Tuesday, May 11, 2010
LBL Challenge Map and Report
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Pics with comments are HERE
The LBL Challenge last year was one of Forum Dental’s favorite races last year, so we were all chomping at the bit for the race to come again this spring. Bonk Hard Racing just does an exceptional job at all their races, but in our opinion the LBL and the Berryman are the best. One of the best things about the LBL is the racing venue, the Land Between the Lakes is a HUGE Forest Service recreation area that is sandwiched between two lakes which is nearly all forested and with no private land. This means there are no out of bounds areas for the race director to work around and loads of logging roads, trails and lakes to work with. Jason (of Bonk Hard Racing) is not kidding when he says it is an adventure racer’s paradice. Also there are miles and miles of some of the most fun single track mtb trail that I have ever been on. Now on to the race report.
Thursday we got all of our crud loaded up and headed out. I think that there is some kind of strange and magical phenomenon that occurs with gear. It seams to just grow and expand and accumulate the longer you do races. Last year we took a Nissan Xterra to the race and didn’t have problems, this year we took Judd’s full sized Suburban and it was still packed full. At the race site we saw a team that had kind of Mercedes mini-bus pulling a trailer loaded with gear. At our current rate of gear accumulation we will need one of those setups before the end of the year.
One of our goals for this race was to get some sleep pre-race. For the majority of the races that we have done, Judd is the only one that gets any sleep. Dave, Chris, and I are usually up messing around with the map, analyzing the course on gpsvisualizer.com, and fiddling around with packs and gear till well after midnight only to wake up at 4:30. We hoped to take the advice of Jason Bourne and use “sleep as a weapon” Well it wasn’t meant to be, I was still up past midnight and when I laid down and tried to sleep I found once again that I was so jazzed up that I could literally hear my own pulse, so who knows what time I actually got to sleep. Come 4:00 a.m. my mind decided “enough sleeping for you, it is time to start thinking again about the race” and I woke up and that was it. Of course nature was calling, so I tried to sneak to the restroom but the beds were so creaky that starting up a chainsaw might have been a bit more quiet, and so Dave was bright eyed and bushy tailed a couple of minutes later. Oh well, sleep is one weapon that we would just have to leave in the holster today. We geared up and towed the starting line, the 12 and 24hr races started at the same time, so there was a huge crowd. Looking around it is intimidating to see all of these people all geared up and looking fierce, but our race strategy is to not worry about other teams, just do what we do, go as hard as we can, have fun and we will end up were we end up. It started with a four CP nav section through some really stickery brushy woods, and I was just not really on my game with the navigation. I didn’t really blow any points, but it wasn’t a super clean trek. As we headed back to the bikes at race HQ we passed a guy that had made the mistake of wearing shorts who looked like his legs had been sprayed with catnip and locked in a room with 100 addicted strays. At HQ we were told that we were in third place and both were four person teams so we headed out for a long bike section with a mix of single track, logging roads and a little pavement. We went back and forth with a couple of teams until CP 7 where everybody was stopped looking for the punch. It was plotted at a road/trail junction so it was pretty obvious we were in the right spot and we started to get a little nervous that maybe it had been stolen. After a minute or so Dave spotted it on a tree about 50m back up the trail, he punch and we told the other teams were it was as we mounted up and headed out. We fired up the after burners for the long stretch of road biking and didn’t see those teams again. It is funny because Kari hasn’t been biking long and claims that she is not good at it, but I bet if you asked those two 4 person all male teams who ate our dust after that CP they might give her a different answer.
We got to the Canoe put in and were still in third overall with two 4 person teams ahead of us. As we paddled to CP 9 we saw one 2 person team in pursuit after punching in a cove and coming out we saw that it was Team Brewer Science who are also from Rolla. We were excited for them because there were no other teams around so we thought that they had a great chance at winning the 2 person division. We could see the two teams quite a distance in front of up in a neck and neck battle for first. As we got out of the canoe the volunteer informed us that we were about 22 minutes back. 22 minutes is a substantial lead, but there was a lot of race to go and anything can happen. As we headed out on the second and longer trek section our legs were stiff and sore so we settled into the survival shuffle pace till we got to the woods. Then we got our nav groove on and just swept through the orienteering points about as clean as possible. I was seeing the terrain well and just we just flew through the course, Well we went through the woods as fast as our tired legs would go. Getting back to the bikes, Jason told us that the 2nd place team had just left. Unsure of how many minutes that entailed we transitioned and headed out for the bike back to the finish. Most of the bike to the finish was gravel road and just a bit of single track. Our legs were tired but we pushed hard. At cp 20 we crossed a creek and realized that the punch was on the other side. Let’s just say Dave was real excited to wade another creek. We cranked on and on, I felt like I was working pretty hard when I heard Judd and Kari behind me just chatting away about the value of vegetables and Dave turns to me and joking says, “You know, I don’t think that they are working hard enough if they can just be chatting away like that” I then tried to turn up the pace which had absolutely no effect on the chatter so I must not have turned it up much. I must say I was feeling the burn on every hill. As we headed down a last single track section with about a mile to go we caught sight of a team in front of us. Dave and I smelled blood in the water and went barreling down the hill after them and just about caught up to the girl at the back of the team and realized that the rest of our team was not with us, oops. We took a couple of breaths and told Judd and Kari that there was a team just up ahead. The team was Iowa Wolfpack so we came out of the single track and poured it on with about a ¾ miles to go. The Wolfpack saw us coming and cranked it up as well. There were two small hills to the finish and we were gaining. We dug in, with our legs on fire, our muscles swimming in lactic acid and seeing red but we ran out of road. They crossed the finish line 15 seconds in front of us. Imagine racing 7.5 hours and the finish comes down to 15 seconds! After we crossed we shook hands with the bewildered Wolfpack team members who wondered where we had come from. They had been battling team Follow No One the whole race who came in just three minutes in front of us and couldn’t have been more surprised to find us breathing down their necks in the end. We were actually pretty surprised to have caught up so much ground as well. So we finished in third place just three minutes separating the top three teams. Incredible! We were ecstatic with our performance and of course will be counting the many places where we could have made up three more minutes for weeks to come.
After reliving the race with the Wolfpack and Follow No One for an hour or so we went back to the hotel and got cleaned up for the awards ceremony. When we came back we found out that the other teams from Rolla all did extremely well. Team Brewer Science who had some nav errors after being only three minutes back from us off the canoe and came in 3rd. Teams Won’t Win and That’s Going to Leave a Mark from Rolla came in well under 12hrs although I don’t know how they placed in their division. Chris from That’s going to Leave a Mark decided that he was going to be sure to live up to the name and made the mistake of wearing running shorts through the trekking, yeeee ouch! At the awards ceremony Iowa Wolfpack left early so we got to pick from the prizes second and let me just say that NO ONE gives out better prizes than Bonk Hard Racing. I am talking a $250 Kuat rack, $100 North Face windproof fleece, $90 North Face Sleeping Bags, and bunch of gear from Alpine Shop. Bonk Hard puts on an amazing race and you can’t find a nicer race director that knows adventure racing than Jason and Laura. You don’t want to miss the awards ceremony, that is unless you finish before Forum Dental.