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Author Archives: Adam

To Eat or Not to Eat… That is the Question – The Tour De Donut Race Report

***NOTE: This race report was written by Adam (so if it’s terrible please let us know, so we can fire him from the team).  Comments have been added by Luke (in blue) and Rusty (in red).  Enjoy***

Tour De Donut Illinois

I’m not sure how Luke found out about the Tour de Donut but when he described it to the rest of the team we were immediately on board with doing it.  It was a 32 mile ride with 2 donut stops and for each donut you ate, you got a 5 minute deduction off your time at the end.  I mean, really, what goes together better than riding your ass off for 32 miles and gorging yourself on donuts?   Sadly enough, it was only Luke, Rusty and myself that ended up going.  Bob couldn’t get anyone to cover his shift at work (I’m glad to see St. Marys employees working together to help each other out) and Robby was getting ready to move into his new house.

We showed up the night before at approximately 9 and found the city park in which we were to set up camp.   Much to our surprise, there weren’t too many people camping and a few hours later we would find out why.  After we set up the tent we went to work on some minor adjusting of the bikes.  Since Bob was unable to attend, I was fortunate enough, or unfortunate as it turns out, to borrow his cross bike.

Adam working on his Bike

Getting the bike ready, although Bob surely had it in tip-top shape, right?

Luke: As we set up camp, Christian Hasselberg, the race director, came up and introduced himself.  It was great talking to him, and he was a genuinely nice guy.  We thanked him for putting on a great event, and I snapped the following photo of him for our blog:

Christian Hasselberg - Race Director of Tour de Donut

The Donut King - Race Director Christian Hasselberg

Luke: Now if you look closely at Christian’s shirt from last year’s race (click on photo to enlarge it), you may notice something peculiar.  Don’t worry if you don’t see it right away.  I didn’t see it until I was looking back through my photos, and Adam and Rusty never did see it on their own… I had to point it out to them.  Anyway, you’ll notice that the first line reads, “22st Annual” instead of “22nd Annual.”  Not a big deal, but we all talked about how it would be cool to have a shirt like that.  It would kind of be like getting a rare baseball card with a typo, thus upping its value.  After the race, we learned that we could indeed buy shirts from years past at the ridiculous price of two for $5!!!  We all snatched up a Typo shirt from last year, and we even snagged one for Bob since he couldn’t be there.  I love it, and it’s one of my new favorite shirts.

Rusty, who proved to be the intelligent one of the group, pulled out a cooler with a few beers in it.  As we drank and worked on the bikes we discussed what would be the plan for tomorrow.  Luke and I both had a goal of at least 20.  We discussed if  the smart thing would be to ride our butts off the first 10 miles and eat as many donuts as possible at the first stop knowing we would be slower after eating so much or should we pace ourselves and spread the amount of donuts over the two stops or the third option of only eating at the second stop.  We decided to just see how we felt tomorrow during the race.

Rolling Rocks before the Tour De Donut

Three Amigos

Luke: Adam and Rusty must have a blinking problem, and I’d just like to point out that it took 5 attempts to even get the crappy photo above… And Rusty still just barely has his eyes open.

Rusty: We could have tried to take pictures all night and we would have ended up with the same results. My eyes are sensitive to bright lights, man. 

As the night wore on we eventually noticed that we were the only ones awake and since it was around midnight we figured we should get some sleep.  The weather was perfect for camping out as it was a clear night that wasn’t hot and humid.  It was shortly after we fell asleep that we realized why many people don’t camp at the park the night before this race.  Trains seemed to go through there every hour with the deafening sound of the whistles breaking the silence in the night…say it with me now…rails to trails.

Luke: I’d also like to take this opportunity to let you know that Adam only brought TWO air mattresses for THREE people – one single bed which Rusty claimed immediately, and a full-size bed which Adam and I shared by sleeping sideways with our feet hanging off the bed.  For this, he has been fired from the team, and I wanted to include the photo below:

Epic Fail Adam

Rusty's cooler describes Adam perfectly.

 Rusty: And since neither one of them took me to dinner first, I felt it only fitting to snag the single air mattress.  

We got up about 6 and started getting ready to go, exchanging pleasantries about the trains the whole time.  They were starting to set up the registration area, which started at 7.  We got dressed and figured we should register as soon as they were set up, so we could avoid the onslaught of people that was sure to arrive with the 1620 racers that were signed up for the tour.

Rusty Guns

Rusty is "pumped" to start the race

Luke: Above we see Rusty getting his game face on.  I, on the other hand, decided to get my “game-hair” on…

Donut Hair

Please disregard all of the gray hair.

The registration seemed very well organized and it only took a couple minutes.  We ran into Kate at the registration.  It was finally nice to meet “SuperKate” and  I was glad to hear that my endless terminations from the team bring joy to someone other than Luke and Bob.

Luke: Kate is basically the Den Mother for Team Virtus.  She handed each of us a ziplock bag full of baby wipes to wipe the thick, gooey glaze off of our hands at each Donut Checkpoint.  It never would have even crossed my mind, so big thanks to her!

Team Virtus and the Virtus Van

Notice the SWEET Virtus magnet on the side of the Virtus Van!

As the 9 o’clock start time drew near we figured we had better get lined up.  I think people started lining up around 8.  It was insane how many riders there were.  The entire street was filled with them.  We found an open spot somewhere in the middle of the pack.  There were a few announcements, and they handed out the Golden Helmet award to the person who traveled the farthest.  This year’s winner was from Salem, Oregon which I thought was pretty awesome.

Tour De Donut Starting Line

When the race started, it was a few minutes before we actually got to the starting line.  It was chip-timed which meant our time didn’t start until we actually crossed the starting line.  We actually had a decent pace early considering the hundreds of other riders we had around us.  As we pedaled through the streets of Staunton, the streets were lined with crowds of people yelling and cheering us on.   They were also ringing cowbells which I found amusing but when I yelled “more cowbell”  nobody laughed.  Apparently they didn’t find that “Saturday Night Live” skit as funny as I did.

Luke: Maybe they thought the skit was funny, but they probably heard “More Cowbell” a few hundred times already.

It was a couple of miles before we actually made it out of town and the first part of the course was mostly downhill.  We tried to stay together as much as possible but with the massive amount of people it was easy to get separated.

Rusty: No I am just that slow! 

Paceline at the Tour De Donut

Where are the Donuts?!?!?

At the first major downhill, I decided to pick up some speed for the upcoming climb and dropped my chain.  I yelled to my compadres that I had to stop, but they didn’t hear me and kept riding.   They stopped about a half mile up when they noticed I wasn’t there, although I think they heard me and it was the overwhelming guilt that made them stop.  I was impressed with the number of people that offered assistance if I needed it.  It only took me a minute or two to get it back on but it seemed like forever.  I finally caught up to Luke and Rusty, and we rode on to stop number one.

Rusty: I don’t remember Adam yelling at us (we were too busy blazing down that hill) but what I do remember is Luke and I waiting towards the top of the hill debating on what to do next, and then about that time here comes Adam mashing down on the pedals and leaving us behind. I think Luke fired him again.

Luke: Yes, he was fired again indeed.

 

When we arrived at the checkpoint, we laid our bikes down and walked over to the donuts.  I saw a rider dipping his donuts in a tub of water and overheard him say that he was already on his 13th one.  Luke grabbed 6, I grabbed 4, and Rusty grabbed 2.  We started eating and quickly realized they weren’t going to go down as easy as we thought.   I tried pressing mine together but it didn’t seem to help.  The donuts were dense and difficult to chew.   We all finished our respective quantities, and Luke and I went back for another four apiece.

Eating Donuts at the Tour de Donut

Donuts 7 through 10 for Luke and 5 through 8 for Adam

Rusty however may well have proved to be the intelligent one again and decided not to eat anymore.  He decided to take off and finish the race because there was no sense in staying if you weren’t eating donuts to help your time.   As we sat there and ate on the donuts we had just grabbed, we realized we were going to fall well short of our goals.  They just weren’t going down easy.  We finally choked down what we had left and decided to press on.  Check out the video of the carnage that ensued:

Rusty: I was going to stick around with my teammates, but they encouraged me to go (I think I embarrassed them with having only two tallies on my race number). So the rest of my journey was solo. 

Luke: Yeah, it wouldn’t have made any sense for you to stick around to witness our gluttony.

 

At this point in the race, it was just Luke and I.  Rusty was well on his way to Donut-stop number two.  Shortly after we left stop one, I got a flat tire and it was the back tire nonetheless.  Are you kidding me…a dropped chain and a flat tire, all in the span of 12 miles?  This was either bad luck or the work of Bob Jenkins.  I haven’t decided which.   We both pulled over to the side of the road and I started to change the tire when I told Luke it was OK if he wanted to go ahead.   I didn’t even have the sentence out of my mouth and he was on his bike pedaling off into distance.  OK, so it didn’t really happen that way but he did go on ahead at my urging.   I knew I would see him at the next stop.  I finally got the tire changed and was once again impressed with the number of people that asked me if I needed anything.

Changing a flat at the Tour de Donut

Damn you, Bob!

Alone with my thoughts,  most of which were about throwing up and the pain in my stomach, I continued on to stop number two but Bob Jenkins wasn’t done yet because I dropped my chain…again.    Along this stretch was the dreaded Possum Hill.  I only say dreaded because I had heard some people talking at the start of the race about what gear they climb it in.    It’s steep and short but it really isn’t that bad.  I guess if I would have thought about it, I wouldn’t have worried.  I mean anything that’s named after an animal that litters Americas roadways and plays dead when threatened isn’t really scary.  If they would have named it “good luck getting your ass up this” hill then I would have worried.   In reality it’s only named Possum Hill because the road is named Possum Creek Road or something like that.   After a short time I made it stop number two.

As I was rolling to a stop I immediately spotted Luke and walked over to him.  He was trying to eat 4 more donuts and from the look of things, it wasn’t going well.  I told him there was no way I was eating anymore and I was just going to fill up my water bottles.  He told me I should go ahead and ride toward the finish.  He was only going to finish what he had and go on but every bite was a meal at this point, and he was going to be a while.  I knew he had to be struggling.  He had just eaten 10 at the last stop and I felt bad after 8.  Clearly, we went about things the wrong way.   Bob Jenkins where are you?  I filled my bottles and headed down the road struggling to pedal with my stomach feeling worse with every stroke.

At this point in the race it was every man for himself.  Rusty was closing in on the finish, I had just left the second stop and there was no telling how long Luke would be there trying to finish his 14th donut.  I was keeping up a good pace despite the feeling in my stomach and  I managed to chat up a few fellow riders along the way.   The last part of the ride was going pretty smooth for me.   For the most part, it was the same road we rode out on at the beginning.   I kept thinking how bad I felt and knew Luke had to be feeling worse and I had no idea what Rusty was up to.

Not Possum Hill at the Tour de Donut

This is not Possum Hill, but it gives you an idea of what the ride looked like.

I was approximately 6 or 7 miles away from the finish when I saw a young man just taking off from the side of the road.  I looked down and noticed he had a flat tire.   I asked him if he needed help, as I’m sure most people would have done had they noticed the flat,  and he said yes but he didn’t have a tube.  I looked at the size on his tire and as luck would have it, the tube I had was perfect.  I put it on and aired it up with some CO2 and told him he should be able to get back OK.

Luke: For following the Virtus Code and helping this young man, Adam has been reinstated as a full member of Team Virtus… For now.

I went on and rode toward the finish.  After a bit I knew I was getting close because of the houses and people along the streets.  I picked up the pace trying to finish strong while wondering how far back Luke was.  I knew Rusty had to be done by now.   The last little bit was through town.   With the town rib cookoff going on the streets were lined with more people than ever.  The worst part is that I couldn’t even stand the thought of eating ribs at that point.  I pedaled faster knowing the end was near.  If I wasn’t ready to be done after stop one, I was definitely ready now, although I have to admit it was pretty cool riding through town with all the people cheering.  With the finish line in sight I took off in a sprint just wanting to finish strong.  It was over at last.

I had finished the Tour de Donut with a chip time of 2:40:43.  Not knowing how long it would be before Luke would finish, I made my way through the mass of people to the Virtus Van.  I was surprised to see Rusty up and about when I got there, but it turns out he didn’t eat anymore at the second stop.  Luke was there as well, sprawled out on the ground ready to pass out.  He apparently passed me when I was changing that boy’s tire and didn’t see me.  I promptly joined him on the ground so he wouldn’t have to suffer alone. He had ended up throwing two of the donuts away but made sure they marked them off his total which stood at 12.

To see how it went down at Donut Stop #2, check this out:

The miles on our legs, the sun on our backs, the sweat in our chamois, and the donuts in our bellies was just too much to bare.  Luke and I simply had to assume this position for 15 minutes or so post-race:

Aftermath of the Tour de Donut

Oh, the agony!

Luke: I assumed that Adam had finished before me and was with Rusty somewhere under one of the pavilions, so I just crashed out on the lawn by the Virtus Van.  I was surprised to learn that I had passed Adam without ever seeing him on the side of the road helping that kid out (I guess that’s easy to do with 1600+ riders).  Before Adam and Rusty found me on the lawn, I had to listen to a guy describe to his wife, IN GREAT DETAIL, what the donuts looked like, smelled like, and tasted like.  I nearly threw up all over myself just listening to this guy.  Rusty, on the other hand, was faring much better than Adam and I were…

Rusty Tour De Donut

Rusty was chillin' while the rest of Team Virtus tried to recover.

As we lay there, wishing the misery would end, we admitted to ourselves and each other that it was much harder than we had first anticipated.  Now that it was over, we could really appreciate what this ride was about.   With 1600 plus riders of all ages and skill levels, it was hard not to have fun.  Sure we didn’t eat as many donuts or ride as fast as we had hoped, but it was a great time nevertheless.  As you can see by the numbers below, we have something to shoot for next year.  I have a feeling 20 will still be our magic number.

Most eaten overall:  40 donuts

Luke – 12 donuts

Adam – 8 donuts

Rusty – 2 donuts (wtf? seriously only 2 donuts?)

Fastest chip time:  1:16:27

Luke:  2:38:19

Rusty:  2:09:45

Adam:  2:40:32

Fastest adjusted time:  -53.52

Luke:  1:38:19

Rusty:  1:59:45

Adam:  2:00:32

Below are some photos of our experiences after the race and on the way home.  Enjoy…

Staunton Rib Fest

The rib fest that didn't sell ribs (2/3's of us were still too full to eat anyway)

Pay Phone

A fucntioning payphone... You don't see that everyday.

Older Couple Holding Hands

Luke: I took this photo b/c it reminded me of my Grandpa and Grandma. They were ALWAYS holding hands, and they loved each other more than anything. I miss you, Pa Pa! And I love you, Nanny!

Adam Sharting

After driving for an hour or so, we could finally eat again. But Adam had to ruin it by pooping in his pants - a moment captured in this photo.

Rusty Eating BBQ

Although Rusty only ate two donuts, this was his SECOND meal after the race.

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LSAR 2011 – The Lightning Strikes Race Report

***NOTE: Be sure to check out Bob’s report from the High Profile Adventure Camp leading up to this race.  You can find it right here. Now onto the race report.***

The night before the race,  we sat and listened to adventure racing stories as told by Robin Benincasa. As we listened, I wondered what would be bestowed upon us the next day. Because up to this point, the only bad experience I had encountered was sharing a small cabin with 10 other guys and a girl (I felt really sorry for her).  There was definitely some epic flatulence going on.  At approximately 11 o’clock we got our maps and it was back to the cabin to plan a route, load our bikes and get our gear together because the 5:30 bike drop was coming whether we liked it or not.

Fast forward about 4 and a half hours and it was time to get up. Yea, there isn’t anything like knowing you’re only going to get a few hours of sleep just to get up and do 8 hours of  endurance racing, not to mention the gas war that took place between WTF and Team Virtus.

At 5:30, Luke and Bob headed to the bike drop as I continued to drag my ass around getting ready for the race. I constantly questioned if I had too much or too little gear. Not knowing what to expect, I relied on the sage wisdom of the rest of my team to guide me.  With the 7:00 start time inching ever closer, I stuck with what I had and made my way to the dining hall.

Before the start of the race we posed for a few pictures, two of which were with camp director Gerry Voelliger and Robin Benincasa.

Team Virtus and Gerry Voelliger ( And Adam Laffoon)

Team Virtus and Robin Benincasa- (and Adam Laffoon)

With the start of the race looming, it was time to get our heads together and our butts to the back of the pack, so as to avoid the carnage that was about to ensue.

As the countdown from 10 started, you could feel the excitement. Once we started, we had to run a couple hundred yards to get the canoes and carry them about a half a mile to the river. Pretty much only one thing went into the selection of our crafts and that was no-yellow-canoes.   I for one did not feel like swimming this early in the morning. You know, come to think of it I didn’t want to do any swimming…period.

Casey:  I was so glad that we were able to secure a canoe that was not a tippy-ass yellow banana.

Luke: I hate those damn, yellow boats!

Bob: Echo that. It was hard not to laugh when we’d see other people going in. Check out this photo, you can actually see the water starting to pour over the side.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!!

We carried our canoes for what seemed like hours, but I’m sure that had more to do with the lack of sleep than the actual weight.

Carrying the canoes

We “strategically” placed our canoe next to the river in a spot that would make for an easy put-in if we arrived at the same time as a few other teams. After that,  we were on foot for the first 3 checkpoints.

As we wandered off into the woods to search for the first of 24 checkpoints, we  exchanged witty banter and talked of what the day would bring. At this point in the race as I’m sure you can imagine there were some bottlenecks at the checkpoints.

Bottleneck at CP1

With the superior navigation skills of our fearless leader, we made haste through the first 3 checkpoints with no concern except for the paddling I knew would be coming soon.

Luke: Technically, we were racing as two teams of two.  So, I’m not sure to whom you are referring when you say “our fearless leader.”  I really hope you’re not describing Casey in such a manner.

Up until the day before, I had only been in a canoe on a float trip and I mean, really, who actually paddles or, for that matter gives a damn if their canoe flips on a float trip? The day before the race, we were only in a flooded area of the Mississippi and there weren’t any rapids or real danger of the canoe tipping. Somewhere in the depths of my soul, I had a feeling that today would be a whole different ballgame. When we got back to the canoe put-in, We could tell by the number of remaining canoes that we were somewhere in the middle of the pack. This was good news, but there was still a lot of racing left. As we launched our canoe, we were immediately held up because about 40 yards from the launch a team flipped.

That's a hell of a way to start the day..

Once we actually started, things went pretty smoothly and we cruised down the river. We ended up passing 5 or 6 teams, one of which was our counterpart.

Casey:  You got by us when we “T-boned” another canoe that got wedged between a couple of trees in the only paddable section of the river.  We managed not to tip them or us and the bump actually helped  them straighten out a bit.  Once you passed us we gave you some space to avoid another “T-bone” (first time I ever passed up a T-bone in my life).  You guys somehow got around another canoe and we just couldn’t find the room to pass them until near the end of the paddle leg.

Luke: First of all, what does “Paddable” mean?  Secondly, it’s a race, dude.  You don’t wait for room to pass.  You MAKE room to pass.  That’s what Adam and I did.

It was really nice of Casey and Bob to let us pass them

We had to be moving at a pretty good clip. At one point, as we were coming up on a bridge we started talking about how much farther it was to the takeout, but just past the bridge we could see other teams taking their canoes out of the water. We both said there’s no way this is the end, but a guy standing up on the bridge heard us and confirmed that it was. We were amazed by how quickly it went and the best part is that we stayed upright the whole way.

Luke and Adam pulling away

We did have to get our feet wet to get the canoe out of the water but we knew dry socks were waiting at the transition spot.  We changed our shoes and put on socks  as we waited for what seemed forever (it was only a few minutes) for Bob and Casey.

Bob and Casey coming ashore

Casey:  Look at Bob’s newly aquired (this camp) canoe securring technique.  It was so stable I was able to walk  upright in the canoe without any fear of a swim.  We’ll definitely use this technique at future races as we get on and off the water.  Nice job Bob.

After they pulled their canoe ashore and changed socks, it was on to the first bike leg.

At the first transition

Casey:  If you look in the back ground you can see the “pace center” reducing the TA time as he sprints to the CP while his team takes their time getting on fresh new socks.  Our TA times were much better this year.

Bob: They’re probably distracted by the gaping flesh wound on my knee. Holy shit, I’m hardcore

Luke: The way I remember it, Adam and I had already punched our passport because we had plenty of time while you guys were waiting for teams to let you pass them on the river.

Now this is where we expected to make up time. We knew we were going to be weak at paddling because it’s not something we practice but biking was different. We weren’t in a line like we knew we should be but we were four across, taking up the entire road. It wasn’t until Robin Benincasa and one of the race directors come up behind us and was giving us crap about not being in a pace line that we decided to take things a little more seriously. So we got in line and it was Luke leading, then myself, Bob and Casey.  Now, I’m not sure what Luke had been eating or what kind of training he had been doing but this shit was ridiculous. We hit speeds of 18 to 20 mph going down the road.

Serious paceline

Bob: Luke definitely had a rocket up his ass that day. His nutrition must’ve been spot-on.

Luke: That’s not exactly how I remember it, but hey… It sounds good, so we’ll go with it.

I don’t remember how far we had gone, but we came to a bridge and it was time to “lose some water,” so to speak.  Bob and I parked our bikes along the railing and after I relieved myself I took a drink from my water bottle.  When I went to put it back in the cage, it fell between the railing and into the river. Now, I had just put dry socks on less than an hour ago and now I had about 30 seconds to decide whether or not they would stay dry, because the current wasn’t exactly still. Now, I know you’re thinking “it’s just a water bottle,” and I could easily get another one,  but I didn’t want to lose it. I dashed down to the side of the creek and of course it’s not going to come right up by the side…no, my new Smartwool socks were going to be put to the test that day. I waded into water about mid-calf deep and snatched the bottle as my teammates showed support by laughing and snapping a photo.

Casey:  I am not a statistician, but I am willing to bet the odds of Adam somehow missing his cage as he put his water bottle away and having the bottle slip through the railing and land in the water is pretty low.  I have to admit that I did laugh at his misfortune but I assure you it was in good fun.

Me fetching my bottle

Luke: Adam took the “Leave No Trace” rule to heart.  If it was me, that bottle would have stayed in the creek.
Crisis averted and we were back on the road. Cruising along at insane speeds again, we arrived  at the next transition spot in a hurry. Time to do some hiking.

As we started off on foot we knew we the easiest route to follow would be the road and look for the first re-entry. Easy enough, right?

Bob slowing us down

 Bob: Really? Cuz that looks a lot like MY team-mate Luke kneeling on the ground.

Luke:  Indeed, that is me kneeling on the ground.  Why am I kneeling, you ask?  Because I had to get into my first aid kit to get pain killers out.  For who, you ask?  That would be Bob.

Well, as fate would have it, (and because Bob and/or Casey distracted Luke), we walked by the first reentrant and entered in the second and walked about 15 minutes before we figured out that we were going the wrong way. After back tracking to get checkpoint 9 it was smooth sailing, once again thanks to Luke’s superior navigation skills (I am legally required to say that or I get fired from the team).   We only had to hike up and down several hills to get seven more checkpoints before it was back to the bikes.

Luke:  I still feel bad about that mistake.  It was such a stupid, rookie mistake to be lulled into complacency when you think something should be easy to find.  My apologies to the team.  At least it was the only navigational error that day, and at least we caught it relatively early.

Once we were on the bikes again we had to ride back to the transition spot at the end of the paddling leg and get our pfd’s and paddles.

Packing up to head back to camp

We left with our paddles and life jackets and immediately had to go up a hill.

Saving our legs for the rope ascent

Once we started riding, it was only a few miles back to camp but we were much slower than we had been on the previous bike leg.  We made it back and ditched the bikes and headed to the cave.   The water in the creek was cold, as you can see here.

Bob freezing his nuts off...literally

Crossing the creek proved to be harder than it looked.  There were some hidden rocks, one of which I found and tripped over and ended up falling face first in the creek.

punching the passports in the cave

Luke: Even though this was my second trip into this cave, it was still just as amazing.  I freakin’ love this cave!

Each team-member’s wristband had to be punched in addition to the passports, so that meant everyone had to go in.  I don’t know why anyone would want to skip out on seeing the inside of a sweet cave like this one.  There were several bats on the walls. Some were covered in frost, and others were…well, you can judge for yourself.

bats "sleeping"

We made our way through the cave, even though in some spots it was a pretty tight fit.  We headed from the cave to collect a couple more checkpoints before we went to the ropes.

When we got to the ropes we checked how much time we had and we had well over an hour.  We had 4 more checkpoints to get and they were pretty close together.  The first section of  ropes was rappelling and it went pretty quick, even though there were several teams there at the same time.

Rappeling into the river. The ascent is directly to the left

Casey:  This was the firs time anybody rappelled and ascended this cliff.  It was great.  However, due to the fact that rappelling is a bit faster than  ascending, we ended up standing around in cold, knee-deep water as we awaited our turn to ascend. 

Bob: It was pretty cool to hang out with the volunteers and some of the other racers, but after a while I really started to feel like we might miss the cutoff.

Luke: Yeah, it was tough knowing that the minutes were ticking by as we waited for our turn.  But that’s just part of racing.  If we want to avoid bottlenecks, we need to get there first!  I was a little worried though.  Since we missed clearing the course last year by 1 CP, I REALLY, REALLY wanted to clear the course this year.

Next was the ascending wall, and it was here that the pace slowed considerably.  Priority was given to the teams that had their harnesses setup correctly, but that didn’t help us because it seemed like everyone knew what they were doing.  The minutes seemed to tick by quickly as we waited to ascend.  Once it was our turn, we climbed as fast as our legs would allow.

Bob after killing the ascent

Casey:  We lost some time on the ascend section.  This was not because of our lack of ascending skill.  I thought our technique was as good as anybody elses and we were as fast or faster than most other teams.  We lost some time because we were 2 teams of 2 travelling together as a team of four.  We ended up getting separate ropes but we didn’t start at the same time so we lost some time since we had to wait for 3 separate ascensions instead of only 2.  I think it was definitely worth the 5-10 minutes we lost here to race together as a whole team.  Maybe we made up some of the lost time by using a 4 person paceline during the bike leg.

Luke: What he said.

Although I can’t speak for everyone, my ascending form was considerably worse than the day before in practice.

Bob: I definitely didn’t feel like I had a strong ascent. I made good time, but  took several stops. I was just about exhausted at that point. Overall, I think we had a major improvement over last year, especially since we didn’t even ascend last year:).

We all made it OK and went to checkpoint 23.  It was on a little waterfall which was pretty cool.   It looks much better in person.

Bob and I coming back from CP 23

Casey:  I was the last off the ropes on the ascension and we took off running to CP 23 as soon as I was unclipped.  As we ran, I was taking my gloves off, fixing my harness, putting my pack on, and trying to catch my breath.  I finally recovered and was all straightened out as we were leaving CP 23.  I think I gave Luke a “gift” and let him hold my pack as we walked/ran to CP 23 as I messed with my harness.  Thanks Luke (or I guess you should be thanking me).

Luke: Uh… Thanks?

We only had one more checkpoint and it was to the finish line.  The only thing standing in our way of clearing the course was the zip line.  We were all hoping it would be higher and faster than the zip-line the day before, and much to our delight we weren’t disappointed.   It was a lot faster than the previous day, which unfortunately made it difficult to land on your feet at the bottom.

Luke on the zip line

Casey:  This zip line was awesome.  It was long and fast.  I planned to land on my feet gracefully but I somehow got turned around on my way down and landed on my side and butt.  I bounced a couple of times and slid in the dirt, eventually coming to a stop.  The people who zip-lined after me had to deal with the little ditch I left behind.  I quickly  hand-over-handed myself to the end of the rope, hung a leg over the zip line, unclipped and watched my teammates come down.  Adam’s landing was the landing I had planned.  He landed on both feet and jogged to a stop.  It looked like he had done it a hundred times.  Nicely done Adam, you’re back on the team.  I nominate Adam as the new team captain.

Luke:  I agree with letting Adam back on the team and even making him captain, BUT… He let me make a navigational error earlier in this race, so he is once again fired.

We all made it safely and we had plenty of time to make it to the finish line.  We hiked up the hill toward the camp and jogged to the finish line.

Team Virtus bringing it home

We crossed the line to the applause of the other teams and spectators and posed for a few more photos like this one.

WTFAR and Team Virtus

Bob: That garlic bread was the bomb.

Luke: Agreed.  At our next non-race, we need hot garlic bread at the finish line.

We cleared the course with 5 minutes to spare.  Much to our delight, there was plenty of food left at the finish line.   All things considered, we were feeling pretty good with just having cleared the course.  We noshed on corn dogs with Boetje’s mustard, which is phenomenal, and we were all amazed when Robyn Benincasa recognized our very own Bob Jenkins from the movie “Race Across the Sky”.

Bob casting the rest of us into obscurity

Bob: I’m still working on a book deal for that one.

Of course, in hindsight, there are things that we could be better at : more efficient paddling, quicker transition times, and not dropping water bottles into the river. We all crossed the finish line together but the posted results had Virtus Team 1 finishing 3 minutes behind Virtus Team 2.  I’m still not sure how the hell that works.  All in all everyone had a fantastic time and we are looking forward to next year.

Casey:  If I remember correctly Bob and I were TV #2 weren’t we?  Here’s how it went down…I clearly remember a dead sprint from the zipline by Bob and I.  We looked back and TV #1 was casually strolling towards the finish line, like they were in a park on a Sunday afternoon.  Bob and I then kicked it up to an even higher gear and flew across the finish line in a big blur of manliness.  After a couple of minutes, once we caught our breaths and our heart rates dropped back to their resting rates of 5o BPM, we walked back towards the zip line.  This is where we reunited with you guys and crossed the finish line together (and took the picture above).  If you remember, when we found you guys back by the top of the ravine, you were in pretty bad shape.  Luke even told us we should go ahead without him, he didn’t think he was going to be able to finish this one.  With some encouraging words and threats of being kicked off the team we were able to coerce you guys across the finish line.  I think Bob even offered to carry your pack but you refused him the “gift”.  You are therefore fired from the team for depriving Bob of that gift. 

Luke: 1. Casey’s comment is pure fiction.  2. Casey has no firing/hiring authority on the team. 3. It was a great race with a great team, and I had an absolute blast.  On behalf of Team Virtus, I’d like to say thanks to Gerry and all of the volunteers as well as the great staff at Camp Benson, and a big thanks to Robyn Benincasa for her coaching and inspiring stories.

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