WARNING: This is gonna be a long one, I don't get to do this very often from the racers perspective.
The Gilmore Adventure Race in Prescott, AZ on 9-17-05 proved itself to be once again one of the "not to be missed" AR's in the southwest.
Dave Sewell, Race Director, kicked up the navigation a notch this year forcing all of us to stop and think more than once. To that point, the comraderie of adventure racing was brought to a new level with nearly every team helping each other out along the way.
The race began at 8am sharp...as a tack...with myself, Carter Tobin and our newest team member, Lea Doll racing to the starting line. Ok, so there was a reason we were a few minutes late getting to the line. Word on the street was that flats were a forgone conclusion, and we decided pre-race to install liners between our tires and slimed tubes. A large group of racers pre-scouting the area a week earlier had averaged a flat per person, and we thought it best to take on the extra weight rather than waste precious time changing them out on the course. I'm happy to say that the liners we installed worked flawlessly, though did nothing to help our broken chain 3/4's of the way through.
Actually, Lea's boyfriend Chris helped us with the liner installations prior to the race start, or we would have been even later. Thanks Chris!
The navigator from each team was given access to master maps pre-race where we had to copy down about a dozen checkpoints onto our own provided maps.
So off we went, beginning with a short trail run to CP1 where we had to pick up our passport which contained the UTM coordinates for another 4 or 5 CP's. We (I) am a dreadfully slow runner, so I tried to fake out our new team member by plotting coordinates on the run (walk) as we went. Of the 38 teams of 2 or 3 people, we were dead last from the start. That's ok, we knew we'd make it up later with a slow and steady pace and some good nav. After we finished the initial run, we immediately went to kayaking on Willow Lake in the Dell's of Prescott. If you've never been to this area, do an image search for it on Google as it's incredibly gorgeous. The instructions said to first paddle to CP2, then continue to CP's 2a-2e in any order. Fortunately for us, more than a few teams selected the closest of the CP's rather than going first to CP2, and were forced to start this section over. The lake itself isn't particularly big, though with the zig-zag we were forced to paddle, it turned into about a 3 mile paddle. Our Ocean Kayak Cabo and another sit-inside performed exceptionally well.
The entire paddle section, we had our sights set on one team in particular, Team Ruination. Being leaders in the AR scene, and with their Kiwi female paddler Jane, we had lofty goals. As they'd make the mistake of visiting 2a before 2, we were side by side mid-paddle. It was a sight to be seen as teams cris-crossed the lake in all directions with different route choices. We tried to take advantage of a portage between our final two water CP's, though Ruination opted to paddle it and took a solid lead at this point. Fortunately for us, we were able to pass a number of teams on the water, and finished it around mid-pack. Yes it's true, dead last to mid-pack in about 90 minutes...and that little ditty kept us afloat all day long!
I got the impression that Lea, having never done an AR before, was a bit surprised at our ability to move up in such a short amount of time. Both Carter and I can't say enough about how tough she was throughout. She never complained once despite Carter and I whining about our cramps. She is a strong mountain biker and runner, and proved herself to be a solid paddler as well, setting a good pace from the front of the boat we call the Titanic.
Upon exiting the water, we were immediately met with our first of 4 mystery events. From about 12 feet away, our team had to toss three 2 inch washers through a board with a hole about the size of the top of a soup can. Carter blazed through this landing all three within the first 5 or 6 throws. Other teams were spending 20-25 throws, so I guess you could say we lucked out here. Then it was on to the Trek.
We knew pre-race we'd have to have our rappeling gear for the trek, so we packed up and moved out. In the Dells, which are large granite stones strewn throughout the area, route choices are either "around" or "over". We chose "Over" to begin with which was a mistake that cost us about 5 minutes. The routes "around" are nearly level if you can find your way. We picked off the first 2 CP's relatively easily, then it was on to the Rappel before hitting the last of them.
The rappel in this race was far and away the best I'd ever done. At about 175 feet, it was a rush just getting over the edge. They'd hung sponsor banners on the face of the rock which was wicked looking, and made it feel like we were racing in an Eco or PQ. Again here, Lea never hesitated and was down in no time flat.
**Side Story** A couple weeks prior Lea and I had made the trip to Camelback Mountain to practice rappeling as she'd never done it. Upon rigging it I said I was apprehensive as I didn't have anyone experienced to double check my anchor work. She agree'd with my apprehension, though about two seconds later said "Want me to go first??". Talk about Shame!! No, No, NO, I'll go. Not that it's risky, it's a monster eye bolt that's cemented at least a foot into the rock.
Back to the race: So, we finish this amazing rappel. Thanks to the volunteers, Prescott Fire Dept. and Scouts who spent alot of time putting it up!!
One more trek checkpoint to go and we're off to the bike...so I thought.
We get back to the TA for Mystery Event #2. Here we've got 3 posts, one of which contains a series of wooden circles stacked on it from largest on the bottom to smallest at the top. We're supposed to get them all stacked the same way from one post to one of the other two posts without putting a larger one atop a smaller one. Ok, it's time for me to plot the remaining checkpoints and leave Carter and Lea to work on this puzzle.
They did it in about 15 minutes, which was a good time compared to many people. Off to the bike.
We leave the TA and hit CP 7 prior to a nasty hike-a-bike through an area that I'm sure was never a trail. Dave has never had us cross a major road, and this was the only way through to Heritage Park. Upon reaching CP 7 we ask where we stand and we're told we're in the top 10!!! YEEEHAAAA! It seemed impossible after starting dead last, though we had alot of experience and some good fortune with us.
The next two checkpoints were simple, along a wash and in tunnels. Then we hit the next mystery event before starting off on a mission to our next 5 CP's. The first one (6a) was atop a spur on a small peice of single track. We of course missed it, and this error would end up costing us precious time. While the maps we were given had none of the trails listed on them, I had a map in my truck (of course) that had them all. I wasn't the only one who'd gotten a copy of that map, just the only one who didn't bring it with me. Duh.
So we go on and run into Jack and Josh from team Ascent. It was an accomplishment just to be running into them so late in a race and we were
psyched. They told us how to find 6a and we picked it off right away. Then onto the next mystery event which involved throwing a lasso around a sawhorse (saw-cow) with bike handlebars for horns. Now we had to do some back-tracking to pick up another CP we should have already gotten before re-ascending the biggest hill on the course for the second time unnecessarily. Just two CP's left.
A couple of times during the bike, we ran into team Monster Energy (Butch, Brian, Georgie). Again, we were on cloud nine to have run into them in a race in an area other than the starting line!! They'd been plagued with flat's on Brian's bike and ended up taking one of our pumps .
On to 6b along the pipeline trail northwest of Heritage Park...and Bang, there goes Carter's chain. We spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to use our chain tool, and another 20 adding in a "fix-a-link" that I'd purchased just the day before. On to 6B,got it, then to 6d. A nice peice of single-track wound around to a spur where we were sure we'd find the flag. Nope. The maps didn't have the road on them which would have given us a sense of where we were, though fortunately we weren't alone. Team Ascent had laid down their bikes and gone on an extensive hike to find it, while still other teams showed up where we were looking. All of us were too far north, though upon realizing this, we moved a spur to the south, stamped our CP's, and it was a race for the finish.
As with all of the last three races Dave has put on, he's finished with a 10 foot wall which all must go over. We'd done this before fortunately, and were later told we were "silky-smooth" going over. First we pushed Lea up, then Carter. With the help of a peice of rope (mandatory gear) I was able to hoist myself up and over and we ran across the finish line thrilled with our placement.
I think we finished in the top 10 and somewhere around 7 hours. Post race, the Venture-Scouts served up some killer burgers and the awards ceremony was fun. Hats off to all the Scouting teams that finished this race...it was a tough one!!
I can't wait til next year!
Team Sierra Adventure Sports
Check out: www.GilmoreAdventureRace.com