As the last race of the season in the Mtn. Racing Sports series drew closer, we were worried that the late October Flagstaff weather was not going to be kind, especially to three pansy Phoenicians who usually look forward to Halloween because it means it is finally *cool enough* to go outside and play. Upon arriving at the TA at about 7am this past Saturday morning however, the sky was clear, if not a little bit chilly. Almost everyone was bundled up trying to stay warm, but by the time the pre-race meeting rolled around less than an hour later, the sun was shining and it had warmed up considerably.
Team Sierra Adventure Sports was on hand, trying to defend our 1st place division finish in the previous race of the season. After edging out the guys (and gal) from the Gilmore Adventure Race team by just 7 seconds in that race, we knew they were going to be gunning for us this time around. With a fewer teams racing than the previous two races, and a beginner-friendly course, we also knew this was going to be a very fast race.
The race started with a quick mystery event in which we had to go fetch a piece of rope and then bring it back and tie a knot like the one displayed. It was a double figure-8 knot, and Rick made quick work of it. The race booklet reminded us to make sure we kept the rope with us for the remainder of the race, so we had to wonder what else we might need it for. After the mystery event, we jumped on our bikes and headed out. As we headed toward CP1, Rick double-checked and decided that we had gone too far. Just then, we saw several more teams coming back down the road they had just ridden up. Turns out that nearly every team had blown right by the first checkpoint, assuming it was farther down the road. The checkpoint was up a short but steep little hill that required everyone to carry their bikes and bushwack up the hill.
After getting our stamp at CP1, we decided to try a cross-country route to CP2 instead of following all of the other teams on a circular single-track trail. In the end, we got to CP2 in about exactly the same amount of time we would have anyway, so it was a wash. We got CP3 and then turned on to a segment of the Arizona Trail to get the remaining couple of checkpoints. This section of the Arizona Trail included some really fun singletrack and something we had not ridden on in the previous two races. After getting the last of the bike checkpoints, it was a sprint back to the TA.
Once back at the TA, we had to make our way into the gymnasium and each team member had to make a basket from the free-throw line. Although Carter claimed to be really good at the ‘backward over the head two-handed toss’, it was obvious that none of us were destined for the NBA.
We finally made all three baskets and headed back to the TA for another mystery event. This time, we had to blindfold Carter and then direct him via voice commands to 5 plastic cups scattered over an area of the sand court where he had to drop a tennis ball in each one.
Carter pretty much sprinted right through it, and then we were off on the trek. We trekked out to CP7 and then on towards CP8. Rick had not been feeling so good, so we had to take several breaks along the way, but we were not moving that fast anyway. We got the final CP and headed back to the TA. The final challenge was to get up and over the grease wall.
Rick was smart enough to check behind the wall and found a rope that we were able to use to help us pretty much walk right up it. We crossed the finish line 3rd in our division (and yes, there were only three teams in the division).
Team Monster Energy took the overall win for the day, with team Chips & Salsa not far behind. The crew from Gilmore Adventure Racing took 1st in the 3-person division, with Team Invictus coming in 2nd. Even though we didn’t fare so well today, Team Sierra Adventure Sports had accumulated enough points to take 1st place in the overall series in the 3-person division.
Thanks to Mark and all of his volunteers for putting on three fun races up there. I know I can speak for Rick and Carter when I say that we had a great time racing in all of them.