Backstage at Checkpoint Tracker Nationals
It’s no secret I’ve had a bit of an extended learning curve when it comes to navigating. From the first time I tried to fly solo right up until my most recent debaucle, it simply hasn’t been been one of my strong-points. At all.
Leading up to Castlewood, I knew I needed to figure some things out. What better way to do that than volunteer at Checkpoint Tracker Nationals? It was a guaranteed way to see how the elite teams perform on raceday, (and get some free stuff). I spent the weekend mingling with friends new and old, and had the good fortune to be placed at a Checkpoint working alongside Scott Fredrickson of Team Bushwacker. I was excited, to say the least.
Since racers wouldn’t get to our CP for an hour or 2, I got to hang out and watch the start of the race. I found out a few of the teams have some pretty strange pre-race rituals. Take for example, our good friends from Forum Dental, (who kicked major ass at this race, btw):
Not long after that, I saw a man who was clearly not dressed to run through 23 miles of thorns:
Here we see Alpine Shop and Wedali waiting to take off.
When the race started, those racers tore out in a hurry. It looked like WEDALI took the lead immediately, but it wasn’t too long before this solo adventure racer/karaoke master came running by:
After the race start, Justin Cook and I jumped in the truck for the quick drive to our volunteering stations. We were stationed close together, so carpooling made sense. I dropped him off at this spot, it was absolutely beautiful.
Then it was off to my assigned spot. Scott and I had never met, but as I was parking the truck I felt like I could hear his thoughts:
Scott and I made friends quickly, and I was blown away at his willingness to pass on a gold mine of AR knowledge. Seriously, I couldn’t take notes fast enough will all the things he was telling me. We had a great time. We worked a CP that teams had to visit before and after setting out the first o-section. They had 10 hours to finish this section, and Gary Thompson, (the course designer), informed us there was no way to complete it without trekking for “AT LEAST” 23 miles. Wow.
Before long, the racers started coming in. WEDALI had a pretty serious lead, but Alpine Shop showed up looking fresh and strong. In this photo I think Carrie is actually timing how long it takes Doug to piss. She was definitely in charge.
Well, look who it is!!
The day wore on and all of the teams finally made it into the 1st O-section. Scott continued pouring knowledge into my brain and the world was right. Day became night, and teams slowly began to make their way back from the trekking leg. WEDALI finished the 23-mile o-course in about 6 hours. They were kicking the shit out of everybody out there.
I turned to see what they were gawking at:
The next day, Scott asked if I wanted to help him clear the course. I tried not to shit my pants with excitement, then changed clothes as quickly as possible. This was why I came out here, and I was PUMPED.
It was a good time, and I learned even more as we trekked thru the woods. Scott explained to me the benefits of the thumb compass and how much easier it is to “thumb” the map while you’re using one. You can see what I’m talking about in the photo below:
Then he started to show off a bit, trotting effortlessly across this tree:
I tried it, but didn’t have quite the same finesse. I wound up having to dry-hump my way across, but thankfully there were no splinters waiting for me.
When I got back to the truck, Scott wasn’t back yet and that mean it was time to celebrate. Justin had foolishly left his cooler in my truck, so I reached inside to grab one of his beers….. but instead found this:
**Pause for a moment and let that picture burn itself into your mind. Seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.**
Him, Derrick, Justin and I were transporting bikes back to race HQ. It was a lot of work, but we got them all hauled back to HQ just in time to almost be late for the award ceremony/dinner. The food smelled amazing and tasted even better. Most everyone was dressed nice, so it was a little awkward being all sweaty and dirty, but then I realized these people are adventure racers… and they couldn’t have cared less. It was a great way to end a great weekend.
Checkpoint Tracker Nationals is going to be in West Virginia in 2012, and we’re gonna do everything we can to put at least one Virtus squad in this kickass race. I’m just not sure how it could be any more fun than it was in 2011. I could not have had a better time.