2009 Urban (my ass) Adventure Race

The big day finally arrived!  Last year’s Urban race was awesome so I was really looking forward to this one.  For those that don’t know, an adventure race consists of orienteering through woods, canoeing, running, and biking.  You get a series of maps, all different scales, with checkpoint locations on them.  You have to race in numerical order and get punches on a passport that proves you were at every spot.  An Urban race is on city streets and has the same concept but the passport includes tasks at each checkpoint that you have to complete in order to move on.  I call it “The Amazing Race” in one day.  Last year was my first year competing.  We cargo-netted 2 stories down and up into the White River, repelled off a building, jumped off the IUPUI 10 meter platform, ran in the storm sewers under downtown Indy, ran all the stairs at the U of I gymnasium… I could go on.  We ended up 4th in our division and finished the whole race.  We were looking to improve on that this year!

I was like a little kid at Christmas trying to sleep Friday night.  I managed to get some shut eye around 1:30am, but was up at 4:30am to head over to Kevin’s to get the tow system hooked up on my bike.  In this race, it’s legal to create a home-made tow system to use your strongest biker’s momentum to carry the rest of your team.  Last year, Kevin didn’t look like he even broke a sweat on the bike, so this year the engineer in him fashioned something out of PVC pipe, ski rope, carabiners and bungy cords.  It worked well and not so well at one point, but we’ll get to that later.  Here’s a shot of it.

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The next thing we decided to better than last year was get to the park on time.  Last year, we couldn’t find the damn place and got there with about 10 mintues to spare and didn’t have time to review the maps.  We only took 1 wrong turn on our way to Southwestway Park but arrived at 6:15 to check in.  We got our maps and started studying our course.  Got all of our gear organized, including the random straw, sugar packet and quarter we were each required to have.  I spent many hours contemplating what this stuff was for.  I was not going to snort sugar off a quarter with a straw.  I couldn’t manage to suction the sugar to the quarter using the straw.  And I tried to walk and balance them on the straw.  Was very interested to see what we needed this stuff for.  Here’s the team.

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Race started at 8 am and we were off to checkpoint 1.  The first 7 CPs were an orienteering section.  The instructions said, get 3 of the 6 and move on.  So we did.  We grabbed our bikes, PFDs and paddles and biked over to CP8 and found canoes waiting for us.  We had to drag the canoes down a hill into the river.  At some sections, the river wasn’t deep enough so we took turns dragging it down the shore until we got to a point we could paddle again.  Brian provided some comic relief at this point with a song that we had to repeat as he sang.

“I… wish all the ladies”

“Were holes in the road”

“Cuz if I was a dump truck”

“I’d fill’em with my load”

“I… wish all the ladies”

“Were bricks in a pile”

“Cuz if I was a mason”

“I’d lay’em all with style”

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We made our way up and down the river and were in 5th place at this point.  As we were headed out to CP10, one of the race organizers said that the advanced teams were suppose to get all 6 CPs from the beginning section.  WTF?!  Then put that on the instructions!  We had to go back there around CP26 anyway, so we decided we’d talk about it then.  More checkpoints = more points overall.  We hooked up the bike tow system and headed off.  It was working well until Kevin took a turn that my tow system didn’t like.  I was hooked to Brian and it kind of flung my bike in a big swoop.  I knew we had a problem, so I just calmly said “I’m going down boys, going down.”  I did my best to land in the grass, but my knee took a pretty good scrape.  No time to waste, so just get back up and move on!  First aid will have to wait.  Did break my front brake, so had to manage without that for the remaining 30 miles of the day.  We rode up to a house and were directed to the backyard.  There were 9 clear water bottles submerged in a pool.  We had to find 3 of them before moving on.  I had brought goggles with me, so I threw those on and walked into the pool, shoes and everything.  Made quick work of it and headed out.  There was a lemonade stand next store with a sign “A QUARTER”.  Really?!  This is what the sugar/straw/quarter was for?!  Cute but boring.  We each downed a glass and got some bonus points for figuring it out.  Next we headed to the golf course for a putting challenge.  It was kind of lame.

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Then we were off to another park for some more orienteering.  This time it was 2 of 4, so we got our 2 and moved on to take the lead in the race.  We found a lady standing in the middle of the road at CP18.  We were told to ride down this huge hill to the stop sign and back… twice.  WTF is urban about that?!  We completed the task and headed to Perry Meridian high school to find some volunteers at the track.  We each had to run 1/2 a lap before we could get our stamp.  Easy enough and on our way to CP20.  We arrived at a house with a nasty pond out back.  There were several inflatable canoes in the yard.  All 3 of us had to get in one and using a rope across the pond, pull ourselves to one side and back.  Brian got in, I followed and Kevin took the rear.  The rope had accumulated some scum and seaweed on it, so as we were whipping across it, shit was flying everywhere.  I looked back at Kevin and he’s just covered in a green mess.  I started to cry it was so funny.  He just did a shoulder shrug and said “Yea, f*ck it”. We knew we wouldn’t stay clean, but it was awful. 

Our next checkpoint was at a creek.  We learned that we had to take our bikes through the creek to the exit point.  WTF is urban about this?!  The creek was knee to waist high.  It was a soft foundation so you couldn’t ride through it and you’re a bit tired at this point so carrying a bike wasn’t a viable option either.  Glad I just bought a great bike 2 weeks ago only to run it thru 1/2 mile of Indy’s finest water.  A team ended up passing us at this point, so we were back to second.  The next few checkpoints were on a dirt bike trail at a levee.  We regained the lead by cutting through a backyard to return for our stamp.  Upon our return a volunteer noticed we were missing CP10 on our passport.  WHAT THE FUCK, BOYS?!  Kevin was navigator.  Brian was in charge of the passport.  A huge wave of disappointment came over all of us.  We had blown right by the CP after the canoes.  We immediately rode back over to the spot on the map, but the task was over and no volunteers were there.  Son of a… Major penalty for missing a CP.  Strangely, I wasn’t mad at anyone just sour that our great ride was not going to be a 1st place finish.  And I took over naviagation.

We biked over to CP26 to find a zip line across the river.  Jerry, one of the organizers, was still setting it up.  Geez, guys… clock is ticking.  The gear list told us to bring our own harnesses, so we’d been trudging around town with about 20 extra pounds only to find harnesses waiting for us at the zip line.  Maybe they didn’t plan on it, but just frustrating that we didn’t need to carry such a heavy load.  I snapped on the line and sailed across.  The return line was sunk down in the river so once I snapped on and got in, the pulley slid off the wire and got stuck.  I wrestled with it for a bit and ended up just walking back across the river.  Disappointing.  Since we were close to the area where CP5-7 was, we decided it was best to go get those and make up some points since we missed 10.

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Well, that was a big mistake.  We had our bikes with us on a very thick vegatation trail.  We spent 40 minutes in the woods getting scratched, scraped, bitten and muddy.  You needed a machete to get through parts of it.  We didn’t find 5, 6 or 7.  Finally a clearing with a dirt road opened up in front of us.  I think Kevin wanted to call it quits at this point.  He said if he sees his truck, he’s done.  Slap-happy phase set in for me, but we motored through and headed off for Stage 2 of the course.  There is a 6 hour maximum completion time.  If you finish after that, you get penalized so I kept an eye on the time.  We had an hour left and 7 more check points to go.  These CPs were very spread out but we managed to hit 3 before heading back in.  One was moving 3 bails of hay at a horse farm, another run thru a creek, and then had to catch 2 fly balls at baseball diamond.  We rode back in with 5:54 on my watch and 43.16 miles covered.

We didn’t place in the top 3 for our division.  Results aren’t posted yet, so no idea how bad the missing CP hurt us.  Only 1 team finished the entire course, which to me says it was too long.  I think you would want a few teams to finish or why else plan that many CPs that no one is going to get to do?!  Overall this year, I hate to say, I was disappointed in the course.  It was much more on the Adventure side, than the Urban side.  Just wasn’t prepared for that.  After the race, we noticed our race tshirts had “sub” urban written on them.  Exactly!  It was not advertised that way.  The tasks at each stop were not challenging like last year.  You were through each one in about 2-3 minutes this time.  Pushing all that aside, I had a great time with my team and made some wonderful memories.  Hopefully Kevin and Brian will be back again next year because remember boys, Win Or Lose We Still Booze!  (That was our team name 🙂

Here’s some video Jessi and Sara shot while we were out on the course.  Leave it to Jessi to find room for the Glamour shot on a stick. That thing will haunt me to the day I die. Still trying to get the Google Earth map to work…

  • Next year they should make you play cornhole.

  • I’ll take that over the stupid 1/2 mile creek trudge.