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Pushing Onward – The LBL Challenge Adventure Race Report Part 3

***NOTE: This race report was written by Luke and is presented in black text.  Casey added some comments and are presented to you in Red, Bob’s comments are in Green, and Kage’s comments are in Navy Blue.  Luke added a response or two in Purple.  If you need to get caught up, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.***

Paddle Leg #1 – 1:13 PM Saturday Afternoon – 5 Hours 43 Minutes Racing

Somehow, through all the mistakes and mishaps, we managed to make it to the TA at CP8.  We ditched the bikes and our bike gear, and we readied ourselves for the paddling leg.  We all grabbed a bite to eat as we donned our PFD’s and put our paddles together.  We only had 3 kayak paddles, and since Kage had little to no experience using one, we decided we’d let her just use a canoe paddle.

Transition to Paddle at LBL Challenge Adventure Race

Even with the not-so-perfect start to the race, we were still smiling and having the time of our lives, and THAT'S what is important.

After a fairly quick transition (although we could have been faster), we carried the canoes down to the lake.  Kage got stuck in a canoe with me, and Bob and Casey filled up another one (Bob: Is this a fat reference?).  With storms in the forecast and clouds in the sky, we were a little worried that the water was going to be pretty rough.  We were pleasantly surprised when we shoved off and headed out on a silky smooth lake.  This was going to be easy.

Paddling at LBL Challenge

We were so happy that we weren't in those yellow, tippy POS canoes!

On this paddling leg, we had to get 3 CP’s (9, 10, & 11) in any order before heading back to the TA.  We decided to get CP10 first since it was closest, and then we would either portage the canoes across a peninsula to get CP11 before getting CP9 on an island OR we would paddle around the peninsula to get CP9 followed by CP11 if the portage looked too gnarly.

The paddling was easy and we made good time… until we left the bay.  Once we were out of the shelter of the bay, the lake was much rougher.  It wasn’t the worst I’ve paddled on, but it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk either.

Bob: The pictures do absolutely no justice to the size of the waves. Coming back to the canoe takeout, Casey and I had several waves crash right over the front and sides of the boat. I was soaked to my ass….balls first.

Casey and Bob paddling at LBL

Rougher waters and dark clouds

We stayed close to the coast and found CP10 easily.  There was a team here, “For the Run of It” I believe, that was convinced this was CP11.  I was 99.99% sure that we were at CP10, but a small seed of doubt had been planted in my brain.  With the rocky start to the race and several navigational blunders, I started to second guess myself.   We couldn’t afford another mistake.

We decided to paddle on and not portage the canoes since the brush and trees looked pretty thick.  I also knew that Kage was dreading portaging a canoe, but I’m sure she would have done just fine.  I mean, we all know that she has more upper body strength than Bob does, but then again, that’s not saying much.

Bob: Wow.

Kage happy in the boat at LBL Adventure Race

"Yesss! No portage!"

Anyway, we decided to paddle to the island to get CP9.  On the way to the small island, I kept looking toward the coast.  The little seed of doubt about CP10 began to grow.  Did we somehow paddle too far and miss CP10?  Was that actually CP11 instead?  I looked at the map, and I tried to convince myself that there was no possible way that could have happened.  There was, however, a bit of doubt remaining in my mind.

The water was getting more choppy and the wind picked up as we made it to the island.  It looked like it was raining to our east, but other than a few errant raindrops, we had managed to avoid the inclement weather.  We beached the canoes and Bob punched the passport.

Bob with sealskinz socks standing in water

Bob pretended his e-Fuel was whiskey so he'd be sure to drink enough.

Bob: Actually, I was just trying to look like Scott Fredrickson. If he had a beard, we’d look exactly alike.

We paddled into the small bay to get CP11, and I was once again worried that I had led our team astray since that other team was so sure that what we thought was CP10 was CP11.  I was still 99% sure I knew where we were, but it was a huge relief when we paddled right to the CP and confirmed that we had indeed gotten it right.

At this point, we could have portaged across the peninsula or paddled around it again.  I know Bob really wanted to portage, but the rest of us voted to paddle around it.  In hindsight, I think it would have been faster to portage, but I guess we’ll never know.

Kate: In retrospect, I feel bad that I argued against portaging.  Wimpy move, especially since we didn’t have bikes in the canoes or anything.  Next time, tell me to man up.

Casey:  I was on the fence and would have been fine with the portage.  It didn’t look too far but I think we made the right decision.  I have a feeling the portage would have taken us longer.

Bob: I think it would’ve been faster. By the time we would’ve gotten there, the trail would have already been blazed.

Luke: Like I said, we’ll never know.

As we paddled around the peninsula, the waves seemed to have gotten MUCH bigger.  It was really rough out there.  It was so rough, in fact, that we had to make sure we didn’t get sideways to the waves.  We had to hit the waves straight on or risk being tipped.  Hitting the waves head-on was a rough ride, though, and Bob said that several times they took on water over the bow of the canoe as they came crashing down over each wave.

Kate: I was definitely nervous during this part of the paddle, especially being as someone had already almost tipped the canoe in calm water. 

Bob: I’m so glad Luke lost the bet.

Kate: Still stinging from that upper body strength comment, huh?

Casey:  It was pretty rough out there.  Bob and I had a hard time not pulling away from the other canoe (we had 2 kayak paddles) with the rough waters.  We’d try to coast and wait for them, and we’d get tossed around and had to paddle to keep our bow into the waves.  We eventually decided to paddle a little ahead and get into the cove and wait for them there.  We kept an eye on them and hoped they’d join us safely in a few minutes. 

We eventually made it back to the TA after roughly 2 hours of paddling, but the last half of that paddling leg wasn’t exactly fun.  Well, that’s not true.  It was actually a lot of fun… now that it’s over.  We were definitely glad to be getting off the lake without tipping.

Canoe take-out at LBL Challenge AR

See? Kage is carrying the canoe better than Bob in this photo, isn't she?

Kate: Thanks for putting in that really flattering picture of me.  Now I’ll never be selected for America’s Next Top Model.  Jerk.

Luke: Kage, there can’t be a more flattering shot than a woman carrying a canoe in the middle of a 24+ hour adventure race.  Right?

Casey:  I guess we didn’t get any pictures when it was really rough, we were too busy trying to survive.  The pictures we have don’t do it justice.  However, according to people who raced LBL last year, it was nowhere near as rough as it was last year.  Last year, they cut the paddle short because it was too rough and too many people were dumping their canoes (they were the yellow P.O.S. canoes, however).

We transitioned to the bikes for a short ride (roughly 2 miles) to the big orienteering leg of the race.  We were really looking forward to getting to our first food drop, too.  As we pulled up to CP13 and the start of the O-course, we were shocked that there were so many bikes still there.

Food Drop #1 / CP 13 – 3:56 PM Saturday Afternoon – 8 Hours 26 Minutes Racing

As we rode down the gravel road to the manned-checkpoint, we could see a team of four getting ready to get back on the bikes.  It turned out to be Team Tecnu, one of the best teams in the country.  Oh, crap!  If it took a team of their caliber that long to finish the O-course, it must be pretty damn tough.  We dropped our bikes, swapped our bike shoes for trail shoes, and started to go through our food bag as Tecnu took off on their bikes.

Then another team came out of the woods.  It was Wedali.  Double crap!  Another top team was just now finishing the orienteering section.  And then as we were going through our food, switching from biking gear to trekking gear, and just taking way too long at the TA, another team came out of the woods: One of the two Bushwhacker teams.  What… the… hell?!?!

Transitoin Area with Drop Bags at LBL Challenge Adventure Race

Casey:  Thanks for putting in that really flattering picture of Bob and me.  Now we’ll never be selected for America’s Next Top Model.  Jerk!

Luke: Casey, there can’t be a more flattering of two husky dudes with half-beards. Right?

Clearly, this orienteering leg was a big, fat female dog, if you know what I mean.  As we ate some food, restocked our packs, and got ready for the O-course, I studied the map.  It was pretty clear that we were not going to clear the course.  So the question then became how many CP’s we should try to get before the 9:00 PM (?) cutoff.  Should we use all of that time to get as many CP’s as we can?  Or should we just grab a couple of the close ones in the daylight and come back to the bikes and hope we can use that time to get more CP’s later in the race?

Since the top teams obviously had some issues with the orienteering course, I figured we just might have some issues as well – especially once it got dark.  So I wanted to get 3 or 4 CP’s, skip the rest, and make our way back to the bikes before dark and hope that saving a couple of hours would help us later in the race.  Casey disagreed.  He’s the kind of guy that never wants to concede anything until absolutely necessary, and he always wants to push the envelope, for better or worse.  So we planned on getting a couple of CP’s and then we would reevaluate.

Bob: You forgot to mention that he does it all with a million-dollar smile, dazzling facial hair and an endless supply of mind-bending flatus.

Casey:  I think you should use all the time you have to get as many CP’s as possible, especially if you don’t know what is coming later in the race.  I don’t like to ASS -U-ME anything.  You know you have these CP’s to get and can’t assume there will be more later (undisclosed at this time).  I would hate to leave early, saving time for later, only to find out that there were no more CP’s and finish with time to spare and CP’s left un-punched.  Hell, I want to get all the CP’s every race.

Luke:  Every team needs a guy like you, Casey.  You always push us to do more than we think we can, and that’s a very good thing.  Sometimes, however, it’s better to skip CP’s early to get more later.  It’s a tough decision sometimes, though, because (like you said), you just don’t know what the rest of the race has in store for you.

As we were finishing up our (way too long) transition, the other Team Bushwhacker came out of the woods, our friends Scott and Frederick.  We asked how it was out there, and they said it was pretty rough.  That’s not what we wanted to hear.  We said good-bye and good luck, and then headed into the woods.  A few minutes later, we crossed paths with Team Alpine Shop, another top contender, as they were just finishing the orienteering leg.

Man, it was going to be a rough O-course.

To Be Continued…

A Constant Struggle – The LBL Challenge Adventure Race Report Part 2

***NOTE: This race report was written by Luke and is presented in black text.  Casey added some comments and are presented to you in Red, Bob’s comments are in Green, and Kage’s comments are in Navy Blue.  Luke added a response or two in Purple.  If you need to get caught up, you can read part 1 here.***

Trek Leg #1 – 7:30 AM Saturday:

It was go-time, and we set off jogging at a nice easy pace for the first quarter of a mile or so.  We then slowed to our endurance trekking pace.  As we left the pavement behind and headed onto the trail, we noticed a couple of people running back toward us.  It was Team Tecnu, one of the top adventure racing teams in the country.  I’m not sure what happened exactly, but I believe one of them forgot or dropped their passport.  Regardless, I’d like everyone to know that there was a moment, however fleeting it may have been, when Team Virtus was ahead of Team Tecnu… And I have photos to prove it:

Team Virtus in front of Team Tecnu at the LBL Challenge

You have to celebrate the small victories... especially with how our race would go.

Kyle Peter of Team Tecnu

I believe that's Kyle Peter, the captain of Team Tecnu, and I'm actually ahead of him... for 1 second.

Team Tecnu running at LBL

And then, just like that, they were gone.

CASEY:  So the eventual winner of the race (Team Tecnu) had to pass everybody in the race from this point.  They went from last to first.  I’d love to know when they regained the lead.

Luke:  Great, Casey.  Now you ruined it, and everyone knows we didn’t win the race.  Nice going.

As we watched Team Tecnu fly down the trail ahead of us, we noticed that Casey was starting to fall behind.  I asked him how he was feeling.  “Not good.”  I asked if it was his legs cramping up.  “Yup.”  It was literally 7 minutes into a 28-hour race.

Casey has had some issues with this in the past.  In fact, the cramps flared up on him about 6 weeks before the race.  It was bad enough to make Casey consider pulling out of this race since he was worried that he might not be able to finish it.  He just didn’t want to be the reason for a DNF.  He worked on his nutrition, though, and he took some time off from training.  The cramps seemed to disappear, so we thought we were good to go for LBL.  However, we knew there was a possibility that the cramping might rear its ugly head at some point during this race, but we never imagined it would happen so soon.

At the High Profile Adventure Camp last year, we learned from Robyn Benincasa that a true team works together and does whatever is necessary to keep moving forward no matter what.  So, rather than poke fun at Casey and tease him like we used to do, we all gladly took turns carrying Casey’s pack for awhile, and we slowed our pace substantially.  So there we were, just 7 minutes into the race, in dead last, moving really slowly… even by our standards.  But we kept moving, and that’s the important part.

Kage carrying two packs at the LBL adventure race

Notice the two packs on Kage's back... and the really stupid look on Bob's face.

Casey seemed really pissed, but there was nothing more he could have done to prevent this.  Bob, Kage, and I were fine with the pace, though.  We just wanted to take it easy to see if things got better for him, but he was really beating himself up.  Sensing that Casey was dwelling on something that was out of his control, Kage stepped in and worked her magic.  You see, when Kage isn’t being a bad-ass on the trails, she is a special education teacher.  She used her mad teaching skillz to talk Casey out of his funk.  The diversionary tactics seemed to work, and Casey’s spirits brightened significantly.

Kage: To give credit where it’s due, Casey’s a much better conversationalist than my first graders.  And it gave me a chance to ask him what I always wonder when I watch a fight: why would you want to do that? Honestly, I still don’t get it, but now I have his perspective.

Luke: We really could have used you at The Thunder Rolls two years ago when I morphed into Betty White.

During this slow trek (and throughout the whole race for that matter), Bob gave us quite an education.  You see, he’s been watching a ton of Man Woman Wild, Survivorman, and Bear Grylls-type shows lately.  He has a wealth of knowledge (or “knowledge”).  Anytime there was a lull in the conversation, Bob would say, “In a survival situation…”  And then he would drop a knowledge bomb on us.  Here’s one of my favorites: “In a survival situation, you can dry out your own turd in the sun and then use it as a fire starter.”  Here’s one more little gem: “In a survival situation, you can rip off the nail of your big toe to use as a makeshift knife.”   It was edutainment at its finest.

Bob: One of these days when we’re lost in the Alaskan tundra and the only thing keeping us warm is dried, smoldering animal poo….you’ll thank me.

Bob walking a log

While Casey was stretching and trying not to cramp, Bob tried to redeem himself after wimping out in front of Scott Frederickson at CPT Nationals. And yes he made it across and back without killing himself.

We reached Checkpoint (CP) 1 when we noticed two people running back toward us.  We were shocked that there was anyone still this far back.  It was half of Team Punisher.  I’m not sure what happened, but they must have missed the CP, so they had to come back to get it.  On our way to CP2, the same thing happened.  Two of their team were running back towards us, but this time the other two showed up a few minutes later.  We discussed where we thought we were on the map, but we soon took different routes as Team Punisher ran off into the woods and we maintained our slow and steady pace along the trail, hoping Casey’s cramps would vanish.

Team Punisher looked like they were serious runners and in top shape.  Not to mention being the best dressed team. I’m still a little bummed we never found out what (if) he was wearing under that kilt. I figured they would beat us to CP2, but as we headed off-trail toward the CP, Team Punisher came over the ridge behind us.  We arrived at the CP just ahead of them.  Team Punisher then decided to take a direct bearing to CP3 while we opted for the trail and found CP3 fairly quickly.  We never saw Team Punisher again, and we later learned that they had to drop out because of bike issues.

Bob punching the passport at LBL Challenge Adventure Race

Getting one of the first few CP's

The only issue we had with the first 3 CP’s was judging our distance.  We had been moving so slowly that we were always second-guessing whether or not we had gone too far or not far enough.  Fortunately, Casey’s legs were feeling much better, and he was able to take his pack back.  We were still moving more slowly than usual just to be safe, but we were at least moving a bit faster at this point.

CASEY:  I was feeling better but I wasn’t out of the woods yet (both literally and figuratively).  My legs were really touch and go for quite some time and they could have gone either way.  If they seized up, our race was over.  We kept moving and hoped the AR Gods would smile upon us.

On the way to CP4 and the first Transition Area (TA), we somehow completely missed where the trail turns.  Actually, that’s not true.  Kage actually pointed out the trail we should have taken, and for whatever reason, I thought it was the wrong one.  So, this was my mistake completely.

Kage: Yeah, but I for one spent way too much time coasting and waiting for you to tell me where to go rather than taking responsibility for paying attention to what was supposed to be coming up next.  I think your job would have been a lot easier if the rest of us had stepped up a little.

Luke: I blame Adam.

Fortunately, we saw another team hiking back towards us which made me double-check the map.  Rather than back-tracking on the trail, we decided to bushwhack through the woods…

Bushwhacking at LBL Adventure Race

It looks nasty here, but the bushwhacking was short and pretty mild. And apparently Kage thinks she can fly.

Kage:I believe I can flyyyyy…

…and then we trekked along the beach and up to the TA and CP4.

Casey eating a fish

Virtus Rule #74: If there is a dead, rotting carcass of any kind on the course, you must pose for a photo with it. This photo reminds me of this one from the Truman Lake adventure race.

Trekking along the beach at LBL

Although the clouds were threatening, they hadn't let loose up to this point.

We made it to the TA about the same time as the other team we saw that had taken the same wrong turn that we did.  They rolled out before we did, and there was only one other set of bikes left at the TA – Team Punisher’s.  Well, even with the cramps and a wrong turn, at least we weren’t in last place, right?  We transitioned to the bikes fairly quickly, although we still have a looong way to go before I’d consider us a good transitioning team.

Transition Area at LBL Challenge 24 Hour AR

Everyone is ready but Bob. Helmets save lives, Bob!

Bob: We suck at transitioning. We really need to work on that.

Bike Leg #1 – 10:19 AM Saturday Morning – 2 hours 49 minutes racing

We said good-bye to the wonderful volunteers, and we hopped on our bikes for some sweet single track.  We were having a lot of fun… Maybe too much fun since we blew by the first biking CP.  Casey and Bob had pulled off the trail to get some shots of Kage and I crossing a creek.

Kage:Luke’s too nice to say it (though not too nice to christen me MawMaw during the race), but he rode across the creek and I walked across the creek.

CP5 was located at a trail/creek junction, the very junction at which we stopped to take photos, and unfortunately, we never saw the CP.  Four people, eight eyes, and we still didn’t see the CP even though we were literally standing two yards away from it.  Doh!

CASEY:  I actually noticed something on the tree as I rode by, but I kept going.  I never for a second thought it was a CP.  I didn’t know we were coming up to one so soon.  I guess I should have known to keep an eye out for one.  I need to do a better job sneaking peaks at the map and asking Luke what we are looking for.

Creek Crossing at LBL

See the tree on the far left of this photo? Yeah, well... That's where the CP was.

Now in our defense, when a CP is placed along a trail or road, there is no orange and white flag.  There is only a cable with a passport puncher hanging from a tree, a post, or a road sign.  Still, we should have never missed this CP.  Fortunately, we didn’t go very far before we caught our mistake.  As we stood there looking at the map, Bob somehow managed to fall into, onto, and over Casey’s bike, cutting his leg in the process.  Of course, I used my ninja skills to snap a few shots before he managed to get back to his feet.  It was pretty damn hilarious.

Bob falling on Casey's bike

Bob letting us know that this was fall #1 for him.

Of course, nobody laughed at all, and Casey even helped Bob up.  Once we made sure he was okay, we hopped back on the bikes and easily found the CP that never should have been missed.

Bob: As much as it hurt, I came away with a really cool scar…six separate chainring scratches that look just like a Steak ‘n’ Shake logo.  Totally worth it.

CASEY:  Not only did he cut his leg, he left skin and blood on my gear teeth…Gross!  I later found out that in a “survival situation” you can actually use your own blood (or a teammate’s’) to lubricate your chain.  I guess Bob was just looking out for me.

The rest of the CP’s in the first bike section were easily found, but that doesn’t mean getting to them was uneventful.  Kage’s bike was jumping gears like crazy.  If you’ve never ridden when your bike does this, trust me.  It sucks.  We tried to adjust it for her, and then Bob decided to hop on the bike to see what he could figure out.  After adjusting the height of the saddle on Bob’s bike, Kage hopped on it for a bit while Bob rode her bike.  After a while, Bob managed to dial in Kage’s bike a little bit (although it wasn’t perfect), so they switched bikes back once again.

Kage: Now I want a 29er.

However, when Bob went to raise the saddle back up on his bike, the seat clamp wouldn’t completely tighten.  Eventually, Bob just tightened it down as much as he could and had to leave the clamp open.  So Bob was riding on a saddle that was too low, and every time he pedaled, his thigh would hit the open clamp.  His seat also would shift side to side with each pedal.  I imagine this created extra friction in the taint region.  Way to suck it up Bob.  It couldn’t have been fun or comfortable, but Bob’s a trooper.  I never heard him complain, but watching him ride that bike from behind did NOT look like fun.

Kage: I felt like crap the rest of the day thinking about that bike seat…no good deed goes unpunished, Bob.

Luke:  Again, I blame Adam.

Bob: My taint will never be the same.

The single track was a blast, and so far the storms were still holding off. During this bike leg, Casey crashed once (but somehow we never got a shot of it), and Kage crashed twice.  Neither of them was hurt, and it provided some comic relief.

CASEY:  I landed with much less grace than Kage did.  It looked almost as if she was just sitting down for a rest.  I, on the other hand, landed on the top of my helmet and did a complete somersault.  Maybe as I age I’ll learn how to fall more gracefully (I guess you learn how to fall to prevent breaking a hip).

Kage crashed at LBL

Diagonal logs will getcha every time.

Casey’s cramps seemed to be gone.  (They were gone only because I stopped talking about them.  They weren’t too painful any more but felt like they might totally seize up at any minute.)  We just hoped that they wouldn’t come back to haunt us later in the race.  We got CP7 under a bridge, and then we hopped onto some old forest roads and then some paved roads as we made our way to CP8 to transition to the first paddling leg.

Biking at Land Between the Lakes Adventure Race

We hadn't encountered any rain, but the threat was still there.

We made it to the TA at CP8 a little after 1:00 PM on Saturday, and there were several other teams getting ready to start their paddle.  All but two (I think) were 12-hour teams, though, and it was here where we learned that Team Punisher had to pull out of the race.  So, we were guaranteed to not finish last…

That is if we finished at all, and that was definitely not guaranteed.  In fact, just making it to the TA at CP8 was a miracle with all of the problems we had already faced:

Cramps just seven minutes into the race…

Kage’s bike issues…

Bob’s saddle issues…

My sucking at orienteering issues…

All of this, and Casey hadn’t even quit the team yet.

To Be Continued…

The Calm Before the Storm – The LBL Challenge Adventure Race Report Part 1

Last weekend, Casey quit the team.

Seriously.  I’m not making that up.  That’s how awful the LBL Challenge was.  Now, I don’t mean it was a bad race.  In fact, it was a fantastic race.  I just mean that things went terribly wrong for us from start to end.  Things just spiraled out of control, mistake after mistake, mishap after mishap.  It was as if we were in quicksand, struggling to get out and back on track, but no matter how hard we tried, the more we struggled, the more we sunk into the depths of despair.  At our breaking point late in the race, my brother threatened to beat my ass (something he could easily do), and then he quit the team.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?  Perhaps I should begin at the beginning.  Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Pre-Race Friday Night:

Things started a little rocky right from the beginning.  Bob and I were supposed to meet Kage at the Cracker Barrel on Exit 9 off of Highway 64.  Unfortunately, she meant Exit 9 off of Highway 64 in ILLINOIS!  Bob and I went to the Cracker Barrel on Exit 9 off of Highway 64 in MISSOURI!  Who knew there were TWO Exit 9’s with Cracker Barrels?  Well, now we all know.

So we soon found Kage at the correct Exit 9, and we made our way south to meet Casey in Tennessee.  It was a fun ride down.  We chatted, joked, laughed, and had a jolly good time.  Just before we crossed the state line into TN, we passed through the “Art District” and found this amazing homoerotic sculpture:

Homoerotic Scuplture in the Art District

I believe this piece was called "Bumpin' Uglies"

Then we decided to stop at a Gander Mountain store for Bob to pick up a dry bag.  While we were there, though, Bob found something for Kage.  We wanted to make her feel like one of the guys, so Bob got her a “Go Girl” of her very own.  She seemed much less thrilled with the idea than we did.  She never used it, but I know if she would she would no longer “take life sitting down.”

We eventually pulled into the lot at the Inn at Paris Landing State Park, and it was a perfect spot for race headquarters.  There were great rooms, nice cabins, a large conference room, and a restaurant which provided a terrific buffet on Friday night and early Saturday morning as well.  After finding Casey, we piled into the Virtus Van to drive the long way (200 yards) to the conference hall where we could check-in.

Hairy Men

Too many people, not enough seats. Reminds me of this photo from Berryman but with more hair.

We checked in, got our sweet race shirts, bought some Swiftwick socks and a Bonkhard Racing hat for a friend (Shout out to Kim Chou!).  Then we hit the buffet – Spaghetti, bbq chicken, potatoes, grilled veggies, frog legs, shrimp, crayfish, ham & beans, coconut pie, chocolate pie, and probably even more.  (Thank God, Bob and I weighed-in BEFORE this trip!)  Then we checked into our room with a view of the Lake and started going through our gear before the pre-race meeting.

View from Inn at Paris Landing at the LBL Challenge

So peaceful and calm... Pretty much the opposite of how our race would go.

At the pre-race meeting, Kage had to go get the maps since she isn’t nearly as skilled at the “Not It!” game as the rest of Team Virtus.  Kage also got to pick the ticket for the winner of the Kuat Bike Rack.  None of us won it, and the guy that did win it acted like he must have already had two of them for each of his cars.  He let out a little “Woo!” and sort of half-raised his arms.  If I ever win a Kuat Rack at one of these races, I’m going to go flippin’ nuts!  I guarantee it.

We chatted with Scott and Frederick from Team Bushwhacker for a bit, and let me tell you… They’re two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  These guys are elite-level racers, and they went out of their way to give us some last-minute pointers on route-planning and map-prep.  Big thanks to those guys, and if they ever decide to put on a navigation/AR clinic, I’ll be the first in line.

We then went back to our room to get our gear in order and to pack our gear-drop bags.  Since the Land Between the Lakes area is so remote, we were allowed to pack 4 sacks with food, gear, and water.  Two bags would be dropped at a point during the first half of the race where we could access it twice, and the other two bags would be dropped at a point during the second half of the race where we could access it twice as well.  I’ve never done a race with gear/food drops like this, so it was a bit tricky deciding how much stuff to pack.

Kage and I plotted the points and went over some route options while Casey and Bob spooned each other in bed.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  While we plotted, Casey and Bob aired up the bike tires, put the bike lights on, and got other last-minute things in order.

Plotting UTM Points for the LBL Adventure Race

Although just a newby, Kage is quite savvy with plotting UTM's.

We finally felt like we were as ready as we were going to be, and we ended up going to bed around midnight.  I slept on an air mattress on the floor.  Now before you think I did this to be chivalrous, in all honesty I just didn’t want to sleep with Bob or Casey in a full-size bed.  Having slept near Bob more times than I’d like to admit, I can identify his snoring quite easily.  He was definitely the first one to fall asleep.  I’m not sure when Kage or Casey fell asleep, but I know I had a hard time drifting off.  Eventually, though, I think we all fell asleep and got 3 to 4 solid hours of sleep (something we did not get at the Berryman 36-hour AR last year).  Although we’d always like to get a full 8+ hours of sleep before a race, just getting any sleep is HUGE.  But would it be enough?

Race Morning Saturday:

The alarm went off WAY too early at 5:00 AM.  Casey seemed to be the only one not affected by the lack of sleep, but that’s usually the case.  Casey is always enthusiastic and ready to go on race morning.  We quickly got dressed and packed up as we scarfed down some bagels and other goodies for breakfast.  We posed for a team photo:

Bearded Team Virtus

Beard Power x 4!

Casey and Bob decided to do something a little different with their beards, and since they destroyed the sink, I’m really glad that I had already brushed my teeth.


I always knew these guys were two-faced.

Since this was our first-ever coed Team Virtus, and since this was Kage’s first official race with us, we wanted to make her feel as welcome as possible.  Kage is known for many things: awesome cookies (which she didn’t bring on this trip), braided pigtails, wicked-fast race reports, never ever complaining, general bad-assery, etc.  She is also well-known for her fashion sense – especially when it comes to her fancy, argyle socks.  So we, the manliest of men, sported these:

Argyle Socks for Adventure Racing

Do you know how difficult it was to find non-cotton, argyle socks to match our jerseys? Incredibly difficult.

We reloaded the Virtus Van, dropped our bikes at the bike drop, and then drove to the starting line under overcast skies with plenty of time to spare.  It was actually pretty weird since we weren’t rushed at all.  Usually, we are one of the last teams to drop the bikes and make it to the starting line.  This time, however, we had enough time to just chill, use the port-a-potties, and talk to the Bushwhacker guys some more.  We dropped off our gear/food bags, and we waited for the start of the race.

Gear Bags for gear drops at LBL adventure race

Team Virtus was #185, but we know we're #1 in your hearts, right?

We grabbed our passports, sang the National Anthem, and we suddenly found ourselves toeing the line, finally ready to start the LBL Challenge 24-hour Adventure Race.  It was finally here, and we were ready.  Nothing could stop us.  Not even the thunderstorms that were all but guaranteed to ravage the Land Between the Lakes over the next 24 hours.  Not even the stiff competition in our division.  Not even cramps…

To Be Continued…

Read Part 2 right here or you can read Kage’s perspective right here.

Who’s the Underdog at LBL? Oh Yeah… We are.

Okay, so we are guaranteed a top ten finish in our division… as long as we finish, that is.  There are only seven 4-person coed teams signed up for the LBL Challenge 24 Hour Adventure Race this weekend.  And that might make you think our odds of finishing on the podium are pretty good, right?  I mean we “only” need to beat 4 teams, right?  Well, let’s take a look at all the teams in our division:

Teams for LBL Challenge Adventure Race

For those of you that don’t follow Adventure Racing closely, here are abridged run-downs of each team’s accomplishments.  Let’s start with the teams that I already knew about…


  • 1st Place at 2011 Checkpoint Tracker Nationals
  • 3rd Place at 2011 USARA Nationals
  • 1st Place at 2010 USARA Nationals
  • Ranked 1st in the country in Checkpoint Tracker’s 2011 Year-End Rankings
  • Ranked 6th in the country in USARA’s 2011 Year-End Rankings
  • Too many other accomplishments to list


  • 2nd Place at 2011 Checkpoint Tracker Nationals
  • 2nd Place at 2011 USARA Nationals
  • 2nd Place at 2010 USARA Nationals
  • 12th Place at the Adventure Racing World Championships
  • Ranked 10th in the country in USARA’s 2011 Year-End Rankings
  • Too many other accomplishments to list

Alpine Shop:

  • 4th Place at 2011 Checkpoint Tracker Nationals
  • 6th Place at 2011 USARA Nationals
  • Ranked 7th in the country in USARA’s 2011 Year-End Rankings
  • Domination of Adventure Racing in the Midwest since I can remember
  • Too many other accomplishments to list


The rest of the teams are unfamiliar to me.  Now, that does NOT mean they aren’t top-notch teams.  It just means that I had to do a little digging to find out about them, and for some of them, I didn’t find much.  Here you go…

Milton Basement Racers:

  • 7th Place at 2010 Untamed New England
  • Competed in the 2011 Adventure Racing World Championships in Australia
  • 6th Place at 2010 Huairasinchi Adventure Race in Ecuador
  • 5th Place at 2009 Untamed New England

Cumberland Trail Connection/ARMD:

  • 12th at 2011 USARA Nationals
  • Ranked 8th in the country in USARA’s 2011 Year-End Rankings

Team Punisher:

  • I couldn’t find a thing about this team, so it could be their first race, or they could be Adventure Racing Ninjas.  I guess we’ll find out.


And then that leaves us…

Team Virtus:

  • Um…
  • Let’s see…
  • Well…
  • We have more fun than anyone else?
  • We won a fart war once?
Team Virtus is the Underdog

Underdog would look GREAT in a Team Virtus Jersey

So clearly, we will be racing against some of the best teams in the country, and that’s pretty exciting.  It’s also a little intimidating.  Obviously, we are the underdog here.  But everyone loves an underdog, right?  Except for Norfolk State since they upset my alma mater, Mizzou.  Besides, we always have the same goals going into a race, and where we finish is never one of them.  Here are our goals for this (and every) race:

  1. Be safe and come back in one piece
  2. Have more fun than everyone else
  3. Minimize mistakes and race our best race
  4. Clear the course
  5. Finish if at all possible regardless of how much it sucks (even if we have to cut out some CP’s)

To say we are excited about this race (our first coed race now that we signed Kage to a long-term contract), would be the understatement of the century.  I’m trying really hard to tone down the anticipation, though.  The last time I felt this way about a race, we got kicked in the pills repeatedly (read about the worst race ever right here).

Unfortunately, there is no online coverage this year, but be sure to check out our facebook and/or Twitter page for updates if we ever get a chance to do so.   And wish us luck.  We’re gonna need it!  LBL here we come!!!





TV Signs KG for LBL in KY/TN

Did you understand the title of this blog post?  No?  Then you haven’t been paying attention at all, have you?  Let me decipher the code for you…


TV= Team Virtus (duh!)

KG = Kage (formerly known as Kate Geisen), but we’ll also accept SuperKate

LBL = Land Between the Lakes 24 Hour Adventure Race

KY/TN = Kentucky/Tennessee


That’s right, boys and girls.  Team Virtus has gone coed, and we’ll be competing in the 4-person coed division (aka- the “Elite” division).  What’s funny about competing in the “Elite” division is that Team Virtus has been called “Missouri’s Least Elite Adventure Racing Team” in print.

The Pitch Newspaper Cover Story on Adventure Racing

But that was before we got smart and allowed… uh… invited… uh… asked really nicely… Okay, fine… That was before we begged Kage to join our team and race with us at the LBL 24.  We must have asked her before she downed her morning cup o’ Joe since she graciously accepted our offer (probably out of pity), and now Team Virtus has instantly become a stronger, better looking, more stylish (check out the socks in the photo below), and less hairy team.

Kage Jumping a creek

The first time I ever met Kage was when she beat me in the Castlewood Cup 15K Trail Race.  But I really got to know Kage at the Deuce Adventure Non-Race last year.  It was at the Deuce where I learned that she would make a great teammate.  I tagged along with Kage at the Deuce since she was a newby.  I was just there to teach her some basic navigation skills and make sure she didn’t die.  Not only did she survive, she excelled.  Not one single time did she complain.  Even when she was lost, or tired, or sore, or wet, or hungry, or sitting in a Pack Raft backwards:

Kage in a Pack Raft at the Deuce Adventure Race

Oh, and did I mention she did all of this the day after running 21 miles that left her with blisters and aching feet?!?!?  Clearly, Kage is much, much tougher than me.  I just went and re-read her race report from the Deuce,  and if you want to get an idea of Kage’s personality, you should read it too.

It’s always weird for us to bring on new teammates.  Bob and I started this team and this blog because we thought it would be fun.  We never thought anyone other than our parents would actually read it, and we definitely never thought anyone other than my brother, my cousin, and my friend, Drew would want to be on the team.  So it’s awkward for us to ask someone to join us.  In fact, it usually takes us way too long (as was the case when Adam, Robby, and Rusty joined the team).  In fact, it’s taken us almost a year too long to get Kage on board.  I can’t believe she hasn’t been snatched up by a much better team already.  Take a look at our comments from her Deuce report:

Comments on Kage's Blog

Both Bob and I pretty much said she should be on our team almost a year ago, but we are always hesitant to come out and make it official by asking someone to come on board.  It just seems like by asking someone to be on our team, we’re assuming that we are this amazing team that everyone wants to join.  As much as we joke about how awesome we are, it’s always in a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek kind of way.  But we are humbled that Kage has agreed to join us.

So Kage, Bob, Casey, and I will be racing at the LBL 24 Hour Adventure race on March 24th – 25th.  We apologize in advance to all of you racing at LBL in the all-male division.  There will be one less team for you to finish ahead of.  And for those of you in the “Elite” Coed Division, I would normally joke about how you should prepare to lose to us.  However, with Kage on the team, it might not be a joke after all.

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