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Too Cool Spread Your Wings 2016 Race Report

May 28, 2016
Rocksprings, TX
by David Bogle

Back out with for another year at Camp Eagle. I have done this race every year it has been put on. I think this is the 11th edition of the race. Camp seems to get better every year with more additions.

This years team would be myself, Julie Standing, Andrew Allison, and Tom Lane. I have raced with all these folks on previous teams, so we all knew each other well going into the race. The weather this year looked potentially tough again. For the last few years, we have had to battle rain out at Camp Eagle which is odd as it is normally such a hot dry place.

Pre-race smiles:

At 7:30 am, we were given our topo maps and a course book with most of the CPs that would need to be plotted. We were told at the start we would get more maps for the opening leg. We only had about 30 minutes to get our plotting and course stuff done before it would be time to go. As the race directors gave the last few instructions, Tom and I started plotting points on the maps.

Plotting time:

The race order would be, an opening run, then a run around the camp, a swim leg, the long bike/trek leg, bike leg on trails near camp, paddle, final trek. We also could do the Sherpa and rappel leg at any time between 2-8 pm.

As usual, there were two races going on this year, a sprint (6 hour) and the longer 12 hour race (we were in the 12 hour division). The race format for TooCool is that all CPs carry the same value and for this race, skipping, or missing a CP does not disqualify you, it just means you will get ranked behind teams that get more than you. This is a great format so if you cannot find a CP or if you think you cannot make the time cutoff, you can strategically skip some CPs during the race. As usual, Team Vignette, set out with the plan to clear the course, so no skipping in our course layout plan.

Pre-race picture with Team Lonestar (Bing and Tammy), guess I am contemplating how lost i will be today:

Robyn (Race director), all excited to get rid of us all and get it started.

At the starting line, we were told in order to space teams out we would do a run to "the Windmill". There is a beautiful view from there, but that means a couple mile run all uphill on steep rocky roads/trails. We decided we would move at a conservative pace and walk the steeper sections. We were near the front approaching the first very steep incline. As we slowed to a power walk a few teams tried to run the long steep climb and died out half way up so we passed them back up.

At the windmill, someone had to dive into the water tank and retrieve a gold coin. Andrew jumped right in (I was a bit jealous as the water looked nice and cool). Andrew quickly grabbed the coin and we were the 2nd or 3rd team out of there. We ran a different trail path back to camp (it was flagged). We ran with Kim and JD from RunLabs most of the way back.

Coming back in from the first run, Julie telling us to hurry up!

After turning in the coin, we got the camp map and had a few CPs to gather. First we ran to the rifle range, where I managed to hit the target on my second shot, then off to some fun drift trikes, then a memory game, next was a trip through the mine maze and then finally a slide down the long steel slide. Leg 2 done, and we had moved into the lead.

Next up was our swim leg (this was going to be later, but due to impending weather, we did it next). This was a trip down the camp water slide, then swimming to 4 CPs in the river. Water felt great as it was nice and cool.

Andrew in mid-air, Julie punching on the platform, Dave and Tom still swimming:

Dave jumping off platform after punching CP, Tom heading up (each person had to punch a wristband to make sure all teammates swam the whole course):

We were the first team to set out on the long bike/trek leg, this means we could bike as close to a CP (or all the way to it), or we could trek on foot, the decision was up to the team. The very exciting part, was this section was all on new land that we had never raced on before. After 10 years of racing at Camp Eagle, we do know much of their existing property, so getting to new land, and lots of it, was very exciting. We had to go through some private property to get to the new land, so the race staff was there to guide us through the gates and gave instructions to stay on the road until we passed the next gate. Once there, the fun could begin.

We immediately went for a long climb to another windmill, then back to a swimming hole. This place was super cool looking but no time for a dip in the water now. As we got back to our bikes, Team Lonestar (Bing and Tammy), were passing heading to the "spring" CP, which was the same way we were going, so we both headed off in the same direction. We made a wrong turn on a road not on the map, but it only cost a few seconds and were back on the right road soon enough. (Not all roads were on the map, and there is no way to know if roads on the map are actually right, so I took extra care to make sure we were not heading off lost). We punched the next CP at the same time as Team Lonestar.

My plan was to turn around and head back, but I saw Bing going off in an unexpected direction, so we investigated. He was on an un-mapped road actually heading in the right direction for our next CP, so Tom and I conferred and decided to give it a shot and started that path. Bing was not excited that we saw them, and were now following their path. After about two minutes, I did not like the direction the road was heading so we turned back. Team Lonestar kept going and it ended up costing them a good bit of time (but if it had worked out, it would have been a huge advantage). We got the overlook point (which was hard to see as it was low on ground and hidden by a bush), then trekked to another up on the same ridge).

Coming down from this ridge, Julie fell and unluckily landed on a sharp rock and gouged a hole in her knee. It started spewing blood pretty heavily. Julie is beyond tough so I looked at it, told her it was just a scratch and to get moving. So she gave me a dirty look and got up and we moved on. A few minutes later we ran into Team Lonestar and Tammy was awesome and gave us some gauze and bandages so we could patch Julie up. Super help from another team, I love adventure racers!

We proceeded to hit all the remaining CPs on this leg with no problem. Other highlights on this section were another cave, seeing 2 bison staring intently at us and lots of Pronghorn deer? Our team all ran out of water near the end of this leg (we each had 100+ oz at the start). I do particularly bad when I am dehydrated and hot so this was pretty bad for me. The predicted rain was nowhere in sight and temps had really heated up (low 90s). There was a peach orchard with a windmill and water tank, so I made the decision to drink out of it. We had water treatment tabs, but those take 30+ minutes, and ain't nobody got time for that. With a belly full of water, we finished up this section and headed back to the main camp.

Passing through the manned gates, we were told 5 teams had already come out. This always causes concern as I thought our route and navigation was just about optimal. As it turned out, some teams made the wise decision to head back to camp when they ran low on water or could not find all the CPs.

Since we had gotten some water at the orchard, we decided we would hit the ropes course on our way back. This is always fun, so we hit the Sherpa line, then the Rappel. There was one team on the Rappel when we arrived (think it was Wandering Ducks). There was multiple rappel lines, so we just grabbed the next one available. Rappel done, back to camp to checkin, and our suspicions were confirmed that the teams that returned early had skipped some CPs. Now the question is did we make a good or bad choice.

We would be getting right back on bikes, so nobody was thrilled. This leg would be biking on the normal Camp Eagle property, so navigation was super easy, but once again long climbs to get back up to the windmill to start with. I stopped this time to cool off as I had yet to recover from my earlier de-hydration/overheating. A nice dip in the water is sure great stuff. We hit the last few CPs up on this part of the property then headed down to the south suspension bridge for the final CP on this leg.

Back in TA, we now had a paddle leg. Julie and I paddled together while Tom and Andrew paddled together. We had to use the camp boats for this leg which are sit on top kayaks. Not much paddling on this race, and it was uneventful. Just one CP on either end of the dammed up river sections.

Julie is an awesome paddler, so she usually just tells me to relax. After all, I had to navigate!

Andrew and Tom working it!

Time for our final leg, a trek on camp property. Guess what, we had to head right back up the windmill again. I was only worried about one point on this leg but we managed to hit it right on (the hint was slot). I was still hot and not recovered from running out of water, so we were not able to run much of this leg at all, just the mild downhills. I was not overly concerned about this as I knew we had a large lead over any other team, so no need to push myself to the getting sick zone. There were 5 points on this leg and Tom was pushing to get them all.

As we hit the third point, I became worried about our overall time for this leg. There is a hard cutoff of 12 hours. For every 5 minutes past 12 hours, you lose a CP, so if we went 10 minutes over to get one more CP, we would end up losing two. I was very sure nobody could beat us at that stage so we skipped the farthest out point. We grabbed the one remaining on the way back to camp (we heard Team Lonestar as they were entering this draw but never saw them, thick brush). Back in camp after 11 hours and 30 minutes, we were declared the winners. Great fun, and the addition of new land, made this feel like a whole new race. I sure hope we can continue to use that property as there is lots of land there, so tons of future potential.

Tired team just finished. Tom had his priorities right, and grabbed a beer!

Race results

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