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