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Twelve Hours of Pain & “Fun” – The Sleepy Hollow Rogaine Race Report

A month and a half ago, we decided that we should do a 12 hour rogaine in Ohio since it is roughly halfway between Missouri, where most of Team Virtus reside, and New York, where Casey lives. Bob had a hair appointment with his stylist Bruno, and Drew could not make it due to a prior commitment as the keynote speaker at the local Star Trek Convention (I think that’s what they said, but I could be mistaken). So, it was just going to be the brothers Lamb – Casey, Zack, and myself. We agreed to meet in Ohio and race our asses off.

 

Team Virtus at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Zack, Luke, and Casey before the "fun" started

 

 

Unfortunately, things would not go smoothly leading up to the race. Zack threw his back out about 10 days before the race. He tried to train through it, and, in the process, bruised his boys downstairs by running with unorthodox form in boxer shorts. A trip to the chiropractor and some R&R for his boys left Zack feeling a lot better, although still not 100%.

At about the same time, I found myself in the hospital with pneumonia. The pain in my lungs, back, and ribs left me feeling like I was suffocating. A few pain killers and several doses of antibiotics later and I felt much better. One short trail run confirmed that I would indeed survive the rogaine… At least I hoped so.

Five or six days before the race, Casey came down with the swine flu. Feverish and coughing his face off, Casey wasn’t sure if he was going to make it to the race. After resting and taking care of himself for a few days, though, Casey was feeling well enough to attempt racing.

Zack and I didn’t get into Ohio until 1:00 AM or so. Casey had arrived much earlier. We tried to get as much sleep as we could, but Casey’s coughing attacks sounded like a band of gorillas in the midst of an orgy.  After getting as much shut-eye as we could, we woke up early, packed our gear, and headed out to check in for the race. We checked in, got our t-shirts and maps, and we started to strategerize our route.

 

Route planning for the rogaine

The three of us planning our route

 

 

After we had mapped out an ambitious day-time route South of the hash house and a night-time route to the North, one of the race organizers let us know that the toughest navigation was to the North.  He said that they even had trouble placing the checkpoints using a GPS.  So, we decided that we should flip-flop our plan and do the tougher navigation while the sun was still up.  This decision, in hindsight, probably ended up hurting our overall score, but we’ll get to that in just a minute or two.

At 11:00 AM sharp, we were off.  We knew we were not going to be the fastest team, so we decided on a route that we thought no one else would take (we didn’t want to be following any other teams).  With the sun shining beautifully, we headed out from the hash house along a paved road for a couple of miles.  As we were jogging down the road, we met a man walking his dog.  He looked at us and said, “What is this?  A chubby race?”  Wow. This kind of took the wind right out of our sails.  Now I know we are not built like ultra-marathoners, but I prefer the term “husky” instead of “chubby.”

After leaving our new “friend” behind, we found the trail we were looking for and headed in.  We were all excited and talking non-stop which led to me taking us off the trail a little too soon.  Apparently, I had guided us up the wrong reentrant.  We soon realized this, and we headed over the ridge to the correct reentrant to find CP 55.  My mistake maybe cost us 20 minutes.  Not too bad, but I still feel bad about it.

Zack at our first Checkpoint (55) at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Zack at Checkpoint 55 - our first checkpoint of the race

As we bushwhacked our way over to CP 55, we got a small taste of the rugged terrain and ridiculous thorns we would face throughout the race.  Casey also mentioned that his calves were about to start cramping pretty badly.  As we started to bushwhack up the reentrant to the top of the ridge, Casey’s calves and achilles tendons started killing him.  By the time we got to the top of the ridge, Casey was only able to manage very small, excruciating steps.  Zack and I thought the race was over.  At the pace Casey was moving, we would probably only get one more checkpoint before dark if we were lucky.

Casey showing where it hurts

Casey showing us where it hurts

We stopped on top of the ridge, and Zack began figuring out the best way to get us back to the hash house if Casey could not continue.  As he was doing this, I took out my first aid kit and gave Casey some Tylenol and two Ace bandages to add some compression to his calves.  Casey stretched his calves and downed several gels and other goodies along with copious amounts of water to get some electrolytes into his system. Zack and I decided to take turns carrying Casey’s pack so that we could hopefully make it to the next checkpoint at the very least.  However, we didn’t realize that Casey’s pack weighed forty-seven pounds or else we might not have offered to carry it.

Luke Carrying two packs at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Luke with his own pack on his back and Casey's ridiculously heavy pack on the front. This is not the best way to carry an extra pack.

Luke with two packs and Casey Smiling

Self-portrait of Luke with two packs. Notice how happy Casey is in the background with no pack on his back.

I wore Casey’s pack on the front of my body, but this was not very comfortable. When it was Zack’s turn to carry the pack, he simply threw it over his own pack, and this was a much better way to carry it – especially when climbing some of the outrageously steep hills.

Zack with two packs climbing a monster hill

Here we see Zack carrying both packs up a monster hill. This hill was pretty typical of the terrain we traveled during this race.

With some pain killers, bandaged legs, and no pack on his back, Casey was able to maintain a fairly decent pace.  He was still in pain, but at least we were still in the race.  We followed the ridge line and headed down a finger to checkpoint 72. From here, rather than heading in a straight line down a reentrant and up a huge hill, we stayed on top of the ridge until we found the trail.  The trail led us close to CP 61, and we found this one without any problems.

We weren’t sure how long Casey was going to be able to go since he was still in a lot of pain. We had originally planned on skipping CP 34, but we decided to go for it since we were so close to it and since Casey’s legs were still functional.   It was now 2:30 PM, and we had a total of 210 points for an average of 60 points per hour.  This is not what we had hoped for, but that’s part of the adventure. We made a mini-goal of getting out next 3 CP’s (44, 52, and 81) before 4:00.

From CP 34, we headed off to find CP 44.  It was on the way to 44 that Zack fell flat on his face.  It was not a typical fall.  His laces got caught on something which took his feet out from under him, and he literally went straight down onto his face and stomach in the blink of an eye without having a chance to catch himself at all.  It provided some much needed comic relief.

After getting CP 44 with no problems, we hit CP 52 with no issues.  Then we trekked North to find CP 81. Casey’s legs were now feeling good enough to carry his own pack, although it was MUCH emptier and lighter at this point.

Casey finally carrying his own pack

Casey carrying his nearly empty pack

It was getting close to 4:00, and we needed to pick up the pace a little if we were going to get 81 by our self-imposed cut-off time.  On the way to 81, we found ourselves in an open field left behind from what appeared to be some clear-cut logging.  It was one of the few times we were not in deep woods and brush.

Clear Cut Field at The Sleepy Hollow 12 Hour Rogaine

On the way to CP 81

The clue for 81 was “deadfall.”  This seemed straight forward enough… Until we started heading down the reentrant. Everywhere we looked there was another deadfall and everything looked exactly the same.  After searching for roughly 10 minutes, we finally found the right reentrant.  It was very close, but we made our 4:00 deadline… Barely.

Just in Time

We had less than a minute to spare to reach our goal

Reaching our mini-goal seemed to boost our spirits.  There was still about an hour and a half of daylight left, we had gotten every checkpoint that we set out to get so far, and Casey’s legs seemed to be holding up.  Our spirits were high…

Then came our long, arduous trek to the next CP.  We had all run out of water by this time, and we were planning on filling up at the water drop after getting CP 60.  CP 60, though, was roughly 3 miles away with an abundance of elevation change that sucked the life out of us, and my feet and knees were beginning to hurt.

The sun disappeared, and the temperature started to drop.  It seemed like we would never get to CP 60.  It was as if we were Frodo, Sam, and Gollum on their impossible trek to Mordor.  Clearly, I would be Frodo and Zack would be Sam, which must mean that Casey is Gollum.  Anyway, we finally made it to where we thought we should turn into the reentrant to find CP 60.

The thorns and brush were ridiculously thick here, though, so we kept moving, hoping to find an easier path to the checkpoint.  We finally found an easier way to 60.  Had we fought our way through the thorns and brush where I originally thought we should, we would have gone down the wrong reentrant and scratched the hell out of our legs for nothing.  I don’t think I would have ever lived that one down.

From 60, we bushwhacked up the worst climb of the race.  Seriously, this effing climb was absurd.  It seemed to go on forever, and we literally had to grab branches and small trees to pull ourselves up a few times.  We hadn’t had anything to drink in nearly two hours, so this climb almost killed us.  The only thing that kept us going was the fact that the water drop was across the street at the top of the hill.

After finally summiting, we expected to see the glorious water waiting for us on the other side of the road.  A small piece of my soul died when the water was nowhere to be seen.  We thought that maybe we needed to head further West to find the water, but this was not the case.  We decided to just head into the woods to hit CP 40, and then we would skip CP 21 and go straight back to the hash house to get more water.  It was going to be a crappy mile and a half, but we could make it.  As we headed into the woods about 20 yards, we saw several jugs of water and a large cooler full of water.  Jackpot!!! We couldn’t be happier.  This was just what we needed.

Filling up at the Water Drop

Filling up with deliciously cold, fresh water - Casey looks so happy

With our water supply filled up, we headed down the ridge and found CP 40 easily.  Then we hit the trail to head down to CP 21.  Part of this trail was incredibly steep and covered with nearly tw0 feet of leaves and debris, making it very difficult to walk upright and wreaking havoc on my feet and knees. We soon found 21 without any problems, although the climb up to 21 was rough.  It was a big enough climb to make us wonder why we were exerting so much energy for a mere 20 points.

After hitting 21, we had a total of 500 points.  We followed the trail back to the hash house to get warmer clothes and more food.  We devoured barbecued pork sandwiches that were to die for, scarfed down parsley potatoes that warmed our souls, and we washed it all down with several ice cold bottles of water.  It was simply amazing.  The only bad part about our return to the hash house was fact that we knew we had to leave shortly.

Zack at the hash house.

Is this Zack or Zoolander?

Casey at the hash house

Casey looking satisfied after filling his belly

Luke at the hash house

So happy eating delicious food at the hash house

At the beginning of the race, we were told that one of the CP’s close to the hash house would reveal a clue for the “bonus” checkpoint.  Since we knew that we weren’t going to get many more CP’s, we figured we would try to find the bonus CP. So we left the hash house around 8:30 or so, and we headed West to CP 20.  Casey was feeling better than he had all race, but my feet and knees were killing me.  Zack’s knee was bothering him a little bit, too, but we really wanted to get to 600 points at the very least.

We skirted around the small pond, and we saw 5 or 6 teams through the trees trying to find the CP.  We were all tired and starting to hurt, so we just figured we’d follow everyone else to the CP.  This was a mistake as we seemed to blow by the CP without finding it.  After searching for CP 20 for 20 t0 30 minutes, we went back to the pond to start over.  This time we didn’t worry about what other teams were doing, and we took our time to make sure we found it.  Again, this was a lot of wasted time and effort for just 20 points, but it became a matter of pride.  We were determined to find CP 20 no matter what.

We found the CP with no more problems, and fortunately it was the CP with the bonus clue.  The clue said something like, “Find the head and Get 30 points. Take a 330 degree bearing for 205 yards.”  So, off we went.  The only problem was that we had to bushwhack the entire way up a pretty steep hill.  At this point, though, we felt like we had to find the head and get the bonus checkpoint.  After a little searching, we heard some screaming a short distance ahead of us.  We then saw red flashing lights, and we knew we had found the head and the bonus points.

Casey and the Bonus Head

Casey loved getting some bonus head

Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t really want to continue at this point.  I don’t know how Casey and Zack were feeling, but I was hurting.  I knew that we only needed 50 more points to hit a total of 600, but we were running out of time.  We had about an hour and a half left.  So, we decided we could definitely go for CP 41 and then reevaluate.

We found CP 41 easily, and then we started to head back towards the hash house. We came to a road/trail intersection, and we could either take the trail directly back to the hash house or we could go for one more CP.  It was 10:15 PM, so we thought that we had plenty of time.  We decided to go for CP 30.

We headed down the road and then down a steep reentrant.  I was starting to limp and hobble, and I was ready to be done.  This part of the park did not seem to match the map. We split up a little bit, and Casey soon found our final CP.

It was at this point that I thought Zack might actually try to strangle Casey.  We literally only had less than a quarter of a mile left in the race, and Casey said to Zack, “Hey, man.  You want me to carry your pack?”  Zack’s response was an emphatic “Hell, Fuck NO!! You’ve got to be kidding me!”  I was too tired to know if Casey was kidding, and I was in too much pain to care.  I just wanted to get back to the hash house before 11:00 PM.

We rolled in to finish the race at 10:54 PM with a total of 620 points.  We ate more delicious barbecued pork sandwiches, potatoes, and cake.  We found out who the top three teams were, and I was amazed that the winning team actually cleared the entire course in less than 10 hours.  That is simply incredible.

My feet and knees were shot, but I felt a little better when I saw several other teams hobbling around like I was.  I think we all underestimated how brutal the terrain would be in Ohio.  After looking at the map, I think we could have gotten more points had we headed South of the hash house at that start.  Many of the teams that placed ahead of us started South of the Hash House.  I guess next time, we’ll stick to our own game plan regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

A big thank you must go out to our sponsor at homework-help-secrets.com for making this race possible.  We couldn’t have done it without your support.  We also need to thank our mother for hooking us up with some incredible trail mix and pemican.  It was delicious.

We ended up 25th out of 36 teams which was a little disappointing.  I think we all thought we were capable of placing higher.  On the other hand, it was our first rogaine, and I got to spend 12 punishing hours of fun in the woods with my two brothers.  So no matter how we fared, I had one hell of a good time.  In the end that is all that really matters.

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About Lukas Lamb

Husband to a wonderful wife, father to 4 incredible kids (3 daughters and 1 son), adventure racer, mountain biker, runner, lifter of weights, reader of books, and lover of life. He can be found on Google+

Posted on November 17, 2009, in Race Reports and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Nice write-up, sounds like a seriously brutal course.

    And holy shit!, wtf did Casey have in that backpack?? It looks like it weighs 100 lbs.

    Did you guys leave that water in the woods or did the race promoters do that?

    Either way, looks awesome!! (ya bastards)

  2. I had a blast at the race and enjoyed the day in the woods with my 2 brothers. I think the report covers most of the race pretty well. A few points I wanted to add:

    1. I appologize to the team for being the team anchor. My legs cramped unexpectedly and for unknown reasons. Howevr, I thank them both for schlepping my pack for a couple of hours while my legs recovered. And I was mostly joking when I offered to carry their packs with half a mile to go. However, had they handed me the packs, I would have carried them back to the hash house.

    2. I think my calf cramps were due to my electorlytes being out of whack due to the flu. I think the report doesn’t quite catch how my calves really felt. If you’d like to experience the feeling have a friend put on pointy cowboy boots and kick you in each leg right where you calf and achilles tendon meet and the walk for 11 hours up and down hills. If you ever are pain free have your friend kick you again.

    3. During the planing phase we had some discussion about whether to go clockwise or counter clockwise. I wanted to go clockwise and Zack wanted to go counterclockwise. Luke didn’t really care. We both presented our case and had some good points. I gave in and we went Zack’s way. I said that since I agreed to go his way he had to carry the mandatory 1 square foot of hunter orange. Zack refused and said I could crumbled it into a little ball and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. So, I ended up carry the hunter orange. However, when my brothers were carrying my pack, they also were carrying the hunter orange. When Zack was carrying my pack I reminded him that it was his job to carry the hunter orange and he went off saying that he wouldn’t carry it and repeated again where I could put it. I laughed and said that he was carrying it already. He denied it and Luke and I shared a good laugh.

    4. I also agree with Luke, that our score would have been much higher if we heaedsouth to start instead of north since we ended up covering so little ground. But, for our first rogaine I can’t complain and will learn from the experience.

    Thanks to the folks that put the race on and to our wonderful sponsors. Also, thanks to my teammates for picking up the slack and helping a brother out. I hope to compete in future rogaines and hope we consider the 24 hour event they are putting on next Fall. Hopefully, Bob can skip his hair appointment and the local Star Trek convention will be a different weekend.

  3. When you see my hair you’ll know it was worth it. Maybe it’s just my (at work) pc, but I can’t see the slideshow.

  4. Chubby race? Harsh. Last year, I rode part of a metric century with an older guy I started chatting with on the ride. First, he told me I was good to ride behind bc I’m big. Then, he told me he was glad he’d come across me bc he had been starting to work up a sweat. So, I’m fat AND slow. And very, very humble now.

    On a side note, I’ve almost worked my way through all the race reports on your site, so I’m going to need you guys to do a new event soon. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Yeah, it’s amazing how being don’t even have a clue that they are being rude. Or maybe they just don’t care.

    We should be posting a report on a non-race/ride we just did over the weekend, so stay tuned. And thanks for going back and reading our reports, and a BIG thanks for commenting. We love getting comments!

  6. I cannot stand people that “unknowingly” talk smack like that. If he was such a stud, he never would have been behind you in the first place.

    You should have farted. I would have.

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