We had not raced the Eco-Lonestar 12 hour adventure race in a few years, but when our schedule turned out to be open and fellow racers Helena and Gabe told me they were helping to design the course, we decided we should go ahead and sign up.
It was held this year in Cedar Hill state park, just south of Dallas, Texas.
For this race, I convinced Julie Standing and Jason Mittman to come out and play.
None of us really had time to do any planning for the event, and we were all running late getting to the starting line.
The weather for the race was not that nice.
It was overcast, very windy and a good chance of rain.
At least it was not super cold, with the highs expected to be in the low 60's.
We were still busy setting up our TA area and getting our gear together when the pre-race meeting started. I don't think any of us really heard much of it, which is never good as there was likely some useful information in there. We did catch that we were starting with the sprint racers (the sprint course was going on at the same time), and then we would split off and do our own race. Then they handed out the maps and all the course details for the 12 hour race.
We hurried off to the TA area, but we had not yet even finished setting up our gear, so Julie and Jason finished off their stuff while I started plotting maps. I had some trouble reconciling the UTM's on the sheet, but then eventually figured it out. That wasted 5 minutes when we were already short on time. We were given the entire course, so my goal was to get it all plotted before we started the race so we would not have to stop and plot more during the race. Julie was first to finish prepping, so she helped me with maps, and then Jason helped me finish it up. The entire course was in a very small part of the map (except for the paddle), which made for a very congested map. This race was setup a little different as compared to most Texas races. There was a list of required CPs (checkpoints), that you must visit to be an official finisher, then there were a whole list of XPs (extra points). The team who got all the CPs and then the most XPs in the least amount of time would be the winners. Our goal from the beginning was to go after all the points as we figured we would have time before the 12 hour cutoff.
At start time we all lined up for the opening marked trail run. We decided we would maintain a comfortable pace and not try and kill ourselves, as it would be a long day. We settled in just behind team iMoat during the run. At the turnoff point, the sprint racers followed a marked course, and we went onto a challenge section. We were given a map that we had to navigate with. This led to a bunch of hay bales. We had to build them 7 layers high and let it stand for 10 seconds. Jason and Julie made quick work of that while I looked at the rest of the map in order to plan out our next move. We were to then run to 2 of the 3 CPs marked on the aerial map and punch the map to prove we were there. Then it was back to TA. I made a plan to get the CPs and we were off. We found them with no problem and got back to the TA first!
Once we checked in, we were off on the first real leg of the race, which was on mountain bikes (as was much of this race). We had several CPs and XPs on this first bike leg. The first few were scattered around the park. We found most of these pretty easy. At one CP, which was in a culvert beneath the road, Julie got covered in some pretty sticky nasty mud (and many jokes followed). We did have to drop our bikes a few times to trek to a few points. We saw lots of other teams while trekking, but it was hard to tell what place anyone was in as you could get these points in any order you chose. After doing some basic bike navigation, we had to get on the DORBA bike trails in this park and just follow them. There are many miles of really excellent mountain bike trails in this park. For these sections, we just had to ride the trails and we would eventually find the CPs. We did not know where they were on the trails, so it was just ride, ride, ride. There were several CPs and XPs along the way. The XPs were just added mileage on more trails. We were doing good getting all of the points so far.
At CP 4, there was a bike drop where we had to start a trekking section. I really had not had any time to review the map of routes prior to the race due to being pressed for time, but now was our chance. The first point we had to get on this trekking leg was a bit frustrating. The CP was physically inside of a very dense tree. We walked right past this tree as it truly was hidden in the center. We saw Team Werewolves over in the area suddenly run off which clued us in to really look in the tree closer. Next we had a few points to get and some of them had notes about needing trekking pants... notes like that are never exciting. These points were very difficult to get to due to the really nasty underbrush. We all did get cut up quite a bit. We did find the first one (XP G), just fine, but then the next one we really had trouble with. It turns out we had plotted in in the wrong spot on the map which is why we were never able to find it. We figure we lost around 15-20 minutes searching in the wrong spot. Once we re-plotted the point in the correct spot, we were able to find it without any problem. iMoat was ahead of us on the bike section and was long gone by the time we were done with this trekking leg. We started this trek section at the same time as Werewolves, but due to our mis-plot we fell behind them by about 10 minutes on this leg.
After we finished the trek, it was back on bikes for more riding on nice trails. We found all the next few points on the bike with no problems and finally made it back to the TA. We had to complete a special test at the end of this bike leg that involved dragging a ball on the ground and crawling through some dog agility tunnels. We made quick work of this and got ready for our next leg of the race.
Next up was a paddle. This was going to be a rough paddle for sure. The winds were really blowing and it was beginning to rain. This race was on a large open lake, which meant lots of waves. We were told iMoat and werewolves were both on the water ahead of us. There were also other teams on the water, but those teams had been skipping the XPs so it seemed we were in 3rd place. We got on the water pretty quickly and headed south on the big lake directly into the wind. There were several CPs and some XPs on this leg. As expected, the XPs were just much farther away. Paddling into waves and a strong headwind is hard work, but not really all that tricky as the front of the canoe cuts through waves pretty easy. The trip back would be much more of a challenge. We found the CPs pretty easily, and then it was off to find the XPs. We were steadily catching up to Werewolves on the paddle. We never saw iMoat on the water, but near the far out point, we did see their boat beached as they were running to get the last point. Both Werewolves and us decided to paddle a bit closer to the last point before dropping our boats. We beached our boat only a couple minutes behind Werewolves and we quickly caught them on the trek to the far out XP. We ended up traveling to this point together then we split apart on the return trip to the boats, but ended up getting to the boats at about the same time.
The paddle back was with a strong tail wind and large waves from behind. This is actually quite tricky in a canoe, as the waves tend to really pull the boat from side to side. We had brought a sail kite along but we had trouble deploying it, so we ended up stowing it away. One day we might get to actually use this thing! While we were fiddling with our kite, Werewolves passed us on the paddle. We were able to pass them back right before getting to the last XP, but we both ended up punching it together and leaving at the same time. Now we were directly across the lake from the TA, which was due east of our current position. The wind and waves were from the south. After a few minutes of paddling on the open water, we had almost gotten swamped twice so we made the decision it was too unsafe to try and paddle directly across. Both teams then turned more toward the south (going away from TA) in order that we could paddle almost into the wind while crossing the water, we could then go back up the other side of the waterway with a direct tail wind. This worked fine, it just took longer to paddle back, but was much safer. It had been raining on this paddle and we were already a bit cold, and if we swamped we would have been in big trouble. There were no safety boats on the water, so a little extra precaution was worth it.
Back in TA, were got ready to go out on our last leg, which was a trekking section. There were 2 CPs and 5 XPs on this leg. We left only a couple minutes before Werewolves (iMoat had been gone a long time, and we figured there was no chance of catching them). We were able to find all the CPs on this leg with no real problems. Our routes may not have always been the most efficient, but since we did not know the park very well, we took safer routes when possible. We found all the points and headed back to the finish line to turn in our passport and see how we did.
At the finish line, we were told our passport was good and we were awarded second place. iMoat had a super race and really blew the course away. We were able to hold off Werewolves on the last trekking leg. Our team had a great dynamic, and even though the weather was not ideal we had a good time out there.
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