So I've long wondered what would happen if an experienced team took an absolute adventure racing newbie with a big engine from sea level and put him into a super competitive adventure race at 9,000 feet. The victim of my experiment was none other than my good high school friend from Ponca City, Oklahoma Brad (BJ) Rumph. BJ and I played soccer together from our teenage years through highschool and he went on as a stand out collegiate soccer player as well. BJ continued running marathons and mountain biking from his home in Dallas but had never touched a kayak paddle until the day before this race. I convinced Brad this was a good idea to do this race I believe over dinner and too many drinks at one of his many ski trips out to see Heather and I.
|BJ in the front calling the lines!|
So after a pre race skill session on how to paddle a kayak and swim in class 3 swift water the day before, BJ was clearly ready for what we had gotten him into! The race started with a 1,000 vertical foot climb on foot to CP1 as a means for the race director to space the racers before the class 3 kayak section down our beloved Arkansas River right in town aka "the Milk Run". Mayhem ensued as we entered the river in kayaks in second place behind a 2 person all male team. I steered the kayak from the rear while BJ set the cadence and watched for icebergs and other natural disasters ahead. Plenty of dumptrucks (where both paddlers get ejected) and bus stops (where only 1 paddler gets exits the kayak) were to be had all around us on this steady class 3 section but all racers were smiling at the takeout. We ran the kayak section smooth like butter with our teammates, Heather, my girlfriend, and Ryan Ognibene in a solid 1st place heading towards the 1st mountain bike leg.
After a short climb on bikes to the ropes course, BJ's resolve came to shine. The ropes course was a 400 foot Tyrolean traverse (zip line). Most zip lines are a time for fun and laughs in most races but with the last 100 feet a near vertical hand over fist suffer fest, BJ visited the pain cave in a big way. Something about hanging upside down for 20 minutes at 9000 feet of elevation zaps the human spirit and for the first time I could sense a bit of hesitation in BJ's facial expression. He rallied back onto the mountain bike as we sped out of the ropes course heading to the orienteering course 2 hours away on bike.
|Heather and I eddying out at paddle finish...no you're not crazy, we switched paddlers after rapids!|
My predictions that the o course above was the deal breaker in this race held true as we remounted our mountain bikes heading to the finish line still holding our lead on the world class singletrack Midland trail back to Buena Vista. Other teams had their own solid lineups as well and we fought off a solid Team LifeQuest Elite from Colorado Springs who's past military soliders work with returning soldiers trying to find their center again after returning to the US.
So Team Wildcats (our highschool mascot!) aka Dart Nuun Sport Multi brought home the gold in a long 6 hours 40 something minutes just like the good old days at Ponca High. BJ didn't puke and actually really impressed us that a flatlander could not just survive but excel at what we just put him through. Look at that big smile at the finish line above!
Special thanks to Nuun Active Hydration tablets and Hydrapak hydration systems for standing by just in case! At the cost of a typical water bottle minus the mess of handling gel wrappers, the new Hydrapak Gel Bot is simply genius!
Next up....4 weekends of wildwater kayak racing leading up to USA Wildwater Nationals so I'll be back in the boat for the next month!
|Post race gear shuffle in the garage...enough to make you stop adventure racing! Dirty piles and less dirty piles merge into one!|