Adventure Racing 8:49:41  39.76 mi (13:19 / mi) +3288ft 12:21 / mi
Maine Summer AR with Brent and Tamela. Time is correct, distance doesn't include the first handful of miles on the paddle.
The race began on the water (kicked off by the Maine Sports Commissioner - nice to see government officials taking notice of adventure racing!) with a ~15 mile paddle from Boothbay Harbor up the Sheepscot River. With a three-person team and not a whole lot in the way of horse power, we had a hard time figuring out the ideal boat configuration. We ended up with me and Brent in the double, towing Tamela in the single. It wasn't ideal, and I think we all ended up working a lot harder that way, but it could have been worse. My biggest issue was comfort - still not sure whether it was a broken boat or user error, but my foot holds wouldn't stay in place, and without that anchor, I ended up with a really sore lower back and a pretty battered ass...
The Maine coastline is beautiful and this stretch was no exception. We made steady progress, thanks to the incoming tide, and were treated to rocky beaches, lush forests, and even a seal! Kate and Cliff were careful in their planning to make sure that we would have favorable tidal conditions. Unfortunately, one of the transport busses never showed up in the morning, so our start was delayed about 90 minutes, which affected the flow of the water a bit. Not terrible for us, since we reached the takeout just at high tide, but I imagine it was tough for teams behind us. We hit the transition roughly three hours into the race, 15 minutes behind Untamed. With their paddling efficiency, power, and two tandem boats, we expected them to be quite a bit further ahead of us, so we were pleased with our progress. There were two paddle points that required one team member to run for them, and Brent opted to swim across the channel bisecting the CPs instead of running back to a bridge crossing, which I think saved him several minutes. We made quick work of the TA, took the requisite 3D selfie, and headed into the woods for Leg 2, and 7-10 mile point-to-point trek that offered some nice route choice and off-trail options.
We knew that we'd have to be clean and efficient, and probably to have a few risks pay off, to have a shot in this race. The first risk came when we left the main artery trail that ran through this entire section and bushwhacked N/NW down a power cut to the road. It ended up being entirely runnable. We returned to the trail, grabbed the next CP, and then straight-lined to an optional point, using stone walls as benchmarks along the way. Then came our next decision -- we could either run trails north and east to the next point and then double-back along a sizeable marsh, or we could just head essentially due east, grab the point, and cross through the marsh. After a fair amount of back-and-forth, we ultimately decided to go for it. We bushwhacked to CP E and crossed paths with Untamed, who'd opted for the trails. We grabbed the point and were relieved to find a relatively dry meadow of chest-high grass. We made our way across, picked up the trail, and ran into the TA, surprised to find ourselves in the lead.
The next section was a small orienteering loop in the Dodge Point Preserve with six CPs. Brent's nav continued to be clean and we moved relatively efficiently through the CPs, enjoying a short swim across a pond in the NE corner of the loop. At one point, we came to another small marsh. We hesitated for a second, and then I turned to Brent and said, "let's just go!" We'd been chatting the night before about Britt's Breakdown exclamation of "Just go south. Get us off this f***ing mtn," and we all laughed as we crossed the (wetter but not impassable) marsh yelling, "just f***ing go!"
The heat started to take a toll toward the end of this section and our paced slowed on the final couple CPs. Untamed caught us on the second-to-last point, a hilltop, and by the time we made it down to the beach for the last CP, they were nowhere in sight. We reached the TA a few minutes later and continued down the road a few hundred meters to our bikes and saw them pulling out just as we arrived.
Kate and Cliff pay close attention to detail in their events, and so do their volunteers. This TA - where we'd dropped our bikes that morning - was in someone's front yard, and the family who lived there had put mini snickers bars on every single bike. It was a nice treat, and an incredibly sweet gesture that, in a moment when we were all wilting a little bit, lifted our spirits and gave us an extra boost as we rolled out of TA a minute later.
Leg 4 was a straightforward ~15 mile road ride to the Hidden Valley Nature Center. There were a handful of points along the way, at fun features like a fish ladder, a brewery, and an old cemetery. Our speed was more steady than fast as folks recovered from the heat, but everyone was feeling pretty good by the time we rolled into the HVNC and collected the map for the final mountain bike section. We let a little bit of air out of our tires, dropped our running shoes, and took off down the main trail. At first glance, it looked like the points were all along a clear loop, but en route to the second CP, Brent decided that it would be more efficient to double back and do and out-and-back for the last couple. Around that time, we crossed paths with Untamed, who had five minutes on us when we left the TA. We were pretty sure they had the win, so we congratulated them on the trail and continued on our way, riding hard through the final two points and pulling into the finish 10 minutes behind them for second place.
Overall, a really fun course with some great decision points, and we loved chasing Untamed around the woods all day. Thanks to those guys for pushing us, and to Strong Machine and the Midcoast Conservancy for another great race - can't wait for next year!