Adventure Racing race 11:45:00  50.0 mi (14:06 / mi)
My 1-year adventure racing anniversary, after getting hooked at the 5hr Two Rivers AR last year.
Had a rough start to the morning. Slapped on some long-expired BodyGlide, got dressed, and headed out the door. Realized I was slowly catching fire. Managed to wash most of it off - perhaps I have an allergy to exercise?
Saw a nice buck, a fox hunting from the road, and some sort of weasel (fisher?) on the drive to registration in the dark. Managed to plan the first bike, the paddle, and the urban foot-O on the bus ride to the start. Winged it for everything beyond that.
Ran with the front of the pack at the start, after hearing Brent's "stay on the road!" Had a laugh when we looked over and saw the main group passing us through the field on the right. Took my time at the bike transition, and still managed to fumble the nav to M1. Got on a picnic trail heading back toward the start, but quickly recovered and the majority of the rest of the bike section went smoothly. Loved the fast, flowy trails with lots of little jumps. Didn't realize there was a culvert under the road on the way out, but found it on the return. Was planning to go out and back from D3 to D2 and then on to M2 to finish. Misread the dashed trails on the descent to D2 and ended up at the bottom of the hill, looping south and climbing again for a 1.5 mile detour. Oops.
Had a fast road descent into the paddling transition area, and was about to scream in across the grass through the wooden posts along the driveway when I realized there was a steel cable strung between them.
Threw on some neoprene bottoms just in case I needed to get out of the kayak during the paddle. Hopped in the boat and got swept upstream a bit by the tide while I fought with the back band of the kayak seat. I had my pack wedged in behind the seat, so I went without food or water for the duration of the paddle.
Entering the lagoon at A, I eyeballed a bearing of about 60 degrees left of my current course, and followed that. Saw a bunch of canoes way out ahead, looking into various channels. Got lucky and checked out a bit of orange flagging a few feet right of my heading. That was the only sign of A I ever saw. My pen was unreachable in my pack, so I repeated "S-words" (stupid, swamp, soaked were the ones that came to mind) for the remainder of the paddle until I could write it down.
When I got to the main inlet before D, the tide had finally turned and was now rushing out with enough force that I stayed on the river and went up the small channel leading north into D. Was pleased to find another channel heading straight for the Dupont Center, and that went smoothly until I had to limbo under the flow control dam to get over to the boardwalk. I don't think the T/A volunteers were prepared to see teams emerging from the marsh covered in phragmites.
Having skipped the cemetery points at last year's race, I wasn't too disappointed to hear that we'd all be skipping them this year. I had already planned to skip the outlying points on the urban course and maximize my time in the woods. The urban foot-O went smoothly, excepting the unfortunate placement of a Christmas wreath over one of the clues.
Paired up with a 3M team as we entered the First State bike section, and things went smoothly through AA and CC. We got on a parallel trail on the climb up to BB, and eventually split up with them going south. I backtracked and climbed north, and eventually we both found it. I continued NE and descended along the field edge, where a mis-communication with a couple of walkers about an open gate put me into a horse pen. I sheepishly made it out to the road and the rest of the bike section went off without a hitch.
I rolled into the final T/A around 4:30, and was surprised to see so many bikes there already. In hindsight, I should have sat there for a bit and planned out a strategy for the night-O while it was still light out. By the time I hit the covered bridge, I needed an extra layer and a light. I thrashed around a bit, trying to come up with a new plan, because I'd originally planned to skip 1-9 and 11-5 and just do the stuff surrounding the farmhouse. But now I had an extra 90 minutes, and besides, the trail going north was on the east side of the Brandywine.
I set off up the trail, using my bike bar light in hopes of saving my headlamp for later. My light was way to bright to read the map without blinding myself. As I approached 12, I met up with another solo, Mark, and we overran 12 and spent some time confused before realizing we needed to climb to reach the chapel. After that first miss, things settled down and we worked together for the remainder of the race.
14, the "ditch", had us fighting the thorns and mucking around for a while, but Mark found it and we were off to 30, and from there to the infamous water tank atop the hill. That was fun - the acoustics in the tank were surreal. The swamp at 24 was good for some more wet feet, and from there we picked off the remaining points within striking distance and headed back to the barn with 15 minutes to spare.