Posted by Bob Jenkins
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:
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….
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.
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:)
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..
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:
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.
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!!
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.
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.
See the resemblance??
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:
Flippin ridiculous, right?
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.
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.
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:
Luke and I at the top of the same hill:
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.
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.
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….
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.
We may have eaten a little too much, but the indigestion was worth it.
Midway thru “happy-time”, Casey told a swing-story that nearly caused the rest of us to vomit…look how happy he was:
Hanging out at HQ for a while gave us an opportunity to figure out why the hell my feet hurt so bad:
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.
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).
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.Vodpod videos no longer available.