East fork challenge 12 hr - 2 coed with ccmarie as Topo the Mountain
5AM check in for maps. Race was split into 2 parts. Part 1 was checkpoints 1-21, obtain in any order and with any mode of transport you want. Part 2 was singletrack and had to be done after Part 1, checkpoints 22-28. Everything optional.
We decided I was going to nav this time so I can improve on USGS and improve naving in a team setting for potential longer racers in the future.
1.5 hours to strategize and boy did we bomb the strategy. Our minds said to stick to our strengths - foot and bike versus paddle. But the race was really set up to a paddle race, so forcing a non-paddle strategy was not a good idea. This became apparent a few hours in, but it was too late at that point.
The basic plan was to grab the points that had to be done by boat early before the wind picked up, then go get the rest on foot and bike. Headed to the E part of the lake to get 13, which was pretty much boat only. Made our way back towards the start, pulling off to grab 9, and then headed up to 7, where we parked the boat. Hit 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 mostly jogging trails, mostly pretty clean. Big fail #1 was decided to get 5 from 12, which was a long long way. The trails in the park were not easy running, lots of horse trails with very muddy sections, some ups and downs, and it was a LONG way, but fit with the strategy of minimizing paddling. From 12 to 5 and back to the boat took 1:45, instead of probably 20-30 min just going back to the boat. Also, went out 2 wrong spurs looking for 5, which shot my confidence and really messed with me.
Once back at the boat we headed to the island, grabbed 6, and then back to start area to drop the boat. Headed E on bikes dropping the bike to do short treks to 21, 22, 19, 18 and 17. This part went pretty well, but it was backtracking along the area we had already canoed along to go to 13. 17 was a long way in and out, and was pretty thick for parts of it. Biked to the end of the road, and dropped bikes to hit 16, 15, 14. This took an hour each way and was a ton of walking. Wasnt able to run much of this due to fatigue. And mentally we were pretty upset, because at this point it was very clear we had made a bad plan and were probably going to have to start thinking about skipping stuff.
Once back at the bikes headed back, passed the start and single track to hit up 4 points on the W side of the lake. Accidently passed the turn to 1, so we skipped and kept going to 2. Biking over the dam was beautiful, and something I bet no one else got to do! Got 2, which was right on the water, all the way down the hill, and it was clear we did not have time to continue on to 3 and 4, which was a bit more biking and hten 2 decent length treks. Headed back to get 1, but we were tight on time and it was a long trek too (again right on the water), so we skipped it.
We hopped on the single track with an hour and a half to hit these 7 points. Started off pretty well, having fun bombing around. The trails were single track wide, but could be traveled in either direction, and lots of people with the 6 and 12 hour people all on at the same time, so it was some stop and go. Had a good map of the single track, and the punches were all right on the trail so just had to make the right turns. At about the half way point i started to bonk HARD. I had kept up electrolytes well, but not fuel, hadnt eaten in a couple hours and couldnt convince myself too. Started taking frequent stops to sit and rest, and the time was eating away. No really good bail points eithers. Fell a couple times, and then endo'd on a sharp down-up, scaring syd. Luckily it didnt hurt at all. I was able to push through to the finish and get all the points but felt pretty terrible. Just a few minutes to spare in the end.
Our strategy just killed us, shouldnt have tried to force a strategy so different from what was clearly intended by the RD. I think we could have cleared it by hitting 1-5 and 14-15 by boat, and then doing 17-21 by bike/foot as we did. Knownig a little about the park would definitely help for future planning.
Was good with electrolytes and water and didnt experience any cramping, but bad on fuel which led to a really rough last hour. If I can just get both in one race I should be good to go.
Nav went pretty well, a couple annoying mistakes mostly getting used to USGS and relying on confusing trails over features. Syd said she'd let me try again, so thats a good sign. Mostly upset with our strategy, but live and learn. Would definitely go back if we are still in the area, we have unfinished business at East Fork SP! Top 3 teams cleared, we hit 25/28.
Note: one gps jump from 19-16