Adventure Racing 7:59:43  41.0 mi (11:42 / mi)
shoes: Topo Terraventure 2 (Yellow -
Wildlands Adventure Challenge - Strong Machine with Amanda and Rick. A wonderful race to celebrate my 50th AR!
Driving 9.5 hrs (each way) for an 8 hr race would be crazy in any other year, but 2020 has been crazy. The team composition was settled in the month prior, and we also chose to race on Saturday. The team list for Sunday was more competitive, so we knew that we would have to push ourselves in order to win overall for the two days. Finally, I had decided to let Rick take the lead on the nav, to avoid having a debate about who should do it.
Pre-race involved getting maps and seeing the course laid out. It would begin with a fun little score-o. There were multiple points worth values from 2, 4, 10, and 14, and teams received 3 CPs for totaling 24 points. Following that would be a paddle, with 5 points spread over 11-12km. Then we would have a bike towards a remote TA where we would receive a trekking map, and then would bike back to the finish while gathering some final CPs. The first 3 legs seems simple, while the last looked to be physically challenging as we would have to drop bikes and hit 3 summits on foot. We were expecting the trek to be rather physical. We decided as a team that I would nav the bike legs to help Rick out physically, and that he would take the treks.
Our race began at 8:08, taking off at a fast pace on foot to start the prologue. Both Rick and I had maps for this section, as were given a supplemental trail map. I took the lead in getting the three points, but we had some miscommunication that led to a few minutes of sub-optimal route choice. No bother - we flew into TA and took off in the canoes as fast as possible. I took the solo kayak while Amanda and Rick took the tandem so that Rick could nav. We hit CPs 1-5 in order, with a road run to get 5 from 4. After seeing the results of Sunday's race, it looks like we could have saved 5-10 minutes by using a pipeline trail connecting the two, but it looked rather sketchy to us pre-race. We powered back through a heinous crosswind into TA about 1:45 into the race. I was getting a bit tired of paddling was very happy to be done; I had just fallen behind after taking the lead for most of the leg. We TA'd quickly before heading up the hill to our bikes in the parking lot behind the fish hatchery. Another quick TA got us onto our bikes, but not before I took a ridiculous fall at zero-speed in the parking lot (a literal, slow-motion, tip over sideways). This was a sign of things to come for me.
As soon as we began the bike leg, our speed for the day revealed itself. Before Amanda and I could even get sorted into a proper paceline, Rick was off the back - he was regretting his choice to go the Acadia for the secret race the day prior. I towed him most of the way out to Hothole, with a short stop for CP6. I didn't hit it perfectly, but looking at other teams' tracks it was much smoother than most. Once we got off of Rt. 1, I also flubbed CP7 but not looking at the map well enough and instead finding CP21. We had written the word down on the passport before I realized the gaffe. CP7 was incredibly easy to find once I realized my error. I took my time from there getting us smoothly to the campground that served as TA2. There were 2 sets of bikes in before us, but we knew that they were short-course teams. We skipped water refills and got moving quickly, with Rick back on the map.
We took off quickly, grabbing 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 in order, taking about 90 minutes to cover that ground. By the time we reached 13, I had run out of water and taken more falls than I could count. Not sure if it was the dehydration, but my feet we getting stuck on everything. Both knees were bloodied and I had opened a nasty wound on the palm of my left hand that I was holding together with a spare buff. Not sure if 13 was mishung or if the altimeters were off, but it took some hunting to get to it correctly. Once we did, we set about on a rough bushwhack of 700+ ft to the top of Great Pond Mountain, which held CP 16. Rick had really started to struggle again, falling further and further behind. Fortunately, Amanda and I found a "trail" that led most of the way to the top of the mountain, which we reached right at the arbitrary cutoff that I had imposed. We descended to 15 and then 14, hitting them with Joe and Jeff before taking off on a run back towards the TA. We arrived having taken 3:14, which was more than I was hoping. I desperately needed water (we didn't bring BeFree filters, instead taking drops to save on weight...) and the TA jug was nearly out. We took a few minutes to fill up before I took the lead again on the final bike leg that led us back towards Rt. 1. Before the trek I had estimated that we would need approximately 2 hours to clear this section; we left with about 1:55 left. I also took a peak at the end of the leg, and decided that if we had 20 minutes left when we got to Rt. 1 that we would be able to finish on time, and that 15 would be cutting it close.
It became quickly clear that Rick was blasted - stupid Acadia. Amanda and I rode slowly and I towed on every possible section of road/trail, but he was not having fun. Fortunately, most of the on-bike climbing was at the beginning. We dropped our bikes and hiked up for 17, where we ran into Jeff and Kasia who had their BIKES up on the summit - so wild considering the terrain. We ran back down and headed to 18, which involved some biking on technical hiking trails. Super slow moving but kind of fun. By the time that we got 18, I was looking hard at the clock to see if we could still grab all of the CPs. Rick was very honest in that he wasn't going to be able to give much more than he was currently, so I began to budget that into our plan. By the time we got to 19 (with a slight miscue finding the best turnoff) and returned to our bikes, I think the inevitable became apparent. Every "thing" that I budgeted time for was just taking a little too long. Those few minutes here and there had added up. With only 40 minutes left, I broke the news to the team that we needed to bail out on 20 and head home. If we moved efficiently, there might be time to "legally" get 21. Again, we moved as quickly as possible, but the flats and ups were slow. I was getting tired from the towing, but Amanda still had lots of energy. We dropped our bikes and began running in to get 21. We only had 18 minutes left - gulp. I even yelled ahead to Amanda to come back, but she didn't hear me. When she turned around after spotting the flag, I took off quickly back to the bike to find Rick (very anxiously) telling me that we had to go. I waited at the bikes just long enough to see Amanda emerge from the woods. She would have to catch up on her own; I needed to get moving if I had to pull Rick back. We got back onto Rt. 1 with about 12 mins left! My big ring did lots of work on the ride back, and we helped tremendously by a long downhill. I kept looking back to find Amanda hunched fully over the bars grinding in her hardest gear, about 75m back. At the turn onto Hatchery Rd. towards the finish, I slowed up just long enough to make sure that she was coming along. Back to grinding. We hit the final descent into the finish, and I caught a far-out glimpse of it with only 60 seconds left. Amanda was still behind, but she was close enough to make it. Rick sped ahead, I waited in the parking lot, and we cruised in together with only 17 seconds left before losing CPs! The ride back was a real Hail Mary considering the distance and time, but it felt so good to have finished. Rick and Amanda were laying on the ground before I even stopped my bike - it was that hard.
In retrospect, had we dropped 19 but gotten 20 we would have finished with the same score but ~10 minutes faster - oh well, it didn't effect placing. The next day Untamed (all male) finished with more than 30 minutes left. They were much faster; the cooler temps on Sunday would have been helpful! Untamed also looks to have out ~30 minutes into us on the trek by going directly from 9 to 11 and getting 10 on the way back home. The mid-week results revealed that we finished in 2nd overall, beating Tom, Evan, and Matt Hayes by just 2 minutes (same number of CPs). Joe and Jeff were next but were 2 CPs back, and Thorin got the same number of CPs but lost 2 due to lateness.
Super fun race - Kate and Cliff outdid themselves with the course. Would have been nice to extend my AR winning streak (who gets to say that?), but I'll shut my mouth and accept it. Looking forward to many more races with this great team!