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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):

**Masturbation joke here**

 Not long after that, I saw a man who was clearly not dressed to run through 23 miles of thorns:

Wow. I hope he had some pants in that pack.

Here we see Alpine Shop and Wedali waiting to take off.

WEDALI in green, Alpine Shop in red

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:

Ladies and gentlemen....Kelly Sumner!!!

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.

A guy could get real comfortable in a spot like this.

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:

"Oh shit, not this guy"

 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.

I found it interesting that he wasn't using a mapcase.

Learning all this new stuff was making me hungry, so I decided to dig into the only food I had brought along: A giant can of Pork ‘n” Beans and a bag of fritos. Only problem was, the can-opener on my fancy bike tool turned out to be a piece of shit. It broke almost immediately, and things started looking pretty grim. Luckily, we found a pair of Vise-Grips. Crisis averted.

And people call me stupid..

 Well, look who it is!!

Kelly Sumner shows us where Adam can have a seat

 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.

Our CP was a good place for people to change clothes and fill up with water, so it wasn’t uncommon for someone to drop trou right in front of us. At one point,  I’m sitting there minding my own business and I notice these guys are acting funny… just kind of staring into the room behind me.


  I turned to see what they were gawking at:

Yeah, he must work out

 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.

Still not a cloud in the sky

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:

With the thumb compass, you dont even need to break stride. You just look down at your thumb, which you are already using to keep track of your location on the map.

Then he started to show off a bit,  trotting effortlessly across this tree:

He almost makes it look easy, and yes, he is jogging

 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.

It just doesn't look as cool

About an hour later, Scott decided we’d split up to get the last 2 CP’s faster. We agreed if I was not back in 45 minutes he’d come looking for me. When we parted ways, I became mildly lost for a few minutes and had to regroup. But then…

Trust me, I was just as surprised as anyone.

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:

Oh Justin... you should've known better.

Next thing you know, I’ve got a belly full of Irish whiskey and I’m riding shotgun next to “Special K”  from Orange Lederhosen in a U-haul truck loaded down with about $50,000 worth of mountain bikes.

**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.

“Fine dining” with the Golden Girls and Kelly

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.

Look what I got!

A couple of weeks ago, I answered a trivia question posted on facebook by Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing.  What did I get for being the first to answer the question correctly?  Check it out:


Me with my new Silva Ranger CL Compass

My sweet new compass!


That’s right… The good people from Checkpoint Tracker sent me a brand new Silva Ranger CL 515 Compass and a couple of sweet CPT stickers (I love stickers – I put them on my gear tub and my Nalgene water bottles).  I’ve never used a compass with a sighting mirror before, but it will be fun figuring it out.  I’ll let you know how I like it.  Anyway, a huge thanks goes out to Paul Angell and Checkpoint Tracker.

Oh, and don’t worry about the lack of facial hair.  I shaved for a job interview.  Some scruff will be back before you know it.  I’ll leave you with one more photo of my new toy:


Silva Ranger CL 515 Compass




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