Sunday, September 11, 2011

Team Nuun Ripboard Wins Gravity Play Glenwood Springs 12 Hour Adventure Race

Team Ripboard Jeremy Rodgers, Heather Prentice, Mike Freeburn, and Ryan Ognibene (missing)
So we finally got the adventure racing Zen master Mike Freeburn out of semi retirement for the Glenwood Springs Adventure Extream 12 hour race and what a treat it was to race with Mike again. Heather, Ryan Ognibene, and I teamed up with Ripboard based out of Denver, Colorado with an all star cast. Mike was one of my original mentors and inspirations to begin downriver kayak racing in 2005 and was one of the best adventure racers in the US for many years. Even better, he's a principal of Durango High School so he knows how to keep the team in ship shape hence the nickname Zen Master.

So 50 teams began the 12 hour race with a 3000 foot ascent straight up on foot to the caving, rappel, and alpine slide. We jockeyed with Team Lifequest Adventure from gun fire to finish line. We discussed pre race that only the first 6 racers, solo or team to the alpine coaster got a carbohydrate free ride down the mountain. After a grueling vertical ascent, the alpine coaster had us all giggling with high G force turns. We came off of the first run leg 1 hour later in a lead with Team LifeQuest Adventure in a close second place.

We began the mountain bike leg with a brisk ascent of Lookout Mountain on our way to Boy Scout Trail which is a gem of a ride for single track lovers just outside of Glenwood Springs. This singletrack has amazing views and even more amazing exposure. Today had no shortage of carnage and just as Team Lifequest caught us on the bikes they crashed trying to keep their small lead.

After several hours of jockeying back and forth and steep descents back into Glenwood, we pulled some aces out of the hat. As team Lifequest rolled into the TA and check out, we traded in our mountain bikes and grabbed road bikes for the bike path ascent to the riverboarding/paddle section of the course on the Shoshone section of the Lower Colorado.

With 2 national kayak team members and all 4 of us being river  saavy, we held our position in draft of Lifequest all the way to the river board start. Race director, Will Newcomer, met us at the river board put in to let us know our engineering marval "Ripboard Transport System", which was a fast hauling portage system to run the river boards 2 miles up the bike path, was a no go. With the Shoshone section running double it's normal volume at nearly 2500 cfs, he was concerned hauling the river board portage system down river with us wouldn't bode well as we agreed.

It was clear to us after 5 seconds in the class 3-4 river board section how Rip Boards got their namesake. Heather got a wild ride in one of the holes in Tombstone Rapid after having her Ripboard ripped out of her hands.  She rallied back onto the Rip Board and we cruised into the paddle start neck and neck with Team Lifequest with Team OutdoorLife about 30 minutes back.

Heather diving for dollars on the river board section. Nice job hun!

Our strategy played out as the paddle leg was our bread and butter. Team Nuun Ripboard rolled into the finish line in 5 hours 28 some minutes a hard fought but smooth 10 minutes ahead of a solid all male second place Lifequest team. Adventure racing has always been a coed sport and we are hard headed like that and choose to stick with tradition but these all male teams really made us work hard to outwit and outlast the horsepower heavy all male teams that race in the same 4 person elite class.

Team Nuun Ripboard was first overall followed by Lifequest Adventure and Team Outdoor Life then soloist Spencer Lacy. Spencer and his paddling phenom brother Mason duke it out like 2 brothers 1 year apart should and their post race stories are the best in the business.  We even got one racers report that he saw them both crash on Boy Scout Trail off the exposed trail only to hear "giggling in the bushes". Priceless!

Team Nuun Ripboard, 1st Overall, Mike Freeburn, Heather Prentice, Jeremy Rodgers, Ryan Ognibene, and of course Mazzers and a curious Labrador.

Hamburgers on our new grill and cool drinks after the race around the HybridVan punch lined the post race events for racers. Special thanks to Nuun, Ripboard, KEEN, and Garmin for their ongoing support of adventure and adventure racing in the US!

Next up, 2012 National Team Trials in Kentucky Oct 15th followed by ski season.

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