POCAR: “Between the path and the purple painted tree.”
POCAR, you don’t disappoint--I love and hate you all at the same time. . And, since I have been back, I have gone 90 to nothing so I am stealing a lot of narrative from ccmarie’s report on our team. I love the concept of this race, for sure. Not sure I could get anyone from Michigan to go back, but, I have to say, against all kinds of better judgment, I would.
Our team name was “I thought this was a 5k” and we won the best team name. There were 6 of us, Tizoc and ccmarie as nav, Scott was the mule, I served as captain/organizer and we had 2 that were new to overnight racing, Ed and Ross. There had been freezing rain for the start, then sleet and by the time we finished, snow. Starting temp was 30ish, and when we finished 18 with single digit wind chill.
Got our maps early and marked in the out of bounds areas and some trails. Opened our envelope at 10:15 and started plotting the CP for the N loop, which was ~1/3 of the course. We were told to stop at the N aid station at some point to pick up "something." Headed out with Tizoc and ccmarie as the navigators...and according them in hindsight, not the best choice. They realized that their working together was the equivalent of taking 2 decent navigators and making 1 terrible one. The navigation was a struggle the whole race. The rest of the team was great about it though, no one ever seemed frustrated. About half way through we hit the aid station and received a single extra CP, so we went out and grabbed that. However, when we returned to the start to turn in our punch card we were informed that we had missed 3 CPs. The volunteer at the aid station was to have informed us that there were FOUR extra CPs, each one leading to the next. Ugh. Back out the 3+ miles to that CP again to hit those 3 and then another 3 miles back on the road to the start (lost a couple hours here). And, when we ran back past the aid station that told us about the bonus and not the extra points, we smelled some wacky tobacky for sure! Actually finished the first loop at ~8:30 p.m.
As the team captain, I wish I had intervened on the nav…but bygones.
Next up was the W loop, which we did almost entirely in the dark. The first few points went fine, hit them without too much trouble.
After that it was rough going. One CP was missing, we lost around 1.5 hrs searching for that one. Also couldn't find one of the other CPs, we were pretty convinced it was placed wrong, but they said other teams had found it. We found one without a reflector, so maybe it was just really hard to see? We moved very slowly through the night. Navigation was still a struggle. It didn't help that very few of the CPs were in the plotted circles. And the clues were useless. Couldn’t help but laugh at some of the clues. Finished the loop at ~10:00 a.m.
Some of the clues were:
“By large pile of fallen trees”
“Through thicket then on side of hill”
“A bit on the side of the ridge”
“Down the side of the ridge”
“B/w the path and purple painted tree”
The final loop was a little different. 15 CPs with point values from 1-5 and you had to rack up a total of 15 points. Plus, we were told we had to wait to find out if L7 was also missing, because if it wasn’t, we had to go back for that. Later found out another team lost a couple of hours trying to find that one too. We were told the lead team finished in 4.5 hrs, and we did not want to be out Sunday evening with temps in the teens and wind chills sub zero. Given that we likely wouldn't finish the loop, and a couple of team members saying they wanted to get back to Michigan by evening, before dark we decided to call it quits.
All in all, I had a great time and learned a lot. It was totally worth it, and what a great group of people to go through it with.
Clothing review---Everything was a winner!
Head-skull cap and various buffs
Top: For the first 12 hours I work a silk base, Icebreaker merino short sleeve and the REI eVent shell (WORTH EVERY PENNNY), then added an 800 fill vest and later another merino
Bottom: (whole race) tri shorts, calf sleeves, Icebreaker merino base and REI mistral pants (WORTH EVERY PENNY)
Feet: Icebreaker run socks, Icebreaker ski socks, sealskinz waterproof submerge socks, Inov8 roc lite. I did change socks around 4a when we were at a particularly warm TA, but I could have gone the whole race without a change. I was running through streams with no issue.
Hands: Icebreaker Merino glove liners, Pearl Izumi lobster gloves.