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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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WTFAR vs TV at the 2011 Lightning Strikes Adventure Camp

Lightning Strikes 2011

It would be impossible to top our experience at the 2010 Lightning Strikes Adventure Race, but that’s certainly no reason to skip it in 2011. Eager to once again explore the wonders of Camp Benson, Team Virtus decided to compete in this outdoor endeavour put on by Gerry Voelliger and our good friends at Team High Profile Adventure Racing. For those who don’t know, Gerry is a stone cold ladies man….

Even the Golden Girls can't resist the charms of Gerry Voelliger

At registration, Gerry informed us that he’d made arrangements for us to stay in one of the larger, newer cabins. This was great since we had such a large group. This year’s roster included Casey, Austin, Mr. Steve Lamb, Luke, yours truly and Adam Laffoon.

Casey:  If you look closely we all were rocking sweet facial hair of some kind.  Even my son and my Dad decided to forgo the razor for several weeks leading up to the event.  Austin looked like he had been drinking chocolate milk and my Dad looked a bit like a derelict.  However, they became true members of  TV for their wilingness to conform to the team dress code.  Don’t miss Adams wicked Fu Manchu and Bob’s 70’s porno star stache.

After checking in and dropping off our gear,  we headed into town for a Team Virtus time- honored tradition:

Adam was fired from the team for eating while Mr. Lamb waited patiently for his coleslaw. What a dick.

This was our second assault on the Kountry Kettle, and one that will not be soon forgotten. Despite our lack of elbow room at such a small table, this quickly became a 2-fronted assault. While the rest of us exploited the Kettle’s foolish decision to offer an all-you-can-eat menu of fried meat,  Mr. lamb shocked the locals by being the first vegan to walk through their doors. When he asked if there was anything on the menu not fried, dipped in grease or containing meat…you would’ve thought he’d claimed allegiance to Al-Quada. The entire room literally stopped. Praise be to Alla-..I mean, thank God he was wearing a flannel shirt, or someone may have shot him. (Terrorists never wear flannel)

Luke: Two dudes sitting behind us literally stopped eating, put down their forks, turned around, and stared in disbeif.  It was hilarious, and it would not be the last time that Dad would shock onlookers.

Casey:  You should have seen the guys behind my Dad.  They literally froze, forks in midair and became stone cold silent and looked totally lost and confused.  Was this little man in red flannel some sort of comedian.  THey were waiting for the punch line.  If a man walked through the door in white robes and a thorn crown and proclaimed to be the second coming of Christ they would’ve have been less surprised.

Furthering the awkwardness was Austin’s fury with his father. Here, we see him threatening to put a chicken leg up Casey’s ass if we didn’t stop making fun of the way he wears his pants. I’m sure this would have been immediately followed by Casey asking if it was gay to eat a piece of chicken that had been in his own ass. I mean, it is his ass.

What's wrong with pulling them up to my armpits?

Alas, time had worked against us once more and we had to leave the restaurant before fully defiling ourselves. With semi-full bellies and sound minds, we made our way back to camp and got settled in for the first round of lectures.

Luke: On the way back to camp, we narrowly escaped a head-on collision.  It was as close as you could get to a disastrous crash without actually crashing.  Pretty scary stuff, but Casey did a fine job of maneuvering the minivan.

Bob: I forgot about that. That was some pretty scary shit.

There were lots of familiar faces at camp this year, and it was nice to see everyone again. It was also nice to finally meet the members of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Adventure Racing, otherwise known as WTFAR.

Holy shit, these guys are almost as intimidating as we are

It was later learned that we’d be sharing a bunk-house with these gentlemen. Much to the dismay of all others present, Casey declared a “no-holds-barred” fart war against WTFAR to establish our dominance. Noone was safe, and I do mean noone.

Luke: The only female in our cabin elected to sleep in her car on the second night… Seriously.  The poor girl.

Casey:  We may have won the gas war but we lost the pyschological war that went on that night.  Team WTF kept our cabin up with a noise that sounded like a groundhog being stepped on and a ferret being choked at the same time.  One of the WTF team members makes some very unique sounds when he sleeps.  They were sporadic and, according to his team, a usual accurance.   How would you guys describe the sounds?

Bob: It sounded to me like a screaming midget tap-dancing on a xylophone.

A gas-induced nausea eventually caused team-mates to turn on one another. Here we see Austin falling victim to the fabled “sniper-fart”. These are rarely caught on film:

The poor kid never had a chance. And as you can clearly see, Adam had every opportunity to warn him. What an asshole.

Casey:  Bob thought Austin might need alittle help with the facial hair requirement and hooked him up.  I thought this was very thoughtful of him, but he really only gave it to him as a distraction to get his “sniper” rifle into position.  Poor kid…he never saw it coming.

After a foggy night of “shock and awe”, it was time to load up on the buses and head over for paddling/orienteering practice. It was a chilly morning and we  knew the river would be cold. This lead to a fair amount of banter about whether or not anyone would hit the water. One thing was for sure, there was no way in hell we were getting in one of those God-forsaken yellow boats.

A frosty morning as we make ready for paddling practice

Due to heavy rain, most of the parking lot near the boat ramp was flooded. This made for a tricky entrance/exit from the water. Last year, we figured out that 3 Virtusans in one canoe is a bad idea. In an effort to prove their dominance, our good friends from WTFAR decided to go for a 3-man dip of their own. Much to their chagrin, they never made it out of the “parking lot”. Luckily, Gerry was there to lend support. And by support, I mean he laughed his ass off and gave them a nickname.

Gerry would later rename WTFAR as "Team Parking Lot"

Luke: “Team Parking Lot” seems like a more appropriate nickname than what Gerry nicknamed us at last year’s camp: “The Six Pound Burrito Brothers.” Actually, I guess that nickname fits us pretty well now that I think about it.

Casey:  WTF was not the only team that went in that day.  However they were the only team to get a cool nickname out of the deal (much like us last year).  One of the teams in the other group ended up in a couple of trees.  I heard they were strong and very fast paddlers but somehow dumped their boat (I bet it was a yellow one).

The WTF boys were definitely re-living our experience from 2010. They seemed to be taking it well, but we knew from experience that tipping the boat is a confidence destroyer. They’d be nervous on raceday for sure, but if they could hold themselves together they would emerge a stronger team.

Casey:  I guess they learned from our experience the previous year, since they dressed on the bus instead of the middle of the parking lot.  Either that or they are more modest than TV (and the water wasn’t as cold as it was last year.  However, the part of the parking lot that we got dressed in was under water this year so they couldn’t have used it to dress.  Team Parking Lot…I love the nickname.

The tree of shame..obviously WTFAR weren't the only ones to get an ice-bath

Casey:  I have one question for Team WTF…Who went in first?

The rest of us were having a much better year in the canoes. Team Virtus was represented by 3 different 2-man squads this year. Luke and Adam, (Virtus 1), Casey and I, (Virtus 2), and Austin & Mr. Lamb, (J-Virtus). All three boats remained upright for the duration of the practice. We even tried, ( a bit unsuccessfully), to do a little canoe drafting.  It’s a lot harder than it looks

I guess Casey and I must’ve been looking pretty good out there, because you can clearly tell in this photo that Robyn Benincasa is TOTALLY checking us out:

Take it all in, Robyn....take it all in

Luke: Nice try, Bob, but neither of you guys had a blue jacket.  That’s clearly not you in the canoe, so Robyn was NOT checking you out.

Casey:  The other way you can tell it is not us…they are in a piece of crap, tippy ass, yellow banana boat.  I thought about BS’ing and trying to sell the picture as us until I saw the boat they were in.  Hopefully, I’ll never be in one of the yellow bananas P.O.S.’s again.

Bob: Well now…I am embarrassed. Up until this moment I truly believed we were in that boat.

Speaking of Ms. Benincasa, she gave an EXCELLENT presentation at the camp. With multiple videos, photos and stories of her own personal triumphs, she inspired everyone in the room and taught us what it truly means to be part of a team. I think what impresses me the most about Robyn is that while she is such an accomplished athlete, she’s also so humble and normal.  She was super-patient with everyone, and I think she even laughed at some of Casey’s jokes.

Luke: Robyn Benincasa was truly amazing.  Her talk was one of the many highlights of the weekend.  And she is one of the kindest, most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet.  But she only laughed at Casey’s jokes out of pity.

Casey:  While all the lectures are infomative and very well put on, I thoroughly enjoyed Robyn’s lecture (yeah, we are on a first name basis now, thanks to all my great jokes she enjoyed, plus she is a fan of Bob’s).  I think it was my favorite lecture this year and was surely by anybody, even non-racers.  It was very inspirational.  I got a lot out of her talk and look forward to someday doing her Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Hike to raise money for her foundation, Project Athena (http://www.projectathena.org/R2R2R_Events.php).  Check out this great cause and support it if you have the opportunity to do so, it’s a worhty cause.

Our pre-race pic w/ Robyn

After her speech, we made a team-decision to change part of the Virtus code. Carrying another Virtusan’s gear will no longer be something we do to give each other shit. Teamwork is teamwork, and you never know when you might need someone else to carry your pack for a while. Little did we know how quickly this new rule would come into play.

Luke: After Robyn showed a video of a Japanes AR team carrying a teammate with a knee injury across 30 + miles including a razor’s edge ridge top with death on either side just to finish the race, we decided that we could help each other a little more without ripping on each other.  Teamwork, baby!

Casey:  I agree.  You team is there to help you and you shouldn’t be ridiculed for accepting their help when you need it.   I have always felt this way and have even given my teammates the “gift” of carrying my pack at past races.  Robyn taught us that it is a gift you give to your teammates by letting them help you when you are down and need it.  Plus, if you race long and hard enough you will eventually need help from you teammates at some point.  I guess you could consider me a “pleasure-giver”.  I now ask my teammates to “give it back”.

On top of our canoe success, we also enjoyed much better results on the practice orienteering leg this year. I can’t speak for the other guys, but Casey and I had a great time and found most of the CP’s before time ran out. We even took a few minutes at the scenic overlook to get a few pictures.

The only place Casey could fart without killing anyone

I’m not sure the entire O-section was the same as last year, but there were definitely some of the same CP’s. This was actually a good thing, since we were able to gauge our progress from 2010.  There were definite improvements, especially for Casey.

Casey:  Our orienteering was spot on all day.  We used great attack points and were using handrails and collecting features.  We had a great game plan all day and we never lost contact with the map.  If you were with us you would have caught Bob and I “aiming off” every chance we could get that day in the woods.

Believe it or not, I find a CP once in a while

Luke: This was Adam’s first experience with orienteering, so I showed him the basics.  He did really well.  In fact, he didn’t do anything to get fired from the team.  It was very disappointing.  So he was once again fired for disappointing us.

After the paddling and orienteering practice sessions were over, we loaded onto the buses and headed back to camp for ropes practice.  My main concern was the ascending wall. I had bumbled my way through it through it once before, but was really hoping for some tutoring from one of the volunteers.

Our first order of business was to enjoy a nice zip-line. I’m not sure of the specific height, but it was a tall one. Here we see Mr. Lamb preparing to take his first leap of faith for the day. There’s just something about walking off the edge of a cliff…

Mr Lamb prepares for liftoff

Rappelling was much more fun without the crippling fear we experienced last year. Look at the absence of fear on Luke’s face. This is a stark contrast from the man we saw here last year.

Casey:  How were we so scared and nervous last year with the ropes and a kid and senior citizen had no problem this year?  Was it that they knew people who had actually did the ropes the previous year and were still living?  Or was it that they were better at masking their fears than we were (no Jimmy Legs)?  This year defiinitely was more enjoyable than last year (not quite as much of an adrenaline boost though).  We had an opportunity to practice many faucets of ropes that you see at various races.  We had a blast again this year.

No more urine-soaked hiking pants!!

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves standing at the ascending wall. There were several ropes available, and there was also a rescue ladder set up for us to attempt. Austin rushed over to the ladder and started to make his way up. I don’t know what the other guys were thinking, but I was a bit intimidated. The ladder was very narrow and completely unsupported. It was one of those ladders they drop out of helicopters in the movies. Undeterred, Austin twisted and spun his way to the top. We were all VERY impressed.

Next up was Mr. lamb. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t just called him “Steve”. Well, there’s a very good reason for that. You see, Mr. Lamb is what we like to call… a “Badass”. A veteran distance runner, vegan and father to 3 Lamb-boys, Mr. Lamb is no stranger to pain. He grabbed that ladder, tied into the safety rope and FLEW to the top. He made that ladder his bitch in a way you could only understand if you’d seen it with your own eyes. Later he claimed to have struggled a bit, but from where I was standing it looked like he did stuff like this everyday. It was impressive to say the least.

His name is Mister Lamb.

Luke: I had been a little worried about how my Dad would hold up at camp (although I never told him this).  After seeing how he dominated the ladder, though, I knew he was going to rock everything that Gerry would throw at him.  It was impressive, and a lot of people noticed.  I’m always proud to be his son, and this is just one of the infinite number of reasons.

Casey:  I was impressed by my Dad’s performance thoughout the entire camp, especially at the ladder.  He owned it.  Once my son and my Dad killed the ladder, I had to go up.  I had no choice.  I was next in line and had to do it .  I wanted to do it sometime at the camp but maybe after a little regular ascending first.  I thought the ladder would be harder than it looked and I thought it looked hard.  I had to get to the top…three generations of Lambs owned that ladder that day (perhaps the middle generation did so the least).

The rest of us made it up the ladder too, but with a lot more effort and a lot less grace. Personally, I was scared shitless the entire time I was on the ladder. It’s scary because you have no option but to keep going up. The safety rope won’t let you come back down, and it’s not like anyone would be stupid enough to unhook the safety rope. It was a bit harrowing, but at the end of the day I think we’re all glad we did it.

Moving on to the ascending wall, my stomach was in knots. Rope ascension is one of those things that requires a certain amount of finesse; You can’t just horse your way up the rope, your whole body has to move in sequence. I’d done it before, but was VERY exhausted once at the top. Today would be different, as I had the good fortune of  receiving one-on-one instruction from Robyn Benincasa.  She took a few moments to explain things in a way that I could understand and sent me up the cliff. With Robyn coaching from the ground, I made my way up the rope. I can’t even tell you how relieved I was to be ascending with confidence. I was so thrilled with my success that I rappelled down and ascended once more. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when there’s a woman there to tell you what to do.

Casey:  I was coached by Robyn as well.  She did a great job coaching me on the technique and keeping me relaxed and focused.  They taught a different techinque than we learned last fall at the Thunder Rolls.  This was a single leg ascent as apposed to a double leg that we learned last year.  I felt this technique was much more intuitive and easier to apply on the spot.  I felt confindent by the time we were done ascending.  We actually raced up the wall the second time. 

This photo was chosen so we could stress the importance of pooping BEFORE heavy athletic activity.

The ropes practice was a smashing success for all those present. We even had the good fortune to see a not-so-golden-looking Golden Girl making her way up one of the ascents.

Makin' it look easy

And who could forget running into our bunk-mates and esteemed “We’ve swam in the Mississippi River” colleaugues…WTFAR.

It looks like they're waiting for something to come flying out of Casey's ass

It would have been impossible to have a bad day out there. We had great weather, an awesome playground and great people all around us.

Casey:  When we were doing the Tyrolean Traverse across the river Austin jumped too far from the bank and landed flat on his back on the ground.  After several bounces he got up and tried a couple of more times, more bounces, and eventually made it out over the water.  I think we have  a video of this somewhere.  I’ll try to tind it and link it to this report for your viewing pleasure.

3 generations of the Lamb family (Left to right--Casey, Mr. Lamb, Luke and Austin)

Time flew by and we found ourselves heading to lunch. Who could have known we’d stumble across a tetherball pole? Soon everyone had stories about how good they were at tetherball “back in the day.” I think you kow what happened next..

Round 1:

Luke puts up a good fight, but eventually falls prey

Round 2:

Even with superior facial hair, Laffoon never had a chance

Then it got serious..

ROUND 3: TV vs. WTFAR

Squaring off

This was truly a battle for the ages. After losing the fart war and tipping their canoe, WTFAR wanted to yet again pit themselves against TV, this time  in a tetherball challenge. The Virtus code prevents us from declining a tetherball challenge, so the battle was on. We swatted the ball back and forth for countless seconds as our team-meates looked on in paralyzing suspense. With his towering height and longer arms,  things were looking grim until I hit this little gem.

“Oh Shi-“
..It was a bit of a Buster Douglas moment.
TV:3                                                                               WTFAR:0

Casey:  For the record I was not included in tetherball activities.  I guess nobody, not even my teammates wanted any of the Anchorman on the tetherball court.  I once hospitalized 2 opponents over the course of a single tourney back in my semi-pro tetherball days.  I was actually ranked in the world in the Clydesdale Division.

After that, it was time to head back inside for the pre-race pasta feed and enjoy a few more lectures. After a long day of outdoor fun, sleep would come easy. And that was a good thing, because we knew all too well…Gerry Voelliger was going to hurt us tomorrow.

Casey:  Much like we were last year, Team WTF was anxious about the paddlign leg of the next days race.  They somehow had to stay upright and dry.  We encouraged them and assured that it was now out of their systems.  I especially enjoyed hearing Bob explain his running the banks of the river during the paddle leg to Team WTF.  I think they decided against it. 

Bob: Chickenshits 🙂 
***NOTE: Be sure to read the race report from the Lightning Strikes Adventure Race.  Check it out right here.***

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