Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nocturnal AR 2014

The original plan for this race was to race with Mojito's on Monday - Erik Wise and Jeanette Ciesla. He had recruited Jim Gorton and I to race, but a last minute injury took Erik out - and the team was whittled down to Jim and I.

The history of this race is simple - survive the incredible heat from the daylight portions and then survive the challenging night navigation. If you do both of those well, then you will do well in the race.

Trek - Leg 1


The race started with a roughly 8 mile trek to the boat TA. We started through the city of White Springs, eventually ending up on trails and dirt roads. I had spent a lot of time copying in roads from the "supplemental" maps that were available at the start table. Even though we were nearly the last team to enter the woods an get to CP1 I was not worried. A due east buswhack from CP1 across to the trail proved to be no faster than walking as we left CP1 with Jeff Leininger, went straight across, an ended up running to him at the trail heading to CP2.

At this point I had an option of cutting the corner - but Jeff convinced me to not do this as he knew the terrain near the waypoint where we took a bearing to CP2 was wide open. It was - and we quickly got CP2 and headed with Jeff and Hunter to CP3. We had caught a few teams looking for CP2 and b y the time we hit CP3 - we had about 5 teams near us.

Some of those teams went south at the intersection of R4 and R5 - we chose to go straight across on R4 and that actually put us ahead of quite a few teams. The right turn to R2 and the creek were pretty obvious and we made up even a bit more on the teams ahead of us. We made up even more time by turning North (near where CP7 - Paddle point) and taking the roads. We saw Nature Calls ahead of us taking the trail and came out in from of them at CP5. It was a short hike to the TA and the boats.

Results at TA1 - Trek Times
Northwest Florida AR 1:56
Team Hammer 1:55
Team America 2:05
Mojitos on Monday 2:05
Nature Calls 2:05

Paddle Leg1

The paddle leg was simply fun. The water was quite hot, which was sad since I was hoping that it would be a nice cool off from the heat of the trek. We easily ran the rapids at Big Shoals and avoided most of the other rocks. Big Shoals was a good rapid and we picked up a bit of water on the drop. The navigation was relatively simple and we had quite a few solid teams working together. We ended coming out of the water with Northwest AR and had a really good paddle time.

Results of Paddle
Mojitos on Monday 2:22
Endeavor 2:26
Nature Calls 224
Northwest Florida AR 2:28
Team Hammer 2:37

Bike Leg 1



This is where the race or at least the navigation got tough. The only trail mapped on the provided maps was the bike trails. The cutoffs, dirt roads, shortcuts, firebreaks, and foot trails all were not mapped. It started off bad. Even though we were the first team to reach the vicinity of CP11 - after 30 minutes of searching there was still no control and every other team in the race had by then caught up with us. I finally found it by bushwhacking to the river, figuring out my exact location and then using that to take a direct bearing and find the CP. We left the CP first (we found it first - though I suspect Northwest Florida AR had found it and snuck out). We took a wrong turn and ended up spending 30 minutes searching in the wrong place for CP12 before we discovered our error. By "we" I mean us and Team Hammer which were working together. After figuring out our error we quickly found CP12 and CP13. The trails near CP14 made no sense and seemed to have no relation to the map - so Team Hammer and our team planned to head to the road and then backtrack to CP14. Along the way we ran into Craig Sheriff who was leading Team Wet Feet - and the three of us found CP14.

By this time we knew the bike navigation was going to be a challenge. We continued on to the second part of the bike leg (down SR41 and into the next trailhead). We saw some teams heading back to the TA from the second leg - so we figured we were way behind the lead pack. The navigation on the second part of the bike leg was also challenging but by this time we were being meticulous. CP17 gave us some problems, but having 8 teams working together with Craig an I doing the primary navigation proved effective. Somehow we got off again an missed the turn to head towards CP18. This one was hard. I eventually found it by bushwhacking to the river, finding the 90 degree bend (E-W to N-S), going out to the trail from the unmapped foot trail - pacing out the distance on foot an finding the entrance we had missed earlier to the bike trails. Dustin and I (Dustin was sticking close) then ran back to where the teams were searching and we were all back on the track again. One more control and we were done. We went out to the road and cam in from the original trailhead to find it. We had them all - and it was then back to the TA.The only other items worth mentioning on this leg were the lightning storm and the torrential downpour that limited visibility to about 10 feet - hey, it's an adventure race! (we took over 2 hours more than Northwest AR to complete this leg!)

Results of Bike Leg 1
Northwest Florida AR 3:18
Endeavor 4:24
Nature Calls 4:57
Mojitos 5:27

Paddle Leg 2



Outside of the fog making visibility of the river challenging, this was really just an enjoying night paddle with no real issues on the navigation. I had no trouble finding any of the controls and we had decided to work with Team Hammer and Team Wet Feet.

Mojitos on Monday 1:48
Team Hammer 1:48
Wet Feet 1:48
Nature Calls 1:50
Endeavor 1:51
Chunk 1:55
Northwest Florida AR 2:37 

Trek Leg 2



This was the leg that I figured would make or break the race. Night foot navigation is my favorite thing - I love the challenge. I love looking for the subtle clues - it is just awesome. I had drawn in as much detail as I could from the supplemental maps to help make this as easy as possible. CP24 and CP25 were easy and we headed into the woods north of CP26 on the orange blaze trail. We found CP26, headed to the long E-W road, headed 1 km east to the road end, went in 100 meters and found CP27. This control hurt a lot of teams. We headed back west to the orange blazed trail where we had come out earlier and followed it south to CP29. From there we headed NE, bushwhacked across to the road (River Road). Finding CP 28 was a challenge - no obvious attack point, clue was center of open woods. Having a few teams to help us out worked out well, though somehow we lost both Team hammer and Team Wet Feet - and had to call them into the control (which took about 15 minutes) - but at this point I wanted us all together. CP30 was easy - and soon we were back at the TA.

Results
Northwest Florida AR 2:51
Mojitos (and others) 2:57

Bike Leg 2

By this time we kind of had the bike method done. We did get CP38 and then come back to the trailhead an went the other way towards CP31. I cannot say these were easy as they were not an following the bike trail at night was challenging. By the time we got to CP34 we had sunlight and also a group of teams following us (I think at one point 6 teams) - one it was light I was really enjoying the single track. We had no issues with nav at all after the sun was up - and were pretty sure we would have a decent finish as only Northwest Florida AR had left on this leg with all poins completed before us.

Results
Endeavor 1:57
Nature Calls 1:57
Mojitos, Wet Feet, Hammer 2:12
Northwest Florida AR 2:40

Conclusion

Only 4 teams cleared the course - and a lot of teams had issues with a single control that cost them placement. I was determined to clear this one - and having the ability to work with other teams did help. Congratulations to Northwest AR (with Rev3 navigation) on a great race. This was an incredibly fun race and it was great to feel good again after being sick at he Rogaine World Championship a week earlier.

Greg apologized for making the race navigation too hard - though I thought it was challenging, it was not undoable. It would have been nice to have a little more detail on the maps - but I was able to handle the lack of detail and as you can see I drew in a lot of roads and other trails.

Results at http://pangeaadventureracing.com/event-details/events/2014-nocturnal-challenge-ar 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

World Rogaine Championship 2014 - South Dakota

Here is a short analysis and recap of the 24 World Rogaine with some course info. I raced with Brian Thompson and Sean Butler - a great race team pairing.








Leg 1 -Shown on map is route choice (not exact) and time on each leg. We elected to go south, which had higher point controls, but a lower point density than the northern sections. A difficult choice since all the area is mapped as white, so any variations in terrain and runability are essentially hidden. We started with a pretty good pace and our navigation was pretty much spot on - though Brian did most of the front navigation during this section and I stayed back but kept a close eye on the map to avoid an big errors.

Leg 2 - This leg contained a very interesting long no road or trail section from 103 to 93, this was an interesting and enjoyable leg and did not pose any real navigation challenges. Our pace slowed slightly during this section - but much of that was due to terrain.

Leg 3 - The essentially flat and open terrain made the route through 74 pretty straightforward, and our time reflected that. I was starting to feel overheated with some stomach issues around 74, but was still able to keep the pace.

Leg 4 - It was on the approach to 92 that the bottom fell out for me. Brian and Sean were doing well and pushing the pace. By the time I got back to the road from 92 I was stumbling and ended up vomiting the contents of my stomach on the road north of 92. My physical condition reflected the pace from 92 to 81 and the fact that we skipped 56. At this point I wanted to get the team back to the hash house for recovery, but that was not an option as we were a solid 12K as the crow flies from the hash house - so we stuck with the original course plan skipping 56.

Leg 5 - I was essentially useless this leg, delirious and sick. I know I vomited again somewhere along here. It was dark and I was just following. I am not sure how Brian found 46, I do remember stopping a few times and then he gave a reassuring - "I know it is this way" and then I was punching the control. We never found 63 - I simply remember searching for a while and there being a lot of re-entrants. The team did let me rest here and I even think I slept for maybe 5-10 minutes. The total time from 46 to 106 was nearly 130 minutes. When we came out to the road at the stream road intersection - I felt better and even navigated the 106, which I did overshoot - but easily corrected from the backstop. The road section north and the water stop gave me even more recovery, but my strength was definitely near gone - and I had no food or water in my system.


Leg 6 - The potential climb(200 meters) to 48 was near impossible in my condition, so we re-routed and headed to 42 and 70. There was a little bit of debate as to route, but Brian mad some corrections and I was at least in good enough condition as the sun started to come up to actually navigate.

Leg 7 - Some good route choices by Brian and a bit easier terrain was helping my physical condition, though I really wanted to be done here - the team was supporting me well, carrying my pack and even getting some food into me. I had been able to hold down a 12 ounce water bottle, so I was a lot less dehydrated. Brian and Sean looked very strong and were keeping me moving.

Leg 8 - A lot of road here - which was good. I think Brian went down hard at 73, I heard something, but he was back up and moving as we left there. I wanted to contour around toward 104 from here - but we instead went down to the road. I did note some other teams did successfully contour this section. We attacked 104 across the saddle - and that was probably my favorite section. The entire course had deadfall, and it was bad here - but there was no point in complaining about something that was pervasive all through the course. After 82 I wanted to head back the the HH, but the team talked me into 61, 51 - which turned out to be a good call.





Final leg - We probably could have optimized this a bit better - but we managed to get 51, 32, 23 and make it back with plenty of time to spare.

Overall assessment - Brian and Sean both were physically stronger than me, and having that assessment at the start could have helped as we distributed the weight of food, water, and gear. The point density to the north was higher, and it possibly could have yielded more points had we started that way. But - I really liked Brian's strategy if hitting the high point controls - even if we did not get as many points overall, the high pointers were much more interesting legs - and added to the overall enjoyment of the race.

I would definitely do more Rogaine races - and overall the race was well organized. The maps did lack some details I think they could have had - especially with unmapped roads, which made some route choices a gamble. Brian and Sean were great team-mates, understanding and supportive when I was sick - but encouraging enough to keep me going.








Monday, July 28, 2014

Luminescent Adventure Race 2014

Not much to write here - the race went well, though we had to delay the start of the sport race until 2:30 AM as the elite teams were not in by 2 AM.

The elite race started with a 4 hour Rogaine paddle with 15 control points. No teams cleared all 15, but teams did visit all 15 controls. The luminescence was "insane" - with fish darting all over leaving trails through the water.

The sport teams had the same map - but only 2 hours. Not to make some elite teams feel bad - but one Sport team (Sheriff's Posse got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, and 15) got 8 controls in 2 hours. The best elite team got to 10 controls (Rainbows and Unicorns got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11)  in 4 hours - they were both using the same map.


After the paddle - the teams biked to the Grove TA picking up controls along the way. There they headed out on foot to do a trek. No teams cleared the trek/bike - in fact no teams cleared the trek. A lot of rain in recent days made it incredibly wet and challenging.



Results are at http://pangeaadventureracing.com/event-details/events/2014-luminescent-ar - Congratulations to Rainbows and Unicorns for their first major win. Congrats to Blood, Sweat, and Beers for a 3 minute race in the Sport division.

Some pics and video











See everyone next month at the Nocturnal Challenge - looking for another real challenge!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Twelve Points 2014

I put most of this into the video segment - so enjoy;


Also here are some pictures from the event and a little video





















And a Video of the "Rattlesnake"


Monday, July 07, 2014

Climbing Mount Rainier

Fun in Seattle

The Mount Rainier climb was for me combined with a family vacation in Seattle. We took maximum advantage of our time in Seattle, checking out all the local sights - taking a tour of the sound, going up the needle, going to the fish market - experiencing the city;








Paradise

After a few days in Seattle - it was time to head up to Paradise, the staging area for our climb. This is at 5000 feet and is (usually) a beautiful drive. Unfortunately it was mostly rainy and foggy and we really could not see much on the drive. Here are some pictures from after the climb after it was sunny.






Training

Once we got to Paradise the teams needed to train for alpine and glacial conditions. Besides learning how to work on a rope team we also got to toss ourselves down a steep snowfield and stop ourselves with an ice axe. There are 4 different ways to plunge down the ice field - head first, feet first, belly up, and belly down. The most disconcerting is to throw yourself backward (facing uphill jump backwards head first) - it is also the most fun. We practiced them all on and off rope, by the time we finished on the snow field I felt comfortable with our team ready for the climb.



Climbing to Muir Camp

The plan was to climb to Camp Muir (10,000 ft) and then summit (14,400 ft) the next day. We all underestimated the climb to the camp (nearly 1 mile up) - it was very UP.We trudged through the fog for about 5-6 hours and by the time we saw the camp we were ready to be done. Jeff and I found places in the bunk house at Muir Camp.


Climbing Day

The next morning teams started heading up the mountain at 10 PM, we finally got started up the mountain at 1 AM. Crossing the Cowlitz Glacier was pretty easy and the first real obstacle was Cathedral Rocks. These were just challenging wearing Crampons as there was some technical climbing in the rocks. After the Cathedral Rocks we crossed the Ingraham Glacier where we got our first look at some of the deep Crevasses, though we only had to go over one small one (we avoided the others). At the end of the Ingraham Glacier we started up the most intense part of the climb - Disappointment Cleaver. This mixture of rock and ice is very steep - and goes up for over 1000 feet. It was on the Cleaver I started feeling sick - though I concentrated extremely hard on keeping the progress up the cleaver moving - knowing that there is really no alternative.

At the top of the cleaver I knew I had Acute Mountain Sickness (and so did David - who had me bagged and tagged) - stuffed inside a bivy and tied down to a rock with a member from another team who was also suffering from AMS. This was some time between 4-5 AM.

I stayed there until I started feeling better after the sub came up and then ventured from the Bivy and talked with climbers passing through in both directions (the top of the Cleaver was pretty much grand central station of climbing). Around 10 AM I saw my team heading back down from the summit - there is really no technical climbing after the Cleaver - just snow field - so I could see them a long way out.

The trip back down the Cleaver was quite exciting - down is much more dangerous than up, and we could see the sheer drops and crevasses we did not see in the dark. We also took a slightly exciting route - with a glisade down a hand rope that nearly gave Jeff and Dave a heart attack.

It was still a long way down (hours) - but the more altitude I lost, the better I felt. After reaching Muir - the Muir snow field was a lot of fun going down and we slid on our butts for much of it. I would say Glisade, but that assumes you are under control.








We finally finished and had a large dinner and reminisced about the climb and the adventure. And of course - started planning the next one.