Planet Adventure Challenge
30 Hour Adventure Race
Team Eyes of the World: Chuck White, Don Bart, Heather Kluch
After a 7 hour drive to our hotel with the excessive use of the words bogart, epic, and hoss, we finally arrived around 3am. Luckily they let us have a late checkout or we would’ve been zombies. We pointlessly brought all our gear into our hotel room thinking we were going to get it ready to go from there, but instead ended up loading everything back into the SUV. Smart move there. We decide we all need coffee and find this cute little shop that’s cooking up greasy fatty goodness. Even though I had already eaten, the bacon is making me drool. I resist my meaty temptations and go with the best mocha frappacrappy midgetchino (or whatever they called it) I’ve ever had. Since I don’t like coffee, they created magic. We then head over to the prerace meeting location even though we’re super early. We figure we can hang out and get our gear together since we have nowhere to go anyway. As we’re going through our endless piles of gear, another team pulls up. They are two teamies from Team No Sleep/Adventure Capitalists. I’ve never met these dudes (Josh and Ben) before but we quickly figure out that we like them. Since I like them, I let them borrow my UTM plotter since they don’t have one with the correct scale, which I end up letting them keep because I was feeling generous. Soon after, their final team member Susan pulls up, who I’ve known from previous races and I like her too so even though they’re our competition, we decide we can be friends and go out for a pre race meal together. When we get back from stuffing our faces with deliciousness, we put on our snazzy racing gear and head over to the pre race meeting. We receive our map, which was as big as me (that’s big for a map), and we find out we have to plot ALL 46 checkpoints ourselves! This was my first curse of John Farless (the race director’s) name. Freakin’ Farless! Even though I know how to plot, I always feel rusty for the first few, I second guess myself, and I feel like my head is up my butt. After what felt like forever, we finally finished plotting and routing our route. We then head over to drop our bikes off at one of the transition areas, which we miss a turn, and this missed turn sets the precedence for how the rest of the race will go for us. We then head over to race start, and yep you guessed it, we wait for the race to start. Oh and I have to mention, this is Don’s first race over 12 hours, but we’re not worried. We think he can hang.
Race Start – Midnight - Paddle Section – Mano Point
We gear up for the paddle and for me that means raincoat, rain pants, and my super classy hot pink dishwashing gloves with pink hearts on them, so my fingers don’t get wet and turn into corpsicles. Those of you who don’t know me that well, don’t know that I have Raynaud’s Disease. My fingers and toes lose circulation and become useless if I get cold, so I have to take extra precautions. I know I look ridiculous, but I’m ok with that. Everyone lines up at the start, they take a few group pics where my gloves stick out like an eyesore, and then they give us the go. We have a short run to the boats, grab them, and carry them back to the river. Well since we’re a team of 3, I play my girl card and have Chuck and Don carry the boat while I walk beside them. Thanks guys! You’re super! As we near the water, teams are jumping in their boats and paddling off into the night, not realizing that every single one of us is paddling in the wrong direction! First rule of adventure racing…never follow the team in front of you because they could be lost. Well apparently none of us listened to that and we all went the wrong way. We finally realize where we are on the map, and start paddling back towards where we’re supposed to be. I think there were still a few teams behind us that kept going even further in the wrong direction. We get to the bridge that we were supposed to be paddling under about 30 minutes ago, and we hear a volunteer yell from above.. “Great job guys!” Ummm yeah I think I sensed a little sarcasm in that! We are finally heading in the right direction of our first CP, Don is paddling in front, I’m in the middle and Chuck is steering in the back. Since I’m in the middle, I’m the navigator which is super challenging for me because I can’t see worth a crap at night, even with a headlamp on. I make a few mistakes by missing channels to turn down that I miss because of my blindness and eventually we end up running into our pre race pals. We decide to stick together and get lost together. We search high and low and in ditches and creeks for CP2. I swear this thing just kept getting up and moving on us because we had to be right on it, but just couldn’t see it. We all finally made the call to just skip it since we were wasting too much time on it. We kept struggling through this paddle section. This thing was like a friggen obstacle course. Tree stumps were protruding out of the water everywhere but we could barely see them. Our boats kept getting lodged on top of them where we would have to do synchronized humps to get off without tipping. We start yelling out mating calls pleasure noises since we look like animals getting it on with each other, but it works and we end up doing this about 20 more times while laughing hysterically at each other! We pretty much hump our way through that paddle, and luckily we never dumped but Susan, Josh and Ben weren’t so lucky. We stick around to help them out and rescue them because we like them. After what feels like forever, both of us finally make the call to get to the next transition area without getting all the CPs. If we would’ve kept paddling, we would’ve had to miss out on other parts of the race, so we figure we can grab more CPs on bike or foot, rather than in a boat. We make it to the TA and start changing out of our wet gear. My hands are so cold at this point that I can’t get my rain pants off. Thanks to one of the volunteers, he gets a picture of me running with my pants around my ankles and thanks to Chuck for depantsing me! Yes I did have tights underneath so don’t get too excited!
We’re finally out of the boat and on foot to obtain 8 more CPs. We are forced to carry our PFDs and our helmets for this entire section since we will have to be swimming at some point and doing a ropes course. I curse the race director at this point…friggen Farless! It feels like I’m carrying another me on my back! Oh well, I have no choice, so I can’t complain. We start navigating with Susan, Josh, and Ben but end up splitting up at the first CP and head our own direction which wasn’t the right direction. We overshoot but quickly figure out our mistake and start heading down into this rocky little canyon. It was freaking gorgeous! I wanted to stay there all day. We find the CP and we’re feeling good about ourselves again. We’re back on track to actually finding things, or so we think. We find the next CP and head over to the swim section. The water doesn’t get shallow at any point so we have no choice but to swim across. We don’t want to get wet since we’re finally dry after that paddle and we don’t want all our gear to get wet so Chuck and Don strip down to bike shorts, and I strip down to my thong. I’m not super excited about this but oh well, it’s just an ass. Everyone has one. There is another team there also, all dudes, and they strip down totally naked! One guy bends over just as Don turns around. Don gets hairy buttcrack in his face and I get swinging schlongs in mine! Woohoo! We throw our gear in dry bags and swim across. Holy balls, that water was freaking cold! It literally sucked all the breath out of me and I could feel my joints locking up! Good thing it wasn’t a long swim and good thing it wasn’t the middle of the night like it was supposed to be! That made it a little more bearable. We get out and start putting our clothes back on and pick off any ticks that we see on each other. Of course Chuck had to snap a couple pics to prove that I was racing with my ass hanging out! We head off to find the next CP. We’re wandering around for what feels like eternity and can’t find the damn thing. We sit on the side of a hill to try and figure out where we are and how to re-attack it since we’re not finding it. At this point Chuck starts to fade. He’s sitting next to me with a dumb look on his face, mouth wide open and staring off into space. I can tell by the look in his eyes that he’s mentally cashed out. I try to explain to him our next route and he mudders “Well let’s just go and see who shows up.” What? That doesn’t even make any sense. So I say to him, Wtf, what are we going to a party? We’re out here alone, no one is showing up anywhere.” About 5 minutes later he snaps out of his creepy trance and says to me, “What just happened? What did I just say?” I told him and he said “Oh wow, I had an out of body experience. I was at a fair and there were kids around me wanting ice cream and we were supposed to go to a party.” I look at Chuck and start laughing my ass off. In my 6 years of racing, I’ve never had anyone “leave” a race and end up at a fair. So we sit there a little longer, as I’m now trying to plan out the route with Don since Chuck is in his own little world, and out of nowhere Chuck yells “YOU SHOULDN’T EVEN SMOKE!”. Don looks at him like wtf and I say wtf? Chuck snaps out of it again and he’s like “Holy crap, I was just in a grocery store and there was a lady in front of me buying cigarettes so I told her she shouldn’t even smoke.” At this moment Chuck is banned from the map and from making any rational decisions until his acid trip wears off!!! We continue on looking for CPs and realize that we are totally in the wrong spot than where we think we are on the map. We correct our route and head to where the CP should be, or so we think, and can’t find it. I don’t know what our deal is, but we’re not finding anything. Since we spend a lot of time wandering for nothing, we decide to make the call to head to the bike TA. We’re just wasting time and it feels like we’ve wandered in the same circle about 10 times. We are all almost out of water at this point so we’re keeping an eye out for some way to refill our water bladders. We see a maintenance building off to our left as we’re walking down a road. I was so excited that we weren’t going to have to fill our bladders with nasty poo sludge from a creek! Attached to the building we see a green hose which means non poo sludgey water! I pick up the hose but I’m not very smart at this moment and can’t figure out how to work the well pumperdilly thing and the nozzle on the hose confused me just as much. So I give it a full pump, turn the nozzle and being as smart as I am, I’m holding the nozzle directly pointed at my face and set at full on spraying force. Of course I spray myself in the eyeballs! Holy crap I can’t explain the pressure of that thing! It was like a fire hose! I thought my eyeballs were going to fly out of my head. All Chuck could say was “Really?” as Don stood there laughing, and I stood there blind for a few minutes. I felt pretty awesome right then. After my moment of awesomeness, we hike down to the road. It’s about 80 degrees, no breeze, and exposed on the open road with the sun beating down on us. I’ve never sweat so much in my life. Chuck’s stomach starts acting up as we come upon a little fishing area and we notice an outhouse. Chuck’s like “I’m going in!”, throws down all his gear in the middle of the street and hauls ass to this fancy little outhouse. Apparently it was an emergency. I had to pee but I didn’t dare go in that thing after him to save my nostrils from the stank, so I just peed in the bushes! After hiking about 10 miles with major swampass, we arrive at the bike TA. The first thing that comes out of my mouth to the race director is “What the hell are you doing to us?” Of course he just gives me that devilish laugh.
Bike Section – Road and single track
As we’re transitioning to the bike, we’re told we are being short coursed. This is not a surprise to us given that our nav skills have been not so great. The race director cuts out the 4 hour ride and instead tells us to ride over to Buzzard’s Roost to do another nav section on foot. We really should’ve said no and did the other bike section instead since we were having no luck with finding things in the woods. Oh well, we do as we’re told and hop on our bikes and take off. It feels good to not be walking anymore and finally get some sort of breeze blowing in our faces. We start riding and I hear this incredibly annoying clicking noise every time I pedal downward with my right leg. When you’re so far into a race, sleep deprived, and pretty much out of your mind, little repetitive noises could drive you insane. So I start yelling at Chuck…”WTF did those bike shop guys do to my bike? I can’t take this noise any longer!!” I have only been riding for 5 minutes, and I’m already tortured. I had to mental battle myself into pretending the noise wasn’t there so I could get through this section. Don leads us through this ride and he takes the trails like nothing. You would think he’s riding on a flat paved road. I think he just floats over rocks and stumps because I don’t get how he can go that fast without landing on his face. We hit some crazy bumpy down hills where I think I’m going to die but I come out alive as we finally make it to the road. At this point Chuck’s stomach starts acting up again. He bends over like he’s going to puke and complains that there’s too much acid in his stomach. I ask him “So um what did you eat?” His response…”Well I had about eight 5 Hour Energies so that might be it.” My response…”Holy shit! Ya think that could be it? Dumbass!!” No wonder why his body is falling apart, it’s in complete shock! Even though Chuck’s body is crumbling from the inside, he still pushes through and doesn’t complain. We continue our ride to Buzzard’s Roost as it’s getting dark. The stupid song from Dawson’s Creek keeps repeating in my head and Chuck keeps singing it so it’s not helping me try to get rid of it. “I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over…” That has got to be the least motivating song ever and I hate it! After many up hills, down hills, and more neverending up hills, we finally make it to Buzzard’s where John and a few others are waiting for us at a campfire. We’re all still in good spirits and hysterically laughing about nothing. I’m starting to chafe in my crotchel region so I apply my moo cow utter butter or whatever it’s called, and of course Chuck gets this on video. Good thing the audio didn’t pick up because it would’ve sounded like a porno. We sit down on a picnic bench and Chuck starts to eat something. I can hear his teeth smashing into each other with each bite. It sounds like his jaw is breaking and it’s driving me nuts. I even say something like “Why the hell do your teeth make that much noise?” It was the weirdest thing ever. Maybe it wasn’t so weird and I was just weird. I’ll never really know. As we are changing into our running shoes, Chuck puts his head down on the table and starts falling asleep. I have to keep nudging him to get him going so we can get out and wander around the woods some more.
Orienteering – Buzzards Roost
Don has the map and from looking at it, the first CP looks easy. It’s near a rock cliff, that has to be obvious, right? Well not when you’re us! We wander around those freaking cliffs back and forth so many times and can’t find the damn thing. It’s starting to lightning like crazy and thunder is rolling in so I put on my rain gear even though I’m sweating balls. The combination of lightning, the headlamps and sleep deprivation is starting to hit me and I’m seeing things that shouldn’t be there. I just about crap myself when I see and old man behind a tree waving at me in a creepy way. I tried to scream but nothing came out. The old man follows me for a while and keeps popping out behind trees and then a little girl on a tricycle decides to join him. I keep telling myself they’re not real but I’m so freaked out at this point that I don’t want to wander alone. So I find Chuck sitting on a rock munching on food. I sit down next to him and tell him I can’t wander even 5 feet away from someone because the old man, little girl and Dr. Suess characters are scaring me. So I sit next to Chuck for a while and I hear that damn tooth noise again. All I can imagine is his tooth falling out and swishing around in his mouth while he chomps on it. The noise and the image grosses me out but at least it’s a distraction from my newfound imaginary friends that are roaming around in the woods. We get up and keep searching for this CP and can’t find it, so we decide to find the waterfall CP. That should be easy right? NOPE! We find a waterfall but not THE waterfall. Don wanders around the thing several times and doesn’t see a CP. Chuck is falling asleep while walking and his stomach is shot, and has this look of disappointment on his face. I ask him what’s wrong and with a sad voice he’s like, “I have boogers in my nose that won’t come out. I think they’re on my hand and I might be wiping them on my pants but I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re coming out.” So with Chuck’s booger and stomach fiasco and our non spot on nav skills, we decide to call it a night and head back to the TA so we can make it to the finish. We don’t want Chuck’s situation getting to the point where he can’t ride back. We get back the TA we tell John Farless that we think the CP was taken since we had to be right on it. This makes him leave his cozy little campfire so he can go look for himself to check if it’s there or not. He comes back and yep, of course it’s there. Apparently there was a second waterfall! Ugh! Damn our nav! We accept that we are sucking at everything nav for this race and hop on our bikes to head to the finish.
Bike – Nav to finish
We start heading to the finish and see there are a few CPs we can get along the way. First one was a success…FINALLY! Second one, we had to go to the top of a hill which looked easy enough on the map. We let Chuck stay at the bottom of the hill because we knew if he climbed that thing, that could be the end of him, so we let him gaze at the stars. Don and I set out to reach the top of this hill. There are roads and trails that are not on the map so we’re unsure which one to take. We choose one route, get to the top and it looks like there’s private property everywhere. We decide not to climb into the woods at this point because the signs say no. So we figure we chose the wrong road and head back to the other one. We head up that road, which is spooky, and come upon some weird trailer home type thing with what looks like concession stands. Something makes a loud slamming noise and freaks us the hell out so we get the hell out of there! Someone or something didn’t want us there! So we choose one more route and same thing! We are freaked, don’t want to get shot at, so we decide our lives are worth more than this CP. We get the hell outta there! We get back to Chuck who is all dreamy eyed from staring at the stars, and get back on our bikes to head to the finish. We crank as hard as we can to get back and make it back by I think around 230am to be greeted by a volunteer with the best damn chili ever. Mine wasn’t even hot but it was the best because it was actual food! Overall this definitely wasn’t one of our more successful races, but I have to say it was probably one of the most fun races I’ve done! We sucked, we knew it, so we just had a blast with it! This was a super tough course, we had a super tough time, but we had a ton of fun! Thanks to my teamies, the race director, and the volunteers for a great freaking time! Kudos to Chuck for pushing through when he felt horrible and left for an imaginary world, and congrats to Don for getting through his longest race ever! You are both machines! Can’t wait for the next race where we will actually find CPs!