On Saturday morning, Kip and I set out to race our first sprint adventure race of the season. Too Cool Racing was nice enough to direct the event. They were even nicer to host it a very short distance from my house up at Lake Georgetown. We showed up a bit too early at about 7:30 am to set up a small transition area and get checked in. Race start was not until 9 am, and we actually had zero items for our TA, so once we signed in, we were done. We did haul our boat to the drop area, right behind the check in pavilion. We were a bit late getting there with our boat, so our boat wound up kind of in the back, which was a bummer as we usually are near the front of the race, and now we would potentially have to carry our boat over and around the maze of all the other boats that were much closer to the trail down to the lake. A little after 8 am we were given our maps. This is a bit different compared to regular length races, where you don't receive maps until after the start. We were even given most of the points that needed plotting along with our maps. We actually jogged back to my truck to plot... what is wrong with us, we have an hour to start and about 5 points to plot. Oh well we plotted them and could quickly deduce in our heads a rough order of the legs for the race.
There were no coordinates for CPs 1-3, so we figured that would be some sort of opening run to space teams out. CP 4 and 7 were both near water, and so were likely paddle points. CP 5 and 6 were inland a little, so were probably trek points. And CP 8 was far away on the bike trail, so was undoubtedly a bike point. We were also told prior to the race that each team must have an inflatable tube for a special test and have our PFDs ready to carry for some portion of the race. The big unknown prior to the race was what size tube would be best. We chose a medium size tube. There were teams with rather large tubes, and some with just a bike tube. The race director purposely gave no information on how the tubes would be used, to make things a bit more exciting. There were lots of teams here; I would guess about 40 teams from my count. About 10 minutes before the start, it began to rain. I did not care too much, but my wife and kids had come out to volunteer for the race, and they had been shuttled off somewhere by the race director to help with parts of the race. I hoped they were able to find a place to shelter from the rain, as standing around in cold rain is no fun. (It did not rain for too long, but I'm sure they all got wet). We were told to show up to the starting line with our tubes and PFD. All the teams gathered for a 9:15 am start.
At the starting line, we were all handed some papers that were stapled shut. We could not open them until the race began. We were fairly certain we would be running back up the park road since that was the only direction we could go, so Kip and I worked our way toward the outer edge of the teams. When the go was sounded we opened our papers to find an aerial map with 3 points. The instructions said at each location we were to do a special test, upon completion we could get our passports punched. We took off running at the front of the pack. Then Jason Maloney and his partner blew past us. We knew we could not run their pace for long, so we let them go. We could get these 3 points in any order, but it appeared as if 90% of the teams chose the same direction as us. We were second team to arrive at the first CP, and there were my wife and kids. We were given a contraption with some strings, in which we had to balance a golf ball and walk around a paved circle.
The guys in front of us dropped their ball, so now we were even, until we dropped ours (dropping meant starting over). Then we got our technique dialed in (it's easy if you keep the strings pulled at the right tension), and were the first to carry our ball around the circle.
Next we ran down to the swim beach area. This is where we needed our tube. We had to swim out to a kayak and retrieve a poker chip. Kip and I both suck at swimming, but we made it. Back on shore, we ran to the final location. We were with the male team and Werewolves at that time. The final point had us go on an Easter egg hunt: once we found an egg, we could continue on. The Wolves immediately found one and were out of there very fast. Kip found one next so we were off, and right behind us was Jason's team. We booked it back to TA, and got our boat. We had to portage our boat down a steep trail to the lake and take off from there. The Wolves were already at the water when we started down the trail, but we were able to jump in our boat a little faster to start the paddle in the lead.
We chose to get the far point first as the wind was getting heavier and we wanted to minimize our time in the boat in the wind. We paddled well to the first point. We managed to hold off the other teams and punch CP 4 first, but the Wolves were chewing at our heals. As we left this point, it was a direct headwind out of there, and it was blowing hard (as is common in all Too Cool sprint races). The Wolves paddled past us on this section. We got to the next CP just a few moments after them. At this point, we docked our boats to start the foot navigation to the two land CPs. We ran along with the Wolves toward a pond. Kip and Tom Lane jumped into the pond and circled it. (The pond stank! -Kip) I think Ashley and I were a bit more reserved and worked our way around the water. We all came up on the CP about the same time. Now off to the next point at a natural spring. Kip and I had run out in this area quite a few times and knew the park trail was not far from the pond, so we headed to the trail while the Wolves chose to run cross country. Our trail made better time, as we could see the Wolves down below us. We should have run the trail even further but did not want to miss the CP, so we left the trail early in search of the spring. Soon enough, we found it, and got out of there before the Wolves had arrived. This time, we jumped back on the trail and ran it back close to the pond. Now it was back to our boats and short paddle back to the TA. There was an armada of boats on the beach by the time we got back. We stopped briefly to help with some directions for Sarah Brown's son's team as they looked a bit confused.
We paddled back to TA, and were welcomed by my boys who were playing on the shoreline. They ran back up the trail to tell folks we were coming. We had to carry our boat up the hill back to TA.
Next up was the bike leg, and the last CP we had plotted for the race. The instructions did say there was another special test out there. Kip and I noted that this would be a very short race if we just biked out there and back. We also are not the strongest bikers, so figured there was a good chance we would get chased down on this section. Off on bikes we went only to have Kip endo in the middle of the road (his camelback hose came off and he was fiddling with it and lost control). He was not hurt, so off we went again. The first section of biking in this area is just about zero fun. It is very rocky, and for us, much of it was simply un-rideable. The good news is that no one likely flew through that section. After a couple of miles, it turns into a dirt road, and we made pretty good time there. We got to the bridge crossing where CP 8 was located, but there was no one there for a special test... well not for a few moments until we heard some yelling for us to not leave!! It was Marcy biking up to administer our special test. I am sure this cost us at least 30 minutes... no maybe 10 seconds, but I like to exaggerate (TWSS).
For the special test, we had to fill a small bucket by using a PVC pipe with water from the stream, but the pipe had open ends and holes drilled in it. Jason's team showed up as we started this task, and they figured they could use a water bottle to help them, which seemed like a good idea as it did not appear to be against the rules. As we finished, Marcy handed us another map with 3 more CPs on it that we had to trek to. We thought this to be a good thing as we felt confident that Jason's team could outbike us to the finish (turns out they left their passport in TA, so they were likely not official at this point, what a bummer). We set off on foot for the 3 points, the first was between some ponds, easy to get, on the way back we high fived Jason and his partner who were heading for that point, then a whole bunch of teams include the Wolves and the HFAR teams. Next up was a point in a draw off the side of the river, no problem we got it and were out of there. We once again saw Jason's team as we were leaving.
One point left. The clue was draw/fence. Well, due to our running out here, we knew the fence ran next to the trail out here. We ran about the right distance, then got up next to the fence. We did not see the point, so we just kept a running along the fence. We thought we had gone a bit too far, so we looked at the map some more and confirmed it said on fence, so we kept a running. After a while, we knew we had gone way too far, but were confused as we had run along the fence the whole way. On the way back we ran across Jason's team again who were now heading where we came from. They later confirmed when they saw us out there, they just kept running. We were now back to the correct area, after a good long detour. We decided to head up the hill, even though we both agreed that our maps showed the point down low. Sure enough, we found a different fence higher up the hill!!! Ugh! It was not long before we found the point, but there were now about 5 other teams there. Now it was a run back to our bikes and then a bike to the finish. Kip and I were actually able to run down and pass all 5 teams back to our bikes.
We hoped on our bikes first and were out of there... well for a few feet at least until we discovered Kip had a blown front tire. As we started to re-tube it, the Wolves rode past us. We changed the tube, but the new tube had a hole it in also. Several more teams came on past as we struggled to get the tire fixed. 15 minutes later, we got the thing to hold air, so we biked the 5 miles back to the finish line. We had a good race all day long. If it were not for our flat tire and nav mistake, we would have been competing for the win, but still we had a nice day of racing and enjoyed it all. Thanks to Too Cool Racing for another fun event. Next up is Spread Your Wings.
Back to Team Vignette's main page