We picked up the maps on Friday evening and saw that we would cover a lot of familiar territory but with some new stuff thrown in. We had a ten hour limit to retrieve 17 checkpoints and hit three waypoints. The race was rogaine style but the route was more or less obvious. We discussed at great length what to do about the big Aska Road rapid and decided a portage would be more practical as three in a canoe would be unstable. As always in this sport, things change. Thanks to our friends Tim & Ivan for a little more local intelligence and we pretty much had our game plan set, stuff packed up and were in bed before midnight.
We finished in first place overall but first place Masters (as that was the division we signed up for) in six hours and 13 minutes.
Thanks to my team mates for their usual strength, skill and camaraderie. Thanks to Ron and all the wonderful Blue Ridge volunteers who, year after year, produce the flagship adventure race in the southeast.
As always, Michele & Allen were awesome, strong team mates and great fun to race with. We all had a great time, recommend this race and hope it is back next year.
Any National Championship race should be one of the highlights of the season. You work hard to get there, put in the training, learn from your mistakes, assemble the best team you can and hope for the best. Unless you’re a member of Checkpoint Zero. Then you just hope that you’ll make less mistakes and have better luck than last year.
In 2010 we were in Moab, where Jenn had intestinal issues and we had to pull over ever 45 minutes for relief. In 2009 we had a dismal race in Texas, I mostly blacked that out so I can’t remember. In 2008 we raced in Blue Ridge and spent several hours huddled on the side of a hill lost. 2007 we had 3718 flat tires. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get frustrated because I have bad results, I get frustrated when the team catches bad luck, and when I don’t live up to the expectations I have for myself. I can cut others slack, but it’s hard to cut myself any. Lady luck, well, I hope she’s listening and takes it easy on me.
By most accounts, the 2011 Checkpoint Tracker National Championship was an excellent race. Held in the Land Between Lakes region of Kentucky, we had access to miles of single track, acres of undeveloped land, and vast expanses of water. It really is a wonderful area to race in. Going in we felt we had a good shot at doing well, even with the high caliber teams that were going to show up.
Our race started well, after the hectic prolog on the beach, we set off on foot for a few points close to the start/finish line and got back to the paddle put in within sight of the leaders. Hot on their tails, we paddled like mad and made up some distance between Lake Barkley State Park and the Land Between Lakes National Recreation Area. We made a quick transition to foot and got to the start of the orienteering course. Knowing that the results on this section would likely decide the race, we tried to pick an efficient route that would leave us an out in the event we weren’t able to clear the section. We spent the first couple hours going back and forth with Bushwhacker, as we had picked a nearly identical route for the first 8 points or so. We kept moving well until we started heading towards the farthest out point on the course. It looked fairly simple on the map, traverse a ridge line for a couple km, drop down a re-entrant and nab the point.
Ha. Little did we know what laid ahead of us. Following my compass, we seemed to keep drifting a little to the north compared to the map, but I was confident we would stay on track and not have any issues. That should have been the first warning sign. We got to where I thought the point should have been, but it wasn’t there. Ok, I was one re-entrant off. Tried the next one. And the next one. And the next one. Knowing we were loosing precious time I didn’t want to backtrack too far, but knew that without starting from a known point we’d be hunting and pecking. An hour (probably more) later, we opted to bail to a nearby road and attack from there. We oriented ourselves, shot a bearing, and started towards the point when another team came from a slightly different direction towards us. We casually asked if they found it, and they said yes, it was right at the top of the hill they were coming down. I looked at my compass and didn’t think it they were right as I had us going more to the right. We decided that we’d take the cue from the other team, ignore the compass, and attack off their description.
Sure enough, we found the point without much more effort. Confused, I kept looking at the map and my compass when it finally hit me. The declination was set WAY off. Like 35 degrees off. I had never set it to anything other than zero, so I never expected it to move. That explains a lot. If I had only been able to use my Tech4o GPS watch with programable waypoints I’d have not gotten lost. Knowing that we had dropped a long way off the pace of the leaders, we knew we could still make a reasonable go at the race, but we’d have to lower our expectations.
We finished off the orienteering without fanfare over 3 hours behind the leaders, and I was mentally exhausted from the stress. I handed the maps to Paul and asked him to navigate the next paddle leg. Daylight had left us, and we were forced to paddle in the dark around several tricky coves that threw us for another loop. We finally made our way to the bikes and hoped that our route choice would move us up in the field. I think it did, but unfortunately I missed another significant turn and we ended up spending another hour looking on the wrong peninsula for a point. By the time I realized the mistake, it was 2 AM, a heavy frost had settled, and we were getting worried about missing cutoffs. I hadn’t looked at the whole route back to the finish line as I thought it was a relatively simple out, do a loop, and head back.
Catching the theme here? Usually I’m not that sloppy but I have no idea why I overlooked so many things. When we got to the CP we were looking for, we were told this was the special challenge point, and we had to take an arm full of pool noodles and get a point across the bay. With our sprits already crushed, and not thinking about how to go about the challenge other than the thought that the water was brutally cold we elected to cut short the course and head back to the boats. We didn’t think we’d have enough time to clear it, but leaving time on the clock was better than missing the finish cutoff.
Had we actually thought about the challenge, we could have run around the bay like the other teams and not gotten wet at all. Had we sat down and looked at the map, we would have realized that we could have cleared the course because we didn’t have to take the slow single track back, we could hit some faster roads and trails.
We made it back to the finish line and I was glad to be done, but disappointed that I made so many mistakes. I learned lots of lessons in this race, lets hope that I take those lessons with me and use what I learned to do a better job next year. I question whether we should continue to race at Nationals given our bad luck, but we know we’ll keep trying. We’ve got to have a good run at it one of these years.
Probably the year the team kicks me out and gets a real navigator. :)
The team got lots of video from the race, hopefully we’ll edit that into something interesting and post that for your viewing pleasure.
Yes, I know. It’s again been way too long since we’ve posted anything on our blog. Part of that is because we haven’t been doing too many races this summer, and part of it is we’ve been working on something new we hope to feature. Video! We’ve gotten a couple of portable, durable video cameras and have started taking some footage at recent races and hope to make short videos of our exploits available online.
The first attempt at such a show is from the Storm the Eastern Shore adventure race a couple weeks ago held in Cape Charles, VA. The race was one of the last in the Checkpoint Tracker Series before next weeks national championship race in Kentucky. As the race was in the middle of the east coast we sported a half and half team, half from the north (Jeff and Joe), half from the south (Michele and I).
Heading into the race, we knew that there wouldn’t be a lot of elevation change as the highest point around Cape Charles is about 25 feet above sea level, if you don’t include the highway overpasses. What we didn’t know is if there would be much off road travel. Of course, in order to travel off road, it helps to have all the appropriate gear, like good shoes, mountain bike, etc. Oh, and ones mountain bike shoes too, which after going through my gear the night before the race I realized I left sitting on the floor in my living room. DOH!
What to do? It’s 10PM, the race starts at 9AM, no bike shops are anywhere close to where we are, not to mention they wouldn’t even open before the race. I had my regular running shoes, but with the egg beater pedals that would make for some very sore feet. After a short bit of panic, followed by ample use of choice four letter words, I remembered seeing some bikes locked up out front of the hotel. I thought they might be another teams bikes, but upon inspection they were rentals provided by the hotel. Now I don’t usually condone taking without asking, but the situation was dire and these bikes had something I didn’t, platform pedals. I checked the parking lot, pretty empty. Checked the weather, rain. This wasn’t going to be peak season for mountain bike rentals so I decided to borrow a pair for the race. Come the next morning, I got plenty of strange looks for having a $10 set of platform pedals without toe cages on a carbon fiber race bike, but what’s a man to do? I figured I’d have the fastest transitions ever since I’d never change my shoes!
We were given the course in the morning, plotted a couple points and figured out a route. It all seemed fairly straight forwards, a bit of running, paddling with some running and portaging sprinkled in, then biking, biking, more biking, a little bit on foot and a whole lot more biking. At the end of the race we had ridden over 140km on mostly paved roads, with an average speed of 25kph! Not bad for nobby tires.
The navigation for the most part was fairly easy, but I can say that as I didn’t do most of the work. Joe held the maps while on the water and foot, and expertly guided us through the maze of mud flats, soybean fields and chigger infested woods. I pointed us in the right direction while on bikes, platform pedals and all. During the race, we bounced in and out of the lead with Scott Pleban, until we got to the longer of the two foot orienteering sections where we pulled into the lead and managed to stay for the remainder of the race.
Overall it was a fun event, mostly because we had a cohesive team racing together, but there were definitely a few high points on the course. I’d have liked a little m ore off trail travel, but given the circumstances and the terrain I understand the limitations put on a race director. I’m looking forward to heading north to another of Hampton Road Adventures races next year.
In the past, after races I’ve never been one to bite my tongue after finishing an event that had “issues”. These typically range anywhere from poor instructions to misplaced points to poor course design. After the Atomic Adventure Race this year, I figured I’d hold off, let a little time pass, and then see how I felt. Let me check… Nope, it was still a pretty bad race.
Just to be clear, it wasn’t all bad mind you. I thought the course layout was good. Navigation options were fairly straight forward but allowed for some choice, and the volunteers were excellent. Oh, the post race meal was great too. However, there were several major “issues” with this race, and to date, no one seems to have discussed them publicly.
The first is everyone’s favorite, misplaced CP’s. There were two checkpoints in question, one of which I am willing to concede may have been at the UTM’s provided, after it was explained the map was wrong in that area. I’m not 100% convinced, but it leads to the question, if you know the map is wrong, why would you put a point there? The only teams who I heard found this point were teams that gave up and were going for a different checkpoint.
As a side note to misplaced CP’s, if you, as a race director, tell any team to quit looking for a point, then you have just removed that point from the race. Period. End of story. It just isn’t fair to let some folks find it and others are told to move on. After the first 3 teams came through and couldn’t find the CP, the race directors started telling teams it was missing and not to spend time looking for it. Later they declared it was in the right spot, and to the best of my knowledge didn’t credit teams they misled.
The second checkpoint, T4, which I am sure was misplaced, was over 900 feet (274 m) off. The clue was “clearing” yet the point was plotted on the edge of a hillside, no where near the actual clearing. Reference this map to see where the point was plotted (blue marker) and where it was located (red marker) by teams. The location of this point was never confirmed by the race directors.
Numerous other points were off by 30, 40, 50 or more meters. The excuse? They were inside the 100 meter search radius in the rules. Sorry, but if you tell me a point is at a specific UTM, then put the flag there. Not somewhere within 100 meters. This is orienteering, not an easter egg hunt. Navigation is the skill by which teams find their way from point to point, not find their way to an area and stumble around until they find a flag. I’ve asked many top navigators their opinion on this and they all have agreed with me. I suspect all the points were positioned with a GPS that didn’t have a UTM grid that matched the map, I’ve seen it before. I find it’s always wise to plot the points on the final map by terrain feature, and read the UTM off the map.
Usually, misplaced CP’s are the worst thing in a race, but the Atomic had something even worse in store. The paddle, or rather the lack thereof. The gear list said bring a paddle and PFD, which usually means the race will supply a canoe or kayak. We were also instructed to bring a pump which implied an inflatable raft. That turned out to be a two person, 360 lb limited, I wouldn’t give one to my kids even if they were in a pool raft. Did I also mention we were on one of the most fun sections of the Toccoa River, if you have the right boat?
I can’t begin to explain why this was the worst idea ever. I expect these kind of “games” in sprint races that attract new racers to the sport. It’s cute and fun if you aren’t racing seriously. Before anyone rants at me, yes, I realize that this sport should be fun, but if we aren’t actually racing, I’d much rather keep my money and go hashing. It’s only $7 and I get beer at the end. But I digress. For a race that advertises as one of the top races in the southeast, and goes to great lengths to attract top teams, I can’t believe they tried to pull this stunt. Just think about the physics of it. Our three person team with gear weighed in around 600 lbs. I’m 6’5″ tall and the boat 6’4″ long. I couldn’t fit in there by myself. I watched two teams try to paddle and it just wasn’t going to happen. I ended up deflating the boat, stuffing it in my pack, and we ran the 10 miles. I should also note that we threw all these cheap boats away and I am sure they went directly into some landfill where they will sit for the next thousand years.
Oh, but there is more. The race directors had to have known that the boats would go flat or teams wouldn’t fit and would end up on foot for the paddle section. With this in mind, why on earth would you put CP’s along the river where they could only be accessed from land if one was trespassing? I consider that unprofessional, irresponsible, and dangerous.
To top it all off, we spoke with one racer further back in the pack who at the paddle put in. He said that he felt mocked the people there were watching him as he tried to get in the boat and go downstream. We are racers paying lots of money to compete in this event, the last thing we want to be is mocked. I’m sure (I hope) no one was doing this consiously to the racers, but the mere fact someone felt that way doesn’t speak well for the whole situation.
When we finally made it to the finish line and I consciously made the effort to talk to as many people as I could to get their opinions. I honestly could not find anyone that had anything good to say about the race. Yes, this is anecdotal, but I think this is reflected in the lack of conversation about the race on the Trailblazers Adventure Racing Club forums.
By now, if you haven’t figured it out, the race was a bit of a let down for us. We got in a good workout, and we got to see our friends, I just wish it had been under better circumstances.
For all the years I spent growing up and going to school in NY, I’ve never gotten a chance to do an adventure race there. When new Checkpoint Zero teammates Jen Shultis and Joe Brautigam asked me to join them for the Longest Day, I jumped at the chance. I’d get to see my family and race in a new part of the country.
Organized by the New York Adventure Racing Association, The Longest Day is one of their premier events, and usually pull out all the stops to make a challenging, but fun and memorable course. Suffice to say, racers this year were not disappointed.
In a move that breaks with the trend of most races I’ve done, there was no day before registration and no plotting. I like this for several reasons. It makes for a relaxing evening before the race, opportunity to get a decent amount of sleep the night before, as well as taking away the persistent problem many races have, bad UTM’s in the instructions. There has been some debate amongst racers whether plotting, and plotting on or off the clock should be an adventure racing discipline. I lean towards making teams plot, but if giving out pre plotted maps eliminated bad UTM’s, I’d certainly vote for it.
At 4:30 AM we rose from our sleep, packed our gear into the cars and made the short trip from our hotel to Belleayre ski area for registration and the start. Being a bit of a stranger to the north east race scene, I saw a few familiar faces, but by the conversations it was clear Jen and Joe knew pretty much everyone. After getting the maps we were given about an hour to look at the maps, figure out a route, and digest the rules. Some quick re-shuffling of gear and we were set to begin.
We were given envelopes with prologue maps and instructions, consisting of two identical sets of topo maps, satellite photos, and passports. We were told the team could split up, and collectively we had to visit all 9 prologue points. Joe and I quickly split the points and took off in opposite directions, leaving Jen at the start, as nothing said the whole team had to go anywhere. I think we were the only team that did that. At the last point I visited, I had the first of several minor accidents of the race. As I stepped off a road and into the woods I slipped and instinctively put my had down to catch myself. As I regained balance and brought my hand up I felt a sharp pain right between my pinky and ring finger. I looked, and there was part of a stick, about the diameter of a match, poking out of my hand! I tried to extract it with my other hand, but it broke off, and I could feel what was left in my hand.
Running back to the start line I was hollering for some tweezers. I wiped away the blood that was now trickling down my fingers and presented my wound to Jen. She poked around for a second and asked “Is there really something in there?” Knowing the clock was ticking, I answered rather impatiently, “Yes, I know there is something in there!” It’s not that she was taking her time, it was that we had a race to run and I didn’t want to blow it right off the bat. With several pairs of tweezers, one holding back the flap of skin, the other digging into the soft flesh of my hand, I felt Jen grab what was in there and I told her to pull hard. TOo much adrenalin to feel any pain. What came out was a (relatively) huge chunk of branch about a 1/4″ long!
Now having spared us a trip to the hospital, we started the race. There was a quick bike orienteering section at the ski area that confused most of the teams as there were a maze of trails both shown and not shown. This was followed by a hike a bike to the top, and a ride back down the mountain. Along the way I had the second of my little accidents, this time getting my front wheel stuck in a little ditch which unsurprisingly sent me over the handle bars, jamming a seat into my thigh before landing in a patch of stinging nettles. Good times, I felt it the rest of the race and have a massive yellow and purple bruise on the inside of my leg as I type. A short road ride and we made it to the first transition. Here we got on foot and got our one mandatory, and 3 optional checkpoints before getting to one of the highlights of the race, the rafting section.
The rafting was on Esopus Creek, which most of the time is fairly tame, but there had been a water release starting the evening before which turned sections of the river into fairly technical class 2 and 3 white water. We were given 10′ white water rafts, PFDs and paddles and sent on our way. None of the three of us were terribly experienced white water paddlers so we spent the first few minutes bouncing off, over, and around every rock in the river. As our boat started to fill with water, we tried to bail some of it out with little success. Once we had a foot of water in the raft we knew we had to pull over and dump it. Have you ever tried to dump a raft with that much water in it? It isn’t easy if you don’t know what you are doing. We finally managed to tilt the raft upright and got most of the water out, when Joe spotted his bladder hose from the bottom side of the raft. How could that be visible? Probably had something to do with the 10″ L-shaped tear in the bottom of the boat. We realized there would be no more bailing for us and we’d have to make the rest of the trip water logged.
Unfortunately for us, this all happened right before the most technical section of the river, and the part that had the most spectators. Somehow we made it through without looking like total fools, although maybe we did look like fools and the kayakers were kind enough not to point it out. Further downstream we did come across a mandatory portage that was manned by two volunteers. We convinced them to let us swap boats with them as theirs was sea worthy and they didn’t have to paddle any more.
By early afternoon we were off the river and back on the bikes for a ride, or rather a climb, to the next trek. Even though the net elevation gain in the race was zero, it felt like 3/4′s of the race was spent going up hill. The second trek had a time limit on it, which meant we missed most of the points available there before getting to the best part of the race. The zip line. This was no ordinary zip line, only the longest and highest in North America. At a height of 500 feet above the ground, and reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, this was by far the coolest ropes section I’ve ever done in any race so far. If you ever get a chance to go to Hunter Mountain, check it out.
After the zip line, it was a mere formality to trek back down the mountain and ride to the finish line. We finished in second place behind SOG, who were amazingly fast and certainly deserved the win. I can safely say this event was probably my favorite of the year so far, and it will be hard to top. I can only hope that I have a chance to go race it again next year.
We’ve put out an APB for the location of Checkpoint Zero lead navigator, Peter Jolles. It seems someone masquerading as him showed up at the 2011 Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race and unfortunately for the team, this persons performance was, well, he wasn’t performing at all.
The Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race is a Georgia classic, one of the most hotly contested races of the year pitching the south east best adventure racing teams against the multitude of other talented multi sport athletes. The last few years have favored the AR teams with tougher navigation, and more involved strategies, and this year was no different.
In what has become a trademark for this race, the race director threw a twist at us allowing the team to split up for a hike/paddle section which had all the hallmarks for a complete sucess, or disaster, for those teams willing to take a chance splitting the teams apart to regroup somewhere else on the course. Our team for the day consisted of Michele Hobson, the guy pretending to be Peter, and Chris Brown filling in for an injured Paul Humphreys.
We planned our route to be conservative in terms of difficulty, but a little longer on distance. We were to be routed through some areas where we suspected there might be some trails, but we didn’t know what shape they would be in, or if they would be there at all. From the get go we were moving fast, passing teams that took faster routes and we think we got close to the lead. In the rogaine format of the race one can never be sure where you are, but we couldn’t have been far back. We had a few issues on the first CP as we took a risky attack towards the point and missed it by a little bit, but sorted it out without too much trouble. The next few we knocked out quickly but by the time we got to the first manned checkpoint that everyone had to get to we were in 6th place and about 30 minutes down! We had been hauling and didn’t think our route choice was that bad, but apparently those who knew about the trail systems, or took the risk on them, got rewarded.
A little disappointed, we resolved to chase down the leaders even harder. Rolling into the first transition area we quickly transitioned from riding to padding, and were out in less than 2 minutes. Our professional quality support crew Paul Humphreys and Allen McAdams told us later that folks could not believe how fast we went through there as most teams were sitting down and apparently having lunch or something while they were there. Races can be won or lost in transition, and any time you save requires no physical exertion, just a little mental preparation.
The following paddle was straight forward and we closed the gap to the leaders until we had only 2 teams ahead of us. We could see glimpses of them on the Toccoa river as each team had a slightly different strategy for splitting and regrouping, but we were less than 10 minutes behind. And then disaster.
We had one short paddle leg left, maybe half a mile, and a 5 mile bike ride into town. We were hoping for a sprint to the finish line as we couldn’t be far behind. The little paddle leg was to take us between two islands in lake Blue Ridge, except the water level was low. Really low. 30 feet low. I looked out and saw one island and said to the team we shoot for that, turn left, and we’re there. When we turned the corner things just didn’t look right, maybe I misjudged because of the low water level. We decided to try the next inlet up, and the next, and the next. When we finally came around a corner and saw the dam I was instantly shocked and furious. I knew we overshot, but we ended up adding several miles to our paddle! Did I mention I hate lake navigation? Apparently our support crew could see us from the take out and were waving and shouting furiously as we paddled by but we never saw them.
Knowing we threw away any chance at a decent finish we turned around, found the proper take out and rode to the end. We crossed the line in 6th and an hour down on Snickers. It was embarrassing to relate my story to each team of friends that came in before, and after us. How could I screw up that badly? I don’t expect to be on all the time, but that was horrible. Oh, but it gets worse.
Unbeknownst to us, very early on in the race we were passing the passport back and forth to punch points I apparently mispunched one CP. With that additional blow of not getting credit for one CP we were relegated to something like 72nd place. In the end, it’s not about winning or losing, but getting out there and having fun. I will say I really enjoyed racing with Chris and Michele and we were proud of how fast we were able to move, even if it was in the wrong direction.
So, for all you race directors, if you really want to ruin our chances at a race, put in a good lake paddle navigation section. Hopefully I’ll be able to pass off that portion to a teammate, as I’ll be sure to get us hopelessly lost.
This past weekend saw the action heating up just outside of Winston Salem North Carolina where the Zero’s converged for the Yuki-Bar Adventure race. This race was a combination of the Yuki Joy and Bushwhack races, both of which we have done in the past. Just like the LBL race, and Blue Ridge, neither of which I’ve written about yet, we had a little trouble putting a team together for this one and long story short, we created a 5 headed monster with Appalachian AR.
Unlike most races, stand in racer Chris VonIns and I had a little trouble getting to the race. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for early Friday morning and usually they are quick, in and out in less than 30 minutes. I even took the effort to show up 10 minutes early in hopes they could knock it out even sooner. Suffice to say that didn’t happen. I waited 30 minutes before they called me in and took my bite wing x-rays. I could hear the hygienist that was to clean my teeth talking in the next room over and I knew from the sounds of the air tools that she’d be at least another 10 minutes. Looking at my watch I knew there was no chance I’d get out of there in time and did something I’d never done before. I got up and walked out. I probably should have rescheduled when I knew I was racing and avoided the situation, but sometimes I hope for the best. They ended up calling me several hours later and I got rescheduled for Monday.
Back to the race. Chris and I manage to leave Atlanta around noon and managed to get to the start line an hour and a half before the race was set to start. We knew that Russ was already there and had plotted the first set of points and we could copy his maps, but we still had to scramble to get the canoe situated and all our gear packed and sorted. With minutes to spare we worked up a quick strategy for the first part of the race.
The race format allowed for a fair amount of choice in how to attack points, but still was in a format that allowed one to keep track of how you were doing versus the other teams. The first leg consisted of eight points scattered around the YMCA camp we started at, with two points at the top of a 1000 foot climb. The other sections were clustered around TA’s separated by long road rides. This made for lots of miles, but they ticked away very quickly.
There were a number of misplaced points along the way, which I always hate to see, but the RD’s were apologetic and admitted the issues right away. I appreciate the willingness to admit mistakes when they are made and it goes a long way towards fostering good will. Still, I’d hope that things like mis-numbering a whole series of CPs would have been caught before the race. For those interested, CP4 was sketchy, I don’t know how the map lined up with reality, but it wasn’t where I expected it. CP5 had two sets of coordinates, one that was corrected and one that wasn’t. We had plotted the uncorrected ones and it took us 30 minutes to figure out the problem. I think CP17/19 (depending on what you called it) was off. The map was missing one switchback, which I didn’t really expect as it looked like a GPS created map. There was a lot of trail work going on and it could have been new, but I didn’t like that one much. I think 45 (Pilot Mountain CP with the flag) was a little high compared to the plot, but we did find it.
Highlights from the race included fording the waist deep fast moving Yadkin River, warm country ham biscuits at TA4, and some fantastic back country roads and views. The high ropes course at the YMCA was fun, although I was a little unsure of the “Matrix” when we were first told what we had to do. The Matrix consisted of 3′x3′ platforms suspended on 1/2″ metal wire and spaced about 5 feet apart. Oh, and 40′ in the air! The object was to get the whole team on one platform before moving to the next one. I think Michele got the raw end of that deal as when we huddled on the small platform her nose was right about the level of my arm pit. I’ve been wearing the same jersey for 2 years, and after a while those things just don’t come clean any more.
After some 20 odd hours we crossed the finish line with all the points in first place. With the string of bad races we’ve been having it was nice to have a relatively clean and successful race. Hopefully we can carry the momentum through to the Atomic AR where we will have our hands full carrying some 10 lb hunk of metal the race directors use to handicap the previous winning team. Can’t wait.
I’ve been told I’ve been neglecting the blog. Yes, it’s true I’ve done very little this year so far. Not for lack of activity, there has been plenty, and that’s probably been the problem. Too many irons, too many fires. Or something.
In any case, it’s time for all five of our loyal readers to get an update on what is happing with the Zero’s. First big news of the year is we’ve expanded the team for 2011. We’ve had some injuries, a pregnancy, and family commitments that made putting squads together tougher, and we’ve been going outside the family to field teams.
Who are the new faces? Well, they aren’t exactly new, they’ve been around the block more than once and have a long and impressive resume(s). Checkpoint Zero will be joined by none other than the fantastic folks formerly of Eastern Mountain Sports! We’ve raced against Jenn, Jeff, Jason and Joe for a long time now, and I’m glad to say I’ll be on the line wearing the same jersey as they are.
Along with the new teammates, Checkpoint Zero is pleased to announce that we have partnered with Tech4O as our title sponsor. We’ll be racing 2011 as Checkpoint Zero Tech4O and will hopefully be sporting some new threads soon. Tech4O is best known for their Traileader series of outdoor multifunction watches. I’ve been using the Traileader Pro for several months now and it’s been a great training partner with it’s PC uplink functionality.
In other news, I’ve been halfway around the world racing in Patagonia, in Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina and haven’t said a peep. We also put on NGAR, (and raced there) as well as several other events. I can’t promise I’ll get full reports out for each race tonight, but we’ll see what I can dig up.
For those keeping track, our next race will be the Atomic AR where we will try and defend our title from last year. After that will be the NYARA Longest Day. I hope to make it up to that race for the first time and join our north eastern contingent for what looks like a fantastic race.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Expedition racing is expensive. Entry fees are high, travel expenses can be exorbitant, and gear lists typically have a fair number of items that aren’t required for local races. For the Patagonia Expedition Race of those unique items on the gear list is a kayak tow system.
In previous races we’ve tried to tie boats together, with limited success, but that’s typically on calm lakes and rivers, not the potentially deadly iceberg infested waters we’ll encounter down south. I’d seen tow systems advertised on some web sites, but the relatively high cost ($50-$120)has prevented me from purchasing one on a whim.
Now that I had to get one, I took a look at a few commercially available ones and realized that I could get all the components at local shops and decided to try and make one. The results can be seen here. For an investment of about $20 in materials I’ve got a 50′ adjustable tow line with a short section of chock absorption. The whole system can fasten around ones waist and has a quick release buckle in case of emergency.