On Saturday, July 23rd the second TRIOBA got off to a fast paced start as 50 teams split into two directions to find their first checkpoint and a set of UTM coordinates. Jen and Rick Jerabek from the Gregg’s Fat Tire Race Team entered as a 2 person co-ed team with goals of a top 10 finish and to have a fun day out in the woods.
After getting a passport and a set of instructions five minutes before the start, they divided up, Jen headed up into the deep and dark Snoqualmie railroad tunnel and Rick navigated his way to an “island” near Kachees Lake. Once back at the transition area, they suited up for a quick run to the kayak section. When they hit the water they put their recent kayak training skills to the test and navigated their little yellow Sevylor Tahiti as straight as an arrow – not an easy task! At one point, the water was so low they had to walk it through some mud, but they were soon back in the water and finished up the kayak leg respectably with the front of the pack. Once exiting the water and dropping off the boat, they decided to plot their UTM’s for the remainder of the course, instead of doing it back at the sure-to-be-crowded transition area. This turned out to be a good strategy, giving them a short break before running back to switch out to the bikes.
The Gregg’s team did a quick transition and were off on their bikes down the Iron Horse Trail for a 3-mile cruise to a seemingly easy to find checkpoint – the elusive checkpoint 6. This checkpoint turned out to be incorrectly marked on the map based on the UTM’s the racers were given. Rick and Jen were shocked that so many teams were searching for it and were absolutely determined to locate it. Jen was disappointed at some of the comments being made about the race directors. “A few teams were grumbling and complaining that this was a total waste of their time and training and that it wasn’t fair that the checkpoint was misplaced. Get over it kids! This is part of adventure racing… sure it was by no means planned and the race directors are probably silently kicking themselves. But don’t you think that it was a true test of your team problem-solving skills?”
After Jen found CP6, they were off for a grind up fire roads with Rick offering an occasional tow. They talked about their disappointment of the time it took to find the last CP and how surprised they were to see so many of the top teams still searching. They decided it was their “mulligan CP” and focused their energy on picking up the pace and making up some of time they had lost. They finished up the bike section as quickly as they could, making good time on the fast paced down hill section. Once at the transition area, they loaded up on water as it was getting warm and the trekking section appeared to be a bit “dehydrating”. They headed out and up around Lost Lake, each getting stung by three bees. Montrail passed them mid-way up the climb, giving them a team to chase. On the descent, they saw team Tecate making their way back up and congratulated them on finding CP6 so early. Rick did a few quick calculations about how far back they were and realized they could still make up some spots if they could pick up the pace on the trek. Jen set the pace on the descent and they talked about a route choice for the return. Rick said, “I think we can make up some time if we hit the PCT on the way back.” Jen agreed, “ Yeah, let’s cut out the steep descent and the chance of getting stung again and go for it.” They headed back to the junction, hit the PCT and ran the remainder of the trek, with a few quick stops to cool off in the creeks.
The last bike section was the one that the race directors had warned everyone about at the pre-race meeting – steep rocky descents where they mentioned it may be better to walk. Rick and Jen chose to bike most of it, with the exception of a short steep climb including an interestingly placed log, which teams hurled their bikes over. On the descent, the Gregg’s team caught up with many other teams and took the opportunity to pass them when they could. They made their way down around Hyak and back to the transition area, wondering what the last “mystery” section entailed. After getting the map and seeing other teams within striking distance, they set out for a final trek. They hit the last few checkpoints as quickly as they could and tried to keep a good distance between them and approaching teams. The final run up a paved road was a somewhat welcome break from the mud and bushwhacking. Jen looked back and saw a few teams approaching. Rick picked up the pace and said, “Dig deep and give it everything you have.” They fended off the pack to the line for an exciting finish.
The Gregg’s Fat Tire Race Team finished in 11 hours and 12 minutes for a 1st place finish in the 2 person co-ed division. They placed 10th overall out of the 50 teams that entered from around the Pacific Northwest. The Gregg’s Fat Tire Race team is a biking and adventure racing team that races to benefit the MS Society of Washington. Check us out at: www.havefunandwin.com