12 Hour AR
Team: Where's Tom's Thumb
Racers: Don Bar, Heather Kluch, Eric Olsen, Jeff Everson
First off I'd like to explain our team name for this one since "Where's Tom's Thumb" is a new one for all of us. We were originally supposed to race with Tom Everson instead of Don Bart. About a year ago, Tom accidentally decided to chop part of his thumb off while camping in Iowa. Of course we have never let him live that down, so we make fun of him every chance we can get....hence the name "Where's Tom's Thumb" which I have to give credit to Eric Olsen for coming up with that awesome name. About a week or so before the race, Tom decided to hurt himself again since cutting off his thumb just wasn't enough. Apparently something popped in his ankle during one of his volleyball games which I have to mention his team name... "Everybody Hates Tom"....you can see a theme here can't you? Why we even talk to this guy, I have no idea. Just kidding Tom, we all love you in a hateful sort of way! ;o) So we all waited to see if Tom's ankle and half of his thumb were going to end up making it to the race, but he finally made the call that he didn't want to take a chance of hurting his ankle even more, which was completely understandable. I would rather sit out of one race, than take a chance, make the injury worse, and then be out for an entire season. So good call on that one Tom, you were using your brain for once. Jeff contacted a couple people he knew to see if they wanted to take Tom's place, but they both had other commitments, so I bothered my Eyes of the World teammate Don who I've raced with a bunch of times, so I already knew he was cool, and he said yes! So that is how our team was formed, and we kept the name because it still made sense since Tom and his thumb weren't there.
During our 6 hour drive over to race checkin at Seven Oaks Recreation area, the "Thrift Shop" song by Macklemore came on about a kajillion times. When this happens, songs stick in my head for about a month.I couldn't get this freaking thing out of my head, and it's so damn catchy that you can make up any lyrics to it..."I'm gonna pop some tags" became "I'm gonna bust some ass" or "I'm gonna take a crap", just to sing a couple. It was both annoying and awesome at the same time which doesn't make any sense! This song was stuck in my head for the entire race! We checked in, practiced putting our bikes in a canoe since we knew we were going to have to take our bikes with us during the paddling section, and then got our maps and brought them back to the hotel to begin our plotting. We had to plot all 29 checkpoints on these maps. We brought all our gear to our rooms before we started the plotting. Don and Jeff had a separate room since the beds were small and they didn't really want to share a bed. They had a room right next to ours and I'm so happy that wasn't my room! It reeked like rotting fish ass! They asked the front desk for another room, but the only rooms they had left were smoking and they didn't want that, so rotting fish ass it was! The front desk gave them some spray for the room but it didn't help. That stank was staying put! Don finally decided to go to the bathroom and found the culprit. Apparently someone (not us) took a nasty dump in the toilet, and it must've been sitting in there for a really looooooong time to stink up an entire room like that! The hotel people apologized and fixed it, and let them keep the air freshener! Totally disgusting but at least the turd and the stank was exterminated!! After their turd torture, we finally headed down to a room with a big table so we could plot our checkpoints and plan out our bike route.We got this done pretty quickly and ended up going to bed around midnight, with a 4am wakeup time. No one needs sleep in adventure racing!
Race Start/Orienteering (I'm gonna pop some tags is in my head during this section)
We got the race start and it was still dark out so most people have their headlamps on. We listened to the race director give us details about the race, we noticed that they called everything weird names that we weren't used to. A Checkpoint flag was a bag, a reentrant was a draw, and a spur was a finger. I felt like I was racing in England! We received our passports (the paper that gets punched so they know you made it to the checkpoint), and waited for the race start at 6am. The sun came up and we were off! Our first discipline was to get CPs on foot and we could get them in any order. I actually liked this because it broke up the huge group of racers. It seemed like everyone split off evenly so we didn't have a huge crazy mess of racers going for the same checkpoint. We ran for one of the closer checkpoints first, knowing that our next one was a pretty far run into a park that was in the middle of small town. As we headed out to the "million mile" CP, we realized this run was going to be a road run. My legs and pavement are not friends! I knew this was going to beat them up, but I sucked it up and ran. With heavy packs bouncing on our backs while pounding pavement, this run felt like forever! We finally snagged the CP and headed back to the race start since the last CP was right past there. As we were running back, Don informed us that he had to take a serious dump. Well running and having to take a crap is not a good combo, it can make you super nauseous. So we all slowed down the pace a little since he was feeling sick. When we finally got back near the start, Don took off and ran to the bathrooms. Might as well get it out now before it causes damage later! I knew this was costing us some time, but it could cost us even more time if it made him sick. We finally headed out to the final CP, I went down in some nasty muddy muck to get it which took a little while since I almost lost my shoe in the goo, but climbed out of it and we headed back to the checkin to transition to bikes.
Single Track (I'm gonna pop some tags is here too)
When we got to the check in, we found out that we were only about 20 minutes behind Wedali, the first place team! So even with a poop stop, we weren't doing too bad. We geared up for the single track section, hopped on our bikes and took off! As soon as we started pedaling we here a snap! I look back and Jeff's chain broke! He didn't even do anything crazy and it just fell apart! Don and Jeff quickly sprung into action and busted out the tools and chain link to repair his chain. No way a broken chain was going to stop us! As they were repairing it, we could see other teams passing us up. This feeling sucks but there was nothing we could do about it. It was still early in the race so we still had a chance of catching up. We make it to the trail with Jeff's chain still in tact and realized there was going to be a lot of hike a biking. These trails were steep, and muddy. We hopped off our bikes and hike it up around a muddy curve. Just as I pushed mine around this curve, I hear "Ssssssssssssssss!" I immediately yelled "Guys! I got a flat!" When I pushed my bike, it must've rolled through some thorns. I was aggravated! We had just fixed Jeff's bike and now mine? Come on! We pulled all our bikes off to the side so other teams could get through, and started to replace my tube. Everything was wet so it made it more difficult but we finally got it swapped and pumped up with my CO2 cartridges. At this point we knew that we were now really behind. Our mindset had to switch gears from thinking, we have a shot in the top three to let's just have fun. We rode and hiked or bikes through these trails keeping our eyes out for CPs. We couldn't really tell where exactly they were since the map didn't have the trails on it, but the CPs were easy to see since they were right along the trails. Our legs started to get pretty tired during this section. Having to get on and off and on and off your bike for 5 miles kicks your ass. When we finally got the end, we were at the top of ski hill. We decided to just bomb down that hill instead of taking another route. This was awesome! It was bumpy and fast! One little mistake could send you flying off your bike! This really got my adrenaline pumping! We quickly got down to the transition area to check in with the volunteers who had told us that another team did the same thing but weren't so lucky. One of their teammates flew over the handlebars and ended up hurting his collar bone pretty bad. They had to take him to the hospital. Hopefully there wasn't any major damage! We headed out onto the next section....more biking but no muddy trails this time around.
Bike to Orienteering Section (Yep the song is still in my head here)
We headed out on our bikes to get the next group of CPs along the way to our next transition area. I didn't realize how freaking hilly this place was until now. Holy crap there were some beefers out there! My legs started to die on me so I made sure I popped another round of Sport Legs and Electorlytes. I didn't want to cramp up and I was afraid my legs were headed that way. We made it to the next orienteering section, and we spent a lot of time at this section....too much time. Before we headed out on our journey Eric let us know he had some chafing going on. We let him tend to his crotchel region so it wouldn't cause him issues during the trek. We headed out and started walking through some nasty goo looking for CP15. We went all over the area and just couldn't find this thing that was supposed to be on a finger. Other teams were wandering aimlessly just like us with no luck. There were a million fingers around us and it seemed like we were in the right area. We were getting frustrated wandering back and forth, when finally we hear Eric yelling to us in the far far away distance. He had wandered near a cliff and found the damn thing! CP15 can go shove it! I know it was our fault but it can still go shove it! We continued on to find the rest of the CPs, and there's another CP that I'm telling to go shove it! CP11 killed us! We literally walked right past the flag or bag, and didn't even see it. It was just at the perfect position of it being out of sight to us. We wandered around the area back and forth knowing we were in the right place but not understanding why we couldn't find it. This is definitely when mental strength comes into play because going around in circles with no success can make someone lose it! We decided to go to the parking lot and attack it from a different way. This actually worked! We finally found that sneaky bastard! It costed us 45 minutes but we found it! After CP11, we were done with this section. We headed back to the TA to head out on the paddle. We were concerned that if we did the paddle section, we wouldn't complete the race on time.
Paddle or I should say Bike to O to Bike-O to finish (you'll see) (Still popping some tags)
When we got back to the TA they informed us that we missed the cutoff time by 10 minutes. Damn you CP11 and your sneakiness! So now this meant we were back on the bikes. Eric was still holding his crotchel region because the damage had been done, and our legs were tired, so we were looking forward to resting them in the canoe, but nope, we got to continue their destruction! We pushed our weakening legs to the next O section. On our way there, we caught up with Wedali. That made us feel like we were in second place, but Wedali had completed the paddle section, so we were nowhere near second. Oh well, it at least felt cool to pretend we were for 5 minutes! When we arrived at the O section, the race director informed us that we all could get the rest of the CPs by bike. If we were to attack them on foot, we wouldn't have finished the race in time, and this included all teams, not just us. We went to snag the final CPs of the race. They weren't obvious bike CPs so we had to bike to them, then get off and hike a bit. One of the CPs was down in some deep reentrant or draw, and as Don went to go punch the passport, he ended up in knee deep mud. This stuff was like quicksand. This took a toll on his legs, it was like having cement blocks on his feet. After we got out of this mess and back to our bikes, we realized that we didn't have enough time to get all of the CPs so our best bet was to head back to the finish. As we started riding back, Don was having issues with his legs. They were tired from all the nastiness he just trudged through so he started falling back. Jeff had to ride up next to him so Don could grab his tow line. This is a tough thing for someone to do. At this point you have to lose your ego and your pride, and let someone tow you. This may sound like you're weak but actually it's the exact opposite. Only a strong person can let go of that pride and say he/she needs help. If he didn't ask, it might've been a disaster. His legs could have cramped up and maybe we wouldn't have finished in time. So big kudos to Don for asking for help and big kudos to Jeff for being a beast and towing him! Shortly after that I started feeling sick. I hadn't taken my morning poop and it started to take effect on me. I asked how much longer until the finish and Eric gave an answer in blocks rather than miles. All I could think, wtf does that mean out here in the country? There are no blocks, just a long ass road. I called him out on his weirdness, so then he told me 3 miles. I decided to tough it up and wait until we crossed the finish line. I didn't want a pooping session to take up more time since we were so close to the finish. After all our mishaps, mistakes, broken equipment, we made it to the finish before the cutoff so we were officially ranked. We may not have done as well as we planned, but with amazing teamwork, we pushed through everything and had a blast! I love racing with these guys and can't wait for the next one! And now after writing this race report, I now have the Thrift Shop song back in my head. "I"m gonna pop some tags!"