Desert Rage Temecula
Feb 23, 2008
New format, new fun, full field, first place. We almost hit the jackpot and came in first in the 4-man division at Desert Rage Temecula, but alas Team Equinox was not 4-man and Rick was very apologetic at not knowing the name Mayte is feminine. So we settled for a place somewhere in the mixed division. But we were not worried, the podium is not our aim, our goal is to have fun, race hard and do well by our standards. This was a very good race for our team; Mayte Aranalde, Victor Escobar, his young son Ramon and myself. We raced stronger than we expected, nailed all the navigation, had a great team effort and we had fun doing it, so it was a successful race for us.
Ramon, Barrie, Mayte and Victor somewhere between B7 and B9 – thanks to Ann Hall
The new format was basically three short ROGAIN events in a row. From an organizational view-point it is good to keep track of contestants, because they have limited time on each section to grab checkpoints and get back to the start / finish / transition area. I personally liked the format because between disciplines you possibly had a chance to chat with other contestants before blasting off on the next section of the race. Also, everyone was at the finish to cheer the winners.
A full field of 80 contestants in solo, 2, 3 and 4 person divisions started with maps being given out as soon as you reported to registration. Registration began about 6:30 and the race started promptly at 7 AM. So those who were organized had almost 30 minutes to look at the map which had pre-plotted points for Bike, Paddle and Trek. There were 10 bike checkpoints, 5 paddle checkpoints and we were unsure about the number of trek checkpoints as T8 was missing from the map but there was a T9. It’s good to have a guessing game to keep you on edge. The pre-race meeting revealed there was simply no T8. What we had on the map was all we were given.
Strategy for this race was on knowing your teams ability, how fast could you travel for each discipline, knowing how to read the map, deciding not just the route but the elevation changes, and puzzling together a sequence to get checkpoints. Each CP was worth the same value so if you were unsure you could get all points you had to decide which you might skip, the one fartherest away, or the one up the top of the high hill.
We had 3 hours (7 AM to 10 AM) to do the bike. Get as many points as possible and be back to the finish area or loose 1 point for each minute late. If you were back earlier your got to stop the clock, it gave you more rest time and you could strategize for the paddling which began at 10:15 AM. The paddle was 90 minutes. Then at 12 noon we would start the trekking section and everyone would be done by 3 PM. The team with the most checkpoints wins. When teams have the same number of checkpoints then the fastest accumulated time wins.
Sounds simple. How would you have proceeded?
Below is a map with the points plotted and the roads drawn in. As in all races, not all roads are on the map and some roads on the map may not exist, so it was not really as easy as the map might have it appear (besides, in order for you to read the map I enhanced the trails, they were not that easy to read on the given map – or the extra maps we took).
(click for larger view) http://www.zdap.com/racereports/images05a/racemap_arr31.jpg
With little time before the start, our team looked at the bike points, quickly figured we would be unlikely to get all points in 3 hours and had to choose what to skip. As most of the points were west of the TA we figured if we skipped any there and found we had time to spare it would be impossible to go back for them, so we decided we had to get those first. B5 was way around the lake, B2 was out there compared to the other CP’s and B4 or B10 were equally out of the way (but we could get one of them). Our consideration took into account B4 was potentially on-the-way to B2.
Hence, our route choice was B10 (because it was uphill at the start with all our pre-race excitement and high energy), then downhill and all the way around to B1. From there we took the dirt road uphill to B3 then it was mostly downhill the rest of the bike. We do things as a team so our majority-vote selection from B3 was to stay on roads to B7. A consideration was to go out the ridge and bushwhack down to B6 then to B7. From B7 we back-tracked a little to have our photo taken (thanks to Ann Hall who was working and keeping an eye on people), then we took the ridge trail to B9, continued down the ridge and rode up the wash to B8. There we turned around and stayed on the relatively flat lower loop to get B6. There were many choices for B6, 7, 8 and 9 and we were attempting to keep the climbing to a minimum, thinking we could ride faster on flat ground, even if the route was a bit longer.
Heading back to the TA we had ample time to get B4 once we found a trail not marked on the map up to the ridge. With good encouragement from Karen Lundgren and Paul Romero who were also working the course, we rode up the hills best we could. From B4 we continued east to Butterfield Valley. We had 30 minutes left when we got to the main road. Now time, distance, and our abilities were all put on a scale. Do we go for it, don’t we? Our best guess to get B2 and return to the TA would be 30-35 minutes. We would be tight on time to get the checkpoint, and could loose many points if we were late. Unanimously and quickly we elected to skip B2 and returned to the TA to finish the bike in 2 hrs 37 minutes. B5 was too far away for our abilities.
With the paddle not starting till 10:15 we had time to double check our course for the paddle, ensure we had all the required gear packed and refuel while also chatting to those in the TA. We got to watch other teams return, we listened to stories of how they agonized about going or not going for a checkpoint. And that made it very interesting. The rumors were that nobody got B5 and very few teams attempted B2, so we were buoyant in our effort.
For the paddle it looked as if we could get all five points based on our boat speed. But to be sure we elected to go to P1, P4, P5 and P2, then look at our time to decide if we could get P3 or not. We had two double kayaks and paddled well getting all checkpoints in 1 hour 07 minutes. So again we had time to strategize for the navigationally challenging trek section.
I’m not a runner, Mayte and Ramon are the runners, but this is a team race so I was unsure if we could get all 8 checkpoints. Hence our strategy was to get the two off-trail checkpoints T5 and T7 first, then use the roads to get T4, T1 and T3. We did well finding the first two checkpoints using the map and observing other teams to go reasonably directly to the markers. The next three checkpoints were a foot-race and we walked, jogged and ran off and on all the way to T3.
After T3 we had cross-country or road options to T9. We had already looked at the possibility of crossing the creek from T3 and go up the hill to T9 when we did the bike section and we got a second view on the way to the T3 flag. Cross country looked inviting so the fun began. After T3 we went south about 100 meters and scrambled down a hill to cross the creek (waist or ankle deep, depending where you crossed). We wanted to stay dry so found the shallow crossing then climbed to a relatively flat area and took a ridge up to two peaks where T9 was on the northern one. We did well hiking cross country and pushed forward at a good pace. From T9 our plan was to go down the SE ridge to the road and head for T2. But at T9 we noted the connecting ridge north to B10, which meant we never lost elevation (so never had to climb back up), so we went north to the road about B10, then used roads to get to T2.
What roads you ask? There is no road on the map to T2. True. But when we biked up to B10 we came to an intersection that showed a road along the side of the hill toward T2, and while on the bike at B10 we took time to look over the cliff at the location of T2 and saw how it all connected. This is why we enjoyed this race, there were many opportunities to think ahead while racing and it paid off for us.
As we approached the finish after T2 we had an hour to go. We were jogging more than usual and our calculations of time were shattered to our benefit, so we headed for T6 knowing we would be able to comfortably get all trek checkpoints. Thank you to Kayak Lake Mead and Feed the Machine for telling us to stay on the roads as the field crossing was tough trekking, and thank you also to the Sun Dawgz for making us run the final 500 meters (amazing how quick you can go with a team 50 meters behind you). We finished the run in 2 hrs 36 minutes, for a total race time of about 6 hrs 20 minutes, missing only 2 checkpoints on the bike section.
Congratulations to the winners of the race, as well as all racers who got out there and participated. We enjoyed the new format and look forward to it again.
Team Equinox figures we did about 17 miles on the bike, 6 miles on the paddle and 11 miles on the trek. We had LOTS of fun and are looking forward to Desert Rage in the Laguna Mountains, May 17. We cannot be at the Desert Rage March 29, hopefully we will be finishing Baja Travesia about that time.
As always, a huge thank you to Rick Eastman for putting these races on, and his cast of volunteers and friends. It is always good to see Kim, Ann, Paul and Karen and the consummate crew of Ray, Carl and King Richard. I believe the volunteers also included Ed Pudjayana, Chip Whiteside and Marty Golightly’s wife. And, thanks to another Paul who was EMT for the day. If there are workers I have not mentioned, thank you also. We as racers are always thankful for the work and volunteerism that goes into these events.
To show our appreciation we invite all of you to come to a small (if a 10 hour race is small) event we have planned for March 15 in San Diego. If you are interested please go to http://www.baadventures.com/eventM1.html to learn more. This is a free race. There will be a beginners clinic to teach plotting of UTM’s before the race as you will need to plot checkpoints while racing. There will be knowledgeable workers at each plotting location to assist if needed.