This weekend was a quick trip to Mexico for an adventure race hosted by Equinox.
The trip down from San Diego was a little longer than the expected 2.5 hours at a whopping 6 hours!!! Seems like a lot of people head to Mexico on Saturday morning...
The little village of La Bufadora was a welcome surprise and we quickly got into vacation mode - a nice nap, walk along the pier, a beer or two, and THE best churros ever!!
Coming here with friends makes the experience something to share and stories unfolded into the night...with the promise of the next day filling all with anticipation.
So race day morning arrives and now the test starts...did we pack everything we needed? I did have a list in packing (learnt from not doing this before) which meant we had all stuff in car.
But I didn't have a 'race day pack' list. And no transition points to leave stuff - so take all that you need. Very hard to do when you don't know the landscape.
- Will it be hot or bloody hot (so more water)?
- Will it have steep uphills on hike (so take poles)?
- Will you need shoes for the kayak section (or just go barefoot or make do with wet running shoes)?
These things matter because of weight. Carrying a pack that has 1 pound of weight you didn't need can add probably 15 minutes to a short race. And carrying poles or tying shoes on the bag make it harder for manoeuvrability...biking through a bush and getting poles caught is NOT fun!
So we spent too long thinking and missed the kids race. Darn - as we heard good stories about the water balloons.
Race time was coming up and we made our way to the debrief. It was in Spanish and I don't speak a word except for 'cerveza'. Barrie saw our looks of terror and produced a map and instructions in English. Hooray!!!
Standard adventure race with the 4 disciplines - kayak, hike/run, mountain bike, and orienteering. I should really add food and mental attitude as additional disciplines because they can make or break you. We tried adventure racing 4 years ago but our communication and mental attitude was to yell at each other the whole time...not fun or successful!
Race time approached and we set up bikes near the beach and walked down the stairs to the kayak. Bangers (other team member of our bangers and mash team) quickly thought that kayaking without socks would save our feet in running in wet socks and we raced to take these off. Back to the kayak and got set off into the wave breaks with the help of the crew. Made our way to the start line where 19 teams jostled in their kayaks ranging from first timers to seasoned vets.
3 - 2 - 1 and we are off!! I started us off with a successful technique of singing the pace. Make a song that calls the numbers and some bad rhyming and off we go.
Ocean swells were quite high so had to adjust for this on the route by not keeping too close to the shore. We saw seals and jellyfish making the paddle more entertaining. Got to the cove where the checkpoint was and set the kayak ashore. Sent Bangers running up the hill to get the checkpoint.
Paddled back with even higher swells and managed a safe landing.
Transition to hike...except Equinox added a little twist. Bike to the transition point to start you hike. So 2x shoe changes. At least we had dry socks (good call Bangers!)
We were #7 in kayak so as I looked for our bike route I scanned the landscape for others. Nothing. So we started on our way but just could not find the route I was aiming for. Frustration alert!!! Found a break in a fence and took that and back on the route we needed. Phew!!
Arrived at transition. Deja vu for the shoe change. Consulted my map again and told team mate what to expect - communication is vital so team knows what to expect, can keep a lookout, and has confidence that on the right path. So I stated "we'll hug the ocean along a ridge line" and we head off. But 3 other teams turn up the hill and no-one goes the ridge line path.
Navigator dilemma - did I make the wrong choice? Do they know something I don't? A hard call to make - but I was confident in my choice and off we went. Bingo!!
The hike was not on a 'path' and was actually like hiking up a cliff. Yes, a 1 mile uphill cliff scramble. Except a cliff would have rocks and this was just loose gravel with cacti and bush. Slow and steady...and don't look down!!
Good tip from other was to use a branch from old cactus as a stick. Much better but it took a good 45 mins to get up that cliff. At the top was a friendly gringo smiling with a glass of water. Love ya Burt!!
Picked up checkpoint and back to transition. Biking again. Was not really looking forward to this as woefully out of practice on the bike. And I'm still trying to build up my confidence.
So we chose a path and hike-biked our way to the first checkpoint. Time was not looking in our favor with 1.5 hours left to do 4 checkpoints. We knew we could get 2 and had to choose whether to go for a 3rd. The 3rd of course would be far far away in another galaxy ... But hey if you've travelled this far for a race, then make the most of it.
So another hill climb on the hike-a-bike adventure (seeing a theme yet on this leg?) and we at least have some flat to ride on. We play a continuous game of 'hey we've seen you before" to 2 teams of Mexicans. They look like they know what they are doing (ok I lied here but it makes me feel better - and they did have fancy matching jerseys). We choose the easier of the 2 checkpoints and head back towards the water. It's now 2:40 and we are meant to be back by 3pm. Uuurrrggh not even sure we will get back in time let alone get that extra checkpoint we wanted.
Choice??? Some races will disqualify you if you miss the time so we headed back. And Barrie smiles at the finish and says "I don't even have a watch on"....Just another day in Mexico!!!
Thanks to Barrie, Steve, and Victor from Team Equinox for another fun filled adventure race. See ya next year!