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National College Sprint Series AR #1 - Adventure

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Natural Bridge, Virginia
United States
Odyssey Adventure Racing
23F / -5C
Total Time = 7h 59m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Post race
Event comments:

Ah What a day……where do I start? The race literally started the day before. We each scheduled to leave work around lunch so we could beat the 4 day weekend crowd out of town. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Butch was pulled into a meeting and we didn’t leave the area until 6pm. The race meeting was from 5-830 on Friday night. Problem: we were 5 hours from the race. So leaving at 6pm we hit only a little traffic on the way and ended up getting to the area at 11:30pm. We went right to the hotel and were asleep by 12:15.

Wake up call was 415am. The race was 30 minutes from the hotel so we go up, ready to go and were on the road by 430am. We got to the Boy Scout camp at 5am (where it was -5 degrees) and found the HQ where there were about 12 or so people sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor or tables. We chatted with a race volunteer who was awake and he informed us the race start was pushed back to 7am instead of 6am. (Good for us!)

When the race coordinator woke up a few minutes later he supplied us with our maps (which we would have gotten the night before had we arrived then). We copied down the check points indicated and he told us a few of the rules that he talked about the night before. After this we headed to the truck to look over the map and read some directions. There were 2 check points deleted on the course since they were out on a lake (CP3 and 4).

It was hard to determine what to wear since it was in the single digits when the race was to start. Something Butch told me was if you are warm standing still in what you are wearing, then you have too many clothes on. I am NOT a fan of cold weather anymore so I wore a pair of Under Armor tights and turtle neck, a thick pair of cycling pants, cycling booties, a wicking shirt, a thermal shirt, a fleece pull over, my Columbia jacket (with the liner), an ear head band along with a fleece hat and bike helmet. And I was still COLD….

The race started at 7am sharp. There were 12 Sprint teams and multiple 30 hour teams. The sprint teams started on the Mt Bikes and the 30 hour teams were on foot. Since you had to get each check point in order everyone followed each other, which was actually a good thing since we had no idea where we were going. The HQ was at the Boy Scout cafeteria building. There was at least a dozen small buildings surrounding the HQ and many paths and trails also and since it was dark and we hadn’t even seen the lay of the land in the light we had no idea where to go. So it was really a blessing that we were able to follow the crowd.

The first mile was dreadful. Our fingers froze, no one’s bikes shifted, breaks were frozen, and my eyes water in the cold so my eye lashes froze to my face. We stopped at the top at the top of the first hill so I could take some clothes off. With a fleece hat and head band along with my bike helmet I was having issues breathing. It was dreadful. My nose was running worse than I had ever seen. (FYI my nose is raw meat today). There were many hills that were un-ride-able and everyone was off their bike pushing them up the hill. By the time we reached CP1 I was spent and we were only 45 minutes into the race (ugh). CP1 had a fire built and everyone tried to warm their water bottles up since they had frozen on the way up to include all camel backs! We had a GU each and shared a cliff bar. At this point I shucked my jacket and started to feel better. We were at CP1 for about 5-8 minutes and then headed back on the trail.

There was a steep decent which was difficult since we were lacking breaks and my watery eyes made it hard to see anything. So we literally bombed the hill. At the “T” we went left which was more downhill. This however was COMPLETE rocks and difficult to maneuver. But we were a good distance ahead of the rest of the pack. This trail was AWESOME. This was a single track mostly, but LOTS of little streams to cross. We were a good distance between a couple groups so we weren’t pressured to ‘move out’ although we did. With frozen steams to cross we made a smart decision to walk across them. Butch would cross, I would hand him the bikes, than he would help me cross. There were SO MANY STREAMS! One of the bigger ones was half frozen half not. We opted to cross over to the left where there were some big rocks. As we were passing our bikes over we heard a 3 man team behind us barreling down the path. The first guy crossed over at the thick ice part. The second guy was half ice half water and slipped but put his foot in. Guy number 3….bad news. He hit the ice slipped sideways and landed with half his body in the water. He was soaked. It wasn’t more than 10 degrees out. He got up and they carried on. When we met up with them a few miles later his clothes had frozen to him. At CP2 which was just up ahead we met up with them again and he was trembling. He tried to take his shoes and socks off and his clothing has completely frozen.

We left CP2 and after more GU and granola bars. At this point I separated my outer shell jacket with from the inner fleece to help with the wind off the lake. We were biking on a town road with the river to our left and with horrible winds off the water. Check Point 5 was at a Volunteer Fire Dept at the top of a huge hill. From there we proceeded back to HQ. This was a huge endeavor and the longest length of the bike so far. As we were plummeting down a massive hill (and seeing the huge climb on the other side) we saw the road we need to the right at the last minute. This was the road into the camp, all dirt roads and not too many hills. Needless to say I was done. Spent and tired. I had the worst time getting up the smallest hills. At the end, less than a half mile from HQ we were climbing a small hill and I stood up to get out of my saddle and I fell hard on my left side. My legs were so stiff and must have locked up. Good thing no one saw. Once I got up we road into CP6 and changed out gear into running/trekking stuff.

Butch eliminated almost all the gear from my bag and put only necessary and/or mandatory items, in his. It felt good to move different muscles. Problem…we didn’t know where to go to get to the first trail. CP7 was only a mile away but we couldn’t find the start. After 30-45 minutes of wandering and running circles around the camp area we finally found an “in”. We saw more racers including a team that was coming out of the woods. One of the guys asked us if we were looking for the “Sidewinder” trail and pointed us in the right directions. We started on the trail, which lead us to a fire road, which than lead us to CP7. The problem was that we thought we were on “Charcoal” trail. So off the fire road we saw the trail for Charcoal. We were about a quarter mile from CP7 and as we shuffled down the path we made a team decision to take Charcoal back to camp. Had we read the topographical map correctly we would have seen that we were climbing to the very top of the mountain just to go down the steep back side. Something we didn’t see (and everyone else must have) was that Sidewinder trail went around the mountain and not over it. Going over it was a shorter distance but much tougher.

On this trail is when I started to slow down, fast. I wasn’t paying attention to my nutrition and Butch was. He stopped with me to get out a granola bar and a GU. My mood changed instantly. It’s amazing how fast instant calories can change your mood and demeanor.

Once we got back to camp we headed to CP8. The final Check Point before we were done. And we had 2 hours to spare! After looking at the map I found a bridge that was close to the camp and close to the next trail. When we got to the other side of the water it was almost a maze to find the ‘right’ trail. We went back and forth for a few minutes then stopped. We looked at the map and realized that from where we were at the trail was a quarter of a mile ‘up’ the side of this hill/mountain (literally). So instead of wasting time going back and forth again we decided to go up. And up it was. We could really only go a few steps at a time. Then we had to stop and catch our breath. I was nervous to look behind me in case I slipped. We eventually found the trail and we were going up some more. We followed the trail with the “white square” marked on the trees. We ran into another team who we had passed earlier but who had ended up passing us up when we opted to go over the hill instead of around it. They told us the CP was just ahead and they continued to run down the road.

Something we talked about was that each CP was on a road, either a fire road or a city road. And our assumption was correct. What we failed to realize was that this was the only CP not manned. It was a self punch type of CP. Once we punched we were OUT! We ran down the road instead of rolling down the steep hill. We ran up on a couple of dudes. At the split in the road we turned left (to go to the bridge) and they went right. We crossed the bridge and headed up the stairs only to realize we were passing TWO teams…both sets of guys who we had just ran into on the trail!

We finished the official trail at 2:15pm. There was a bonus trail with an orienteering map. We had to quickly copy down the close points we thought we could get to in 45 minutes. The first one was across a small lake. We punched in successfully and headed to CP2. From the looks of the map it was off Sidewinder trail again. Since we knew exactly where the trail was we headed out. But we ran and ran and ran. We decided that if we didn’t find the check point by 2:45 we would head back. By 2:50 we still hadn’t found the CP so we started back to camp. We were 15 minutes out and 10 minutes to go. We made it back in 9 minute and finished with one bonus point. Once we got back to camp we were told that Sidewinder was marked incorrectly on the map and had we been there the night before for the race meeting, we would have known that.

The race coordinator and Odyssey supplied pulled pork, sandwiches, bananas, chips, coke and hot chocolate. We sat around for about 30 minute and tried to warm our bones. By 3:45 we were packing the truck up and getting ready to head home.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-12-01 12:00 AM
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-01-21 9:11 PM

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Nevada City with my BABY!
Subject: National College Sprint Series AR #1

2009-01-21 9:36 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Grass Valley
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
Great race report!  I really enjoyed the race and look forward to doing some more together in the future. 
2009-01-22 9:06 AM
in reply to: #1921519

Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1

Wow!  I would have been no good in that kind of weather.  You guys rock!!

There are a couple of adventure races here in the south Houston area that I am still trying to talk the man into, well see!

Great job!

2009-01-22 2:39 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Lacey, Washington
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
Holy cow does that sound extreme or what...all the cold, eyelashes freezing to your face, streams two are hard core! Hope it was fun!! Way to beat the elements as they tried to beat you!
2009-01-22 5:37 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Reston, VA
Gold member
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
Great work, kids! You two are crazy!
2009-01-22 8:52 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Herndon VA
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1

Great report!  That sounded like one hard race.  You two are tough as nails.


2009-01-23 9:49 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Pasadena, Maryland
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
I second the crazy. WOW sounds like something I would have enjoyed dong thirty years ago but not now. Enjoyed the report, way to go.
2009-01-23 10:34 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Bellingham, Washington
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1

Wow, sounds rough and tough just like you two.... but fun in a testing way.


2009-01-24 11:45 AM
in reply to: #1921519

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Fort Collins, CO
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
way to finish strong . . . and continue on for a bonus point(should have been 2). 
2009-01-24 9:34 PM
in reply to: #1921519

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Olney, MD
Subject: RE: National College Sprint Series AR #1
Wow, nice job out there in the cold   Great race report!
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