Chicot State Park 12 hour Adventure Race
Promoter: SteelSports ( www.steelsports.net )
By: David Bogle – Team Backpacker ( www.backpackerbr.com )
Race Date: 25-Feb-06
Team Backpacker was ready to kick off their first full team race for 2006. The team had a slight roster change from 2005. Jeff Diamond and David Bogle had raced all of 2005 as Team Backpacker and are back again for another season. Darius Sampey is also back for 2006. Darius was out with an injury for about half of 2005. Darius has been training hard and is in great shape for 2006. The only new member for the team is Kristi Darby. Kristi is an accomplished runner and triathlete. Jeff and Darius were able to convince her to join Team Backpacker for the 2006 season.
For our first race together for 2006, we were all dreading the weather forecast for this one. Rain was predicted for the entire day along with winds and cool temperatures (50 F is cold if you live in south Louisiana). The team all gathered at Chicot State Park early on Saturday morning to get things ready for the race. Our normal support crew of Sandy and Bob Schmidt (Dave’s folks), had a covered area set up for us to provide some shelter from the coming rains. Both Jeff and Daruis’s wives also came out to offer support for the race.
The usual pre-race meeting started at about 7:30 am. Rodney Skyles (race director) gave some basic instructions and went over the rules for the race. No real special rules with the exception of a couple of off-limit roads. The final instruction was for the team captains to meet back up at 8:05 am for the start of the race. At race start, all the captains were handed a piece of paper with the first set of instructions. The race was to start with a short “Chaos” format. This was a quick trek point, a quick bike point, and a quick paddling point. This format challenges teams to quickly plot points and transition from once discipline to another. This section was rogaine, so the 3 points could be gotten in any order, but they must be done by the discipline noted on the instructions, and we must come back to transition between each point.
Team Backpacker got out of transition very quickly, I was confident we were the first team out. We chose to run first. We quickly ran and grabbed the first CP and then headed back to transition. We did not see any other teams until we got back into transition. We next chose to do the paddle leg. We were the first team out on boats. We paddled well to the area of the first paddle point. Here I stumbled to find the point. The land did not really match the maps too well so we landed our boats on the wrong land finger. We searched around the land for 10 minutes until a mass of boats arrived and someone spotted the point. We got back into our boats and paddled to the correct area and punched the point. Now it was make up time trying to get back to transition. We paddled well and passed several teams on the way back into transition. Back in transition, we switched to mountain bike gear and headed out for the bike point. We went straight to the point with no issue and then headed back to transition to check back in for this point.
The next leg was a long bike leg around the perimeter of the lake. Rodney made sure to tell us it was a long bike leg so make sure we brought plenty of food and water. We were not sure where we stood in the race with the poor performance on the first paddle point. We headed out for what looked to be a long bike leg (about 20 miles of singletrack). The weather was still holding and it was not raining yet. The trails were in poor condition with all the rain from the previous few days. It was a very slippery muddy ride for the entire trail. As we got into the trail, we could tell from the bike tracks that there was one team ahead of us on the trail. It turns out we caught them only a couple of miles into the trail. It was team “Beat Backpacker and Go Home”. We passed them on the trails and kept moving gathering CP’s as we went along. Some CP’s were obvious and on the trail, but others were off the trail. It was difficult to know when to get off the trail and start looking for CP’s as the trails were not on the maps and there were no great terrain features to clue us into position. At the far north mtn bike CP, we decided to dismount our bikes and trek into where the cp was located. A couple minutes after we started looking we heard team Beat Backpacker and Go Home start yelling they had found the point. It was sure nice of them to lead us to that CP, in fact Kristi, was only a few feet from it when they came across it. We punched the CP and headed back to bikes.
We made it back to our bikes first and got going slightly ahead of the other team. We did not see any other teams for the rest of the ride. We came across a CP on a bridge at the far north end of the lake. This was not a point we were looking for on this bike leg so we quickly surmised that we would be paddling to this point later in the race. The rain started at some point on the bike leg and it continued to rain off and on for the remainder of the race. Kristi was the only wise one, having remembered to bring her rain jacket for the bike leg. None of us got real cold as we were constantly working to ride in the muddy conditions. There were no fast sections of trail with all the mud. The next couple of points were on the trail with only one more bike CP that was off the trail. I had a good idea where that one was located, so we just kept biking along for a while. We had no problem finding this last off trail CP. We biked along for the remainder of the trail and picked up the last couple of bike CPs’. This ride took us a few minutes over 3 hours. Rodney was waiting for teams at the entrance to the camp grounds. We told him we found all the cp’s with no problem (always a worry for RD’s that someone may have taken a cp or one is out of location).
The next set of instructions was for a long paddle leg followed by a trekking leg. We plotted all the points for both legs, changed into dry clothes and got moving. Off to the boats we went. No teams had come into transition from the bikes so we new we had a solid 15 to 20 minute lead. This paddle leg looked to be 11+ miles. It was raining and windy on the lake. We grabbed the first CP (CP 16) with no problem. CP 13 was on a paved bridge we had crossed earlier on bikes. (These paddle points could be gotten in any order). On our way to CP 13, we heard Jeff and Darius calling to us, we turned around to see they had turned over their boat in the water. They hit a partially submerged stump, causing them to flip over. We pulled our canoe up next to them and did a very quick and efficient water rescue. We got underway, but now Jeff and Darius were really soaked to the bone. We chose to do a portage over a peninsula to save some paddling time. It was a wise decision as we felt it saved about 2.5 kilometers of paddling (into the wind). It also allowed Jeff and Darius to build up a bit of body heat as we portaged. We got CP 13 on the bridge with no problem and were then off to the far northern point we had seen earlier on the lake. While paddling north, we saw Team Chubby’s biking on the eastern shore of the lake. They seemed in good spirits and gave a loud hello as we passed. As we approached the area of the far northern point, the lake turned into a huge maze of Cypress trees. There was no way to go the direction we wanted, we could only head in general directions and find new routes to travel. After banging into many trees, we made it to the bridge and got the far out point. Now it was just back to transition to end this boat leg. On the way back, we ran into several teams heading to the far north point. It was not easy to tell how much lead we had over them, as the points could be gotten in any order. It was a much quicker trip back to transition as we had a tailwind for the return journey.
Back in transition, we were told the next team behind us, left about an hour behind us in the boats. We paddled well so I don’t think anyone likely closed that gap by much. The paddle took us about 3 hours. The next leg was a trek leg to pick up 3 points. We all got a bit cold once we got out of the boats, so we transitioned as fast as possible so we could start running (to warm up). After 20 minutes of running, we were all nice and warm.
We ran into Team Chubby’s who was coming back on bikes. They had chosen to backtrack after they got the last bike CP, instead of continuing around the loop. This was likely a bad decision in hindsight as the backtrack route was much longer and tougher. It was not possible to run all of the trail as the hills were so slippery from all the mud and rain, that it was basically a controlled slide down the hills and a slow precarious walk up the hills. We ran what we could and got all of these trek CP’s with no problems. One was on trail, and the other two were off the trail. All we had to do now was run back to transition for the next leg. I stowed the maps in Darius backpack and we started running back. We all wondered when we would run into the next team. We never ran into another team, except for Chubby’s, who was still on their way back to TA with their bikes. Back in transition, Rodney informed us he was going to cancel the last leg of the race. It was going to be another short paddle leg. No one from our group complained (although I really like to paddle). With the last leg cancelled, we turned in our passport and Rodney declared us the winners at 9 and half hours of race time. We broke down camp, took hot showers, and cheered teams on as they came in from the paddle and headed out on the last trek leg.
The race was very exciting for our team due to the fact that it was a new venue for us (and for SteelSports). The weather made it a much tougher race than was likely planned. The mountain biking likely took twice as long because of the slow, slippery conditions. The cold rain slowed all teams down as more clothing changes were in order. This park has real promise for future races. We only paddled roughly half of the lake; we did not trek to many parts of the park (lots of potential for more land navigation). Good job to SteelSports for putting together a good race in a new park. Congratulations to all the teams that did all or part of the course. It was a hard course in these conditions.
1 Backpacker - The Bicycle Shop 4 Coed 1 09:33:00
2 Team - "Are We There Yet?" 2 Male 2 13:43:00
3 Bahia 2 Male 3 13:44:00
4 C-K Specialists 2 Male 4 15:11:00
5 Blue Runners 3 Male 5 15:14:00
6 Hypoxic 2 Male 6 15:29:00
7 Weathehekawi 2 Male 7 15:30:00
8 Team Fitstop 4 Coed 8 15:35:00
Teams missing one or more CP
9 Beat Backpacker & Go Home 3 Male 9 15:10:00
10 Gander Mtn./HART 4 Coed 10 15:26:00
11 Team Salley 3 Male 11 14:08:00
12 Chubby Bastardos 3 Male 12 15:28:00