Interstellar Adventures

February 3, 2005

WAR-P Race Report — Team Nie-Ny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 2:05 pm

Another practice race down. This race was ideated and directed by the grand-dame of AT Adventure Racing Gale Torbett. Held at Grapevine Lake’s Horseshoe Park on January 30, it was a wild, wet and wonderful event!

The entire AT Group had been looking forward to this race for some time. Experienced racers were welcome, but it was newbies that we really wanted. Never done an AR before? Come on out, we’ll teach you how! What is AR? It’s a multi-sport event. No race is ever the same, and disciplines per race vary, but it can include some combination of navigation, running/trekking, mountain biking, canoeing/paddling, scootering (this is new — imagine a Razor on ‘roids), ropes (up, down or across), mountaineering and special tests/challenges thrown in.

Over 30 women plus many male volunteers had signed up to race. Then, the weather report came out. Cold and rainy. Yuck. I wasn’t sure if my partner was going to be up for it. I heard a little trepidation in her voice as the day neared and the forecast remained the same. However, I had been careful in my selection of a race buddy. All of my friends are WONDERFUL people, but some of us are more or less athletic than others (I’m somewhere in between, aspiring towards more). “Everyone has their gifts and graces.” an old boss of mine used to say. So, going down my mental list of friends, I marked through several names for various reasons. I then came to my friend Stephanie. Ah Ha! She was in fairly good shape and was a pretty adventurous type I thought. Although I had never heard her talk about athletic events, I thought I would give it a shot. So, I emailed her, and more quickly than I expected, she responded that she would love to give it a try. So, we borrowed our friend Judy’s bike and “saved the date”.

It had been raining since the Wednesday before the race. The ground was pretty well soaked, and a message was posted on the AT Forum that the race would be restricted to the roads for running and biking. We’d still have to go off-road for the nav practice though. I created my “gear list” and sent it to Stephanie. Didn’t want to forget anything! On Sunday morning I got up early (for a Sunday and having gone out to a birthday party the night before) at 7:30 AM, got all sorted, packed and ready to go. Steph got there just around 10 AM, and we loaded the rest of her stuff in the back of my car, threw the bikes on the bike rack and headed out!

We found the race location no problem and quickly figured out we had arrived just in time for the impromptu, quick and dirty nav refresher class. I stayed close to Lee Torbett since I’d taken his full nav class before. Dude was an Army Ranger for years, so I knew he knew his stuff! All the little details quickly returned and I knew we wouldn’t have a problem with this piece of the course. But, during this time, it began raining again, and my fingers and toes slowly numbed up from the cold.

Shortly after the nav classes ended, we had a brief pre-race meeting, set up our TA, wolfed down a PB&J with a bag of Fritos and a Power Gel and then re-grouped for last-minute announcements. “You’re cold now, but once you start moving you’ll warm up, so don’t wear too many layers” on of the volunteers warned. Yeah right. That never happened. The rain continued.

The race started with a special test. One team member grabbed a potato (this was on the equipment list!) and lined up behind a log, while the other team member went down the hill and lined up behind another log. The potato was then placed between the legs of one team member. We had to go over the log, down the hill, between some trees and to our team mate without dropping or touching the potato. If either of these events occurred, it was back to the start line! I finished this leg of the course, and while Steph headed back up the hill with the potato between her legs, I grabbed one of our bikes and moved to the next TA where we were to complete our next special test, changing a bike tire. This was pretty easy. I actually ended up changing the tire on the bike of one of our volunteers since my bike doesn’t have “quick release” tires. (Note to self…get a real mountain bike.) Deflate tire, remove tube from tire, replace tube, re-inflate tire. Done. Whew. Still raining.

Next was the 2-mile “jog”. Grab a poker chip from volunteer and run with it down the path to another volunteer. Yuck. I hate running. During this portion of the course, we also received a lesson in “towing”. Towing is very important in Adventure Racing. This is a team sport, but also for time and place, and you’re only as fast as your slowest team member (note: this will likely always be me!). So, whether running, biking, paddling or whatnot, towing can help the team go faster by utilizing strengths of some team members to alleviate the weaknesses of others. So, one of our fine volunteer-men handed me the end of tire tube (any item such a tire-tube, jacket, rope, actual tow-system, backpack, etc can be used to tow) and “towed” me down part of the jog course. I’m not a good runner. I can run a 12-minute mile, but after the first mile, I’ve got to stop and regain control of my breathing and heart rate. So, with a bit of walking, we completed the drop of the poker chip and the 2-mile jog. All the while, down came the rain.

Arriving back to the TA, we were given our maps and coordinates for 2 nav points to find on the bike. We also received the remainder of our 15 trekking nav points. Didn’t realize we were supposed to plot the two bike points and then head out, so after finishing half of the trek-points, someone figured out that we had been there for a while and clued us in. Duh! We also at this point decided to do a bonus special test. This was worth 30 points on our overall score! One team member had to ride a mountain bike up a hill, at which point the other team member had to catch their bike with the other team member still on it. The team member on the bike then had to bite the end off of a mustard-covered hot dog — no hands! This exercise was called “Bite Me”. Steph gave it a try, and after one taste of mustard told me I was going to have to do it. She hates mustard. So, I grabbed my bike, but being in the wrong gear FELL OFF while trying to head uphill. How embarrassing. Get back on the bike, pedal around, get in the right gear, back to the top of the hill and bite the wiener. Yuck. It was raw and cold. I spit it out.

So, having donned our bike helmets, completed the special test, oriented the map, figured out our general direction and pedaled away. We soon encountered a volunteer who told us to dismount and go find our first bike point. We scurried down the slippery trail, jumped over some dog-poop right in the middle of the trail (note to dog owners — POOPER-SCOOPER!), rechecked our map and clues, and headed into the underbrush. After looking around for a while, we didn’t find it, so re-oriented ourselves on the trail and headed a bit further up. Steph spotted the first point; we grabbed a card (playing card) out of the baggie and scampered back up the trail to our bikes. Remount, pedal pedal pedal, up and down some hills and then downhill till we saw the next dismount marker. Up the slippery hill, around a tree and beside a road (with cars!) then back downhill again, and we found the second bike point. Grabbed another card out of the baggie and then we looked up. We could have headed a bit further down the paved trail and hit the same point. Doh! Note to self…don’t always follow the marked trail. It’s a rule in AR that you can find the nav points any way you want! So, back on the bike, back to the TA. Now raining harder.

Grab a Power Gel, and plot the rest of the nav points. Plotting points is pretty easy, but there were a few “backwards plots” where you had to count backwards from a grid line since the map didn’t have enough grid lines to measure from. Good practice! So, we finished plotting our points. By this time we had been out for just over 2 hours. The rain was coming down harder it seemed, and as we got wetter, we also got colder. Good practice! You never know what race conditions are going to be. These were pretty bad, so give me a pretty day, and we’ll rock! I changed my over-shirt and jacket to try to get a little warmer. The rain was so cold. We studied the map and decided that we would get our points in the order they appeared (not in numerical order) starting with the point closest to the TA. We had just less than 2 hours to try to find 15 points. After a little difficulty starting, we quickly found the first point when we figured out which fence line to study! We were also a little slow in finding the next point, but after that it seemed that we found them no problem. We had to bushwhack quite a bit to find several of the points. At each point we had to find a bottle of nail polish. We had to paint one of our fingernails with the polish to prove that we had been at the point. Some of the points were harder to find than others, and the ones that were harder to find were “worth more” to our final score. Out of 15 points (not including the bike points) we found 11. Points 7, 8 & 9 were very hard we were told, and we somehow over-shot point 11. We looked and looked for 7, 8 & 9, but darkness was setting in and it was raining still, we were soaked and cold, and our time was almost up, so, without those 4 points, we headed back in to the TA.

We came up on another team as we were heading back in, and the 4 of us arrived at the TA, the last two teams in. Good thing this wasn’t for time! We reported in, displayed my multi-colored fingernails and then packed up in the now-dark rain. We finished just as the winner-announcements began. They started announcing last-place first. Two teams had left early. 9th & 8th place down. Expecting to hear our name at any time, I was pleasantly surprised when we learned that we had finished 4th out of 9 teams! WOW! Better than I expected. The first place team got plastic princess crowns and necklaces, and then we all jumped back in our warm cars and headed home. Changing out of wet clothes and into dry ones is not easy in a Jetta that was re-packed in a hurry. I was thankful for my seat-warmers though! Although I didn’t quite realize how cold my hiney was until that “re-heating muscle burn” began to creep in. We managed to make it home in the cold dark rain, with only one near miss. Whoever was driving that white Buick along 121 in Lewisville on Sunday night…WAKE UP!

This was a great race. I hope Stephanie had a great time. She said she would do it again if it weren’t raining. I made a bit of a joke out of that, and I think it hurt her feelings a little. 😦 I’m sorry Steph, I didn’t mean that you weren’t tough enough to hack it! You did great and I’m super proud of you and would race with you again any time. Thanks for daring to go adventuring with me on Sunday.

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