Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 Mission Adventure Race 18 Hour

MISSION Adventure Race
18 Hour
Brownstown, IN
Team Adventure Capitalists/BDAR Midwest
Racers: Don Bart, Heather Kluch, Eric Olsen

Pre Race

It took us about 5 hours to get down to Brownstown. We left a little later than we originally planned but we still made it in time for dinner that was provided by the race director. Delicious lasagna and brownies were in my face within seconds! Brownies are my weakness but I limited myself to two. That was really tough for me! Brian, the race director, started the pre race meeting at 7:30pm. We learned that we were not getting any of our maps beforehand so we had no idea what kind of madness we were about to endure. It definitely felt weird going back to the cabin without having to stay up until past midnight plotting checkpoints and planning our route. I thought to myself wow, we might actually get some decent sleep! Well with certain loud explosive noises coming from one of my teammate's cheeks (not the ones on the face), I couldn't sleep at all. Luckily I couldn't smell anything, but the noises alone were enough to rob me of my beauty sleep. Oh well, adventure racers don't need sleep! 

Race Day

We woke up around 4:45am since the race started at 6. I know that sounds early but I'd rather take my time than feel rushed and forget something important. I ate a peanut butter covered bagel along with a cheery Poptart for breakfast. Now that's a hearty meal right there! We headed over to the race start to move our bikes to the transition area and to find out exactly what we would be doing for the start of the race. We were told we weren't getting our maps before the race. In order to get our map, one teammate would have to run to a manned checkpoint around the lake or use a boat without a paddle to get across the lake. We chose Don because he runs like gazelle. 

At 6am one teammate from each team sprinted towards this map keeper. Most people ran around the left side of the lake, a few around the right, and I think only one person used the boat. He actually got in the water and pushed the boat while kicking his legs. Apparently this proved to be the best way to get the map because he was the first one back! We waited anxiously back at the lodge for Don to get back. I finally saw him come out of the darkness, so we went inside the lodge to start plotting the CPs. Eric wanted to do the plotting this time around, so we let him, and he plotted like a pro! We planned out our bike route and had a choice on what we wanted to do first, either get the CPs on the road or head to the single track. 

Bike Section

We chose to do the road first since it was just getting light out. Riding trails isn't as easy when it's dark and we didn't know exactly what kind of trails we would be on. We cleared all the road CPs without any problems. There were some pretty good hills but nothing that we couldn't handle! When we got to the trail section, the trails were exactly what we expected. Mud and more mud! It had rained the day before so we knew what we were in for. The trails weren't single track, they were pretty wide but you still had to have some sort of single track skills because between the mud and the hills, if you didn't have balance or know how to throw your weight around on a bike, you were hiking that bike! Since we're pretty decent mountain bikers, we were able to handle this clay-like quicksand. The tires on my bike aren't as knobby as most, but I was still hauling ass up those hills...well hauling ass slowly with a few tire spins, but I made it up! Of course there were some we had to hike up because apparently the race director had some mountains installed before we got there. So freakin' steep! We continued to find our way to the CPs without any huge mistakes until CP 6. We shot in right off the bend in the trail to attack this CP, which other teams were doing the same. The CP was on a ridge, not too far in. We all thought, this should be an easy one. It's pretty obvious where it is on the map. A bunch of teams kept roaming around the area with no luck, we had no luck either. Even more teams arrived and were determined to find this thing, but they couldn't find it either. After spending too much time on it already, we finally called it and decided to skip it.We had a feeling that something was wrong, it was either gone, or not in the right place. Skipping CPs just all around sucks. You start to question your nav skills, and get that determination to find it. It's really hard to make the call to skip it, because there is always that thought that another team will find it, and that will place them ahead of you. We wasted so much time already though and we didn't want to get short coursed so we sucked it up and left. Other teams were making the same call so we knew we weren't the only ones ditching it. We continued on and starting heading back on a trail and realized we were going the wrong way. Luckily we caught it early enough that we didn't have to ride far. As we kept riding we came upon team Madcap Racing who were stopped in the middle of the trail.  One of their teammates had a flat, but they couldn't use their CO2 cartridge because they needed a threaded cartridge and they had the wrong kind. Luckily I had 2 threaded cartridges with me, so I offered mine up to them. We stuck around to make sure everything worked so they could continue to race. That's one thing about adventure racing, yes of course you want to push as hard as you can to beat other teams, but whenever you see a team in trouble, all that goes out the window. I'd rather help someone than leave them there just to say we beat them. Well our good karma came right back at us after we followed a trail that didn't match what was on the map. We ran into Cumberland Trail Connection along the way because they had done the same thing. They ended up riding miles out of the way just to realize it wasn't the right way. We had caught them just in time before we began our long journey to nowhere. They told us what happened to them and said we should turn around. This team was one of our competitors in our division, and they still helped us out. They could've said nothing and watched us go the wrong way which may have put them ahead of us. Big thanks to those guys! We all finally got out of the muck and ended up back on a paved road. You have no idea how excited we were to be back on something that we could actually ride on without getting stuck! We had two options on this road, left or right would take us where we needed to go. We opted for left since the route looked a lot flatter than the other.We made a great decision. This downhill was fun as hell! We were flying down this crazy steep road at 40mph and then suddenly out of nowhere the road took a sharp turn, and right in front of us was a cliff! Our brakes were screaming on our bikes trying to slow speeding bullets down before we tossed our bikes and bodies over the cliff. We managed to not die, but I think we all had a few mini heart attacks. We finally made it back to the TA without anymore near death experiences, and here we had to plot more CPs.

Ropes, Scooters, and Rollerblades

Eric is Spiderman.
What happens when Don gets on the course before I get off!


Don looks solid. 

 The first CP we had to hit was a ropes course. We had to bring our rollerblades and scooters since we'd be using them for sections after this. I put on my rollerblades and came up to a twisty steep downhill. I hadn't rollerbladed in years so this made me want to crap myself. I had a serious injury years ago on rollerblades where I landed so hard on my left buttcheek, that is tore skin off and swelled up like J Lo's booty. I couldn't even fit in my jeans! I hit the pavement so hard that I actually got a concussion from falling on my ass! I know it's hilarious now, but it wasn't at the time! I ended up getting post concussive vertigo from my ass crash, so for about a month I would wake up in the morning and fall over into walls. It was awful. I can totally laugh about it now though, but being back on those blades brought all that back to me. I was scared to death! So we decided to leave the blades behind and we would just share the scooters alternating between one person running. We walked over to the ropes course since we didn't need our wheels yet, and saw that there were a bunch of teams ahead of us, so it created a bottleneck. We always expect this in races with ropes courses though. We sat around and waited for the people ahead of us to go which took a good chunk of time. During this long wait, I decided I changed my mind about the rollerblades and wanted to give it a go. I didn't want to have to run while others were scootering so I had to put my fear to rest. While I waited in line for the ropes, Eric ran back to the TA to get them for me. That's what teammates are for, fetching gear! ;o) When we were finally up, Eric went first and flew through the course. I went second, and didn't do as much flying. This is when being short worked to my disadvantage. I made it past the first few courses without any major problems, until I got to the singing steps. These things were placed so far apart, and when you put your foot on it, it would swing away from you if you didn't get it just right. I struggled a bit using a lot of my arm strength to get me through, especially when Don decided to get on the course before I got off which made me fall in a weird way so I looked pretty awesome. See picture below. After we ended the course with a zip line back to earth, we headed off the course and I geared up for my death defying blade action. Don and Eric hopped on their scooters and you can imagine how badass they looked. Of course I took pictures for everyone to see such hardcore masculinity on children's scooters with a 110 pound weight limit! We headed down the road which lucky for me was petty flat with just a few small hills. All my rollerblading skills came back to me and I conquered my fear! I didn't feel scared at all! As Don skidaddled his scooter along he realized it was falling apart. Apparently Eric didn't screw on the steering pole tight enough so Don was losing control. Eric offered to switch since the looseness was his doing, so he hopped on and they continued to look like complete dorks on their scooters while I looked badass in my rollerblades. See evidence below....
Eric's mud butt!


Paddle Section      

We finally made it to the boat dock without any injuries or falls. We heard from the volunteer that some teams were taking some nasty spills. We heard Nancy from Ragged Glory really messed up her shoulder, but she kept on going. She's one tough chick! We hopped in the boats and started our paddle upriver for CP12. The river was flowing pretty fast so sometimes it felt like we were putting effort with no results. I know we need to practice paddling more, but going upriver against current doesn't help! After we snagged CP12, we turned around and paddled back downriver. We were flying, we knew we'd hit the next CP pretty quick. For CP13 we had to get out of our boats and run into a tiny town to get a CP located in the middle of a park. As we neared the take out, we prepared to get our boat up on the river bank. The current was moving pretty fast so it was tough to maneuver. As the the front of the boat hit the river bank, it swung the back end out and the current helped that swing right along! First Don fell out, then I fell out, then went Eric along with all our gear into the freezing cold rushing water! The canoe went on top of my head so I struggled for a few seconds to keep myself from drowning. I couldn't touch the bottom of the river so that made it tough with the current pulling me and trapping me. I finally got out of it and the first thing I yelled was "Grab the packs! Don't lose the packs!" Luckily our packs stayed right near us, the current didn't have time to steal them away from us. Eric grabbed the garbage bag that held my rollerblades and their scooters, but when he opened the bag, the scooters were gone. We knew that with that current and with how deep it was, there was no way to find those things. So this meant that we had to run this section instead of using nice smooth, fast wheels, and on top of that, I was freezing! I took as much clothes off as possible since everything was drenched and making me cold. With having Raynaud's Disease, my body does not like cold! I was not prepared for the chilly weather or the unexpected swim! We headed off to CP13 with a slow run, I knew running would keep me warmer than walking, and we didn't have wheels so this was going to take us longer than teams that did. At least the sun was out so that helped warm me up a little bit, but not enough. We got the CP and on the way back I dropped my Pop Tart. Don's natural reaction was to quickly bend down at a lightning speed to save my gourmet meal, but when he did that, something in his back tweaked. After that, his back bothered him for the rest of the race, but did that stop him? Of course not, Don is a machine. When we got back to the canoe, all I could think was "We better not dump again or my fingers will fall off." We got back in the boat safely without any carnage and proceeded to paddle the rest of the way down river to the takeout. Luckily Don had a spare fleece in his pack so I could keep warm, well as warm as possible. I just couldn't stop shivering.

We eventually arrived the takeout which was a covered bridge. We didn't dump this time around, but I was still freezing. This section we had to run about 5 miles to the next TA. Well, we had to run, other teams that had wheels could wheel their way there. At this point we were all running out of water, so we were on the lookout for a hose since we were passing people's homes. Eric finally spotted one so we knocked on the door first to let them know, we didn't want to get shot at! No one was home so Eric decided to grab that hose and fill up his bladder. As he was filling it, he noticed the water looked weird. As soon as he tasted it, we heard "WHAT IS THAT?",  he gagged, choked and spit the water out, which of course made Don and I laugh hysterically. It's funny to watch people drink something nasty! Apparently these people had some kind of soap infused water hose, so Eric drank soap! Yum! We were glad he went first, but now Eric had absolutely nothing to drink. We kept running down the road, and we saw some people in their shed. I went up to them and asked if they had a hose, one that wasn't infested with soap. Sure enough they did, and they let us use it! We were back in business with drinkable water! That's one thing about racing, never be afraid to ask people for water. I've never had anyone deny us. I even had some random people make us peanut butter & jelly sandwiches before! Country folk are nice if their not pointing a shot gun at you which I've had that happen before too! Anyway, at this point in the race my legs were telling me no. Normally I'd be ok, but the swim we had earlier took it's toll on me because of the cold. I just couldn't fully warm up, so my body was in "I'm freezing so I don't want to move mode!" I didn't let that stop me though. I kept on running, I didn't want to slow anyone down. After 5 miles we made it to the TA, with me still freezing. We had to plot more CPs so we could head out on the next nav section, and of course rain clouds were rolling in. Just my luck!


We plotted the points and made the decision that we were going to skip CPs 16,17, and 18, since they were south of us and we needed to head north to the finish. We knew if we attempted all of them, we wouldn't make it back in time. It was also going to get dark soon so we knew it would be tougher to navigate. We headed out to attack the first CP and suddenly we were hit with a monsoon! Holy downpour! I felt like we were in the rainforest! I was already cold, and now this just soaked me to the bone. Of course I kept going, I wasn't going to let a natural disaster that was trying to freeze me to death stop me! Luckily the rain didn't last too long. I think it was only lasted about 10 minutes and the sun peeked back out. I was just focusing on moving. I knew if I kept moving, I wouldn't stop and it would keep me a little warmer. As we navigated our way up north we ran into a few other teams, Aaron Phillips who raced solo, Cumberland Trail Connection, and Team Topo Adventure Sports. We weren't really trying to race each other since we all pretty much knew where we stood. Topo had one more CP than us, Cumberland Trail had one less, and Aaron wasn't ranked with us, so this is when teams help out other teams. At this point I became quiet. Eric kept stating how great he felt and how strong his legs were, which was great, I was happy for him, but at the time I didn't want to hear it. I was super cold, and all I could focus on was moving. I didn't want to know about his magical experience at that time, but at last he was being positive. Both Eric and Don kept asking if I was ok, which is what teamies should do, and I said yes. I knew I wasn't 100 percent, but I knew I could make it to the finish. I just shut my mouth, and ran when we needed to. After we finally punched our last CP, we headed on a trial to the finish. All I could look forward to were some dry clothes, and a delicious meal of course, and to get out of these tights that gave me sag crotch through the entire race! I seriously felt like I crapped my pants and lugged it with me during the whole race. No matter how high I hiked those things up to my neck, they still sagged! We made it to the finish with about an hour to spare. Would we have been able to get one more CP? Possibly. But given the conditions of it being dark, me being cold, Don's back, and having to go out of the way, we risked the possibility of not making it back in time and losing more CPs, so I think we made the right decision. Topo ended up 3rd which we expected so that put us in 4th, which we were happy with because that meant we qualified for USARA Nationals! Congrats to all the other teams that qualified, and congrats to all the other finishers! It was a muddy, cold, wet, and fun race! Oh and my sag crotch tights now live in the dumpster!


  1. Yeah Heather!!! Nice job!! I have a question about your pics, did you take them? We didn't take any and I've been trying to track down race photos before posting my blog. Congrats again on Nationals!

    1. Yep all the pics I took myself. I checked the website and doesn't look like they posted any yet.