The 2nd annual Team Virtus adventure non-race, (“The Deuce”), has come and gone. For those who came to volunteer, non-race, or stand around waiting for your husbands to finish.. I’d like to extend a very sincere THANK YOU. Thank you for coming out and supporting local, FREE racing. Good people with positive attitudes are what non-racing is all about, and we hope you’ll all come back next time.
Who would have thought organizing an adventure race could be so much fun AND such a pain in the ass? I mean, seriously!! I think we all had our moments of anxiety before and during the Deuce……
EFF Word!! Eff word REALLY LOUD!!
…. but now that it’s over I think we can all agree it was a success. And since we’re shameless self-promoters, we thought it’d be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we set things up.
Setting the course was a lot of fun. Late in the summer last year I found a substantial piece of National Forest land about 10 minutes from my house. On my days off, I’d just go out there and walk around. It didn’t take long to compile a list of “cool stuff” we wanted to include in the race, and it was also nice to watch my dogs roll around in every disgusting mudhole they could find.
Course markers are super-expensive if you buy the good ones, so we decided to make our own. I think we spent $8 on spray-paint and twine to come up with all our 31 checkpoints. Each non-racer would be given a small notebook and an ink-pen to record the images we put on each control.
Yeah, so the paint came off.... big deal.
Each racer was provided with a series of maps with pre-plotted checkpoints. They were also given maps specific to the Cedar Creek Trail and Pine Ridge Conservation area. These additional maps would prove to be very beneficial to anyone wise enough to use them. (**Coughs while pointing at Phil & Corey**)
On the morning of the non-race, I was very nervous about whether or not anyone would actually show up. We had really poured ourselves into planning this thing, and it would’ve been a huge let-down if noone showed up. I passed the time by amassing our pile of schwag on a dinner table in my driveway, and drinking coffee next to my fire-pit.
We didn’t technically have any sponsors for this race, but we did have some really good friends help us out. Nick Smith, (Owner of Redwheel Bike Shop
), was generous enough to donate two $20 gift certificates. In addition to that, he sold us a great deal of cycling gear for a heavily discounted price. The Brickhouse Deli also gave us a $10 gift certificate and sold me a few sandwiches on the cheap. The schwag was legit, we had about $300 worth of stuff to give away.
People started showing up and I could finally breathe a little. It looked like we would have 2 solos and 2 teams of two competing this year, and that was AWESOME!! I can’t remember who drove the furthest, but I know the majority of our non-racers lived a few hours away. Jim and Wendy Davis had planned on being there, but ran into some issues finding a baby sitter. We had also hoped for more local kids to show up, but there’s always next time.
Travis Hammons from Offroad Medics
showed up along with his professional support team made up of his wife and son.
Here we see Mr. Derrick Boos from Orange Lederhosen
along with his better half, Emma.
Another impressive fact is that we had just as many volunteers as we had racers!!! Phenomenal!! We actually had more help than we needed, so we called Drew at the last minute and told him to save himself a trip all the way to Holts Summit. Big thanks to him for being available to volunteer, and sorry to him for not letting him know sooner that his services were not needed. Having so many helping hands really made the event run seamlessly. My mom even showed up with bananas, oranges and granola:)
My mom is awesome, just in case anyone was wondering. She’s also married, so don’t try any bullshit.
Everybody gathered around the fire while I explained the rules and did my best to look important. Non-race directing is serious business, so I made sure to wear clean underwear that morning. Gotta be profesional..
I’ll tell you one thing Team Virtus doesn’t waste money on, and that’s a starting line. For a non-race called the Deuce, it only seemed appropriate that the start/finsh line be a brown smudge:
Relax, it’s only some mud from my yard.
Starting time was fast approaching, so we got everyone lined up and started the countdown.
Obviously we’re going to have to figure out a more glorious way to start the race next time. A simple “GO” and honking my horn just didn’t seem to get people motivated….so I took off running down the road, leading everyone on their way to non-racing glory. The Deuce had officially crowned!!
Sometimes running while honking a horn can land you in an awkward “kodak moment”
It’s disturbing, I know.
Robby and I hopped in the car and made way for CP3, which had been named “WTF died here?” The CP was right next to some roadkill and needed a bit of touching up. I’m sure you’re wondering what I mean by that. Well….we’d seen a dead skunk near my house, and thought it would be funny to add it to the checkpoint. We put our little friend in a Wal-Mart bag and hung him off the bike-rack. A short drive later, we added him to the CP and took a photo:
I’m sure the skunk would have been glad to know his life served a greater purpose. He looked really happy to be part of the non-race. Just look at that fanged smile!!
As we drove along, we got to see how our non-racers were faring on the gravel section of the first bike leg. The weather couldn’t have been better. Things were really looking good for the Deuce.
I believe corey and Phil got to CP 1 first:
Derrick seemed to appreciate the coolness of CP 1, named “Big Brother”. It’s a giant revolving radio-tower of some kind. Apparently he found some cool stickers there as well. You just never know what might happen at a non-race.
As I was driving past, I got to witness Corey & Phil’s first navigational blunder of the day.
I guess someone should’ve put a giant yellow sign next to the road that says “DEAD END“. Oh, wait…it’s already there.
**Pause 10 seconds for awkward silence.**
After a brief conversation with “Snail Trail”, I was back on the road. I’m not sure, but I think Corey was trying to draft the car:
After that, Robby and I headed to Pine Ridge campground to meet up with the rest of the volunteers. The campground served as a transition area for 2 key points during the race, so it was important to have food and water there. Our volunteers were doing a great job and things seemed to be in order, so Robby, Darin and I headed over to set up the 2nd mystery event.
Most adventure races include some form of paddling, but we don’t have the resources for all that. Canoes, insurance, medical staff, pfd’s… not on our salaries. We had to get creative for this one.
Check. it. out.
I bet you’ll never see that shit at a Bonk Hard race, and if you do you’ll know it was TV inspired. We stretched a length of rope across the pond and staked down both ends. If you wanted to get this CP, you had to get in the Flytepacker
and pull yourself across. In the above photo, Robby demonstrates the proper way to cross the pond. Look at that form!!
If you look at that pic and the photos below, you’ll notice that everyone who did this event seemed to have one thing in common….see if you can figure out what it was:
I wish I could’ve been there to watch, but there was too much other stuff to do. Lucky for us, Darin volunteered to oversee the mystery event and take a lot of pictures. He was also kind enough to tear it all down after the race and drop everything off at my house. Rumor has it, he was also passing out full-size Snickers bars to anyone who wanted one. Helluva team-mate, that guy.
When I got back to the campground/TA, I was happy to see that everyone had made it to the first transition. Muddy bikes littered the campground while checkpoint “Pain-Train” rested in the background.
This mystery event was Luke’s brainchild, and I think it’s a testament to him being a sick, sick bastard. By the time non-racers made it to the Prowler sled, they had already burned some pretty serious calories. Nevertheless, they were required to push the sled, (weighted w/ 90 lbs), around the campground’s turn-around area. 1 lap per team-member.
I guess it’s a good thing my mom had a bunch of food and Gatorade laid out nearby. Kate seems to be happy about it.
After pushing the sled, racers headed back into the woods for an orienteering leg. This section of the course was added at the last minute because Luke and I were afraid the course may be too short. We would later regret this decision, but we’re glad people got to see more of the park. Most of the controls were close to the Cedar Creek trail, which was detailed on one of the “extra” maps we provided before the race.
It’s hard to see, but if you look closely you can see two property lines of either side of the trail in that photo. The barb-wire fence is wrapped around a tree just to Kate’s left, and our control is hanging from a tree along the property line just to travis’s right. The Cedar Creek trail passes through a space no more than 10-feet wide between these 2 property lines. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.
By now, some of the racers were showing signs of fatigue. They had ridden approximately 15 miles and hiked 3-5. Travis was clearly experiencing a flurry of different emotions…
It wouldn’t be a true adventure race if we didn’t showcase some of the area’s historic landmarks. Here, we see Kate next to the old Nevins homestead. There’s a trail that leads straight to it, so if you’re ever in the Pine Ridge Ranger District area you should check it out. Lots of cool stuff out there.
Once they got the O-section cleared, teams made their way back to the T/A to get their bikes. Everybody seemed to be having a good time, and my nerves were finally starting to settle down. Most people were glad to see the food/gatorade station too, and a few of them paused here to refuel and chill for a bit. Robby and I were already hard at work making sure the beer we were providing at the finish line was fresh and tasty.
If you look at that photo, you’ll notice Emma using a stick as a crutch. She twisted her ankle early in the day while volunteering at the race. You’ll also notice that Kate’s about to head-butt me in the ass… I’m not sure what that’s all about.
I guess it was all the stress and caffeine that forced me to take a break from non-race directing so I could handle other, more important business…
Apparently I wasn’t hidden in the woods as well as I thought. As you can see from the photo below, this was clearly a disturbing sight. Even young Ethan seems mortified…
After leaving the TA, non-racers rode a short connector trail leading them southward to the next o-section. There was a large tree fallen across the trail, so Robby and I took turns beating the shit out of it until it finally broke into small enough pieces to clear from the trail. We got it finished just in time, and took the opportunity to get a few quality photos.
I like how you can see the chunks of wood in the background of that photo. We worked our asses off getting that thing off the trail!!
Here’s another good shot of Super Kate, who had run 21 miles the previous day:
It was obvious by now that the race was going to take a lot longer than we had planned. We had hoped everyone would be finishing in a 6-8 hour time frame, but that wasn’t going to happen. Most everyone had to skip over the 2nd orienteering section in order to finish before dark. This was especially disappointing since so much work had gone into laying out this section of the race. There was a lot of scenic real-estate people didn’t get to see, and that kinda sucked. I REALLY wish you guys could’ve done that section. I guess the good news is that we can use those same checkpoints for a later non-race.
I received word that our good friend Travis Hammons had suffered a catastrophic bicycle malfunction involving his front derailleur. The poor guy rode several miles of gravel in his granny-gear before I tracked him down and drove him to the finish. I can only hope he enjoyed the parts of the race he got to experience.
Team Snail Trail ran into some issues of their own. Navigational blunders and repeated flat tires crushed their hopes of Deuce victory, and they too had to take a DNF. The good news is that Team Virtus never leaves a man behind, so we sent out a car to pick them up and return them to race HQ. At least the Fail Trail would be ridden from the comfort of a heated vehicle. On the ride home, there was a bit of discussion as to the accuracy of our maps and where the CP’s were plotted. I assured Corey & Phil that each checkpoint had been triple-checked with a GPS to ensure accuracy and that the additional trail maps we provided before the race would have been very helpful. It got really quiet in the car, but the smell was one I won’t soon forget.
When I dropped the guys off, we discovered that someone had stolen a cyclocross bike right off the back of Corey’s truck earlier in the day. Right away, those of us at HQ set out to find it. Our efforts were fruitless and it was a blight on an otherwise great day. I really hated to have this happen. We put a lot of work into making this a fun event and it’s a shame that some asshole tried to take a shit on the Deuce. If you’re the thief and you’re reading this report, fuck you.
Meanwhile, the last 3 non-racers were still out on the course battling it out for first place. After leaving the 2nd mystery event, they followed a piece of singletrack to a gravel road. The road goes sharply downhill to a bridge, where the next CP was tucked away.
We had to put the marker somewhere less visible, so it wouldn’t be stolen or tampered with. We dropped it about 10 feet below the bridge on a piece of string. After they got this checkpoint, racers had to turn around and go right back up the giant hill we sent them down. We did it just to be assholes:)
From there, there was a series of moderately challenging gravel climbs until a casual 8-mile gravel ride to the finish. I believe Derrick was the first non-racer to cross the brown smudge and claim the title of “Deucemaster”. This isn’t the best finish-line photo we’ve ever seen, but it’s clear that Mr. Boos is ready to load up his gear and grab a cold beer.
It couldn’t have been longer than a minute before Luke and Kate came rolling through the finish. Now here’s a woman who knows how to have a photo taken:
I will mention once more that Kate ran 21 miles the day before this non-race. Seriously, she’s a brunette version of Wendy Davis. We’re currently begging Kate to race with us in a 4-person co-ed AR later this year. We offered her a $50,000 sign-on bonus, so we’ll see what happens there. If we can get her signed on, all we have to do is get her a big enough pack to carry all of our stuff. Very impressive woman, that one.
Becca and Otis seemed pretty happy to see their old man at the finish line. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention that Becca was kind enough to bring a cooler FULL of foil-wrapped baked potatoes for anyone volunteering or racing. Did I mention she also brought a huge crockpot of rotel dip? That’s what I call finish-line food!! Thank you Becca.
So now that everyone’s race was done, it was time to sit around and drink a beer or two. Or twelve. A lot of people had brought food for after the race, so we had quite the spread. I have no idea why we don’t have photos of the food, but I definitely remember eating a heavy plate of Ro-tel and nachos with my baked potato. Here we see everyone chilling out while Corey fills out a police report for his stolen bike. Phil and Travis had to leave early, so we went ahead and drank their beer for them.
What happened next was something that Luke and I had been anticipating for months. Ever since we started racing, we have always thought it would be great if there were some sort of award for the people who don’t “win”. I think we’d all like to run 4-minute miles and ride 100 miles in 5 hours, but that’s not reality for most people. We’ve always had more respect for the teams who beat the cutoff by 10 seconds sprinting it out for 47th place. After all, if you finish a 12 hour endurance race in 6 hours, what have you really endured?
So, we decided to create such an accolade. We would select the racer or team we thought had shown the most “Virtus-like” behavior and present them with a trophy. But what would the trophy be? The answer was simple… a Beaver Stick. Next, the trophy would have to have a cool name. This was something we worked on for quite a while. We wanted the name to represent our team, BUT we also needed it to have a Deuce-related theme. I believe it was Luke who finally concluded that the name would be………the SHAT.
S.H.A.T. stands for “Strength and Honor Achievement Trophy. I know, it’s totally badass, right?
Speaking of badass…check out this photo.
After the non-race was over, Luke and I spoke briefly about who deserved the SHAT the most. Between Kate and Derrick, I just didn’t know, and neither did he. Each racer had shown a rock-solid positive attitude all day. There was simply no way to choose one person over the other, so we decided to change the rules. The Deuce would have 2 SHAT winners. We gave Kate the Beaver Stick, and told Derrick he could go to The Brick House Deli and choose his own Beaver Stick. All he had to do was tell them he needed the Team Virtus discount. It all worked out perfectly.
After everyone left, Luke and I reflected on the day’s events and talked about what we can do to make next year’s non-race even better. I think our biggest opportunity for improvement will be judging how long the course takes to complete, cuz we definitely screwed that up. That being said, we’d much rather have the race be too long than too short. I believe Luke got some info from Kelly Sumner from Off Road Fixation
for solving this problem, so it shouldn’t happen again.
All things considered, the Deuce was a great success. From a non-racer’s stand-point, the race was FREE, we had more schwag than we could give away, the course was legit, and everyone left for home with a full stomach and a story to tell. We even offered shower services, for crying out loud. Depending on how you look at it, you might even say that someone got a free cyclocross bike at our race, but I guess that’s not really funny.
From a Team Virtus stand-point, we worked together to create an event we can all be very proud of. Each member of the team, present on raceday or not, contributed in some way. Except Adam…he was with his girlfriend at some kind of couples retreat. What an asshole. Adam, you’re fired from the team until further notice.
I love doing that.
I have to say that directing a non-race was pretty stressful. The planning, the agonizing over what CP’s to keep and which ones to get rid of, where to put transition areas, hoping the weather would hold, worrying if the race would be lame…it took its toll on my nerves in the days leading up to the race. I had a lot of anxiety about whether or not people would even show up, and then when they did show up I was nervous about whether or not they were having fun. After the nerves wore off and I could see that things were going smoothly, I really enjoyed myself. None of the positive things that happened on raceday would have been possible without my team-mates, friends and family. You guys are all awesome. I think the fact that we had so many volunteers is proof that people believe in what we’re doing, and I can’t wait to see how this thing grows.
Be there next time, cuz all of your friends will be:)