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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How the Race Went for an Actual Racer!

From competitor Doug Thaxon (with kind permission):

My bro and I just wanted to say thanks for an awesome experience with our First Adventure Race.  Your race was insane, and the All Out staff was so accommodating.  We also wanted to ask you to pass on a special thanks to the family that shared their private land with us.  It was pure joy riding/ trekking through that beautiful property.  I especially enjoyed seeing them hanging out and having family time at the pond area near the CP.  We felt so fortunate that they were willing to share with us, the MTB trails were just plain incredible.  Below is a recap I sent to our family and friends that supported us as we trained and prepared for the race…thought you might enjoy reading it too.    Best regards- Doug & Greg


Hey Friends- thought I would give you a condensed version of the race…It was unbelievable, literally.  I could probably give you a better description in person, but here goes.


We started at 6am Saturday with getting our maps, race rules and coordinates.  We were bused to an unknown location and dropped off to start the race around 7:30am.  We finished in 11:33 at roughly 6:45pm after covering around 60 miles on land and water.  We are really happy with our time considering that we were lost between checkpoint 3 & 4 for over an hour.  Timing wise, we were in the top end of our category and finished near some of the pro teams.  We did not get our race map, or know the race course until 6am race day.  We plotted our own race course to the Mandatory Checkpoints using UTM (a mapping/ coordinate method developed by the Army in the 1950’s) coordinates.  There were 4 mandatory checkpoints that had to be completed in order, then 8 checkpoints which were optional for more points.  We completed 8 total checkpoints including the ZIP LINE!  We felt it was mandatory to zip across the lake on a cable line; we were not disappointed.  The race began with a 13 mile trek which combined running, hiking, crawling and serious bushwhacking in areas where the trial was not maintained.  Because we go lost, the trekking took us longer than we had hoped, and did zap our energy and morale a bit.  However, we pulled together and backtracked a bit and found a game trail which showed signs of racer foot traffic.  We were able to blaze that trail off the mountain peak to our referenced trail on another mountain about a mile away.  We got back on track and progressed quickly to the final trekking check point and also picked up an adjacent mountain bike checkpoint after veering a slight loop in our path to pick it up on the way to CP4.  CP 4 was where they staged out bikes.  We had dropped them off at the main staging area (on Friday) at the Lake and they loaded them onto a trailer and dropped them off at CP4 which was out in the middle of nowhere.  We took some time to recuperate at checkpoint 4 where we were transitioning from Trekking to Mountain  Biking.  There we powered down Gatorades, PBJ sandwiches and my mom’s homemade cookies!  Most importantly we took Tecnu Baths, Tecnu is a soap that breaks down the oil from poison oak/ ivy…this was helpful as the trails were covered in poison oak.  At some points we were on hands and knees crawling down a mountain face and through groves of it.  Not for the faint at heart or those that are highly allergic to the oil.  At CP4 we also plotted the coordinates for the remaining checkpoints.  The mountain biking was fantastic and it was so nice to get off our tired dogs.  We put focused effort into foot care- changing socks frequently and ductaping the hot spots.  A large part of the MTB was on a private 14,000 acre cattle ranch/ winery.  We started the biking about 7 hours into the race and were feeling good about our energy and timing so elected to cut off about 6 miles of riding (and 2 checkpoints) to get a good start on the kayaking.  At Kayak transition we once again plotted our course and resupplied ourselves with hydration and nourishment.  They checkpoints for Kayak were spread out so we essentially paddled the entire lake twice by the time we went down and back.  We were able to stage hydration at two points, MTB and Kayak transitions.  Other than that, there were only two locations where the race had staged water for us…being responsible and largely on our own really raised the adventure element of this race.


The scenery was epic, some wildlife too.  We narrowly missed crossing paths with a bear at CP 3 and then we re-adjusted our course at one mountain ridge as a large cat was growling at us from a bushy area.  Something else we are taking away is a reconnection with our primal instincts, it was a very grounding experience.  My Bro and I had entered the race as a two person team and were planning to make a friendly rivalry with our buddies that came out from Utah.  In the beginning, Greg and I thought we wanted to move through the trekking a bit faster than Mark and Brian, and at that point we were ‘competing’.  Mark had a pre-race injury that slowed his normal game.  Greg and I knew our weakness was the orienteering and so we were intent on updating our map with where we were, and where we were headed.  Mark and Brian are far more experienced in navigation, and so they caught up with us several times.  The pacing of our two teams lined up about 3 hours into the race and at that point we decided as a group to continue together.  Getting lost at that final ridge top was a result of us herding and “following the pack” rather than making our own path.  We laughed later on about that particular experience because we learned at one of the pre-race clinics that following others is the most common mistake newbies make as you sort of put your head down and climb the mountain one foot after another.  In the end though, I am so glad we decided to band together… let me tell you, 4 minds were better than two when we needed to hunker down and blaze our own trail.  It was an awesome experience with my bro and buddies, and an incredible personal challenge.  I would do it again!


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