Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 MISSION 18 Hour AR

MISSION Adventure Race
18 Hour
Versailles, IN
Team: Adventure Capitalists/BDAR
3 Person Coed
Racers: Don Bart, Heather Kluch, Eric Olsen

Pre Race

The couple weeks prior to race day were some of my most stressful in a long time. With trying to change my life around, I've been pretty much working 4 different jobs, two of them new jobs, so the learning process is stressful in itself. Aside from that I've been trying to fit in studying for my personal training certification, which I haven't been able to as much as I want. All these things combined made me want to pull my hair out, my brain was scattered and so were my emotions. I felt mentally drained which isn't how you want to feel right before an adventure race. During the week leading up to the race, the song La La La by Naughty Boy kept playing on the radio. Some might think this song is stupid, but this song played over and over in my head during the race, which made me feel better about myself, it gave me motivation to finish. Why? Well, I'm not sure what the exact meaning the artist meant for the song to be, but I have my own interpretation. Being a victim of child abuse, I have put that past me, or so I thought, but it seems that during my most challenging times, it rears it's ugly head every now and then. I know that none of it was my fault, there was nothing I did to deserve it, but when you're told to think a certain way about yourself for more than half of your life, sometimes it comes back to bite you in the ass. I was taught to not believe in myself, that I would never amount to anything and that no one would ever love me. So being in the not so fantastic financial and career state that I'm currently in, my mind starts thinking, well maybe the person that told me those things was right. So here are some of the lyrics in the song...  "Hush. Don't speak. When you spit your venom, Keep it shut, I hate it"..."I'm covering my ears like a kid, when your words mean nothing I go La La La. I'm turning up the volume when you speak, 'cause if my heart can't stop it, I find a way to block it, I go..La la" With these lyrics, in my mind I'm telling myself I won't let their words defeat me, and to stop believing in their lies. I felt like a failure for the first 20 years of my life, I can't let myself feel like that again. It's been a rough couple weeks, can you tell?? 

Anyway enough about me, let's talk about fun things like Don's suspected broken toe! Going into this race he informed us that his toe might be broken. He previously injured it and then reinjured it a day or two before we left. He had it taped together, but tape doesn't make pain go away! We were hoping that during the drive to the race, it would magically heal, but it didn't, well actually it temporarily healed. It didn't bother him at all during the race, but paid it's painful visit the next day. Since I covered both Don and my ailments, let's talk about Eric. There's nothing to say, he was all good. Well at least we had one teammate that wasn't falling apart physically or mentally!

When we arrived we hauled our gear to our cabin which we shared with Mary, Mike and John from Trainology Fitness. They're a great bunch of people, love them! The pre race meeting was quick and we learned that in each section, we could get the checkpoints in any order, but they were all mandatory. So if we missed a CP in one section, we would be ranked behind a team that got them all. Makes sense. We anticipated receiving our maps that night, but we got nothing! Totally forgot that we do everything on race clock with this one! We went to bed feeling like we were forgetting something, because usually we're up for hours plotting and planning our route. We felt helpless!! It did feel good to go to bed early though!

Race Day

The race started at 6am, with all of us taking off on foot for a CP scavenger hunt. What's that? It's exactly how it sounds. We were told that we had an hour to find 7 CPs, but we didn't have a map telling us where they were. We had to wander around like lost chickens in the dark, and try to find orange and white non reflective flags that sat at 800 feet of elevation within a radius of 1km. This was frustrating because it was based off of pure luck. If you wandered to the right place, you found them, if not, you were screwed. We ended up finding two near a picnic shelter, but where the other CPs were hiding, we have no idea. We got back to the lodge in an hour, and we found out that it didn't matter how many CPs we got if we didn't get all 7 before an hour was up. So at least we didn't go at a full out sprint and burn out our legs trying to find all 7 CPs! This section was not my favorite, but no worries, it gets better from here on out!


After the prologue, we received UTM coordinates for our next set of bike CPs. CPs 1-5 were all on single track, and we decided to attack them in reverse order. We headed out for CP5, the trails weren't too technical and they were fun! We came upon a switchback and realized that we had gone too far. We turned around and the CP was right behind us! We rode right past it because our eyes were trained to look for the orange and white flags, we had totally forgotten that they use PVC type tubes for this race even though the race director told us that during the pre race meeting. Our bad! At least we didn't go far! As we kept on riding, we hit a trail with the word "cliff" in the name. I hate cliffs. They scare the crap out of me! The word "Shitballs!" came to mind over and over again. I seriously need to overcome that fear before I nervously shake my way off a cliff! Not only do cliffs scare me, they scare me even more when it's raining, and of course, it started to drizzle, so the trails and the rocks started to get slippery. I think I had a few anxiety attacks but I kept on riding through my fear! By the time we reached CP2, we had to get off our bikes for to hoof it to the end of the spur. We saw a team of 3 dudes, and after talking to them, we found out it was one of their teammate's first adventure race! High five to that guy for doing an 18 hour for his first race! As we approached the CP, I felt my legs burning and a few minutes after that, they itched like hell! We had just gone through a field of stinging nettles, oh nettles I really haven't missed you at all! These things are torture. They feel like paper cuts, then itch for about 20 minutes, and the more you scratch, the more they itch! Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Luckily that was our only encounter with these evil plants. We had one more CP to go and then we were off the trails. Don's chain fell off along the way, but it was super quick fix.

We headed out on the road for CP6 & 7. We pulled up to our attack point, headed into the woods and bushwhacked our way across a creek. We saw team No Sleep coming out of the woods as we headed in, and this began our leap frogging relationship. A little background on these guys, I've known them for years, well at least the John Farless part of the team, nice guy and a great navigator. They're a tough team to beat, so seeing them gave us a little kick to get our butts moving! The next CP was in a dry creek bed, we found that one pretty quick, but No Sleep was nowhere in sight when we got back to our bikes. We pressed on to get to the TA. We had the option of taking a known route back, or we could attempt a road that looked like it didn't go completely through on the map. We took our chances and rode this grassy overgrown road, and to our surprise, it actually went through and saved us a lot of time! I think we all did a happy dance as we headed to the TA!


When we got back to the TA, we were given more coordinates to plot, and even though these were considered the paddle section CPs, not all of them had to be attained by boat, and we were allowed to split up. Sounds weird but it will all make sense in a few seconds. At this point we were right on the tails of No Sleep, so we got in the water as fast as possible! We paddled north to CP12, dropped Eric off at the bank and he ran into the tall grass to get it. When he got back into the boat, we talked strategy. We decided to drop Eric off to attain CPs 10, 11, and 13 on foot while Don and I paddled down the river to meet him near the last CP, kinda like an extraction point! (If you've ever watched "Naked and Afraid" you know what I mean by that!) Eric and Don picked a spot on the map as to where he would be plucked out of the woods, and I recommended we take a picture of the map since Eric would have it, and we would have nothing. They took a quick pic and Don and I paddled away as Eric went frolicking through the forest. After a few minutes we could hear thunder rolling in the distance, but it became louder and scarier real quick! I hate being on a boat when it storms, freaks me out! You know the face you make when you're constipated? Well I made that face every time I heard thunder! I kept my cool though, and just as we approached a grassy section of the land that looked like a perfect place to take out, the monsoon let loose! We knew it was coming but holy crap, that thing dumped on us! When we got on land, we quickly turned the canoe upside down so it wouldn't fill with water and put all of our gear underneath it. We both busted out our raincoats,
even though it felt like they weren't doing much. We weren't exactly sure if this was where Eric wanted us to pick him up, but then I remembered, the picture!!!! So happy we decided to take one! The pic was clear enough to see exactly where we were at, and yep, we were in the most perfect spot! The road that ended at the patch of grass was on the map, and we decided it would be a good idea to hike up the road just in case
Eric wasn't sure where we were. He could at least run into us on the road instead of being hidden down by the water. As we stood there freezing and shivering, we contemplated it would take him another 30 minutes or so until he got to this point, but after a few minutes, he appeared jogging down the road, no raincoat, and soaked to the bone! We waved at him but he didn't say anything. When he reached us, he said he didn't even know it was us! He thought it was some lost racers that needed help! He couldn't hear us with the thunder clashing, and he didn't recognize us with our raincoats on! He was super excited when he realized who we were! We all jogged down the grassy road and as we approached our boat, we saw Sarah Dallman from Flying Squirrel Adventures pulling up in her boat, alone. Well actually she wasn't alone, and here is where years of racing experience, being plain old smart, and thinking outside of the box, benefits a team. Sarah and Stephanie were a two person team, so when she let Stephanie out of the boat to do the nav section on foot, it was difficult for Sarah to paddle the huge canoe alone. So she found another two person team, teamed up with the female, they both got in Sarah's boat, and she tied a rope to the other boat and towed the empty boat behind them. Pure genius!!!! I will always remember that for future races in case I'm ever in that situation. Thanks Sarah for being so smart!

As we prepared to launch, Eric was standing right in front of me, and as I bent over to get my PFD, an awful stank floated up my nostrils. I asked Eric if he farted and he said no, but he's always farting so maybe he didn't even realize it. I put on my PFD and there it was again! So I asked him again if he farted because something meaty and rotten just wafted past my face again! He assured me it wasn't him, which he usually admits to it, so there had to be something else rotting or farting somewhere near us. All farting aside, we finally set out on our voyage, and as we paddled along, we came upon a dam. We had no choice but to portage around it, and as we were putting in on the other side of it, we saw No Sleep again! Man these guys were great motivation! It was like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit, or more like dangling a cheeseburger in front of a hungry adventure racer! As we went to put the boat in the incredibly shallow water, we hesitated and contemplated portaging the boat down the road instead. We decided against the road portage and stayed in the water until we reached CP14 where we began another game of No Sleep leap frog. No Sleep pulled over at a spot along the shore to go look for the CP, we paddled past them and past the CP to tackle it from a different attack point. We all got out of the boat for this one, and found it pretty quickly, hopped back in the boat, and there came No Sleep paddling down the river right behind us! It was like we were stalking each other! As we paddled on, the river kept getting more shallow, more rocky, more sandy, pretty much anything that would make us get out of the boat. So instead of a paddle, it turned into a draggle, dragging the boat more than paddling it. Luckily, my smallness actually worked in my favor for a change, and I was allowed to stay in the boat while my big manly teammates pulled me over the rocks. I did have to get out a few times, but not as much as they did. Thanks boys! Since I got to sit on my butt during all the dragging, I took over navigation. It's tough to figure out where you are on the map when you haven't been looking at the map at all, but just by the direction we were going and terrain features, I was able to figure it
out. At one point Eric asked where we were and I didn't want to tell him because we still had what looked like a million miles to go! This paddle took us well over 6 hours, probably almost 7, so as soon as we reached the take out near the bridge, we couldn't wait to get out of the boat! We were soaked, I was freezing, I had lost circulation in my fingers a long time ago, and we just wanted to be dry and warm for a change. The cool thing about the paddle was I felt like it was straight out of National Geographic. We saw so many different animals like super loud ca-cawing hawks, vultures, jumping fish, frogs, a duck protecting her babies, a snake slithering in the water right near me when I was in the water (creepy), and a cow duck, yes I did say cow duck. It was seriously spotted like a cow! MOOQUACK!

Orienteering Section

After that super soaker paddle section, we changed into dry socks, and plotted our next CPs. As we started plotting, No Sleep was pulling their boat out of the water. They were still right on our butts! It's hard to shake a strong team! As soon as we plotted, we grabbed our gear and hauled ass out of there. We knew No Sleep could catch us at any point, so we didn't want to give them that chance! We ran the flats and downhills of the road, and when we reached an intersection we dropped into the woods for CP22 which was a small creek reentrant junction. When we popped back out onto the road, of course we looked behind us for signs of No Sleep, but they weren't in sight. I finally decided to stop looking back, we needed to focus on our race, so I just wanted to keep looking forward.  We attacked CP21 next, this
thing sucked. The clue was forest maturity which made me think there would be a distinct line of old and new trees. We struggled trying to find this one, we even used a supplemental map that didn't help much. We felt we were in the right spot, so Don suggested we sweep North and South with the possibility of stumbling upon it. We ended up hitting a trail , went down the trail and of course, there was the CP! After losing some time on that one, we ran, well tried to run on the super muddy trail north to a road. We crossed the road and went up a spur for CP20 which was a building foundation.
This was a cool CP, kinda dangerous and dangling, which is what made it cool! Eric punched it, and we hurried back down the spur, went around it to the west, and hit a reentrant that lead us to CP19, a waterfall. It was gorgeous, and of course the CP wasn't at the base of the waterfall, we had to climb up to it! We then headed back out to the road and ran it back to the state park. Inside the park we grabbed the CP under the covered bridge, and then ran into town to get CP17 which was at a water tower. We wanted to get this one while it was still light out because we didn't just punch a CP, we had to climb up the water tower and rappel down!

This was super scary but awesome! Getting over that ledge scared the
crap out of me. I had to roll over it, then find my footing, which with being short, made that a challenge in itself! All 3 of us climbed up and flew down the tower one right after another. It was exhilarating! I'm pretty sure the race director fulfilled one of Eric's dreams! When we were all safely back on land, it was dark, we busted out our headlamps and headed to CP16 which was hanging on a stop sign at a church. We then headed back to the TA, Eric found a shortcut across a dam, so we shimmied across a narrow ledge of the dam with fast flowing water. It was pretty scary in the dark especially with a kajillion bugs smacking me in the face while I was trying not to fall in!

All of those white dots are bugs, except for Don's headlamp in the background!

Bike to Finish!

When we got back to the TA, we had to plot what would be our last CPs. The bike section was pretty huge and we determined that we could only get two of the CPs that were close to the TA since we only had a couple hours until the cutoff. CP27 which was a road turnaround was pretty close. We rode past a pile of rocks, which seemed like the wrong way to go, but it was right. We then biked to CP26 which the clue was a shore line, but the sneaky race director decided to put a challenge there, stocked with blow up rafts, paddles and PFDs. We had two options, to take the rafts across some swampy waters with using only two crappy plastic paddles, or use the PFDs to swim across to get a CP with a blinking light at the top of a hill on the other side. We opted for the raft, Don in front, me in the middle and Eric in the back. This raft was crazy hard to control, we were going in circles and the mud from the murky water smelled like rotting poop. Suddenly out of nowhere we starting flying across the swamp. Don and I thought maybe we were just stuck on something and we finally got free. We made it to land, but that wasn't the end of it. We portaged across the land and then Don jumped into the raft and it took off, with just him in it! Eric had to get in the stank water and pull him back to land so we could all get in. We headed across the swampy waters again at a pretty decent speed, but then Don looked back and realized that his paddle stroke with the crappy plastic paddle wasn't doing much, Eric was actually in the water kicking and pushing the boat! We had no idea!! No wonder we were flying, but gross! I felt bad that Eric was swimming in the liquid poo! We made it to the hill and hiked up some steep, muddy terrain in bike shoes, and then slid down on our butts back to the raft. Eric pushed us again since it was so much faster and we made it back to our bikes in no time. We were cold and we reeked like swamp butt as we got back on our bikes to head to the finish. We crossed the finish line at 11:03pm, we had almost an hour to spare, but with how far the other CPs were, we probably wouldn't have made it back in time if we attempted to get them. We saw No Sleep right when we finished, they couldn't go out on the final bike section because John lost his helmet during the trek which is required gear. That sucked! They would've have time for one more CP!  We had a fun and solid race with a 5th place overall finish and 4th in our division which qualifies us for USARA Nationals! And we forgot to take finish photos, so you get maps instead!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

2014 The Breakdown Adventure Race 15 Hour

The Breakdown AR
15 Hour
Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia
Team: Adventure Capitalists/BDAR #2
3 Person Coed
Racers: Don Bart, Heather Kluch, Eric Olsen, Jennifer Schoon (medical issue)
AC/BDAR #1: Josh Braun, Brooke Manning, Ben Smith

Pre Race

Never having done this race before, we had no idea what was in store for us. I have raced in West Virginia which was pretty freakin hilly, but I had no idea how it's partner in crime would be. We were all in for a surprise....a big one, well multiple big ones! Eric, Jennifer, and I got our hill training on as much as we could for living in the flattest land of the flatlands. I always ask myself, "Why do I live in Illinois?' I still haven't given myself a good answer. After preparing ourselves for our unexpected hilly doom, I get a message from Jen four days before we leave for the race that she is sick, and not cough and snotty sick, there was something seriously wrong. She was pretty much losing the ability to stand upright. Every time she stood up, she would get dizzy, and she was experiencing numbness on the entire left side of her body from her foot to her face. She had some small symptoms early on, but they were bearable, but within the two weeks prior to the race, her condition worsened to the point that she needed to see the neurologist. She remained positive, even knowing that she wasn't able to race with us, she believed she would be back at it soon, but then I received another message telling me it was something rare, and serious. I couldn't believe it. When we did the race in Belize, our teammate Mark had an Aortic Dissection a week before the race and thankfully he survived, and now this. It was unbelievable! Jen was diagnosed with Benign Intercranial Hypertension...I've never heard of it, but anything with that long of a title has to be serious. Jen explained that she had a leak in her cerebral spinal fluid, the fluid around the spinal cord and the brain. They don't know how this happens, it just happens spontaneously. They tried to fix it with blood patch work, but her body didn't respond the way they had hoped. The next step for her is to see a specialist in mid May at Duke University, this guy is supposed to be the best of the best in this field, so we are all hoping that he can get her back to her badass racing self! We were really looking forward to racing with Jen. We had teamed up with her team in the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize, and we all had a lot of fun and good team dynamics. We'll just have to wait patiently for her to conquer this nasty and weird obstacle, we know she will! We wish her a speedy recovery! Please keep her in your thoughts.

So now that we knew Jen wasn't going to be able to race, we were down a teammate. We had signed up as a 3 person, and wanted to keep it that way to keep ourselves in the elite division. We called up our teammate Don Bart to see if he could step in at the last minute. He had been suffering a hip injury since the end of last year, and hadn't really run or biked since then. He did a couple runs within the past couple weeks with no pain, but that still didn't prove the injury was completely healed. With last minute scrambling of trying to get all his gear in order, he said YES! We were excited, it felt like we hadn't all raced together in forever, which was November of last year, so yes that qualifies as forever!

We left early Friday morning for our 12 hour drive. It actually didn't seem that long, since we made stops along the way and ate at a delicious smoked BBQ place in Kentucky. We thought our bikes might get stolen in the neighborhood we were parked in, but at least the food was delicious! When we arrived, we met up with our Tennessee AC/BDAR teammates, Brooke Manning, Ben Smith, and Josh Braun. We slumber partied it up in a decent sized cabin.Our plan for the race was to stay together throughout the entire race so we could have two navigators and work on team dynamics, and also for just plain fun! We ate some dinner, attended the pre race meeting where we received our maps, plotted our course, and went to bed with anticipation of the crazy terrain that awaited us.

Race Day
Prologue and O Section

The race began in the dark with a gunshot that scared the crap out of me! We all ran to an amphitheater in the park to plot a UTM coordinate on our map that was taped to the walls of the theater. The coordinate was to get us to our first CP, which was at the top of a hill. We scrambled up this hill along with other racers, we found it quickly, which was a good start to the race, so we were confident on finding the next few CPs in any order we pleased just as quickly, but then oh wait, here came CP2, or actually where was CP2? We were nowhere near it. Our mistake was not following signs that told us which way to go. We had seen a sign for the Prospector Trail, which was the trail we needed, but it was pointing in the wrong direction. After some debate, the decision was made to continue on a different trail, but as we started to hit elevation that was lower than what CP2 called for, we turned around and had to find a different way to attack it.
We finally hit a trail that took us to the base of Pinnacle Rock, which was where we needed to be. After losing about an hour, we finally hit the CP. It was frustrating but at least we found it! We then headed down to CP3, and when I say down I mean way way down! I was pretty much sliding down these slopes of death on my butt because they were so steep! Rocks were slipping down the slopes, people were drunkenly falling all over the place. We all made it down to the creek to CP3 without any injuries and then headed out to CP4. On our way to CP4, we had to cross a creek. Once again, this creek had some fast flowing water, so with the force of the flow, and the rocks being covered with mossy goo, it made for a slippery crossing. Ben was having problems with his foot, he suspected a hairline fracture from a previous injury, but with his trekking poles and determination, he didn't let that slow him down. We all crossed the creek but as Josh crossed, he lost footing on one of the goo infested rocks and fell right on his ass! It was a hard fall, I think I even heard his butt crunch! After such a hard fall, he had to take a minute or two to get back to gather himself. It really shook him up and he was in a lot of pain. This was a turning point for our race, and it wasn't a good one. I think the fall did more damage that one could see. We followed a trail to the road, and jogged the road to a river access launch. We heard that some teams attempted to side swipe their way along cliffs to the launch, but it was too treacherous and had to turn back and take the road. Luckily we didn't lose time there, we needed to make up time for CP2!

When we got to the creek, which we were told in the pre race meeting that the volunteer would show us how to cross it, we were told to cross it in a two person raft. This wasn't just a small little peaceful babbling brook, it looked more like a wide raging river to me! We all divided up into twos and headed across these angry waters. Eric was in the back of my boat and I was in front. I'm so short, you could barely see me in
the thing, and I could barely reach over the sides. I felt like my feet were in my face and the raft was really hard to steer! Good thing it was just a creek crossing and we didn't have to paddle for miles in this uncontrollable beast! We all made it across without dumping, and trekked our way to TA1.

TA1 to Bike

At TA1 we started transforming into our bike gear. Eric was going through his pack and found something that he didn't pack, a Hustler card with some naked chick on it!! We all pretty much died laughing! Judging
by the grooming of a certain southern body part, this card had to be from the 1970's! No one would fess up to who put it there so for now the culprit was a mystery. All Hustler aside, our next order of business was to ride to TA2, oh wait, did I say ride? I meant hike-a-bike. This hill, mountain, slope of death, whatever you want to call it, was so steep, there was no way anyone was riding up this thing! After some huffs, puffs, and grunts, we finally made it to TA2, where were transitioned back to our feet.

O Section

This section consisted of CP5 through 9, which we could attack in any order. We decided to go in a different order that we had originally planned which actually worked out better for us. Again the hills were absolutely ridiculous but we couldn't complain. We had been wanting to do a race with
ginormous hills, and we got what we asked for! We attacked CP5 with no problems, then headed west down a steep hill to a creek bed for CP7, we were spot on with that one too. We climbed out on a trail and took that trail until we found a reentrant, which we followed to get to CP9. We scurried around spur to get to CP8 and at this point Josh had to take a quick break because he wasn't feeling well, so we stopped to eat and drink. We decided not to snag CP6 since the terrain was ridiculous and would end up hurting us more than helping us. The race director told us later in the race that it was good one to skip! We then headed back to the TA to get back on our bikes.

Bike (Downhill Bomber....or so they say)

This section was called Downhill Bomber, which makes you think you'll be going where? Yep, down is what we would've guessed. Lies!! The name was totally deceiving. Apparently what must come down, must go up first. We rode and hiked our bikes up, and up, and more up until Brooke had to stop. Her bike suddenly
stopped shifting for no apparent reason. Everyone jumped on it immediately to find out what the hell was going on with this thing. Upon further inspection, we noticed her derailleur cable popped out. Surgery was performed and after about 15 minutes, it was adjusted, but she only had about half of her gears. At least it was her high gears so she could ride up hills, but on the flats her legs were flying out of control. She's a beast though, she could handle anything on a bike! We proceeded on to CP10 where Eric ran out of water. We filtered water out of a nearby creek, and it seemed like we set a trend because racers that were passing by stopped to do the same. Eric popped chloride tablets into his water which proved to be quicker that the Sawyer water filters bags. Only downside was he had to wait 30 minutes before he could drink the water, but he had a water bottle on his bike, so he was all good to go. Next time I'm just popping tablets, I can wait a half hour if it lessens the time of using a filter.

We hiked and biked on to CP11, and finally we were at the Downhill Bomber. As we rode down, I don't know if it was allergies, elevation, or motion sickness, but I started to feel really sick. My lungs and throat hurt, I felt a ton of pressure inside my head, and bouncing around on the gravel road wasn't helping. I had to slow down a bit, my balance felt off and I felt like I was going to puke. Thankfully my teammates waited for me, well I guess they had no choice, but when I finally made it down this bomber, all the symptoms went away, so I'm guessing it had to do with elevation. We eventually hit pavement which after all the gravel and hike a biking, pavement was glorious. As we rode to TA4, we passed by an outdoor honky tonk wedding. We were so tempted to crash it and ask for food, but we didn't want to waste any time. A hot dog would've been fantastic though!

TA4 - Paddle

When we arrived at the paddle section, we had a little pow wow to determine how many CPs we would attain on this leg. We all knew paddling is the slowest way to go, and there were CPs pretty far off, so we made the decision to get just one CP since we could probably get more on foot and bike in later sections. This pretty much ended up being the shortest paddle section ever in any race we've done, I think it was about 1 mile total! After our mini paddle we headed back out on our bikes. Brooke had to stop to use the Port-O-Potty, but when I looked over there, I saw her squatting behind the potty OUTSIDE of it! Apparently there was a poop explosion on the inside which made her gag. This is why I'd rather pee in the woods, it's much cleaner! After the poop splatter fiasco, we headed out on our bikes but stopped at a couple water pumps since some of us were out of water again. Heat and hills made us thirsty! Unfortunately the pumps weren't turned on, so we kept going to find water elsewhere.

Bike to TA6

We had a nasty climb up again, but it was on pavement so we could actually ride instead of hike a bike it. When it finally leveled out to a flat road (probably the only flat section of this race), we stopped at a house
where a guy was riding around on his tractor. He let us use his hose spigot to refill our bladders, what a lifesaver! As we rode on, Josh was having a hard time again, so Ben being the machine that he is, towed him. Don was also really strong at this point. For all the training he missed out on due to his hip, it didn't show. We regretted not putting a tow system on his bike, he would've been strong enough to trade off towing with Ben. At this point we were moving slow, but at least we were moving. As my teammate Don would say...Progress! During Josh's struggles, he kept pushing on which is hard to do when you feel like crap!

TA6 O section

There were 3 CPs for this section, one located on a hilltop, a rock outcropping, and a waterfall. We moved quick through this section, nailing each CP, and the waterfall was pretty sweet! When we got back to the TA, as I went in my pack to pull out a protein bar, I pulled out something else. A Hustler card!
So glad I wasn't left out on this prank! Actually it really was a great mood lifter, can't help but laugh at something like that! No one fessed up as to who did it yet, and we had no idea who it could've been. As we prepared to head out on our bikes again, we turned on our rear bike lights since it was starting to get dark. Well all of us except me. Mine just wouldn't turn on. I replaced the batteries but got nothing. Another team that was in the TA with us had the same problem, with the same exact light. I opted to use a glowstick that was required gear for the paddle section since this thing was totally dead, and I think the other girl did the same. Minutes later the light turned itself on. I'm convinced it was possessed.

Bike to Finish

We headed back to the park to snag a few CPs before the finish. We only had an hour and a half left, so we
were pressed for time. We made a mistake on CP25, passed the road we needed to be on and ended up at a campsite. Some lady with an RV offered us food and drinks, so Brooke grabbed a Pepsi and some Doritos. The lady even offered beer! I passed on the beer but that Pepsi was like drinking a can full of magic! While we stuffed our faces with happy treats, we figured out our mistake, turned around, headed back to the correct road and snagged the CP at the bridge. There were no special treats here, but a CP is just as satisfying! Next we snagged CP26 which was at a dam. We pondered getting another CP before heading to the finish, but Josh was struggling. He was really hurting but he was a trooper. Most people give up when they feel this awful, and even though he couldn't give his full potential, with the help of the team, he gave it all he had!  We decided against getting that last CP, not only was Josh struggling, it was getting dark, Don was having trouble with his light, and the CP was on a trail which meant we would've been moving slow. So the team came together and helped Josh tackle an uphill so we could finish this race. Here's a great example of teamwork at it's best...Ben took Josh's pack, Eric towed him, and Don pedaled along side him and pushed his back. We all rode to the finish and crossed the finish line, not as two separate teams, but as one. We went into this race with the mindset of staying together and working our our team dynamics, and I'm proud to say we did just that. We may not have won, but in my mind we came out winning because we all worked really well together and helped each other when we needed it. I'm proud to say I'm a part of this team that really cares about each other and can push through any struggle! Can't wait to race together again, I'm already missing my teammates! This was a well put on race, with 13,000ft of elevation gain, it was a super tough course! Thanks to the race directors and volunteers for a awesomely torturous race! Oh and I can't forget about those Hustler cards! Josh finally fessed up that it was him. He was the last person I would've suspected!!!