Ahhh it was two years ago that Forum Dental AR began with the 2008 Berryman Adventure. In that first ever race we finished in 14 hrs but cleared the course(the last team to do so). It is pretty funny to think back on the stuff we did on that first race. It all started when I had just heard of a thing called adventure racing and navigated to Bonk Hard Racing, showed it to Judd who grabbed onto it like a pit bull. We signed up and toed the line knowing only a few scraps of info about AR that one digs out of blogs like this and were off. We all probably had enough food in our packs to feed every team there for 48 hrs, we carried sandals and big heavy dry bags so we could cross the stream without getting our socks wet. I ate beef stew and a can of tuna while we were paddling (mind you it was only a 12 hr race not Primal Quest).
Like an idiot had told everyone "oh yeah I can find these CPs, I'm an engineer for the Forest Service so I look at topo maps all the time." We were off and I had no idea what I was doing, mostly followed the herd but every once in a while I would realize I knew where we were and would drop to the ground whip out the map and calculate a bearing. Meanwhile the herd kept running in the obvious direction of the CP. We figured it out as we went and by some miracle found them all, albeit very slowly with lots of going in the wrong direction. We had to cross the river to get to the canoes, so we went through the process of stripping down to our skivvies, donning our sandles, putting our crud in a dry bag, crossing the river and then put back on all our gear (at least a half hour process). For the float trip (not paddling leg) we meandered down the Current River coming in just before the canoe cutoff where the beef stew and tuna caught up to me so I dropped trou in some tall grass while Dave fulfilled his main roll on the team by attracting all the Chiggers away from me to him (to this day it his main roll). We hopped on the bikes and got into a pack of racers who then all started following me of all people, I guess I had them fooled. Then Judd, after not having removed himself from his couch for a good month or so nearly died. Metaphorically speaking, the Berryman ass kicked him right in the jewels and he bonked hard (the ass is the official mascot of the Berryman Adventure). He kept going although I never knew that a bike could go so slow and still remain upright. We coasted across the finish and were hooked for good.
Fast forward two years and we are preparing for both USARA and Checkpoint Tracker national championship races and sign up for Berryman 12hr for some practice. Chris couldn't make it down from Idaho and Kari had to stay back in WV with our kids, so we recruited Steve to run with us who had never run an adventure race before, but is an accomplished endurance athelete. Our goal was simple...to win, not our division, not all the 4-person teams, we wanted the overall win. We knew that it would be tough, the Berryman always draws a large pool of racers from far and wide so the competition would be good. We noticed Bushwacker had a team in the 12hr. Cyclewerx is a solid team, some teams with people from St.L Orienteering Club and a few others that we recognized. We knew the overall win was possible, but we were going to have to have a very clean race.
Dave and I attended the pre-race meeting where Dave gave an absolutely thrilling 2 minute speech about the Mark Twain National Forest and National Public Lands Day and.....OK that is where I stopped paying attention, but he had the crowd for a good 5 seconds at least. He would have to settle for catering to his true fans, the ticks and chiggers, during the race. We went back to Rolla, which was a first for everyone going back to their houses (except me of course) and plotted the course....Hmmmm...The overall win was not looking so attainable. The course was designed so that we ended on the paddle, which is our weakest discipline, and it was pretty apparent that it was going to be a track meet the whole way. The trekking section had plenty of CP's but they were pretty close together, many on trails and the nav wasn't going to be hard. My delusions of us running through the nav section like crap through a goose while everyone else wandered around in the woods, hours behind us, wasn't looking all that probable. Our strategy was to put as much time on the field as possible and try not to lose it in the paddle. I did my usually tossing and turning for hours in bed before a race until at 2 am I resorted to my last option and reached for my scriptures..zzzz...the next thing I know Dave is rousting me at 4 am to get up, two hours sleep, oh well good practice for the 24hr nationals.
In the morning Jason started the race and we ran up a big hill on the road and the track meet began. We got to an intersection and took a left, straight into the woods which took Steve by surprise. Come to find out that he thought it would be just trail running and stuff so he didn't bother to bring long pants or gaiters or anything to protect his legs. Luckily there was not a whole lot of thorns in this race, in fact none that I can remember, but then again I had on pants. There was a heap of poison ivy that I think had him a bit freaked out. He did a couple of funny things like follow Dave right up to the flag to watch him punch and stopped to get some debris out of his shoe when we were like 150 meters from the TA where we were all going to stop and change into bike shoes, but nothing compared to our first race. As planned, we did blast through the nav section and emerged in 1st but Bushwacker, Out2Play, and Lost but Found were only minutes back. We hopped on the bikes for plenty of gravel and single track fun and kept going back and forth with Lost But Found. Then Betis Construction came out of nowhere and caught up to us near the end of the bike. On the way to CP 22 Betis Const. and us took the paved road out of Berryman campground down to highway 8 and over to the trail intersection. The volunteers were perplexed and thought we should have taken the trail down. I remember the night before checking three times whether the clue sheet told us we needed to take the trail but there were no route restrictions. Frankly I had a pretty strong feeling that Jason intended everyone to take the trail and we thought it looked like way more fun but singletrack is never faster than pavement unless it is a LOT shorter. From reports from other teams the singletrack was a lot of fun, but when you are in a battle you're always going to go for the most sure, fastest route. We got to the canoes tied for the lead with Betis Const. We graciously offered to accept their surrender so we wouldn't have to humiliate them on the paddling leg but they weren't buying it. We mounted the canoes and they got a bit in front right from the get go. Then all of the sudden this 7 ft dude comes running up stream full bore, crashing through the shallows. Deranged, he batted a few river drunks out of the way, capsized one of those huge rafts loaded down with coolers, then reached down and bit the head off a snapping turtle. We recognized him as one of Betis Const team members and I think to myself, "no wonder they were so fast on the bike, this guy was on meth the whole race and now he is tweaking and has gone into a rage." We were as good as dead, he was going to kill us all for sure. At least Kari didn't race this one so she can care for the kids in my absence....Then we passed by his team mate in their canoe and find out they left the passport back at the TA. Wow! well after that display of raw power and determination we knew it probably wouldn't be long before we were seeing the back of them. We gave it all we had, but they caught us quickly and came in 10 min in front of us for the win. The rest of the canoe we spent feeling like sitting ducks, looking over our shoulders paddling away. No other teams were in sight for the remainder of the paddle, which was a lot of fun except for the feeling like sitting ducks part. I guess Dave was looking a bit worse for wear after gutting out the bike section with rubbing break pads because some river drunks threw him a jello shot. Turns out that psycho-7 ft-I workout running upstream in the Mississippi-guy qualified for the Ironman 70.5 world championships the week prior. So if your going to be beat, might as well be by someone good.
We are happy with second, especially since this race didn't really play to our strengths much. We are just not a powerful sprinting team and this race was a track meet. After the race I mentioned to Jason that the race was a little short, to which he gave me an annoyed glance which I took to mean "you know Scott, I do offer a longer race this weekend. I think it is time that you guys start racing with the big boys now." Which he would be totally right and we would have loved to do the 36 hr, but I had to be back in WV by Monday morning and I just didn't see that happening after finishing a 36hr race Sunday. I have to say though that all in all it was a terrific race, we got some great prizes (Bonk Hard Races are the best), and we kicked a little butt as well. It doesn't get much better than that....unless you take home the Kuat Rack, which the top team always takes and we have been salivating over for the past two years.
There were something like 10 or 11 teams from Rolla there this year and to my knowledge all of them cleared the course except one team that had bike problems. It has turned out to be a pretty big hotspot for adventure racing for such a small town. Nice job everyone.