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(Mostly) Soloing the Perfect 10

**Note: This post was written by Luke with commentary added by Kate in Blue, Bob in Green, and Travis in Orange.**

By the end of the Perfect 10 Rogaine my feet were sore and beat to shit, I was fighting off cramps, and I was kinda lonely. Don’t get me wrong, though. It was an insanely fantastic day. It was just different than previous Perfect 10’s we’d done. Back in 2012, Bob, Kate and I ran the race together, and then at last year’s race, Kate and I teamed up and won a friendly bet against a team of Bob and Casey – a bet for which they still need to pay up, by the way.

Kate: But we have a plan for that, and it’s glorious.

But this year, Kate, Bob, Travis, and I decided to sign up as solos so we could all get some good navigation work on our own, rather than relying on each other.

The three of us dudes have had quite a bit of experience with navigation. At times, all three of us have been the lead navigator for our team. Kate, however, is the least experienced, and the Perfect 10 was to be her biggest solo effort to date. She was pretty nervous, but I knew she’d do fine. She’s come a LOOOOOONG way since her first navigational experience at The Deuce:

Map Check

Kate was just a newbie in this photo (and still in her 30’s).

Friday afternoon, Kate met up with Bob, and they then drove to my house. From there we hopped in the Virtus Van for the short road trip down to Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Of course we had to stop for Kate to get some pulled pork, and then we needed to make a pit stop for Bob to get some underwear and other supplies.

Bob: That chick in the background is totally scoping me out. And for the record, we were buying underwear because I was, (and still am), covered in poison ivy from the waist-down on all sides. And dang my hair looks good!

Underwear

Bob is a part-time underwear model.

We then headed to the campground and drove around trying to find our friends from Team Alpine Shop and Wedali/Gear Junkie, but the we had no luck since the campground is so huge. We ended up picking a site near the entrance, and then we set up camp in the dark. We decided not to build a fire since it was pretty late, but we had to have one adult beverage together before bed. That’s when Bob made a startling discovery:

“I just realized I didn’t actually pack any food for the weekend.”

If only we had just been at a very large store that sells just about anything you might need for a weekend of camping and racing. You know, kind of like a Walmart. Oh, wait…

Travis: Or maybe if someone had been driving up the day of the race. Maybe they could have brought something. Oh well.

Beer for the Perfect 10 Rogaine Race

Priorities… Food or beer?

It just so happened that I had made a crap-ton of Feed Zone Portables, which I will review in a later post. Kate had extra food as well, so collectively we had plenty of food for all of us. Crisis averted. I guess Bob’s motto of “It’ll work itself out” – shortened to IWIO – still holds up.

Bob: You totally saved my ass. I was really surprised at how tasty those things are.

We went to bed a little too late since we’d be getting up at 5:45 AM, but that’s how Virtus rolls. We don’t spend enough time together, so we try to make the most of it when we do.

We met up with Travis, who drove up on his own the morning of the race, at race HQ for the check-in. Then we received our maps at 6:45. With a start time of 8:00, we got straight to work strategerizing our routes.

Route Planning at the Perfect 10 Rogaine Orienteering Race

Route planning. Photo Credit: Erin Santos

We each planned our routes separately, but Travis and Bob mapped out the same route while Kate and I had planned a different route that happened to be the same for the first 6 checkpoints, though it was . It only made sense for Travis and Bob to start together and likewise for Kate and me. At any time, however, we could separate if someone was faster than someone else.

Kate: I was really glad that someone else was going the same way I was.  I’m always shakiest in the beginning.

Travis: I was happy to be starting with Bob. I felt confident that I could navigate on my own, but since I don’t get to see my teammates very often I figured we would hang together until one of us was slowing the other down, or we decided on different route choices.

Team Virtus at the Perfect 10 Rogaine

Team Virtus at the Perfect 10 Rogaine. I love being the tallest one on the team.

Kate has been training her ass off, and I haven’t run in months… literally. She’s been running a lot, focusing on the upcoming Skippo Trail Race. So I was pretty sure she’d drop me quickly. I decided I’d try to stay with her as long as I could and as long as she didn’t mind me tagging along. Below is a shot of the first part of the map so all you Virtusites can follow along at home.

Note:

  • CP’s numbered 1 – 6 were worth 100 points (getting all 6 100 pointers gave you a 100 point bonus)
  • CP’s numbered 10 – 19 were worth 10 points
  • CP’s numbered 20 – 29 were worth 20 points
  • CP’s numbered 30 – 39 were worth 30 points
  • Total points available (including the bonus) = 1300
Parital Map for the Perfect 10 Rogaine Orienteering Race

Parital Map 1 (Southwest Section) for the Perfect 10 Rogaine (Click to enlarge and then click again to zoom)

Bob and Travis planned on heading east to CP 28 first and then heading counterclockwise. Kate and I had planned on going north to CP19 followed by CP’s 27, 26, 17, 25, and 16 before parting ways… if I could keep up.

Kate and I jogged most of the way to CP 19, and just to be a jerk, when we got close to the CP I ran ahead of Kate to get there first. I didn’t realize there was a photographer there, so that only made it better.

checkpoint 19 at the Perfect 10

Being the gentleman I am, I let Kate punch her passport first. (Photo Credit: Erin Santos)

From 19 we took the trail for a bit, running most of it, and then we bushwhacked up the spur to get CP 27. So far so good. From 27 we headed down to the road. We took the road to the creek south of 26. We followed the creek and then went up the reentrant to CP 26. Again, no problems.

Kate: Luke was doing the nav here, but I was following along on the map, and it was all making sense. That was a huge boost to my confidence, even if I needed a few reminders about orienting my map.

We were ahead of Wedali/Gear Junkie!!!!… Sort of.

We got to CP 26 just before Erl and Andrei from Gear Junkie/Wedali, one of the top teams in the nation. Erl was a good sport about posing for a photo of Team Virtus being “in front” of them. Yes, we got to CP 26 before they did, but they had already gotten WAY more points than we had at that point. They were way ahead of us in the race, but it was fun pretending we were awesome for a minute.

Kate: We’re always awesome; we’re just not that fast.

So happy to be

So happy to be “ahead” of Gear Junkie/Wedali.

From 26 we headed northwest to the trail and then ran the trail to CP 17. I was feeling surprisingly good so far, but I’m sure Kage was just taking it easy on me. I know I wouldn’t have run nearly as much as I did if I hadn’t been with Kate.

Kate: I was perfectly happy with our pace. No point in sprinting at the beginning of a 10 hour race (not for me, anyway).

From 17 we took the trail north until it crossed the creek and turned northeast. We bushwhacked toward CP 25 at the pond. Along the way we found an abandoned picnic area complete with picnic tables and a monstrously big BBQ grill. We are Team Virtus so we obviously stopped for photos.

Kage at one of the old picnic tables.

Kage at one of the old picnic tables.

abandoned bbq grill at the Perfect 10 Rogaine

If only there really were some burgers and ribs on this baby.

We got CP 26 and then headed to our last CP that we’d get together, CP 16. We followed the creek down to the road to the west. Then we decided to bushwhack across and up the spur to 16, cutting out some distance on the road. It wasn’t long, though, before we reached an old fence line. I was ready to cross the fence at a low spot when Kate said, “Oh, wait. This is private property.”

Kate: If you look at Alpine Shop’s maps, they always block out the private property. We need to start doing that, because all of those red lines kind of run together on the map, especially when you’re in a hurry.

A quick look at the map confirmed this, and Kate saved me from breaking the rules. So we backtracked to the road and after going the long way around we found CP 16 with no problem at about the same time as our friends from Boom Boom Pow. We headed west to the road and then north to the road junction where Kate struck out on her own, moving west to get CP’s 15, 14, 37, 24, and 5 (see the map below) before heading to the northwest section of the map. You can read her account of the Perfect 10 right here.

Partial Map 2 for Perfect 10 Rogaine

Partial Map 2 (West Section) of the Perfect 10 Rogaine

After wishing Kate good luck, I headed north (see the map below). At the second church, I headed west for CP 3, my first 100-pointer. I hesitated once, questioning if I had gone too far, but after going a little farther I walked right to it. That’s always a good feeling.

Partial Map 3 of the Perfect 10 Rogaine

Partial Map 3 (Northeast Section) of the Perfect 10 Rogaine

From CP 3, I hopped back on the road and went to CP 12 which was also a water drop. It was obvious that no one else had been to this water drop CP yet. Either that or no one else had take any water. The cases of water were untouched. This made me doubt my route planning.

I refilled two water bottles, ate a Feed Zone rice cake, and was on my way again to CP’s 21 and then 11. I didn’t have any trouble with either of these, but on my way to CP 32, following the ridge top, I think I must have gone down the wrong reentrant.

After searching for a little bit, I realized I had gone too far north. I circled back to start again from the top of the hill to the northeast of the CP. That’s where I ran into Bob and Travis. I let out a, “CaCaw! CaCaw!” as I approached. Since their planned routes were the same up to this point, they had remained together. They were taking a short break, so I decided to join them. I was really happy to see them.

Resting on my knees as I drank a Spike energy drink, my left hamstring cramped badly. It came out of nowhere, and I ended up face down on the ground, spilling my Spike all over my arm. My teammates immediately rushed to help me, and by that I mean they sat there and laughed at me.

Travis: I was very suprised to see Luke, and even more so by his direction of travel, since it was the same way we had just came in. As misfortunate as it was for Luke to cramp, it was incredibly funny to watch.

Once the cramping eased up, I slammed a serving of The Right Stuff. It tasted, as Bob likes to say, “like the Devil’s ball sweat.” Although I’ve never actually tasted the Devil’s ball sweat, I imagine that’s a pretty accurate comparison. But the stuff really works. It tastes awful, but it stopped my cramps almost immediately for the next couple of hours. I only wish I’d brought more than one pouch.

Bob: It’s odd that Satan’s ballsweat could cure cramps, but the flavor of that stuff has me convinced it can only be the ballsweat of the devil or a mythical beast.

Taking a break at the perfect 10 orienteering race.

It was great to see these two jamokes.

At this point, I only had 230 points while they each had over 400 points. They were kicking my ass, and their route choice offered them many more options than mine did. Once again I questioned my route.

From here, the three of us got CP 32 together with no problems. We said our good byes and went our separate ways. I headed to CP 2 next. Bob and Travis had warned me that it was a bit tricky.

After my mistake trying to get CP 32, I was extra cautious trying to get CP 2. I was a little too cautious, second-guessing myself a lot and chewing up time by being so careful. I was stopped at a creek trying to make sure I knew exactly where I was when a coed team confirmed I was headed towards 2. Even with their assurance, though, I had a little bit of trouble finding it.

Travis: With the clue being a spur CP2 was definitely more difficult than one would think. Mostly due to the fact that the spur was rather poor in my opinion.

From 2 I went up and up and up the spur to the junction of Highways 42 and 134. From there, it was an easy shot to CP 13, and from there I headed south down the reentrant toward CP 35.

This is where having a teammate would have helped. I felt like I was walking forever to get to this checkpoint. I almost turned around no less than 5 times, pausing each time to make sure I knew where I was and where I was going. I probably wasted 10 minutes doing this, and it would have been nice to have someone with me to discuss where we were and what to do.

It was a big relief to finally find 35 without turning around or backtracking. My confidence was a bit shaken at this point, though. I didn’t feel sure of myself as I headed back to highway 42 and then down the reentrant toward CP 23.

Unfortunately, I went into the woods too early and hiked down the wrong reentrant. By the time I realized what I had done, it didn’t seem worth it to go back and get a 20-pointer. So I continued down the creek bed to the private property line where there was a fence.

From there I bushwhacked along the fence line even though the other side of the fence was awfully tempting. In this case the grass truly was green on the other side. It was a wide open field that had been mowed recently. But The Virtus Code would not allow me to cheat even though no one would be the wiser. So I kept bushwhacking through the brush of the State Park.

Once I hit the gravel road, it was a quick jaunt up the reentrant to find CP 4, another 100-pointer. Getting that one so easily bolstered my confidence again as I followed the road up the hill to Highway 42 once more.

Travis: CP4 was almost too easy to be a 100 pointer.

This has nothing to do with this part of the race report, but it’s a great shot of Travis and I needed to break up all the writing with a photo.

At this point I was almost out of water, and I could feel the cramps threatening to come back every time I had to step over a downed tree or other obstacle. From the highway I could go out of my way to the water drop at CP 18 and hope there was still water there or I could skip the 10 points and stick to my plan by going for CP 36.

I opted to skip 18 and the water drop, hoping to fill up in a creek later. I found 36 easily and headed down the trail toward CP 6. Shortly after the trail crossed the road, I found enough water in the creek to fill my bottles. I popped an iodine tablet into each bottle and kept moving.

I decided to follow the fence line of the airport to the “Beacon” before heading south again. This was a bit of a calculated risk. Last year Kate and I had bushwhacked on this side of the airport and it was very slow going. The brush was super thick, and in spots there were big rocks under the tall grass that threatened to break your ankle with one false step. At this point in the race, I hoped others had taken this route, beating down an easier path for me.

It was great to see not only a beaten path, but much less brush and overgrowth here than last year. I definitely saved some distance by choosing this route, and I think I saved some time as well.

From the Beacon, I headed south and picked up the trail again. From where the trail turns southwest, I headed into the woods and down the reentrant. I walked right to CP 6, notching another 100-pointer.

I headed down the reentrant and picked up what used to be a trail that still happened to be there. I ran most of this flat trail, taking a few walk breaks. My legs and feet hurt, but they didn’t hurt any worse when running.

I took the reentrant to the east of CP 28, and I climbed the less steep part of the spur to the top. The clue was “Bluff Top,” so I knew I wanted to attack it from above instead of below. After a long, fairly steep climb which sapped my energy, I was rewarded with a great view of the Grand Glaize Arm of the Lake where the CP was hung on the top of a cliff. It was beautiful, and I should have taken a photo. I didn’t feel like digging in my pack, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it. It would have been nice to have a teammate there with me to share the view.

At this point I had about 45 minutes left before the 10-hour cutoff after which I’d start losing points. I was pretty sure I had enough time to head south for CP 29, but that was only if I didn’t make any mistakes. It looked easy enough, but I was tired and lonely. I kept arguing with myself over whether or not to go for it.

As I neared highway 134, I heard a “CaCaw! CaCaw!” It was Travis walking along the road, and it was great to see him. He and Bob had split up a couple hours previously. Neither of us really wanted to go for CP29, so we hiked into the finish line together, jogging the last 30 yards or so. We crossed the finish line in 9 hours and 24 minutes.

Travis: At this point I had been on my own for approx. 4 hrs, hit several cps with great success, but was in pretty sad shape. An old ankle injury was acting up and two large blisters on the bottom of my toes of my right foot were killing me. Once I had hit that road I was just marching to the finish. In hindsight I basically walked right past CP27 but my only concern was to make it back before 6pm. I was definitely happy to see Luke come right on the road as I passed.

Travis posed for a photo at the finish line, and when the photographer kept asking him to smile, I assured her that he was indeed smiling.

Travis at the finish of the Perfect 10.

Not quite the Thousand-Mile-Stare but not quite a smile either. Photo Credit Mary Welter

I posed for a photo, and then we both posed for a photo together. Even though we only got one CP together, it was pretty cool to finish with one of my teammates.

Luke and Travis at the Perfect 10 Finish

Happy to be done, and yes, that’s a pretty good smile from Travis. Photo Credit: Mary Welter

Travis and I went to our vehicles to change clothes. As I was getting out of my stank-ass jersey, Bob came running into the finish line. He looked like he’d been pushing the pace pretty hard, but he also looked strong.

Travis: I was happy to see Bob come running in because when I left him he had big ambitions and I didnt want him to be late.

Bob: Those ambitions were quickly snuffed out by failure, but I did still manage to pick up a few small pointers on my way back to the Finish.

Bob at the finish of the Perfect 10

Sweaty but happy. Photo Credit: Mary Swelter

We brought a few beers back to the shelter and loaded up a plate of delicious BBQ, baked beans, and cheesy potatoes. We stuffed our bellies and cheered others in as we waited for Kage. It wasn’t long before she came running across the finish line.

Kage finishing the Perfect 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, what I’m about to show you is one of the rarest things you will ever see. You see, I’m a bit of a photo ninja (just ask Bob about the photo I took of “Powder” at the god-awful Lionheart Race). As Kage was telling some hilarious account of her race, I managed to snap this incredible shot:

Travis smiling.

Proof that MC Hammons can and does (occasionally) really smile.

Getting a photo like this is sort of like shooting Sasquatch. Only I have done both, but the Sasquatch shooting is a tale for another day.

Travis: Yes I can smile. No I am not grumpy, I just choose not to be as expressive with my feelings I guess. LOL. 

Bob: Yes, Travis is the strong and silent type. Just like my farts.

 

We all swapped stories of our successes and failures as we shared many laughs over great food and a few beers. It turns out that Bob and Kate struggled a little more than they would have liked, but we all had a great day.

Full results can be found here, but the results of the four of us Virtusans are as follows:

  • Kage – 310 points – 9:43:37 – 3rd (out of 3) in her division and 47th overall
  • Bob – 500 points – 9:33:11 – 8th in his division and 33rd overall
  • Travis – 610 points – 9:24:30 – 6th in his division and 27th overall
  • Luke – 650 points – 9:24:28 – 5th in his division and 24th overall

After the awards ceremony, we all headed back to the campsite. We showered up and sat around the fire. By the time everyone was cleaned up, we were sadly too exhausted to go find all our AR friends at their campsite to hang out. So we just sat around our campfire, drinking some good beer and honey whiskey while laughing our asses off like we always do. Some of us even did some campfire yoga:

campfire yoga

Campfire Yoga – a new trend sweeping the nation.

The story doesn’t end there, though. We woke up the next morning way too early, packed up, and headed out for breakfast. We went back to Stewart’s and it was fan-frickin’-tastic.

Travis: Attempting to eat all that was almost painful.

gravy breakfast

Three “Diet Plates” and an order of Biscuits & Gravy.

After breakfast, Travis headed back home as Bob, Kate, and I went back to the course to look for her Garmin GPS watch that she had lost. She assured us that she was almost positive she knew where she had dropped it: near CP 22 by a downed log where she sat to get something out of here shoe.

Travis: I wish I would have felt up to going with you guys to look for the Garmin, but at that point I could barely walk on my ankle.

Bob: Painfully awesome.

It turns out there were only 4 million downed logs in this area. Unfortunately, we didn’t find her watch, but Kage managed to find a weird, creepy skull that my son can use to scare his sisters.

skull and feathers

Cool skull, and we also found two feathers.

We made our way back to the Virtus Van and drove home to end a wonderful weekend. From all of us at Team Virtus, we’d like to thank Bonk Hard Racing for putting on another top-notch, must-do-every-year event. We’ll be back next year, though I think we all agree that we won’t be doing it solo.

Next up for us is the Castlewood 8-hour Adventure Race in November. Rumor has it that Team Virtus will be rockin’ some sweet new kits. So stay tuned for that.

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Messin’ with Sasquatch: The Race of Hope Rogaine Report

Our trip to meet Casey and his family in Ohio didn’t start well. We got away a lot later than we had planned, and the traffic was terrible near Indianapolis (bumper to bumper forever… Who was the genius that decided to do work on 45 frickin’ Miles of highway?!?). We eventually made it into Athens, OH, checked in and went to bed around 1:00 AM. Casey and his fam were already asleep in the room next door, but Casey, Austin and I had previously planned to meet in the lobby at 6:00 AM for the Race of Hope Rogaine, put on by NSF Adventures.

We woke up, grabbed a bite to eat at the free continental breakfast, and we made our way to Lake Hope State Park. It was cold, but the forecast looked great. We checked in and got our maps. Unfortunately, we registered at the last minute, so we didn’t get any shirts or socks. Next time we’ll definitely sign up earlier.

Austin and I quickly got our gear ready while Casey took care of some “bidness” in the bathroom. Austin and I then went over the maps to strategerize our route. Casey had taken his map into his “office” so he could come up with a plan as well. Our goals for this race were to have more fun than anyone else (always our number 1 goal), get as many points as we could, and get better with a map and compass. Our plan was to let Austin navigate as much as he wanted to, and we would help him as he needed it.

It was then time to go to the pre-race meeting, and two-thirds of Team Virtus made it on time. Can you guess who wasn’t there?

Start of the Race of Hope Rogaine Race

No, that's not Casey stretching behind us.

At the pre-race meeting, we ran into Chris again. If you’ll remember from our last rogaine race, Chris was rockin’ a very strong beard, and we actually thought he was Mason Storm (of Team Seagal fame). Since that race, Chris’s beard grew to such epic proportions that he actually won “Best Beard” at the Warrior Dash, and after seeing a photo of his beard from that event, it was abundantly clear why he won. His beard would have made ZZ Top hang their heads in shame. While his beard was groomed into a goatee for this race, it was still mighty powerful. Have a look:

Chris the Mason Storm look-alike

Less beard but still a strong showing

As we listened to the race director go over all the rules, we made sure we paid attention. We didn’t want to miss any important info about a Phantom Cutoff or anything. Most of the pre-race meeting was the standard fare, but there was one nugget of information that was very important (and one that would provide many laughs a little later in the day). Checkpoint (CP) 51 had been plotted near the park boundary, and the race director said that he noticed a deer stand nearby when he was placing the orienteering marker. He didn’t want to risk any showdowns with anyone holding a gun, so he moved the CP up the hill to the east and placed it right on the trail. Easy enough.

Here’s the map if you want to follow along (the highlighted CP’s are the ones we got, and the thick black line is our estimated route):

Race of Hope Rogaine Map

Now, moving the CP for safety reasons was a good call, and no one had a problem with this. However, I decided to take advantage of this bit of information… to mess with Casey. Muwahahahahah!!!

I told Austin, “We shouldn’t tell Casey about the CP being moved, and when we come to CP51, you should start going up the trail to the CP even though Casey will think you’re going the wrong way. Then when you walk right up to the CP, we’ll act like it must have been plotted on the map incorrectly just to see how Casey reacts.” Austin was definitely on board for this little prank.

Casey eventually joined us (after what seemed like an hour and a half), and we went over our plan to attack the CP’s in a clockwise direction. Casey agreed with our plan, so when the gun went off, we made our way to CP 50. If you look at the map, you may notice that the terrain is very hilly with some very steep sections. We didn’t even make it to the first CP before Austin fell on his buttocks (or is it buttocki?) not once, not twice, but THRICE.

Mud Butt at Race of Hope Rogaine

Early in the race, Austin had a case of Mud Butt.

We easily found CP 50, and there were quite a few other teams at the CP as well. Casey and Austin decided to shed some layers before moving onto CP 43, which we found easily as well. By this time, the teams had spread out and we were basically on our own.

From CP 43, we headed down the reentrant to the trail that ran along the creek, and we took the trail towards CP 51. If you look at the map, you’ll see that the CP was originally supposed to be in the creek to the west of the trail. But remember, CP 51 is the CP that had been moved up the hill on the trail to the east. But Casey knew nothing about it being moved… And honestly, I had already forgotten about it.

Trekking at the Race of Hope

On the way to CP 51... Or were we?

As we got near where we should have turned to the west for the CP, Austin looked at the map and said he thought we should go east. I began to tell him to stop over-thinking things, to trust the map and compass, and not worry about making a mistake. As Casey was looking at his map, Austin shot me a look as if to say, “Uncle Luke… Remember?!? This is the CP that was moved!” I instantly remembered our plan, but I felt like an idiot for forgetting about it. I guess it’s a good thing that I forgot, because I don’t think I would have been nearly as convincing if I had remembered.

Casey then said, “You think we should go east?!?” To which Austin replied, “Yup!” as he headed up the trail to the east. Casey looked at his map again, completely dumbfounded. He looked at me, and I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “We gotta let him do his thing, man.”

As we hiked uphill to the east, Casey kept looking at his map in disbelief. I was laughing my ass off on the inside. Casey then said, “So you really think we should go east up this hill?” To which Austin replied, “Yup!”

Casey said, “Why do you think we should go this way?” To which Austin replied, “I’m just going with my gut.”

Casey said, “And your gut is telling you that the CP is uphill in this direction and not across the creek to the west?!?” To which Austin replied, “Yup!”  Austin seriously deserves an Oscar for this performance. Casey then looked at me in utter disbelief and muttered:

“What the hell is he doing, dude?”

I just said, “Hey, man. He’s never going to learn if we don’t let him make mistakes. We can’t just tell him where to go, can we? Let’s use this as a teaching moment.”  And then I turned around and kept walking as I tried not to rupture a disc by holding in all the laughter.

Casey stared at his map again as we climbed the hill. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. I can’t even tell you how hilarious it was. Case was really trying to be supportive by letting Austin be the lead navigator, but Austin was literally going in the opposite direction of where Casey thought we should go.  It couldn’t have worked out any better. I wanted to laugh so damn badly, but I knew I couldn’t let the cat out of the bag just yet.

We kept hiking up the hill, Casey kept checking his map, and Austin and I kept silently laughing hysterically. As we came around a corner, we saw the CP.  Austin turned around, grinning smugly as we caught up to him.  I said, “What the…?!? Dude, there really is a CP up here. ” And as I looked at the CP marker, I added, “And it really is CP 51!” Casey was now completely flabbergasted.

Fooling Casey at CP 51

Casey was a bit confused, and Austin was proud of his performance.

Casey kept looking from his map to the CP over and over. Austin was sporting the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life, and he and I kept looking at each other and then at Casey, soaking in this amazing moment. After a minute or so, we finally filled Casey in on what he had missed at the pre-race meeting. All he said was, “You assholes.” And then Austin and I finally let out all the pent-up laughter. Casey even laughed with us, and all was right in the world.  Good times indeed.

Once we finally regained our composure and caught our breath, we started on our way again. I won’t bore you with all the step-by-step details, though (Shocking, I know!). I’ll just say that the terrain was beautiful but HILLY. Austin was our leader, and we hit CP’s 74, 45, 75, 52, 70, and 35 (also a water drop) with no problems. Here are a couple of photos from this section of the race:

Race of Hope Rogaine Rock Cliff

CP 74

Cave at Lake Hope State Park

CP 74 Again

Buck Rub in Ohio

I found this Buck Rub on my own, Bob!

Water Drop at the Race of Hope Rogaine

Casey rocking his own strong beard at the water drop

After we left the water drop, we made one small mistake on our way to CP 63. We somehow blew right by the CP without seeing it. We quickly realized our mistake, and Austin led us to CP 65 before we backtracked to CP 63 which we easily found tucked into a small reentrant. It was a small mistake that didn’t really cost us any time since we needed to get CP 65 anyway, and it wasn’t Austin’s fault. Casey and I completely missed it, too.

In fact, Austin has gotten really good with a map and compass, and I’m very proud of him. The only thing he needs to work on is his confidence. He was second-guessing himself a little too much. I think he was terrified of going the wrong way since he was leading his uncle and his dad. He just didn’t want to screw up the race for all of us. So we helped him out…

By completely messing with him!

In fact, we messed with him so much, that we started to call him Sasquatch (thank God he didn’t retaliate like the real Sasquatch in that video!). How did we mess with him? Every now and then, I’d say something like, “Uh… Why are we going west?” when we were really going east. Or Casey would say, “Shouldn’t we be crossing a creek soon?” when there was no creek anywhere near us. Every time we did this (which was a lot), Austin stopped in his tracks to check the map again. It was great fun, but it also served a few purposes:

  1. It showed Austin that he needs to know where we are and what we’re looking for at all times.
  2. It made Austin realize that he needed to be more confident in his navigation.
  3. Most importantly, it made Casey and me laugh every single time.

Instead of “Sasquatch,” Casey wanted to call Austin “Squatch” for short, but I changed his nickname to “Baby Sass” which Austin liked much better. That would make Casey “Papa Sass.” Since we had already messed with him earlier in the race, I knew what the title of this race report would be. It was perfect.

Baby Sass getting a checkpoint

Baby Sass in action

After getting CP 63, we got CP’s 31, 54, and 55 with no problems. Well, we had no problems other than I was fighting the good fight against my bowels, and I was losing. I had seen Bob employ a certain turd-fighting technique at other races, and I had to do the same thing several times: stop hiking, double over in pain, and clench tightly to avoid a mess.

I had gotten to the point of no return, but I noticed we would be hiking right through a campground soon. I told Casey and Austin that if there was a bathroom at the campground, I would be using it. If there wasn’t one, I was going to have to drop trou and relieve myself behind a tree. As we climbed up the ridge, we saw this…

Salvation Bathroom

Hallelujah!

After a much-needed restroom break, we were on our way again. We were all feeling pretty good as the day wore on, and we had high hopes of getting many more CP’s. On our way out of the campground towards CP80, we came to a gate across the road. Not to be outdone by Bob at our last rogaine, Austin decided to show his mad limbo skillz.

Limbo Austin

Every limbo boy and girl, all around the limbo world...

As we kept moving, we just couldn’t believe how perfect the weather was.  It was an amazing day to be in the woods with my brother and nephew. If anything, it was a bit too warm, but we would never complain about that in mid-November.

We found CP’s 80 and 42 with no problems, but we attacked CP73 from above. The CP, however, was at the base of the cliff, so we had to detour around and down to actually reach the CP. After punching the passport, we climbed back out of the reentrant and hopped on the road, grabbed CP41, and then headed for CP60.

As the sun began to fall from the sky, Austin’s energy began to wane. When we reached the CP, we decided to take a break to refuel, rehydrate, and reevaluate our plan for the remaining checkpoints. Austin had a hot-spot on his foot, so it was a perfect time to take care of that while we were stopped anyway.

Fixing a blister while adventure racing

Austin tends to his Hobbit feet (or is it Sasquatch feet?) at CP60

Our original plan was to go hit CP40 before hitting the water drop on our way to CP71. However, with the hour getting late and Austin getting tired, we realized that we were not going to clear the course. So we decided to skip CP40, hit the water drop, get CP71, and then reevaluate again.

After eating, drinking, and making sure Austin’s foot was good to go, we climbed the rest of the way down the spur, crossed the creek, and climbed the steep hill to the road. We saw some buildings to the south, and we looked around for the water with no luck. There was a small park office building to our south, so we scouted that area for the water. Again, no luck. I ran down the road a short distance hoping to find the water. Again, nada.

Then Casey realized that the door to the bathroom at the office was open, so we filled up with water in there. There was also a soda machine. An ice-cold Diet Coke would have really hit the spot. I always carry some money for emergencies or in case we happen to pass a McDonald’s during a race, but I only had a 20 Dollar Bill. The machine only took Singles or change. Bummer.

We discovered one other interesting item here at the park office, and not to be out-done by Rusty at the Tour de Donut, I had to get a photo:

Luke at an old pay phone

Working pay phones are hard to find. When is the last time you used one?

Now, you may think that we wasted way too much time here, and you may be right. However, we were out here to have fun, let Austin work on his navigation skills, and spend time together since we only get together two or three times each year. Plus, Austin still wasn’t feeling that great, so some extra rest didn’t hurt anything. And if we had rushed out of this area, we would have missed my favorite part of the race.

As we hoisted our packs onto our backs and started hiking again, we heard voices behind us. Assuming it was just other racers, we kept hiking. Then we heard, “Daddy!!!” And we heard, “Luke!!!” And, “Austin!!!” And, “Casey!!!” And, “Daddy!!!” We turned around to see my wife, Becca, with my kids and Casey’s wife, Lauren, with their kids.

What the What?!?!

This was impossible. There was no way that they could have known where we’d be at any point during the race, and honestly, we could have been anywhere in the park. They could have chosen any of the many trails to hike, and they happened to choose the one that led right to us… At the EXACT moment we would be there? Are you kidding me?  Seriously, what are the odds?

Austin and I ran down the road to our families while Casey, you guessed it, was still messing with his gear. He had no idea why we were running the other way at first. He realized what was going on and quickly joined us. I got down on one knee, threw my arms out, and the kids ran at me. Casey said it reminded him of this scene (specifically at the 1:38 mark):

Many hugs and kisses were exchanged, and our spirits soared. I can’t tell you how cool it was to see our families out on the race course. That just NEVER happens. Plus, Becca had dollar bills so I could get an ice-cold Diet Coke!! But, I did not want to break any rules by accepting outside assistance, so I reluctantly declined. We chatted for just a few minutes, and snapped a few photos before parting ways.

Lamb Family at the Rogaine Race

Do you know how rare it is to get this many kids to smile for a photo? About as rare as Adam NOT getting fired from the team. I just love this photo.

As much as we wanted to stay with our families, there were CP’s to be found and ground to be covered. Since the sun was getting very low in the sky, we said our good-byes and marched onward. We continued on the road to the top of the hill. We then headed west down a spur, hoping to find CP71.

Unfortunately, we headed west a little too early, regrouped, and then went down another spur to the west.  Once again, we headed west a little too early.  We looked for the CP for 5 or 10 minutes, and then we decided to head all the way down to the trail that followed the creek. When we saw the big reentrant/valley to our west, we headed up the reentrant to the east. We found the CP easily at this point, but the extra hiking was taking its toll on us. Especially the hills.

Climbing a reentrant at the rogaine orienteering race

Photos never do justice to how gnarly the terrain is, but this reentrant was STEEP.

The CP was near the top of the reentrant by a beautiful rock overhang/cave area. It was clear to us at this point that Austin not just getting tired, but he was indeed bonking. We stopped here and told Austin to eat some food. His reply was, “I don’t have any.”

This is really the first race I’ve done with Austin. Casey had done a few short orienteering races with him in the past, but nothing like this. In fact, this race was 3 times longer than any other race Austin had ever done. So, we’ll chalk this up to inexperience – both Austin’s inexperience with longer races, and our inexperience with racing together. Normally, we’re pretty good at noticing when one of our teammates needs help. Likewise, we’ve gotten pretty good at asking for help when we need it. Austin didn’t let us know he needed help, and we failed to realize it. I feel bad about that.

We took some time at this CP, and we handed Austin some delicious Honey Stinger Waffles and other food, and we had him pop a Foosh mint. After washing it all down with some water and e-Fuel, he was ready to go. It was twenty minutes well spent.

It was now completely dark as we hiked back down the trail to get CP33. It was a wet, marshy area, and we had to hop a creek. Austin looked like a leprechaun kicking his heels together as he soared over the creek.

Austin Hopping the Creek

"Everybody's always after me Lucky Charms!"

I hopped the creek and kept my feet dry. Then I noticed that I could turn around and get a shot of Casey perfectly framed in an arch of weeds – yes, I’m that good with a camera, and no it wasn’t pure luck.

Casey about to hop a creek

Gateway to the WET... See what I did there?

Immediately after the photo above was taken, Casey hopped the creek, caved-in the opposite creek bank, and soaked his feet. It was awesome.  Have a look:

Casey with wet feet while racing

The wet and muddy aftermath.

From CP33, we had a little trouble finding CP52 which appeared to be at the western most point of the cliffs. We purposefully climbed up to the cliffs on the eastern side, so we could just follow the cliffs to find the CP. A couple of teams were heading the opposite direction. They clearly hadn’t found the CP yet. Then a team of two traveling east met us as we were traveling west. They claimed that they had dropped in at the “very western-most point” of the cliffs, and the CP wasn’t there. They were sure that the CP was to the east.

Now, let me repeat Rule #1 of Adventure Racing which applies to Rogaine Racing as well: DON’T FOLLOW ANYONE ELSE… EVER! SERIOUSLY, DON’T DO IT! This rule is easier said than done, though. It’s really hard to follow this rule when a team seems so adamant about something. We stuck to our guns, though.

As we made our way west, we could see many other teams’ headlamps searching all over the cliffs. We kept heading west, though, and Austin found the CP tucked behind some rocks, brush, and trees.

CP 32 at Race of Hope Rogaine

Baby Sass and Papa Sass at CP52

We followed the trail and easily found CP’s 32 and 46 before heading back to the Hash House/HQ. Austin was beginning to crash again. This time, it wasn’t bonking, it was just that he had been racing for over 11 hours, 7+ hours longer than he had ever raced before. So this was to be expected.

I could tell that Austin really wanted to hand in the passport and be done for the day. Casey really wanted to go for CP’s 61, 10, and possibly 30. The hike back to HQ took us a little longer than we anticipated, so getting all 3 CP’s was out of the question. Casey still wanted to go for CP61, and Austin still wanted to call it a day. I was fine either way, and Austin said he would try for 61. We somehow managed to resist the Siren Song of the warm fire and delicious-smelling food in the pavilion, and we headed back out for one more CP.  As we left the HQ pavilion, we ran into our families again. This was another spirit booster. We had no time for hugs and kisses, though. We told them we’d be back in a half an hour or less.

Getting to CP61 meant we’d have one more tough climb. This did not sit well with Baby Sass. He was a trooper, though, and he marched on since Papa Sass wanted to get one more CP. Not wanting to tarnish an otherwise fantastic race by going for one more CP, Uncle Sass stepped in. I told Casey that I thought we should go back and hand in the passport. Casey gladly agreed, and we quickly turned around and finished our race.

Team Virtus Finishes the Race of Hope Rogaine

Uncle Sass, Baby Sass, and Papa Sass finishing the Race of Hope Rogaine

We finished 18th out of 29 overall and 13th out of 20 teams. We got 1260 out of a possible 1780 points. I’m more than happy with that. I think we met all of our goals, too:

  1. Have more fun than everyone else – By pulling the prank on Casey, we had already had more fun than everyone else by the time we got our 3rd CP
  2. Get as many CP’s as we can – Mission accomplished.
  3. Get better with a map and compass – No doubt about it.

We had unbelievably nice weather, it was a great course, the post-race food was delicious, Austin did a fantastic job navigating, and I got to spend a day in the woods with my nephew and my brother. We even got to spend a little time with our wives and kids ON THE COURSE! It truly was an incredible day.  Big thanks to NSF Adventures for putting on another great race.  Big thanks to our wives and kids for coming with us and supporting us.  And big thanks to Casey and Austin for racing with me and making it a great day.

We headed back to the hotel for some family time, swimming, and some pizza. We slept in as much as the kids let us (not at all), had a nice breakfast together, and then we left for home in Missouri while Casey and his family headed for home in NY. It’s never fun to say goodbye, but we had a wonderful weekend, we created some great memories, and we survived even though we were messin’ with Sasquatch.

Shawnee Extreme Rogaine 2010 Race Report (Picture heavy)

Shortly after Drew and Luke had such a great finish at the Berryman 36, everyone on the team got the same email from Zack. It read:

All,

Luke and Drew’s impressive finish at the Berryman has rekindled some of my old  desires for AR and Orienteering.  We did the 12 hour version last year,  so this year let’s do the 24 hour!  Last year, it was a good time and kind of an ass kicker. Who’s In??????????????????????????????

And so began the banter on our armonkey.com account, with pretty much everyone wanting to do the race. I’ve put on about 30 pounds since my trip to Leadville, so I was reluctant . Climbing steep grades for 24 hours sounded horrific, as did the prospect of putting a damper on the team’s performance. Lucky for me, this team cares a lot more about having a good time than winning anything. It was the perfect way to get everyone together for some team building/orienteering practice.

Wives and girlfriends were bribed and the trip to the Shawnee Extreme was planned. It was a long drive to Ohio from Missouri, so Luke and I met EARLY for the drive, picking Drew up along the way. I think we were somewhere in Illinois when Drew announced he’d brought some of my favorite, (and now illegal), adult beverages….

Drew's first Loko....he looks so happy

It was love at first swig. I could tell Drew loved Loko by the way he said, “Oh my God this shit is disgusting!!” After a bit of peer pressure he managed to drink the whole can, but he definitely had to work for it. Before long, “The quiet man” was talking all kinds of smack and treating Luke and I to an amazing musical compilation of mid-to-late 90’s hip hop music (Vanilla Ice, Boyz II Men, Tone Loc, and more). Drew’s music collection is unparalleled. I heard some jams in the truck that day that I havent heard since high school.

I’m a pretty big fan of the”Loko juice,” but it really is an acquired taste. The effects can really sneak up on you too, which was evident from the silence in the back of the truck.

Energy drink, my ass. And apparently it makes your knees HUGE.

We finally hooked up with Casey, who made the trip from NY, and we all made it to the campground. Casey had brought some “real” bagels from New York, and they were phenomenal. He even brought strawberry cream cheese…I love this team.

The hammocks were hung and gear was made ready, leaving us with plenty of time sitting around an imaginary campfire swapping stories. Beers were consumed and much wind was broken. There was even some discussion concerning the race report for “The Thunder Rolls”, and hopefully we can all come to an agreement on the final draft. More on that later:)

Hey dude, take a picture of me taking a picture of you!

Here’s a shot of yours truly, (Bob), and “The Pace Center”. Note the shocked look on my face as Casey tells me about his swing. There’s no way I’m telling that story on this blog..

Yes, those are my pajama pants

I think we all slept pretty good that night. In fact, the only time I woke up was when Drew barfed up his Four Loko right next to my hammock. I guess Hennessy Hammocks are hard to see in the dark. He was kind enough to cover the evidence with leaves, but still no word on whether or not he intends to drink another Loko. Ah, the memories.

Race day greeted us with a beautiful, chilly morning. We made our way over to race HQ and started route planning.

As he’d promised, Casey was in excellent shape. The only time I’ve ever seen him in better shape was from one of his pro MMA fights:

Clearly the most ambitious of the group, “PC” wanted to get ALL of the CP’s. After looking at the map, the rest of us had other ideas. A few of them involved a bit more climbing than we wanted, and we didn’t see a clear way to create a decent loop to maximize our point gathering. PC wasn’t having any of that sissy talk, so there was a spirited debate. I’ve captioned the photos below to recount their conversation:

Drew: You wanna do what??? BWHAHAHA!!!!

MF'er, I know 487 ways to kill you with my bare hands...and I've got a world-class smile.

The race had a pretty solid turnout; Men & women, kids and even some older-looking folk toed the line that day, there were even some high school kids from a JROTC detachment. Seeing those ROTC kids was very cool, it reminded me of a simpler time when I had fatter cheeks, no facial hair and was completely terrified of women.

 

For a moment we thought we’d been graced with the presence of Sir Mason Storm of the STL, but it was only an imposter with a very strong beard.

Beard POWER!!

How disappointing.

After a quick pre-race team photo the race was on! First order of business: walk up a gradual hill to a slightly larger hill, to a gynormously long and steep hill until your lungs, legs and ass are ready to explode.  OooooRah!!

At this point it still seemed like a good idea

Midway up the initial climb Luke spotted a buck rub. Buck-rubs have been an ongoing joke between the two of us; I used to hunt white-tail deer quite a bit and have a knack for spotting rubs. Luke has only ever hunted “human-whitetails”, (that means girls with tan lines), so he often pretends to have seen or spotted a rub. We’ve been hiking together for 2 years now and he’s never spotted one before, so it was kind of a big deal.

Gratuitous Beaver-Stik shot

If the first 20 minutes was any indication of how things were going to be for 24 hours, we were gonna be in some pretty deep shit.  The way down wasn’t so bad, and since horrific knee pain hadn’t kicked in yet, Luke managed to get a quick glamour shot:

After that, we were on flat ground for quite a while and there was plenty to look at. The teams were all very much fanned out by now, so it felt like the 4 of us had the woods to ourselves.  Stories of past and present sexual conquests ensued, and much wind was broken.

The terrain was certainly not accommodating to the foot-mobile traveler, as we soon found out in a slippery, yet beautiful creek. I believe it was Casey who slipped and fell, nearly taking out Drew in the process. Close call.. after that we made sure to spread out a bit.

Here we see Casey and some huge wood he found.

One more reason we (almost) never win…ya gotta stop and take pictures. Here, I do my best impression of Frodo hiding from the Nanzguul in the movie Lord of the Rings.

aw shit.. ring wraiths!!

See the resemblance??

I guess I look more like Sam. Frodo is a pansy anyway, everybody knows that

We had agreed from the beginning that today would be used as a means for everyone to do some nav, instead of crutching on Luke all day. Casey went first, and we had very few problems.

All in all, things were going very well. Everybody was staying hydrated, fed, and we were all in good spirits. During the daylight, time seemed to fly by. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I felt my feet blistering like a mofo. I think Luke was having some knee pain, and I started getting a hip flare-up from my wreck in Springfield this year. Good thing we had ibuprofen, or we would’ve been screwed.

Some of these CP’s had us walking thru some seriously rough/thorn infested terrain. The following pics should give you an idea:

Dude, you comin?

Flippin ridiculous, right?

Oh yeah, that one was easy to find...

I remember watching the rest of the guys walk down into this hell hole and wishing I was somewhere else. It wasn’t even dark yet.

Shheeeeeiiiit.

Before long we came to a manned CP and were given additional UTM’s, along with some free ZANFEL and some kind of fancy detergent for your outdoor clothes. Very cool.

It was also a nice place to stop and eat some Rockit Fuel. If you’re not using Rockit Fuel yet, you need to get on board. I got a coupon for some free product from them about 6 months ago and was an instant fan. I also met the company’s owner while I was in Leadville and he was a very classy guy. I like to fill a water bottle with some of their Holy Pinole and just eat a pinch of it now and then. One water bottle-full will last a looong time, and it’s very light. I don’t like gels, so Rockit Fuel is perfect for me. Plus, I don’t get all sticky trying to keep track of empty wrappers.

Anyway, we plotted some points and got back in the game.

There seemed to be a great deal of long-distance navigation, which meant we did a lot of walking in between CP’s. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but we had ample opportunity to get lots of photos.

Here at Team Virtus, image is everything. Go pro or go home.

Eventually it got dark and the nav became a bit more difficult. When it was my turn to lead, I thought I’d be the big hero and follow a contour line  instead of taking the obvious route along a trail. I felt right, and it was one of those situations when I “just knew” I was going to pull it off. Alas,  my ego was bigger than my brain and I led us pretty far off course. It was disappointing because I REALLY wanted to hit that CP, but I’m glad we made the attempt.  We talked about where I went wrong and I learned from it. You never know until you try, and there’s always next time. Trust me, when I get it right… you’ll know:)

As we soldiered into the night,  it became apparent that Drew and Casey were in much better shape than Luke and I. The pictures below are testament to that fact. Here, we see Drew and PC lounging at the top of a large hill:

"...Totally beautiful night, huh?--Oh yeah, perfect weather.."

Luke and I at the top of the same hill:

"FML, are we there yet?" "They better not be out of food at HQ"

At some point, I had been awake long enough that my mind simply wouldn’t function correctly. As far as helping the team with navigation, I was completely worthless. I went into zombie mode, just following along blindly trying to put my mind somewhere else. 

Most unflattering photo ever

It wasn’t long before I got my first taste of “sleep monsters”. I was walking along and all at once I saw Cheshire from Alice in Wonderland in a tree right in front of me. It was only for a moment, but it absolutely scared the shit out of me. It turned out to only be a large U-shaped leaf hanging from a tree, but I was still a bit freaked out. If I’d have been out there  alone and saw that, they would’ve found me the next day laying in a pool of piss sucking my thumb.

Hey Bob! How bout I eat your face?

I saw a few other things I’d rather not mention, but the point I’m trying to make here is that sleep deprivation will indeed make you see some really bizarre things.

Ever since Zack went vegan we’ve all been trying to think of ways to make ourselves a little more eco-friendly. Casey recycles all of Luke’s jokes, I started drinking Loko so there’d be fewer empty beer cans at my house, and Luke has almost perfected a new technique for bottling farts as an alternative fuel source.  Drew, however, decided to take “going green”  to a whole new level….

3 Words: Giant. Tree. Vagina.

Finally, (and I do mean finally), we made it back to HQ for some serious crushing of chili, baby red potatoes and biscuits ‘n’ gravy. This race is worth the price of admission just for the food and the cool shirt.

Usually he's quiet when we're eating...

We may have eaten a little too much, but the indigestion was worth it.

Serious business...little guys like to eat too.

Midway thru “happy-time”, Casey told a swing-story that nearly caused the rest of us to vomit…look how happy he was:

Casey calls for a toast to our gag reflexes.

Hanging out at HQ for a while gave us an opportunity to figure out why the hell my feet hurt so bad:

Hmm. I kinda wish I hadn't looked

I know, I know..it’s disgusting. Just do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes. Prep your feet or you’ll be walking on fire for a while.

I don’t remember a lot of detail after that, but what I do remember is that it started to rain. The rain gained intensity until  we were mostly soaked and ready to get back to camp for a few hours sleep before the long drive home.

We, (meaning Luke), developed a route home and trudged back toward the finish line. Between Luke’s knees and my hip, we went thru a disturbing amount of ibuprofen. There was a short period of time when we may or may not have been lost, but I would have never known the difference. We wound up slashing our way through some super-nasty thorns until we found the trail and made our way back to camp.

TV....Checkin' out!

There was a mile or two of paved road before we officially made it back, and we passed the time the same way we always do: Laughing our asses off  recounting the day’s events and those of days gone by. Just like any other race report, this one has left out a multitude of details and I must ALWAYS point out that photos will never do justice to actually being there (For all of our photos, check out the slideshow at the bottom of this post).

The food station doesn't stand a chance

A huge thanks to all of the fantastic volunteers and especially to the great people at NSF Adventures for putting on an amazing event.  We did this race as a means of improving our nav skills and strengthening the bonds that hold Team Virtus together. Mission accomplished.

The only thing missing was you. You know you want to go, so leave a comment or click the contact link on our home page and we’ll see you on the trail. I’m talking to you, Travis Simmons, Robby Brown, Brandon Lepage, Sonya Tomes, and especially you…..Lurker.

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Do We Need Rogaine? Yes… Yes We Do.

Seriously… We’ve got a problem, and the only solution is rogaine.  No, not the hair-loss treatment.  The only problem with my hair is that it’s all turning gray in a hurry (as you’ll see if you look closely in the photos below).  I’m talking about a race – the 24 Hour Shawnee Extreme Rogaine.

Shawnee Extreme Rogaine Race 2010

“What’s that?” you ask.  “What exactly is a rogaine?”  Well, here is what I wrote in a post from last year:

“There are two stories behind the term rogaine.  I have read that it comes from the first two letters of the names of the three athletes who supposedly invented the sport.  Their names were Rod, Gail, and Neil.  Rogaine is also an acronym. The letters stand for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance.

A rogaine is an orienteering race usually lasting 12 to 24 hours where each checkpoint has a point value. Teams of two to five can get checkpoints in any order they so choose, and the team with the most points at the end of the race is the winner.  So, strategy plays a huge role in a rogaine race.  Do you try to get all of the low-value checkpoints that are closer and easier to find?  Or do you try to go for the high-value points that are farther away and more difficult to locate?”

Last year, the Brothers Lamb (Casey, Zack, and myself) all met up to do the Sleepy Hollow 12 Hour Rogaine in Ohio.  It was our first rogaine, and it was the first time we had ever officially raced as Team Virtus.  It was a brutally good time, so we decided we needed to do it again.

This year, however, NSF Adventures is offering a 12 hour AND a 24 hour rogaine at the Shawnee Extreme (which has replaced the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine).  So of course we’re doing the 24 hour, and of course we’re in way over our heads yet again.  Zack couldn’t make it this year, but Casey, Bob, Drew, and I are ready to go.  Whatever happens, I know we’ll have a blast in Ohio.

To prepare, Bob and I ventured up to Rock Bridge State Park for some Orienteering practice.

 

Bob with O-map at Rock Bridge

Bob studies the map and shows his movie-star smile (Seriously, he's a movie star now. He was in "Race Across the Sky" - How cool is that?)

To prepare myself to carry Casey’s pack again (you really need to read last year’s race report), I decided to carry my chubby son Otis on my back, although I still think Casey’s pack was heavier… Seriously, it was.

 

Carrying Otis as Training for a Rogaine Orienteering Race

Perfect Training for a Rogaine Race

Actually, I pray that Casey doesn’t suffer cramps like he did last year.  We give him a hard time about carrying his pack, but he was a stud to push through the pain.  We were happy (well, not happy but we were willing) to carry his pack, because that’s what a team does.  We pick each other up when we need to.  I know Casey would do the same for me (Seriously, Casey, you have to carry my pack this year).

It was a perfect Fall day for orienteering in Missouri.  We had a blast.  We even had some run-ins with thorns and brush of which there will be plenty in Ohio, I promise.

Bob Bleeding in the Woods

Let's hope this is the worst of our injuries at the Shawnee Extreme Rogaine

At one point, we had to decide if we should cross the creek or backtrack at least a mile to get to the next checkpoint.  Well, we chose to cross the creek, and obviously Bob decided to cross a downed tree, possibly the most difficult option for crossing the creek.

 

Bob crossing a creek at Rock Bridge State Park

Bob crossing the creek...

Bob almost falling in the creek

Bob almost falling into the creek.

Bob came really close to getting wet, but he somehow managed to save himself.  It was hilarious! He then came up with a new method to cross the creek – the Sit and Scoot.  He used his Beaver Stick to clear the brush as he straddled the log and scooted on his ass.  It worked beautifully.

As tempted as I was to cross the creek here as well, I just couldn’t risk falling in from that height with Ote Boat on my back.  So I took my shoes off, hiked my pants legs up, and crossed the creek barefoot where it was shallower.  The water was cold, but we made it.

We got some good orienteering practice in, and although we weren’t out there setting any speed records, we kept moving most of the time except for a few map-checks and potty breaks.

 

Bob peeing in the woods

Peekaboo Bob, We see you!

Otis loved being out in the woods… as long as we didn’t stop for too long.  He would get pretty pissed if we stayed in one spot for more than 30 seconds. As long as we kept moving, though, Otis was as happy as can be.  He must have gotten very comfortable back there…

 

Otis getting drowsy in the backpack

Going...

Otis almost asleep in the backpack

Going...

Otis asleep in the back pack

Gone.

I always love getting out there for some orienteering.  I wish there were more orienteering races in mid-Mo.  I know St. Louis and Kansas City have orienteering clubs, but it can be too much to drive 2 hours for an hour-long O-race.  Maybe Team Virtus needs to start a mid-Mo orienteering club… Hmm… Anyone reading this think that’s a good idea?  Anyone?

Anyway, we had a great time, and we’re now ready to dominate the Shawnee Extreme Rogaine this weekend.  Okay, we’re nowhere near ready to dominate the race.  The terrain is ridiculously brutal with crazy elevation gains/losses, and the brush, briars, and thorns are insane. Domination?  Probably not, but we’re ready to have more fun than anyone else.  And that’s what it’s all about.

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