I LOVE BAJA, I LOVE EXTREME!
from Barrie Adsett
Tired but elated is how I finished the Baja Xtreme 8 Hr. I crossed
the finish line in 7 hours 15 minutes, almost 45 minutes behind first
place. But the first place guy is a pro mountain biker, who told me
afterwards that he trains full time 6 days a week, so he left all of
us in the dust. Second through sixth finished within 7 minutes of
each other, so it was a close race. The last team finished in about
12 hours, but all teams which started did make it to the finish line.
This was by far the physically toughest race I have done. It was
challenging with rough trails for the biking, steep up-hills and
steep down-hills (some you had to walk). Part of the trek section
was 5 miles in a beautiful canyon with 600 foot sheer rock walls. No
trail to follow, just find your way over the huge boulders and head
The race started with a "rustic canoe". As a solo entrant I was
given 3 inner tubes, one piece of plywood and some string. The 3-
person teams had 6 inner tubes. When the "GO" was given we built our
craft and used an aluminum pole to propel us across the lagoon and
back (like a Venice Gondola). This was loads of fun and lots of
laughter to start the race. But it was also tough as steering was
not easy and 45 minutes of pushing the pole was very hard.
A short uphill took us to the bike transition where you had to carry
all your running and rappelling gear. We biked about 12 miles
passing through 2 checkpoints on our way to the next TA. Most of the
bike was uphill onto a plateau between the coast and the free road
from La Mision to Ensenada. My legs screamed on this section as the
road was never flat and you peddled fast on short down hills then
hard on the longer up hills. Their "tracks" are actually rancher
roads which were very rough and seldom traveled. The "single track"
sections were cow paths which were even rougher.
From the second TA we hiked about 2 Km to the rappel. I was passed
by a number of teams at the rappel, as I should have stayed in line
before putting on my harness. The rappel was slow with just one
person at a time on the ropes. They were very safety conscious and
that added to the delay. I was 6 th to that point but dropped about
5 places as I put on the harness then got in line. We rappelled
about 100 ft and then had to climb out of that canyon back to the
start of the rappel. We then climbed 300 feet up a steep cliff and
500 feet down the other side into the big canyon. The down was just
as steep as the uphill scramble and I slid most of it on my butt.
The canyon was awesome. It is hard to describe the beauty and just
as hard to describe how tough it was working my way along it. We had
to cross the river a number of times, which was not deep, but was
muddy, so you got knee deep wet. I also had to backtrack many times
as I got into impassable situations. After exiting the canyon proper
you kept following the creek to a CP where they showed us a small
trail to climb 600 feet back up to the plateau and the next bike
section transition. The organizers had moved the bikes for us.
We then had a single track where I had to hike-a-bike the first part
as it was too rough for my abilities. But then it opened up for 5
miles of reasonably easy biking to the orienteering section.
The orienteering was sort of simple if you knew how to read a map.
It was a triangle where we had to get just 2 controls. From start to
A was about 1 mile in a straight line, A to B was about 1 Km and B
back to the start was about another mile. The first control was on a
trail marked on the map, the second control was 100m off the trail
where it made a sharp turn. Before we started the race I had a
strategy for this leg from the overall map, and when they gave us a
blow-up map it was easy.
I thought it was very well planned. We were upstream of a creek
which flowed into a small lake with a dam. Control A was due west of
the dam and just 300m from the dam. Most contestants went from the
start and tried to navigate directly to the control, but the
bushwhacking they had to do gave them lots of error. I did a dog-leg
route and followed the lake shore to the dam then turned due west.
The bush was much thinner and it made navigation really easy. I hit
the trail about 20 feet away from the control. Control B was south
of A. Without even thinking of distance or direction I went down the
trail till it had the sharp turn and then bushwhacked for 100m
directly to the control (they were placed exactly as they were marked
on the map). From there you simply headed back to the start.
The problem the organizers had was that when you got to Control A it
was marked as B. Most contestants (who were new to AR) thought they
were at B so headed north looking for A. Since I was convinced I was
at A, (despite the control number) I turned south and found B (which
was marked as A). I was bummed that they threw out this leg as it
was my best (in fact I later learned I was fastest on the O course)
and it dropped me from a medal. But the overall event was so
fantastic, this small glitch was insignificant.
From the orienteering you rode the bike another 4 miles to the
finish. They had a super steep downhill for most of the last mile,
on a nasty trail with cactus all around. I had to walk and got a
puncture while carrying the bike when the wheel hit a cactus. I
pulled out the thorn and was lucky enough that it held air to be able
to ride the last 500m from the bottom of the hill to the finish line.
Some bruises and lots of fatigue, but I would definitely go back to
their next event. This was classed as a beginner race with the
course (except orienteering) being marked with ribbons and chalk
lines when you needed to make major turns. The race started at 9 AM
so it was all in daylight except the last teams who finished in the
dark. They had 25 x 3 person teams and 5 solos. The total distance
was only about 35 miles, but they were tough miles over true
They are hoping to put on a 24 hour race in August (looking for
sponsors) and already have plans for their second 12 hour race in
November. The organizers put a lot of work into this course and it
showed. The maps were great, the organization ran smoothly, they had
paramedics around the course and it was a class event. It seemed all
of the workers spoke English so I was never at any disadvantage. It
helped being the only non-Mexican in the event as everyone was super
helpful to me and made sure I had all the info I needed.
I hope others will travel south of the border for future races. This
race was just 45 miles down the coast. The 12 hour race is in the
pine dotted high country east of Ensenada, which is just 60 miles
south. For more information look at http://www.bajaxtreme.com (they
are working more on the English side of the site, but it will take
more entries to make it worth their while). If you read Spanish that
side of their site has loads of information.