Adventure Race race (Spring Fury) 11:02:00  55.0 mi (12:02 / mi)
Spring Fury 12-Hour
The Infiterra guys said that this was a low-budget race, but when it came to the most important parts, it felt anything but. The course was great and challenging, very well-organized, CPs where they should be, and all our gear was where it needed to be on-time.
Phil and I raced as MRA while Tony and Mike raced as MRA2. We have continued our long-standing tradition of competing against each other rather than combining efforts. It's always a toss-up on who's going to come out ahead. It really depends on who has the cleanest race.
Race started on foot at 4am with a 3 orienteering points going to the canoe put-in. We took a good route from CP1 to CP2, where I started running down the boardwalk thinking it was just off the boardwalk. Phil said it should have been at the start, so we had to run back to find a few teams searching right there around the start. Nobody had found it. We both jumped off the trail and I went a little bit back off the swamp onto the bottom of the hill. There it was in a bit of brush. I silently punched, went back to the trail and told Phil to come back. Apparently several teams thought he got it and rushed to where he was. A huge portion of the field got caught up in follow-the-leader at this point and turned to the south on the trail and spent a ton of time looking in the wrong place. This created a huge gap that we puzzled about when nobody seemed to be on the paddle but the top 5 or 6 teams.
We got to the TA first by a few seconds, but were the second team on the water. By the second paddle CP, though, we had the lead that we would hold on to for the rest of the race. It was dark, moderately foggy, and there were no reflectors, so we had to just use the compass and try to see the shoreline shape. I had to turn my light out for this, but we were pretty accurate, and there was no wind, so it was good. Well, there was one "moment" going to CP7 where we saw Zandra and Andrea there with Zandra's dog, who was wearing a red flasher. I said "Oh, that's a blinking dog" and continued past thinking that maybe they were just taking photos (...in the dark? What kind of photos would they really get?) It was actually there, so we had to change course a bit and head back to the point. Quick punch and gear check, and we were on our way back to the boat drop. Finally, back at the tube, we saw another team from the group that got caught up on CP2.
A quick TA back to foot - we grabbed a quick bite and then ran the trails back past CP2 and to 9. We knew that we had Wolverine AR (Mr. Wonderful) right on our tails, which was confirmed as we were leaving CP9. CP10 was the dreaded swim, but it was just a short water crossing, so it wasn't actually bad - a normal AR thing.
As we transitioned to bike, Wolverine AR came in so we knew they were close. We picked up 2 points on the Yankee Springs single track, which is a nice trail. I would maybe liked more of this, but it was cool to get to do some of it anyway. I kept expecting to see those guys on our tails, but it wasn't until CP 14 as I was leaving the punch that we saw them. We had a new fire under us now and really pushed the pace to get 15 and leave before our pursuers. We didn't see them again until we were leaving CP16 and they were arriving there. Little did we know at the time, but they had ridden right past 15 and had to ride 5 miles back to get it. Ouch. Meanwhile, MRA2 pulled into second place - those guys are fast bikers, so this was their time to shine and make up ground. We lost a little time at 17 because we rode past it and then had to loop back and find it in the woods. No sign of anyone behind us. Good.
We got to the bike drop, got all transitioned to the boat and then asked where the punch was. Oh, it's on the other side of the road. Darn. Ran over to punch.. "where are your bikes? You have to drop your bikes over here." Grab bikes, punch, run back, and get in the canoe. We were out of sight before the next team came in. That was the goal. CP20 came up MUCH faster than expected. The river was relatively shallow, but I guess it was moving pretty well. We were informed that MRA2 put in 7 minutes after we did. Whoa! Great news to hear our teammates were now right in it, but we also knew we couldn't slack! (not that we would) There was one place where we had to get out and haul the boat over a downed tree. My boat incurred some damage when we went through a narrow spot under a bridge. Everything was flowing fast as all but this one spot was blocked by debris/branches. The current took the boat off track in the last second, and it smashed the side right into a big branch. Damn. I'm going to have to have it evaluated and maybe fixed. Right after that happened, we saw two huge turtles mating in the water. The river was kind of crazy and I often had to steer counter to the direction we wanted to go because the current was trying to turn the boat excessively into the turn.
We took out and hopped on the bikes before anyone else showed up. We ignored the bridge out sign on the way to 22, which was a good idea since it was just blocked off and not really out. We had a bit of a snag at 23 because the clue was hidden in the swamp north of the road with a note of "muddy," which was a correction as it was shown on the south side. We went into the swamp looking for it, and Phil went in up to his hip. It looked for a minute like I was going to have to brace and pull him out, but he managed on his own. After searching for a couple minutes, Phil called out that he found it... 4 feet off the road. D'oh! If we'd just ridden another 20 feet, we'd have seen it.
We got back to the TA, dropped our passport, and picked up the e-punch and final orienteering map. It was a doozy! 20 points with a wide dispersion that required a lot of back and forth and lots of route choice. We made a very fast transition and punched our first point only 8 minutes later, including changing shoes. As we ran down the road, we saw MRA2 coming in... we figured they were about 10 minutes behind us. This was a one-mistake race. We decided that even if we went a little slower, we had to race this last section super clean. We did. A couple points required small corrections, but nothing big. The run at the start was tough, but I figured my legs would get back into it after a little while. They didn't. I kept trying to drink my water... until it ran out. Phil is a total speed walker and often even when we was trekking (looking at the map) I had to run to keep up. I was fading due to dehydration and really struggling. By the time we made it in, I was breathing like I was running a 5k, and we were doing like 12 minute miles or something. I thought Phil said that he saw Mike back in the parking lot, so when we went in and they said that we won, I was surprised. It was a great race, and I'm really happy with how we did! It was tough, but I learned my lesson on focusing more on hydration - especially in the heat. An extra minute in TA to fill the water is worth it for the speed you gain by not feeling like death later in the race.