Team Win or Lose, We Still Booze welcomed a new member for this year's Urban race, Mr. T-Back. I rounded up the crew at 6:45am and we headed over to George Washington park to set off for our 6 hour adventure. The gear list this year didn't have anything abnormal, so just the usual bikes, gloves, harness etc.
We got our pre-race instructions from the race director and course designer, Jay. Let the course plotting begin!
T.Back was instrumental in creating a new look for our shirts this year. Those faces look familiar?
Jay always like to start the race off with a bang, so this year's twist was 3 volunteers each holding up a map with the first 3 checkpoints (CP) on them at 8am (really 1a, 1b, 1c). We could either memorize the map or draw it, then take off on our way. At each of the first 3 checkpoints we were to get an envelope full of letters, then return to base camp to unscramble the words before heading off to checkpoint #2. BA blazing a trail...
T.Back with some of our competition.
Unfortunately, we lost about 6 minutes in this first leg. We took a wrong turn trying to find the 3rd envelope. Had to go back and look at the map again. Urg. In an attempt to make up this time, we decided we knew the answer to CP2 and did not really have to go where the map told us. The instruction sheet wanted us to ride up the Monon to about 52nd and find a mural on the wall and write down what the little boy was looking at in the water. With BA and T.Back being avid Monon users, they were 76% sure the answer was a frog. Fine by me. It was only worth 1 point, and we needed the make-up time. I wrote down "frog" and off we went to CP3... Gate 18 at the State Fair.
When we arrived to the gate, we were given a map of the fair that had 7 CPs on it. (3a, 3b...3g) First stop, the grandstands. We had to run up and down all the stairs. Every year, there is a stair section in this race, so I was not surprised. We only saw 1 team ahead of us at this point but had 1 right on our tails.
After the stairs, 3b had us throwing a ping pong ball in a cup, then we had to do whatever was listed at the bottom of the cup. T.Back and I got 20 situps. BA had 20 squats.
At 3c, we each had to get a cornhole bag in the hole for 3 points. 3d: find a flag in the piggie barn, 3e: move a barrel of hay (Took us a good 4 minutes to find this spot. Seemed to elude a lot of teams even with T.Back yelling "Anyone here with the Adventure Race? Anyone?"), 3f: find the paddlefish exhibit, 3g: hit a midway game... or .. run a 200 meter lap in the midway. This came down to a time decision. The midway game was the long basketball hoop shot. It appeared to take teams awhile, so we did the lap and headed to 3h. 3h CP according to the map was ON the Pepsi Coliseum Building. We ran high and low, in and around, over and under if we could. Turns out, I saw some kids waving at us by the Dairy food hut ACROSS the street from the Coliseum. Urg. Lost probably 9 minutes trying to find it. Here we had to eat 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich and drink a glass of chocolate milk. I took 1 bite, and quickly passed it to the boys to finish. I promised them I would milk a cow, birth a piglet... whatever the fair asked me to do except eat. That was all on them.
Exit the fair and hit CP4, northeast of the fair at a canoe drop-in point for Fall Creek. Here we had to canoe up river, drop the canoe then swim or wade up to CP5 hanging off a bridge. This was probably the most exhausting task because the water was neck high at some points. You have your PFD and shoes on weighing you down. And it stunk. We got it done, headed back to CP4 to rejoin our bikes and head even farther NE to CP6, which told us to keep our PFDs. I opted to wear mine while the boys rigged theirs to hang off their packs.
CP6 had us swimming across a nasty pond to get a flag punch as Doug and Tracy got to watch our stinky demise. Here, I started singing, "I hate Jay Newlin". It was cleaner than the scum pond 2 years ago, but still very nasty.
There was no good way in our out of the pond. I basically slid on my arse to get in and had T.Back pull me out.
CP7 kept us going NE up to Skiles Test Nature Park where we received a new map at the very top of the steep hill with 5 CPs on it. Our clues gave us an idea where to look for the flags in the woods, such as "man-made structure", "distinct tree", "boulder". The boys started taking off running. I was a bit slower at this point, but managed to find the inner-yell to remind them to check the map scale. It may look a mile away, but 2 inches on the map was about 400 meters. We fought through nettles and neck high weeds before getting to the more tame trail portions. My shins took a beating, but I think we made good work on this part and needed to head back to CP4 because it shared the same location as CP8. On the way there I commented to T.Back that he'd been here for close to 4 hours. If he didn't have his own watch on, I think he thought I was lying.
At CP8 we could either zip line down to the river from the bridge, or swim across the river and back. This, again, was a timing decision. To get in the harness, wait in line, then unhook and get back on your bike... too long. So I ordered my troops into the river. Which I'm sure BA just loved me for since he hates to swim.
CP9 was next and it was back at base camp near 34th and Keystone. Upon arrival, we had to each throw a dart at 3 clowns on a dart board. If one of us hit a clown crotch or nose, the whole team passed. I have such good aim that I did hit the clown crotch, but it didn't stick. Doh! Didn't take too long anyway and we headed over to the car to regroup and regear.
What I haven't mentioned yet is that after the canoe portion at CP4, BA, in a good faith gesture to helping get the canoe out, exited the canoe before the launch pad and ended up over his head in water. This in itself is not a big deal. The problem was, waterproof map cases (as I learned last year) are only waterproof when closed. Our clue sheet was ruined. I was hoping we could grab a new one at base camp, but no such luck. Using my MacGyver skills, I grabbed the roll of duct tape from my trunk and started peeling. We didn't need the front side of the clue sheet anymore, so like a puzzle, we turned our soggy crumpled mess of paper into a silver backed-semi legible clue sheet and we were off. Really unfortunate part was we wasted 20 minutes getting back on the road. Goal of placing, gone.
But we were still having fun, so we rolled over to CP10 at Douglas Park. Here we each had to toss a ring on an upright pole with X's on them. Bouncing plastic off plastic was not easy. Next was CP11 at Crown Hill Cemetery, one of the highest points in our city. On our way there, I noticed my rear tire going flat. I figured I'd just motor through. Too much time loss to stop and change a tire at this point. (Bad decision) We only had 6 more CPs to go. Here, we were to ride up to James Whitcomb Riley's tomb to solve the clue. T-Back was killing it on the bike to this CP so I gave him the maps and said he needed to keep better spacing with us, but feel free to take the lead. After the crushing hill to CP11, the boys wanted to find the north exit of the Cemetery because we were now headed to Butler University. As they were trying to find their own way, I summoned the inner yell again "CHECK THE F'IN MAP". There were only 2 entrances and we didn't need to waste anymore time or energy finding them. T.Back offered to switch me bikes at this point in an effort to keep me up with them. We got back on track and headed to Butler to find some words near the stadium steps then quickly off to CP13. At CP13, we had to shoot a 3-can pyramid down with a be-be gun. I had never shot anything but a water gun before, so I was way off. BA wasn't much better, so T.Back single-handedly finished this one for us.
At this point, we had 45 minutes left and learned that the next CP was a foot-race ropes course that easily took 30 minutes. This would put us way past cut off time to returning to base camp. We opted to skip all of CP14, go directly to hit CP15 a flag punch near main Broadripple then CP16 at Upland Brewery. Upon arrival at the Brewery, T.Back and BAs lovely ladies met us with a full pint of beer. BA looks as SS and goes "I have to drink this whole thing?!" No, she was just being nice and giving him a whole beer when we only needed a shots worth. I grabbed it, poured 3 shots and yelled, "Down them and lets go!" We were cutting it way too close.
T.Back's bike exchange certainly helped me but left him stuck with the gimp bike and ultimately we finished 4 minutes late after 42.7 miles. Not good. But we had fun and that's what really matters (kinda).
The after party had awards, pop, pizza and BYOB. I indulged a bit.
After chatting with a few of the award winners, we learned they decided to SKIP SEVERAL checkpoints?! That never crossed our minds until the end where we were against a wall after CP13. These teams decided mid-race it'd take too long to get somewhere. Shit, I would have skipped the damn canoe part! That was only 1 f'in CP for 30 minutes. I guess different styles for different racers. We were there to race the maximum amount of the course as laid out by the director. Here's our marginal effort for the day...
As always, lots of lessons learned.
1. No more map cases. Laminate sheets from now on.
2. Change the bike tire. Its worth the saved energy.
3. Skip checkpoints...maybe. Still not sure that's the type of racer I want to be.
The final results aren't up yet and I have my own pictures from the race that I'll edit in for some more views of what we did. We are curious to see overall point wise how we did in comparison to those that merely finished on time.
We'll be back in 2012. Be aware.