The weather seemed perfect as Team Not Dead Yet (NDY) headed north up the turnpike towards Hawk Mountain to check in for the Krista Griesacker Memorial Adventure Race. Team NDY consists of Joe and Lisa Harold, a husband and wife team that has been racing together since 2002. Bright, puffy clouds floated through the sky as we arrived in the area and did some last minute gear shopping at Cabela’s. We arrived at Blue Rocks Campground and set up the camp before heading to the Civil Air Patrol School to check in.
We found the school, did our check ins, plotted our CPs and explored the area a little before the dinner and race meeting. As the sun was setting we drove over the mountain to do some final familiarization before heading to our campsite and trying to get some sleep before the race stated.
We were up early the next morning, getting some high-energy breakfast. As I was cleaning up and loading the last of the gear in the van, I heard some rain drops tapping on the tree leaves up above. I appeared that there was going to be a wet start to the race, which we are kind of used to.
We got to the school and claimed our TA space. We got everything ready and picked up our orienteering maps. There was a light drizzle as Bill shouted, “GO!” at around 0709.
The first part of the race was a 2 mile run up the road to get some spread to the racers. We took our normal comfortable place near the back of the pack. After the run we went straight into the orienteering phase, which was four controls in a relatively small area. The first two controls were found pretty easily, but when we tried an overland route to hit CP3 about 600 meters away, we ran into a little trouble. We eventually decided to get our bearings and found CP4 first before taking a back course to CP 3.
With the orienteering done, it was time for the obstacle course. We were a little worn out by then and each of us needed a little help getting most of the obstacles done. But we did get them done and headed back to the TA to get on the bikes and head up and over the mountain.
Our bike leg started off as expected. We came across a team that had a member with problems, just as a race van came upon them. The remaining members continued on as a two-person team and swiftly overtook us and moved up the mountain. Lisa at this time was starting to experience some leg cramps. We continue to try everything we can to prevent this, from bananas to electrolyte caps, but she seems to always suffer from them. But Lisa is a trooper and she continued on as we approached the top of the mountain and headed down. This was about three hours into the race by now. Over the mountain and down to CP 5 was pretty easy.
Now we headed up into the hills again on fire roads. We headed up and decided to take the creek trail to CP7. This turned out to be a very rocky single track with lots of downed trees blocking the trail. We got through it ok though and hit CP7. At this point we decided to go to CP8 next as the rest of the route would be rather easy after that. The trail to CP8 was all up. We walked most of the way and passed lots of teams coming down the trail and also a couple passed us as we went up. We hit CP 8 and headed towards CP 9 at the fire tower. This route had some decent down hill and not too hard steady up hill. We arrived at the gate at CP8 and took a little break. Bill Sr. gave us some water to replenish our water bottles as the rain had stopped and the sun was popping out now and again to heat up the place. At this point I could see that Lisa was starting to get her second wind. She was pedaling faster and longer now, as we headed to CPs 10 and 6 to finish this portion of the race. The down hill from CP6 to CP11 was rather scary with loose gravel skittered under our tires as we tried to keep control of our bikes and get down the road to the CP11/TA.
As we arrived at the CP11/TA there were four other teams hanging out. We were informed that we were waiting for canoes and would be given a time credit for our wait. We used the time to replenish our energy stores and take a little rest.
Two canoes arrived and the first two teams were on their way. Then three more arrived and the rest of us were off. We had to portage the canoe and our bikes down the road to the canoe put in, which was at the bottom of a 30-foot steep hill. Lisa experienced a new sensation as her hand was cramping into an Ozzy Osbourne devil salute each time we would put down the canoe to change arms. We got to the water, threw the bikes into the canoe, tied them down and headed down stream.
What an experience! The water was so low, that we had to walk half the way towing our canoe. At least we had a little less weight with only two bikes, but as we kept exiting and entering the canoe, we started filling the inside of the canoe with river water. The bailer came in handy when we had the time to use it, but it was really hard getting down the river to the take out. It took us a little over two and a half hours to get down the river and we arrived at the pull out about 8 ½ hours into the race. We had passed a team of three and were not too far behind the other team that started with us. It was approaching 4 pm and we were worried about making the cutoff at the rappel and ascend up at the Pulpit, but we were informed that even though we wouldn’t make the cut off for doing the full course, the Pulpit was going to remain open until 7pm.
So with somewhat brightened spirits and being very thankful to be off that rock filled trickle they called a river, we headed over to CP13 on our bikes using local roads. This was a nice easy ride with just a few hills and Lisa had definitely gotten her third wind as I struggled to keep up with her.
We arrived at CP13 and handed off our bikes to the race crew. We replenished our water one more time in preparation for the trek (walk) up cardiac hill. This thing was straight up and reminded me of doing the Bright Angle Trail in the Grand Canyon on our honeymoon some 17 years ago. We pushed on and before long, we were at the top and gearing up to do the rappel and ascend. The rappel was no problem, but I had a fun time coming back up. My ascend technique needs some work, but I man handled myself up and Lisa went down and up like a pro.
We could see what would been CP16 for us down the mountainside and were a little thankful that weren’t going down there. As we were finishing up the rock ride, we could hear thunder booming in the distance. As we were the last team to do the rappel, since the team behind us decided to call it quits after the canoe, the crew quickly dismantled their set up and closed down the CP.
It was a little after 6 pm now. We had been racing for about 11 hours. We headed down the road again and cut over to a trail by the reservoir. The wind had kicked up and the thunder was closer and as we headed for the woods, you could see and hear the downpour approaching us. The rain swooped down the hillside and engulfed us. The cool rain actually felt nice as it refreshed us. We headed up the trail and headed towards the AT. We passed CP17 on the way and punched it for fun even though we were technically on an alternate course, which was taking us straight from CP 15 to the finish.
At the AT we took a short break after we crossed it and headed into the woods for the trip down the mountain. At first it seemed rather easy to follow the trampled trails of all the other teams that had come before us. This trail lasted about 100 meters or so and then was gone. At this point I took a very rough bearing from where we were to the finish and started following that bearing. I would find out that I had been VERY rough and should have taken the time to be a little more accurate. However as gravity was our actual bearing control, we headed down the side of the mountain, over slippery rocks, eating spider webs and their ugly surprises and getting eaten by horse flies every time we would stop to check the map.
After following the bearing for a while, it was starting to get dark. 7 pm came and went and we were still heading down hill. At this time I decided to start following the contour and forget the bearing. This turned out to be a good choice, as I started to get uneasy and upset that we may be missing the school and would eventually hit the road and have to back track some.
But luck would prevail as we were getting to almost flat terrain and I was following another imagined trail, I spotted a bit of plane wreckage that I remembered from our orienteering stage. At this point it was a breeze. We shuffled into the finish right around 8 pm. Just a little less than 13 hours total. With our time credit at CP11 our final race time was 12 hours and 34 minutes. We were listed as third place (out of four) in the 2-person co-ed division.
We scarfed down some luke warm hot dogs that tasted like heaven and headed back to our campsite for a restful sleep before heading back to Philly the next day.
This was a very nice race. Challenging, but doable, even for us slow folk. Great job Bill, Anne and the whole GOALS crew!
Team Not Dead Yet
Joe and Lisa Harold