(Editor’s Note: The following race report was written by our friend, Susy, from The Golden Girls. She originally posted it as a comment on another post, but we wanted to publish it as a stand-alone post to inspire and entertain others. These ladies rocked this race. Great job, girls! And thanks for sharing this with all of us.)
We survived our race but I was beginning to wonder in the last few hours! We came in just about where we usually do…close to the bottom, but we were not last! When it started with about a mile and a half run to the first checkpoint, we should have known what we were in for.
The topography was quite steep, long long climbs and descents, which was actually worse on the bikes. It wasn’t smooth enough to ride down and too steep to ride up. Fortunately the long part of the bike was out of the Resort and relatively flat. Unfortunately it consisted of sand, mud, and thick chunky gravel on a lot of it. Combine that with several low water bridges and a few just plain water crossings. We waded through or attempted to ride through more creeks than I can count on the orienteering and the biking.
After our initial run, then orienteering, then canoeing, then almost to finish the first bike section we encountered a monster hill that really kicked my butt. I struggled in to the next transition area, where we dropped the bikes to orienteer again. It felt better to walk for awhile, let me tell you!
We knocked out the first 3 controls pretty handily, then headed into the next one there were a lot of people running around asking if we had found it. They said they had been down the first ridge I headed us to and didn’t find it. Well, I was a little foggy brained by that time, and with only two more controls to find had visions of a sweep dancing in my mind. Big mistake…I lost focus and went down the wrong ridge.
In looking at the land across a huge, huge re-entrant I realized my mistake. So we climbed back up a ways then descended and ascended just below where I thought it should be. Well, it wasn’t there either! Oh…demoralizing. So with the Cut-off drawing near, we decided to go on to the last check-point. In hind sight I picked a poor route and ended up going up the wrong re-entrant to find the last control. I screwed that one.
Then we headed back to our bikes to ride quite some distance to the finish. I was shot…I mean my muscles were screamin’, Connie splattered in the mud, I missed a turn and couldn’t figure out where the hell we were. She is thinking they are going to have to come find us. We retrace our path and find the turn and head on in.
We round a corner for a steep descent and are looking at this huge MONSTOR hill on the other side of it. Talk about having the wind kicked out of you. About that time someone appears behind us and I ask them if they knew where we were. They were kind of enough to say, “go to the bottom and turn left” not up that horrible hill. But as they passed us we realized it was the only other all female team that we had been leading by about 6 miles when we were on the bike. They had not even tried to find the last marker and headed in because of the cut-off.
So Connie starts stoking her pedals, not wanting to be left in the mud by them. As we came down the last hill, there were a couple men down there watching and Connie over heard the women say to them, “At least we are not last!” Of course she is speeding ahead of me at that point, trying to catch the thirty year olds. Mercy. (Editor’s Note: The Golden Girls are in their 50’s, although they don’t look it, and they kick ass at these races!)
So then we come staggering (pedaling) in at the end and they say we have a challenge to do. Some misguided race director thought everyone should carry 30 pound sand bags under several series of ropes and up and over a stage, then on to the finish line. Connie lifted the ropes for me, so I could crawl my way to the finish…but … FINISH WE DID! One other team came in later so we knew we were not last.
But, that is not the end of the story. After a miserable night of recuperating and pain after getting up every time this morning we took another look at the map to reassess where we went wrong. Lots of people towards the end got our competitive juices flowing causing a lack of focus, so we went down the wrong ridge on the second to last control. After retracing and moving over to the next ridge, I kept saying I think it should be right here. But it wasn’t. I did figure out what I had done wrong on the last control, but told Connie I would swear we were in the right place for #18, the second to last. When we got home this afternoon the results were posted and sure enough they admitted #18 was in the wrong place. Vindication!
But, that is not the end of the story. Another team came in after us so we were pretty sure we were not last. As it turns out we were third from the bottom…and who was the one at the bottom…the very last place??? The other female team! First in our category!!! They had refused to do the last challenge. Hey, we take them anyway we can get them. Only in an adventure race could third from the bottom feel like a victory.
(One Last Editor’s Note: The Golden Girls actually took 29th out of 35 teams, beating a coed team, an all-female team, and 3 all-male teams. So they were actually 6th from the bottom.)
Many folks would just laugh if I said we were third from the bottom, but they have not experienced the going to your limit (you think) and then going further. Sometimes you think you have just done your last adventure race, there is no way you can do another one. Then as you look back, reflect, take your bubble bath, share with your friends, then you realize just how much of a victory it really was…and you are figuring out how to do better the next time. Yes, The Golden Girls will be back.