Race Reports Doug Theis on 28 Apr 2003 07:51 am
For Team Ragged Glory, Planet Adventure 2003 began with two new team members: Bob Mueller, our long time friend/crew guy, and Julie Nor, who had advertised on the PA03 team builder web page. After racing as a threesome with Leslie for five straight races, Steve and I wondered what new wrinkles the changes might bring.
The weather was sunny and in the 60s at the Four Winds Resort for the Friday night check-in and pre-race meeting. GlobalX race directors Greg Arnold, Jerry Lyons and Joe Lawson revealed the first few legs of a challenging course. On Saturday morning starting at 6am, we would:
-Run Hardin Ridge for three miles carrying packs paddles, canoe seats and PFDs
-Cross a waist-deep inlet (wet early, wet often)
-Portage a canoe and an inflatable kayak half a mile across the Allen’s Creek Peninsula
-Paddle the boats on an 15 mile Lake Monroe tour to the Crooked Creek boat ramp
-Trek about nine miles to a steep reentrant with a ropes section up to Browning Hill
-Trek another three miles to Transition Area 1(TA1)
After the meeting, we ate, plotted the course coordinates, planned, and packed. Jeff and Emilee, our awesome crew, arrived. We grabbed our last bit of sleep before racing.
On Saturday morning cloudy, 40 degree weather greeted the 49 teams. Although getting to the start line was a bit dicey for TRG, we rode to Hardin Ridge listening to our pump-up music and prayed to bless the race and the racers. As the gun sounded, we could feel the excitement of the 195 racers, crews and the spectators as we started the 90+ mile journey.
We ran and chatted with our friends Team Shackleton Endurance while getting rid of the pre-race anxieties. Then came the signature Greg Arnold (you’re going to get wet) plunge/slide into a backwater inlet off Lake Monroe. We ran some more, picked up the boats, then Steve and I portaged the canoe across Allen’s creek peninsula while Bob and Julie carried the inflatable kayak. We put the boats in Lake Monroe and proceeded to paddle.
The wind played games with our steering (and heads) for the first few miles, but we found our rhythm and churned the water with our kayak paddles. Steve was at the helm in the back of the canoe; I was up front; Bob was in the middle. Julie was powering the kayak which was also connected to the canoe with a surgical tubing umbilical cord.
After winding our way into Salt Creek for an in-and-out to the first checkpoint punch (CP2), we finished the paddling section, racked our canoes, left our paddles and PFDs. We then headed out on foot for the first trekking section to the ropes. We laughed, drank, and ate our way through the muddy Hoosier National Forest.
As always, we had divided responsibilities between team members to help us reach our goal of finishing the race. Bob and Steve navigated. Julie carried the passport. Bob set his watch to alarm periodically as a reminder to eat and drink. It seemed like Bob’s watch went off every five minutes!
We made our way to the bottom of a very steep 300 foot ravine leading south up the west end of the Browning Hill. The last fifty feet was a steep batman-style rope scramble up a limestone formation with the team members daisy chained together. Jerry Lyons and Indy endurance legend Jim Dill manned the ropes. All day there had been a problem with falling rocks. Bob was hit in the leg with a baseball sized rock as we girded up. Bob took the lead on the rope with the race-supplied ascender. As Steve and Julie were finishing with their harnesses, they heard “ROCK!”. Steve looked up and saw a head-sized rock careening straight for him and the back of Julie’s head. In what seemed like slow motion, Bob and I watched as Steve kept his eye on the rock to protect himself and Julie, then dove out of the way as the rock sailed over Julie’s head and straight for Steve’s. After a prayer of thanks, we pulled our way up the rope. A few more miles of hiking brought us to TA1 near the south end of Combs Creek Road. We were glad to see Jeff and Emilee and the great oasis they had made for us.
We found out at TA1 that the next leg would be a twelve mile mountain bike leg up Nebo Ridge and back through Elkinsville to the same TA. We would then do a land navigation course covering about three square miles, finding 10 of 12 flags in order to continue. It was 4:00pm as we left TA1 on the bikes. We knew then that we would be doing most of the land navigation section in the dark.
We had heard that a racer had broken his leg on the Nebo Ridge Trail and was waiting for emergency assistance. Julie’s loaner bike had problems on the trails. I started fading and losing focus. Bob’s awesome cycling and repair skills kept us going. After riding three miles on the Nebo Ridge trail, we rode up to the injured rider, David Yang. David had corresponded with Julie before the race. His spirits were excellent in spite of his serious injury, and we prayed with him before continuing. After leaving the Nebo Ridge Trail, we had to find a checkpoint near Elkinsville, the town that WAS. WAS was the sixth word on the monument to the town of Elkinsville, which was flooded as a part of the creation of Lake Monroe.. We needed that word on our passport as proof we were there and followed the course. As we made our way uphill out of Elkinsville, it became apparent that we were going to become one with the mud. We rode our mud-covered bikes to complete the leg and return to Jeff and Emilee at TA2 for some hot food and more clothes.
It was 7:10pm as we left TA2 on foot for the land navigation course. Indy’s Channel 13 news drove beside the team in their truck, asking us questions as we ran toward the trail head. We had over an hour of light left, but didn’t find our first control until after dark. The dark seemed to cause us to focus and the entire team worked together for a successful night navigation leg. When we returned to the TA for the final time, and Jeff had Arby’s roast beef sandwiches waiting for us. Once we stopped, we realized how cold it had become. The temperature had dropped to 39 degrees, a new record for June 1 in that area.
At TA3 we found out that the next leg was a long bike leg including four off-road checkpoints at the Hickory Ridge multi use-trail area (giant hills, horses tracks, manure, and mud) followed by an asphalt and gravel road ride back to the Four Winds Resort at the Fairfax Recreation Area. We also heard that there was a short trekking section once we got back to the Four Winds, followed by the finish line.
At 2:20 am, we bundled up, packed food and water, and climbed on the bikes for a five mile road ride to the trails. It was Steve and Bob’s turn to fade. Each one of us had different hallucinations: Julie saw speed bumps on the road, Bob was sure Julie was riding on grass, Steve said Bob’s flashing taillight looked like the sparkler traces on July 4th, and I imagined a 12 foot wide white plastic beam dancing on the pavement next to Steve’s bike. We made it to the trail head, leapfrogging our friends Team Sheltowee. We climbed off and hiked our bikes up the ridge, warming up as we waited for dawn.
As the morning light increased, we reached the checkpoint at the top of the ridge near a cemetery. After that, the ride down through the muddy horse trails seemed like 50 feet on your bike, 50 feet pushing through the mud. But the dawn brought us new life and we descended and worked through the other three checkpoints that were located on the trails. How often was Bob’s watch reminding us to eat and drink? It seemed like every three minutes!
Finally on our way to the finish line, we set out on the roads for the last 30+ miles back to the Four Winds. The sun shone and we had a great time cruising down hills and working our way back. Bob’s cycling skill shined as he helped Julie on the climbs. We were all tired enough to get off the bikes and push on the big hills.
We cycled across the Monroe Reservoir dam, headed north, then back to the Four Winds resort. As we pulled in to the parking lot, Suzanne, Mindi, Teresa and all the kids were waiting for us. What a re-energizing sight! We grabbed our final land nav map and ran one last mile to pick up the final checkpoint and cross the finish line.
Our official time was 28 hours and 34 minutes. We finished 17th of 19 finishers in the coed division. It was our longest non-stop race yet. The team worked together perfectly, the race directors and course challenged us, and our families and friends supported us throughout. Bob had set his continuous food alert for every fifteen minutes. My daughter calculated that Bob’s watch went off 139 times during the race! We congratulate all of our friends who raced and especially those who finished. Thanks to Leslie for enabling Julie with gear and team history to help make the race a success. Thanks to GlobalX and all the volunteers for the funnest race I’ve done yet. – Doug