Monday, September 14, 2009

SMAC 2009 10 hour

John and I signed up for the SMAC 10 hour race as team Sparty On. This will be the longest race for John. He was a bit unsure of what would happen to him after 6 hours, his previous longest race. We had high hopes for this race.

The start sent everyone down to a lake shore where Paul was waiting. We took a slightly longer route, but were there close to the leaders. Due to the cold conditions, Paul removed the relay swim across the lake and has team relay run around the shore to the CP on the far side. John went first. He did well and upon his return, told me it was very clear as to where to find the CP. I headed out with my bike shoes. It wasn't far, so no need to change and waste time. Like John said, it was easy. I passed several other runners to make it back to Paul near the top of the pack. Upon return, Paul gave us the next map and we were back on the bikes. A fast ride to the canoe put-in had us on the heels of the leaders. The paddle was through a swampy river, upstream, to find four CPs around a lake. The first CP was right on the water and easy to see. We overshot the second CP and had to back track through some tall grass. We followed another team to the next two CPs and we back our trip back down stream to the take-out. We were well within sight of the team ahead of us and would see them around every bend. But then they were gone. I could not figure how they could have gained so much distance on us. We paddled around a couple bends then hit a long straight away. There was no way they gained that much distance. We turned around to see if we missed the turn to the take-out. When we saw what we thought looked familiar, we turned around again and paddled back. We then realized we must have missed the take-out and headed back upstream. As we rounded the bend by what we thought was a familiar area, we saw another team making the turn to the take-out. Arrggg, plenty of time and energy lost. We came off the river near the back of the pack. A quick TA and back on the bikes. With a small nav error, we rode and extra couple miles before we hit the single track. A bike-whack on the horse trail got us to the first CP and the single track riding. We made good time and passed a couple teams. All turns were clear and we were able to finish the single track in good time. There was an option of pushing the bikes along trails or riding roads back to the central TA. We rode, it was probably about even in terms of time. Back at the central TA, we dropped the bikes and donned our trekking gear. A review of the O-course map showed 41 CPs. That's a lot and the map looked like a shotgun blast. They were everywhere. I quick laid out a rough plan and we were off and running. We hit the first few very fast. The 1:10,000 map scale was nice. I could even find the rocks that were indicated on the map. We were ticking them off very efficiently. It wasn't perfect, but mistakes were quickly corrected. I would get us close then send John to punch the passport. It became a game to tell John to fetch the CP like a good hunting dog. As the day wore on, we weren't sure if we would have time to get all the CPs. The lost 45 minutes in the canoe truly hurt us. After the ropes course, a cargo net and long zip line, we decided to skip the farthest two CPs. We looped around the O-course knocking off all the CPs. Even the one on the island. I had to wade hip deep through the swamp to reach it while John kept a watchful eye on me. After getting our last CP, we ran to the finish. We indicated we were done and our time of 9 hours was entered into the computer. John pulled out the passport and noticed we had more than just the two CPs missing. There were two more we had missed. Looking at the map, we saw they were only about 100 yards from where we stood. However, since our time had been entered, we were done. That mistake only cost us one position in the final rankings, but it steams me make such a dumb mistake. Note to self: check passport before finishing. It was a great day out in the woods, and John realized that he can go longer than 6 hours. We finished 6th overall, but can only dream how we might have done without the canoe error and missed CPs...


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