The drive out to Temple Bar was a good indication of how remote this race was going to be. Once you pass Hoover Dam, the only thing you see for the next 45 minutes is desert. At Temple Bar all you see is a campground, a few trailer hones, a launchramp, and a small marina. Our team name was "Baja and CA" consisting of Jacob Bencke, Devlin Rambo, and Mayte Aranalde.
At check-in we were told there would be 3 legs to the race. After each leg we would return to the TA for instructions on the next leg. The race was going to be a rogaine type event where the team with most CPs would win. Some CPs were mandatory, others were optional, you just had to make sure you finished within the cutoff time. The pre-race meeting would be held at 9:30am, we were to show up prepared to trek and swim for 3-5 hours.
Leg 1: The pre-race meeting was short, about 5 minutes. Then we were given a bearing and distance to the first CP where we would find our maps and next set of CPs. So off everyone went cross country through the desert for about 2.5 km until we got to a short swim that would take us to the island with the first CP. On the island we were given 4 optional CPs. One was a distance and bearing, the other 3 were UTMs. We plotted quickly and took off again. The first CP was only about 1 km away, but eluded us and about 6 other teams for about 20 minutes. We finally all gave up and went on. Turns out we were in the right place, and we found out later a burro (wild donkey) had chewed up the marker. The next 2 CPs were each about 1-2 km away, and required up to 1 km swim for one. One CP was submerged 6 feet under water on a shallow reef which was really cool. We saw Robert at one CP who reminded us that he hadn't intended for all the CPs to be retrieved, so the skipped the 4th CP and returned to the TA.
Leg 2: Upon return to the TA we got the next set of CPs. There were only 2 mandatory CPs which were all paddling portions. The paddling was about 24 km roundtrip. The 2nd CP was quite tough for many teams to find since it was hidden in a small cove, and with the water level being much lower than shown on the map the shoreline looked quite different than expected. There were also 13 optional CPs on this leg. All of these were spread out along the shorline and up to 3 km inland along the return leg of the kayak. 3 CPs were off the map, and worth double points. Our goal was to be back to the TA by midnight since we were estimating 12 hours for leg 3. We only went for 1 of the double point CPs thinking the other 2 might be tough to find, in hindsight we heard they were easy and we should have gotten them. We picked up several extra CPs on the way back to the TA. On the way back Devlin got sick and threw up. Back at the TA he dropped out and spent a fun night throwing up some more.
Leg 3: This leg was mostly mandatory, we had the option of selecting 6 of the 8 CPs. It was another 8 km roundtrip paddle to a cove where the trekking would begin. From there it was about 13km of trekking, and then the option to swim about 2km or coasteering for about 4km. We were getting started with this section about 1AM. The navigation had already been tough during the day since there were absolutely no trails, and at night it got even tougher under the partial moon. At about 2AM the moon set and it got pitch black until dawn around 5AM. Those 3 hours you could only see as far as your flashlight, and had to completely rely on you compass and estimating your pace. We skipped 2 trek CPs, and got to the swim section right at dawn. The shoreline was so step, and either rocky with loose rubble or knee deep mud, so we quickly gave up on trekking any further and settled in for a long swim. Finally back at the kayaks we headed for home.
We finished around 10AM, 2 hours before the cutoff. I had misread the Leg 3 instructions, and didn't realize that the 2 CPs that we were allowed to skip could be obtained for optional points. But the heat had really started picking up so being done early was nice. We ended up finishing about middle of the pack.
I would like to thank Robert and his crew for putting on such a fun race. The terrain was tough with no trails to follow. And the navigation was a real test, especially at night in complete darkness. For those people who are tired of racing in locations where trail names are posted at intersections, this is the race for you. I liked the format that Robert came up with which allowed all teams to finish, and top teams had many route options to choose from. My only recommendation would have been to switch Leg 2 and 3 so the most optional CPs could be obtained last, or provided us with the entire course info up front so we could have made a better route decision on Leg 2.
Here is a link to the photo's Robert took during the race.
http://picasaweb.google.com/kayaklakeme ... otoGallery