In hindsight, maybe picking an 8 hour adventure race as my 1st race in over 2 years was not the best decision. And doing it solo at that (my 1st solo attempt in an AR)!
Two+ years of knee problems is a long time, and I really miss the sport. This race is put on by my own Triangle Adventure Racing Team, and Brian was the director, so I had asked him about the format before I decided to join up. When he said it was a long bike, followed by a rogaine (score-o) style run/trek, I figured that would be good for me. My knee is handling biking pretty well, but running still seems to bother it. So I thought, after the bike, if my knee is sore, I’ll just walk a few o-controls and call it a day.
Kelly actually was shooting a horse show in Western NC, but thankfully Aunt Jenny and Uncle Loci were kind enough to watch Riley and Reece for me starting Saturday night all the way until Sunday evening.
The race start was at 6 a.m., with registration from 4:30 – 5:30, and a pre-race meeting at 5:30. That meant getting up at 3:30 a.m. for me — time for a hot shower, a cup (or two!) of coffee, and a pop-tart. Then the 45 minute drive over to Umstead State Park. I had not fully packed my gear yet — just gotten out everything that I would need — since I didn’t know the exact format. So after I registered, I got enough info to know how to pack for the 1st leg, and then went to the meeting.
The race started with a prologue, in which each team sent out a runner to go get the maps. Since I was racing solo, that mean I had to do the running. It was 2.3 miles according to Ernie, who had gone out to clock it on his bike. That’s about the limit of my running recently, so I figured that might make the rest of the day interesting. I ran all the way to the maps at my current very slow pace of about 10 min/mile. On the way back, I took the time to walk and review the maps for the bike, since it was “choose your route” style.
When I got back to the start area, I just grabbed my bike and my pack, and start riding. Most other teams had just run all the way back, and chose their routes in the TA. But my strategy was to not pushing my knee too hard by not running all the way back, and I was pretty much heading out at the same time as everyone anyway. I first went and grabbed CP 6, off Turkey Creek Trail in Umstead, and then headed on to CP 8 in Shenk Forrest.
From there, it seemed most teams head back into Umstead to continue getting controls there. I thought I could take some roads out of the park, come up on CP 9 which was in a neighborhood, and then hit CP 7 on the Cary greenway, before heading into Lake CrabTree Park, then the swim, then the Rocky Road bike trails, and then back to Umstead. I saw one other soloist leaving Shenk heading the same way, and then came across a team of 3 out on the roads, so it seemed like not many were tackling the course in this manner.
I think it would have been a good strategy, other than CP 9 turned out to be difficult to find. I spent maybe 30 minutes in the general area, then decided to go on to CP 7. But when I got to the greenway, I looked at the maps one more time, and thought I could find CP 9 tackling it from this direction. Another 30 minutes later, I finally gave up on CP9. The bike course was scored such that 18 of 18 was worth 50 points, 17 of 18 was worth 25 points, and 16 of 18 was required. I had already wasted an hour and was just spending time I could have on the o-course gaining more points.
So, on to CP 7, and then to Lake Crab Tree. I picked up C4 and then C3, and headed to the swim. Here’s a picture of me riding into the swim area:
The water was pretty choppy on the way out, and it took me 9 minutes to get to the buoy, where we had to remember 3 numbers and write them down when we got back to dry land. But it only took 6 minutes back in, for a total time of just under 17 minutes. I think that was probably one of the fastest swims, but the race officials weren’t timing this portion, so who knows. Next time I’ll wear fins! 🙂
Here a couple of pictures from the swim:
And here’s a picture of me after the swim — probably the last time I was smiling!
After that, it was off to get C1 and C2 on the Lake Crabtree trails, which were both easy, and then off to Rocky Road. The Rocky road map scale was 1 inch to 100 meters, which took a few minutes to get used to. I went into Rocky Road directly across from the fence to the Greenway, and it would have been better to hang a left and go up the road a bit, and then right into Rocky Road. Where I went in was very overgrown!
Anyway, I got R3 pretty quickly, and then went on to get R4, which was a walk, and then crawl, across a down tree about 10 feet above the creek, and a run east along the far bank. Once I got R4, the creek there was shallow enough to walk across and go back to my bike. I then set off for R5, which gave me some trouble. Here, the scale seemed much bigger than the map showed. It didn’t help that I got a flat while looking for it, as that kind of threw me off. I eventually went off to get R2, which was easy, and then tackled R5 from that angle, and then it was not so hard to find.
At this point, it was a slow easy climb up an old fire road to get R1 and then back to Umstead to get the last few controls there. But by this point, I was really starting to feel my knee, and my legs were dead tired. I had been out for almost 6 hours, whereas my longest training rides were typically just 45 minutes, other than the one mountain bike race I had done which was about 90 minutes.
R1 was easy, but the ride back to Umstead seemed much longer than normal. I was running low on water so I stopped to fill up, jumped back on the bike and road for 5 minutes before I realized I was not going where I had planned. So I turned around, back to the water fountain, and then back to where I wanted to go. I went to pick up CP3 at a 3-way road intersection, but it was no where to be found. None of the controls had been hidden, and this was very obviously the right location, so I just assumed it had been removed. Tried to call in to the RD but had the wrong number, so I just left. But later it was confirmed that CP3 had been removed.
It was here when I realized CP4 was not in Umstead, but back on the far side of Lake Crabtree! I had made the mistake of not looking that closely for all the controls, and CP4 was kind of beyond the others, but really not far from Crabtree. At this point I was not going to ride back the 5 or so miles to get it! So it was off to CP1 at the far north entrance, in the campground, which was easy (other than being tired!). Then off to get CP2, and then make the ride back to the transition area. Since I had 16 of 18 bike controls, I had a big fat 0 for a score, with not much time left.
By the time I got to the TA it was about 13:35 and I was assuming I would just call it a day and not do any orienteering. But Brian and Jeff eventually talked me into getting at least one. So I ran out and got the closest control, about 500 meters away, worth a whopping 11 points. I later heard that if I had not grabbed at least one O control, I would have been a DNF! And it actually felt good to do a little running after such a long time on the bike.
All in all it was a really good race. The bike was longer than the race director expected, but some of that was most racers decided to go out and try for all bike controls and the 50 points that would give. In hindsight, I should have gone in to the TA after the prologue to look at the O control point values, which ranged from 10 – 50 points. I probably would have given up a lot sooner on CP9 if I knew I could have made up more points on the trek. Most teams did look at the trek points while their runner was out on the prologue, but I had opted not to do that to save a little time. But I definitely should have.
The results have not been posted, but the top soloist and overall winner had over 500 points, to my big 11. But most of the teams that placed in their respective divisions had between 100 – 200 points. I’m definitely a lot slower than I was 2 years ago! But serious lack of training due to knee problems will do that I guess.
While it was not a great result for me place wise, I think my knee handled everything fairly well, and my real goal for the race was to have fun and see how my knee reacted. So in that sense, it was a good race.