meant that the course was generally marked and required only very basic map following skills in order to confirm that you were on the proper trail.
The race started with a 5-ish mile run. Luckily, it was on the portion of the trail that included all of the steep pitches (I consider that to be lucky because I rode most of it earlier in the week, and my Garmin showed that some of the hills were in the neighborhood of 30-40% pitches- much easier to climb when you’re not pushing a mountain bike). I had already marked my main competition- a guy that won the sprint division races last year and the one earlier this year.
Funny side story… before the race, I was talking to another solo sprint guy. I told him that since no other women signed up that I’d be gunning to beat all the guys. He pointed to a guy on the other side of the parking lot and warned me that I’d OK except for that guy, because he always won by half an hour or something. I chuckled and said something along the line of, “meh, no problem.”
So, when the race started, I just set pace with “that guy.” Soon enough, going uphill, I passed him. He paced me. I eventually put a little bit of a lead on him, but my transition to the bike was somewhat slow, and we ended up leaving the transition area together. I’m not sure when I lost him, but by the time I got to the first bike checkpoint, I looked back and he was nowhere to be seen. I knew better than to take it easy at that point and kept pushing the pace. My race almost took a disastrous turn when I was crossing a creek and got massive chainsuck. I got off of my bike and tried to yank the chain out, but it the top and bottom lengths of chain were wedged in between chainrings like a sweaty fat chick in skinny jeans. Of course, about a minute later, I got passed by my mark… Soon after, I fixed the chain by using the screwdriver on my bike tool to pry it out.
I got back on my bike, determined to catch, attack, and drop. I caught up on a hill. I inched up behind him until I was about a bike length back, then pedaled as hard as I could (wanting to look un-catchable),Ã‚ passed him with a quickness, and bombed down the other side of the hill. This guy had some serious upper body muscle, so I knew I’d be at a disadvantage carrying and paddling the kayak in the next stage and needed all the extra time I could get.
The kayak portion generally sucked. The inflatable boats we used spin around easily in the water, but I quickly figured out how to sit in the front and get moving. The worst part was carrying the awkward, heavy boat back up the hill after paddling a mile.
Amazingly, I was still in the lead when I received instruction for the final stage- run to the swimming area of the lake, swim out to a marker, and swim back. I made the mistake of not removing my hat, sunglasses, and hydration pack, so when I got to the water, I flailed around like a drowning rat. I lost what bit of a lead I had. He exited the water just ahead of me, but headed back up the hill rather than going to the course marshall to get his passport punched, so he had to go back- giving me the few seconds I needed to get back in the lead.
At that point, it was all or nothing. I ran across a grassy field (in lieu of taking the slightly longer road). The ground there was literally like swiss cheese- some sort of burrowing animal colony had entrenched itself. I went for broke- I was thinking to myself, I’m either going to break an ankle or I’m going to win.
Luckily, option B occured. I won by about 30 seconds- 2 hours, 32 minutes & change.
Remember the guy I had talked to before the race? I talked to him later and asked if he’d thought I was joking. It was fun. I got a lot of questions after the race- where did I come from, was this really my first race, etc… it was kinda weird. The coolest thing, though, was actually getting to sit down & talk to Kurt (my “mark”) for a little while. I may actually team up with him and another guy to compete as a co-ed team at the Ouachita 12 Hour Adventure Race in October.
It was a good day.The only downside is that I got home too late to pack up and make it over to Mousetail Landing State Park in time to set up camp before dark. There’s a XC race in the morning that I had previously planned on entering, but I don’t want to wake up early and drive over, so I’m just going to do my usual 70 mile Sunday ride instead. I think my legs will be a little tired, anyway.