Monthly ArchiveSeptember 2009

Race Reports Doug Theis on 25 Sep 2009

How an Adventure Race Works – 2009 Indianapolis Adventure Race Recap by Team Ragged Glory

Many of my friends have asked me how an adventure race works. Here’s a description of adventure racing and a recap of an adventure race that my team and I completed last weekend.

Adventure racing is a team event that combines road/mountain biking, canoeing, trail running/hiking, orienteering/navigation, rope work and surprise mystery events. Teams consist of three: coed, all male and female. All team members must start and finish together, covering the entire course together. The actual distances, course layout and order of events will not be disclosed until race day.

Teammates are required to stay within 100 or so feet of each other at all times. Each team carries a passport that they punch, write on, or get signed at each checkpoint along the way to prove that they completed the course.

Greg Arnold, Indiana’s father of adventure racing, started what is now known as the Indianapolis Adventure Race in 2000. The first year was a training event. The second year, Greg held the first-ever competitive adventure race in Indianapolis. Michael Sapper took over the event in 2001, continuing the tradition and enhancing the race into one of the area’s favorites. The 2009 race was the 10th anniversary event. It’s one of the oldest adventure races in the Midwest.

For the 2009 race, Michael and Indy Rootstock (another Indianapolis adventure race team) delivered another challenging course, designed to favor patience and accurate navigation.

Ninety minutes before the start, we received race directions and three of the six maps we would be using:
1. A Zionsville map
2. A map of northwest Marion County in Indianapolis
3. The Eagle Creek West orienteering map

The race directions gave us an idea of the order of the race disciplines. We would be paddling, then navigating on-foot, biking, navigating on-foot again, biking, rappelling off the Eagle Creek dam, more biking, doing an unknown special test, still more biking, visiting a climbing gym, and more biking to the finish line.

Sixty minutes before start time, Michael held the pre-race meeting. He described in more detail the course we would be following:

• Before the race began, racers would be bused to Lions Park in Zionsville. We would receive the fourth map (Lions Park/town of Zionsville) at the start of the race.
• We would start with a two-mile run to seven checkpoints in and around the park.
• After returning to the park, we would paddle/drag the canoes five miles down Eagle Creek to the mouth of Eagle Creek Reservoir. It turned out to be about half paddle, half drag/portage.
• We would orienteer on-foot from Lafayette Road and Traders Lane back to the start finish line at 56th and Raceway, picking up controls in the deep woods on the west side of Eagle Creek Reservoir along the way.
• After returning to the start/finish line, also know as Transition Area 1 (TA1) we would bike to the second on-foot orienteering section.
• Receive the fifth map, then orienteer on-foot finding another few controls in the woods around the southwest end of the reservoir.
• Bike to the Eagle Creek Reservoir dam.
• Rappel down the north face of the Eagle Creek dam, unhook, and drop the last 15 feet into the reservoir, then swim to the side.
• Bike to Northwestway Park for a special test.
• Bike to Climb Time Towers for a special test.
• Bike back to the finish line, picking up two more controls along the way.

Finish times were expected to be around 6.5 hours for the winners. The course would close after 11 hours. Estimates on total distances per discipline were:
• 8-9 miles on-foot
• 5-6 mile paddle
• 31-32 miles of biking

We spent our remaining minutes preparing our route choices, finished marking the maps and packing our mandatory gear. Then we climbed on the buses and headed to Zionsville.

At 8am, the gun sounded and fifty teams were off. Team Ragged Glory progressed well through the course, steady and in the top 10 for the paddle and navigation sections of the race. Bob handled the three separate on-foot navigation sections flawlessly. We transitioned well. The rappel off the dam was spectacular.

We received our sixth and final map at the special test at Northwestway Park. The test required one person on bike, one person on foot and one on scooter for a 1.5-mile loop around the paved walking trail. Bob rode the bike and towed Nancy who ran while I rode a Razor scooter. Then after another short bike leg, we climbed a thirty-foot climbing wall at Climb Time Towers for the final special test.

Team Ragged Glory completed the course in eight hours, forty minutes. We ended up finishing fourth out of 50 teams, a great ending to a beautiful day.

What we did well:
• Bob’s navigation was perfect. He studied the Eagle Creek West O-map on the bus ride to Zionsville. His route choice was fast and accurate.
• The early boat drag was both physically and mentally challenging; experience helped us not spend too much energy in this section.
• Towing on bike and on foot improved our overall speed.
• Our transition speeds were excellent.
• Splitting the maps, passports and race directions among all three team members helps for faster overall speed and better accuracy.

What we could have done better:
• Looking at the map instead of following other teams like lemmings (sending Nancy) up the hill at the first (wrong) checkpoint on the paddle.
• Moments of trying to “race” a few teams on the paddle/drag section rather than keeping our pace steady and under control (our race, our pace)
• Staying out of Bob’s wheel on the bike tow.

Team member comments about Team Ragged Glory’s fourth place finish:

• Bob Mueller: Our team executed well and teammates were on the same page.
• Nancy Gawrys: We set goals to tow on bike/on foot and to transition fast. We accomplished them.
• Me: In-race decision-making, team dynamic and Bob’s navigation were all nearly perfect.

That’s how an adventure race works. Every race is a little different. Volunteers are a huge part of making these complex events a success. Our thanks goes out to every volunteer.

Want to give it a try?

Doug Theis
Team Ragged Glory
September 24, 2009

Photography by Gail Henricks

Race Reports Doug Theis on 21 Sep 2009

TRG grabs unofficial fourth overall in the 10th Indy Adventure Race

TRG finished somewhere around 8 hours 40 minutes to grab an unofficial fourth place overall finish (as well as fourth place coed) in the 10th annual Indianapolis Adventure Race on Saturday, September 19, 2009.

Bob Mueller, Nancy Gawrys and I (Doug Theis) raced all day long in nearly perfect weather in Zionsville’s Lions Park, down the Eagle Creek , in Eagle Creek Park West and South, rappelling off the reservoir dam, in Northwestway Park, and Climb Time Towers to complete the course. That’s my kind of workday.

53 teams were registered. It was a big crowd for Michael Sapper’s swan song as race director.

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Race Reports Doug Theis on 21 Sep 2009

2009 Planet Adventure Urban Sprint recap

Thanks to Jay Newlin and the AdventureWorks crew for all their work on the urban sprint race in mid-August 2009. The race start/finish was at Southwestway Park, one of my favorite trail running venues in Indy. My brothers-in-law and I once again raced as TRG Outlaws, and in another reprise of last year’s TRG config, Nancy Gawrys, Steve Kincade and Maddie Gawrys-Strand raced as TRG.

The course was fun and the weather was perfect. Memorable moments: Three in a rubber kayak, dragging ourselves across a cable ferry style in fetid water. The zip line across White River. The fire road bike trail along the river in Martin Marietta property.

Great to see everyone.

Photos Doug Theis on 18 Sep 2009

2009 Indianapolis Adventure Race Photos

This was a fun race that favored good navigators. It included two separate orienteering sections, a rappel off the Eagle Creek dam, and plenty of bike.

Team Ragged Glory placed fourth out of 51 teams in the 2009 Indianapolis Adventure Race. This was my (Doug Theis) ninth consecutive Indy AR.