Krista Griesacker Memorial Adventure Race August 7, 2005
In an unassuming parcel of land that surrounds the Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary, in eastern Pennsylvania, 37 teams lined up for the second annual running of the Krista Griesacker Memorial Adventure Race. The 40 + mile course would prove to be one of the toughest 12 hour races this year. For experienced teams, the challenges seemed to get harder as the race went on. For newer teams, they were just impossible.
The day before the race, teams arrived and went through the check-in procedures that included a navigational test, gear check, and ropes skills review. The team meeting included prizes from the Adventure Sports Magazine’s RV Tour and other race sponsors.
As the sun rose, a light rain prevented the humidity from becoming too oppressive early in the race. After a 2 mile road run, the teams entered into the forest for a one mile orienteering course that served to stagger the herd before entering the full sized military-based obstacle course. Some completed the tests of teamwork in fine shape. Others were covered in various levels of water and mud. All the better to enter on the bike course.
With the remainder of their gear, the teams headed up 10-15% climbs which crested to a 15% descents. Route selection proved to be vital to the lead teams. Team ATP Mod2 (Scott Pleban, Mark Parrish) were the first to come off of the mountain biking section, but the first 3 person coed team, American Adventure Sports.com (Toby Angove, Behann Scott, Frank Eyth) were just 4 minutes behind them. Many of the teams were crowded at the front of the pack. Until the canoe section…..
Teams had to transport themselves and their bikes along the 6 mile section of the Little Schuylkill River. The river is usually flat but has the potential to be pretty fast after even just a few hours of rain. But when there hasn’t been measurable rain in more than two weeks, the river is left pretty low. Much of the canoe section was spent out of the boat, pushing the boat, pulling the boat, and carrying the boat. All the while they still had to deal with their gear and bikes. What would normally be a one hour flat paddle, became a 2+ hour slog over slippery, ankle-twisting rocks. The two leading two-person male teams and the first three-person coed team (Life, ATP Mod2, and American Adventure Sports.com) all exited the water within 15 minutes of each other. The second place coed 3-person team Genesis Adventures came on land 23 minutes behind the leaders. A real race was brewing for third place and a qualification for the National Championship, when Team American Adventure Sports and Team GOALS Adventure Racing Association were within sight of each other at the canoe take-out.
Transitioning back to bikes gave teams the illusion of rest. The rolling hills along the 5 mile ride were sometimes steep but at least they were smooth. Teams were able to drop their bikes and enter the trekking phase. The first leg involved a 1000ft climb to the ropes section. The 30ft cliff required teams to rappel and ascend before moving on. The standings remained the same coming out of the ropes challenges. It was no doubt that the winners would be determined during the final tough overland navigation section.
The first checkpoint on the course was in the middle of glacier-deposited river of rocks. It was slow going climbing over the boulders. Racers were almost glad to come off of the rock field, except that they knew that two major climbs and two steep descents over very unforgiving terrain were ahead of them.
Mother Nature was not quite done tormenting the hearty and well-trained group of endurance athletes. While many teams encountered yellow-jacket bees nests during the orienteering section, early in the race. Team HRAdventures was hit during the final leg, less than one mile from the finish but in some full-fledged wilderness. The team captain, Grant Killian, noticed a sting on the top of his head. His symptoms became more pronounced and within a few minutes he was having difficulty seeing and was dizzy. His teammate, Mike Jones, went for help.
Fortunately, the race just happens to be a charity event for the longest running civilian search and rescue school in the country. Many of the volunteers serve as the staff for the Civil Air Patrol’s Hawk Mountain Ranger School and immediately stepped into action. A rescue team set out to locate the downed racer.
Medical actions were guided by the one of the best in the business. Captain Ralph Jones, MD was serving as the race medical officer. Thanks to the sponsorship by the US Navy, Captain Jones was able to participate. He serves as a surgeon at Bethesda Naval Hospital and aboard the USS Comfort.
By the side of Grant was also, Paula Griesacker (Krista’s sister), who is also an emergency room nurse. There was also an EMT and a paramedic, as well as the stretcher team. Team Nerdquist, Russel and Valerie Nerdquist also came upon the fallen racer and provided comfort while the rescue team was in route. Team Nerdquist not only received the satisfaction that comes from helping a person in need but also received a time credit.
After evaluation and treatment for anaphylaxis, Grant was feeling much better and was released before the final team crossed the finish line. He’s adding epi-pens to his mandatory first-aid kit wherever he goes.
Qualifying to attend the USARA National Championship will be: Team AmericanAdventureSports.com, Team Genesis Adventures, and Team American Adventure Sports. Team AmericanAdventureSports.com also receives a total of $500 toward their registration thanks to sponsorship by GOALS-ARA and Zanfel.
Podium Results: Co-ed 3 Person: AmericanAdventureSports.com (Toby Angove, Behann Scott, Frank Eyth) 7:44; Genesis Adventures (Mike Halovatch, Brian Duncanson, Dianna Ineman) 8:49; American Adventure Sports (Doug Crytzer, Suzan Falvey, Jason Snyder) 9:14. For full results, go to www.goalsara.org .
Special thanks goes out to all of our sponsors: Bucks County Outfitters, Eastern Mountain Sports, Civil Air Patrol, the US Navy, Adventure Sports Magazine, Optic Nerve, Mountain Hardwear, Hammer Nutrition, Rail Riders, Borough of Hamburg, PA Game Commission, CCIS.net, AREquip.com, Princeton-Tec, Kelty, Road ID, Runners World, and Bicycling Magazine
GOALS Adventure Racing Association