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Too Cool "Spread Your Wings" 2007 Race Report

May 26, 2007
Rocksprings, TX
by David Bogle

The adventure began on the way to this race. The site for the race was Camp Eagle in middle of nowhere Texas. In actuality, it was near Rocksprings Texas which was a couple hours west of San Antonio. This part of Texas does not normally get a lot of rain, but this week was one of those odd weeks in that part of the country. There was lots of rain, and water was flowing all over the place. On one of the back country highways to the race, there were signs every mile or so warning that the creeks can overflow the road and use caution. Well, we finally ran across one such creek and quite a few cars stopped on the side of the roadway. We rolled the window down and asked if it was crossable and the response was "if that thang has 4 wheel drive, you might make it". Yes, we were in Texas alright. Well, we made it just fine to Camp Eagle although it was a slow drive down the long mud/rock road leading into this remote camp. I finally had some justification for the 4 wheel drive vehicle I purchased a couple of years earlier! was putting on the race at the camp this weekend. It was a 24 hour adventure race which was also a national qualifier for the USARA Nationals race later in the year. What this means is that a little extra competition was likely to show up since the only way to get into the nationals race is to finish top 3 in one of the qualifying events. This weekend, I would be racing as a guest on Team Vignette. The team captain would be Marcy Beard, who was joined by her husband John Beard and her brother Kipley Fiebig. I had raced with them in the past, so I knew it would be a good time. I raced Camp Eagle last year with Kip. These guys are all great navigators so we all hoped for lots of tricky navigation.

The race started with everyone lined up at the entrance to Camp Eagle. 32 coed teams of 4 lined up on the starting line for this race. The instructions were given that we were to run a short run (about 1/2 mile) on a marked course to our boats that we had staged before the race. We were to paddle about 200 meters down the river where we were required to completely swamp our boats. As usual all race starts are chaos with people jockeying for position. It always seems silly when people are fighting for inches in a 24 hour long race. Our team entered the water maybe in about 5th place (yes, we were one of those teams fighting for inches). We chose to take just one of our two boats. We could see that team MOAT and Werewolves of Austin had gotten out in front of us. As boats started swamping it was kind of chaotic. The water was deep, too deep to stand in, so righting the boats would not be easy. We were in a canoe that was not self bailing, so it was a little tricky getting the water out and getting all 4 of us back in the canoe. We were all able to get back in the boat and fight against the armada of oncoming boats back to the original boat put in. I think at this point we came out about 4th.

After a quick jog back to the main TA, we were given our instructions for the first real leg of this race. It was a mountain bike leg on the camps mountain bike trail system. This year the instructions were clear, we could not just cut off trail to get to CPs, we had to ride all the trails in a certain order and there would be CPs placed in mystery locations along the trail. We were the second team out of TA due to our quick transition. Werewolves was out ahead of us. We were not a strong mountain biking team and were sure we would be passed rather quickly. Well, it did not take long. Right after we got on the trail, team Werewolves passed us (somehow, we passed them getting to the trails... there was a little confusion in getting to the trails). Then a few moments later Team MOAT flew past us on the trails. We knew coming into this race, that Team MOAT is just super fast and would be hard to beat. We moved along at a steady pace, but the wet, muddy, slippery trails were just not going to be real fast for us today, but surprisingly no other team passed us (we could hear teams through the woods that were not far behind). As we rounded a turn in the trail, there was Team MOAT. They had busted 2 rear derailleurs on their bikes. There was nothing we could do to help them so we moved on. As we were biking into TA from the bike leg, Team Werewolves was heading out on foot. We know to keep an eye on these guys as they are a very good team that can win any of these races. We had a quick transition to the first trekking leg of this race. As we were running out of transition, Team MOAT was coming in from the bike leg. It looked like they were only able to fix one of the two broken bikes on the trail as Leslie Reuter was running one bike and the other three were riding. I think Team STAR had come in also, but I did not see them.

The instructions for this next leg were to trek to a handful of points in any order we chose. We plotted all of the points and got out of TA in very good time. The first point on this trek leg seemed to be one of the trickier ones based on the clue of "look up and look down". Kip was doing navigation duties and he led us right up the side of a large hill near the cliff's edge and informed us to start looking around. We found a crack (sort of a cave) in the rock ground we were going up that held the CP marker. John had to break out his headlamp to spot the cp inside of this little cave. The next few points were pretty easy to locate and Kip and Marcy did a great job of route choice as it seemed very easy travel. The last point was just across the river from the camp. There are several dams all along this river. We were able to cross the river by walking across the dam (about 1 foot wide, with water flowing over the top). We did not run into any other teams while on this trek so we knew we were doing well. Back at TA, we were informed we were the first team back. At some point, we passed team Werewolves on this trek. We later learned that the cave point gave lots of teams trouble.

Next up was a quick swim leg where we had to swim out into the river, climb up a large iceberg shaped water toy and punch a CP at the top. We then swam to a couple of buoys to punch some CPs. This was a short leg, and we were able to finish it before any other teams came in from the trek leg. Our next set of instructions were to have us head out on a bike/trek leg. On this leg, were allowed to bike as close as we could get to CPs then trek into them. I like this kind of a leg, as it requires you to navigate while biking to make sure you stop at the right spot. We did pretty well on this leg, and only stumbled slightly on one point. One point on this leg was the ropes section of the course. We got to do a rappel off a cliff face and then do a long Sherpa line around the side of the cliff. We were the first team to arrive here, but that did not mean too much as we were allowed to get these point in any order. This bike leg was a bit faster for us as it was more jeep road type riding and not as much of the technical single track riding that slowed us down earlier. As we got into TA, we were shocked to find out we had over an hour lead on the next closest team (Werewolves). This was a nice lead, but this is a 24 hour long race and we were only several hours in. We needed to keep moving as fast as possible.

We received our next set of instructions and headed back over to our TA to plot the next set of points. This would be a paddle leg. There were points both up and down river for this leg. We chose to go up river first. The navigation on this leg was very easy, with the only real challenge being getting in and out of the boats very often to portage over dams and river fords (places where the river crosses the actual driving road). As we started paddling down stream, the rains really started to poor pretty hard. It was OK for it to be raining while we were boating if it had to rain on us. One of these points required us to get out of the boats and trek to the CP. We sank to our knees in the mud next to the river bank. Several portages and dam crossings later, we were able to finish up the paddle. We did not see any else on the river when we got off. We did get to see some folks doing the swim leg while we were paddling along.

Now back from our paddle, we were given the instructions for the next leg which would be a bike ride heading north from the camp, then returning to camp and riding south on the road a little ways. We chose the longer leg first which was the northern trip. On the way back, we chose to divert back through the TA to refill water and make a bathroom break. The bike trip south was the more exciting one as we had to cross several fords across the river. With all the rains around the water was really flowing. It allowed our bikes to get a small bit of cleaning for a few moments. Back at TA, we were given our instruction for the final leg of the race. At this point, we learned we had a substantial time gap of a couple of hours over the next closest team (Team MOAT). This sure was going to make this final trekking leg a bit more enjoyable as we were not being rapidly chased down by any other teams. We knew MOAT would get some time back on us during the paddle and bike leg. We feel very confident as a team when it comes to trekking cross country, so we loaded up on food and water, packed our headlamps and headed out. We would have the luxury of getting more than half of these points while there was still daylight. Most all other teams would have to do this whole trek in the dark. Kip, Marcy, and John made the navigation almost look easy on this leg. It was lots of cross country hiking, so there were very little chances to run much of this leg. On this leg, there was a special test to which the instructions said we had to complete by midnight. We thought we had plenty of time to make it so we planned to visit that area last. We were having a little difficult in finding the special test area when along came team MOAT. They too were searching for the same point, but they were getting this as one of their first points since they were fearful of missing the time cutoff (the cutoff was later extended by race officials because most teams would have never made it there by midnight). We chatted with MOAT for a little while about where we were, and where we thought the point was and then headed different ways. In not long, we found the special test which was a brand new zip line that the camp had built. Unfortunately, we arrived at the end of the zip line which meant we had to hike down the hill and back up the other side to the start of the zip line. We were greeted by some very eager camp workers. They had been manning the station for many hours before we arrived and were just happy to finally see some racers. We all did the zip line, which was fine, but since it was very dark out, there was not much to see. After the zip line, we had only one more point to get before heading for the finish line. On the way to the last point we started running into more teams heading out onto the trek. After punching the final point, we headed back to the finish at a leisurely pace, well until we saw the lights and then of course we had to run across the finish line for some reason.

We finished the race in just under 15 hours in first place. We all felt good and there were no injuries which is always a huge plus in a race. After a hot shower, our wonderful TA support crew (my folks) had cooked us some eggs, sausage and toast as a post race meal. We all ate and headed off to bed. A huge thanks to TooCoolRacing and Camp Eagle for putting on such a great race. Camp Eagle is a great place. It sure is refreshing to see all the young people who work at the camp. Every volunteer we came across was smiling, friendly and above all very polite. Those are not things you commonly see in today's youth.

Teammate Marcy's race report from this same race

An 11 minute video of this race

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