Race Reports Doug Theis on 25 Apr 2011 06:44 am
Eric Henricks, representing Runners Forum Team Tenacious, joined Doug Theis and Nancy Gawrys of Team Ragged Glory to compete in last Saturday’s Planet Adventure Sprint Adventure Race in Brown County. One day before the race we completed our roster by recruiting veteran endurance and AR icon, Dave Tanner.
Nancy arrived at our house at 0615 to load her gear and we headed to Doug’s south side home with our perennial favorite team photojournalist, Gail Henricks, and our trusty AR dog, Stella. As we left Doug’s house en route to I-65 we got a call that roads approaching the Maumee Scout Camp from the east were impassable due to flooding. We turned around to take IN-37 to Bloomington and called Dave to tell him he didn’t have to drive himself to the race as we would now collect him at his Bloomington home.
I was anxious to get to the race early enough that we wouldn’t risk making the mistakes that sometimes occur when one is rushed. Unfortunately, Once we got off IN-446 onto Tower Ridge Road Tanner was navigating from the back seat with an inadequate map while I was pushing the envelope with our van. We made a few wrong turns and the van was forced to go through some wash out rutted gravel roads a little faster than one would like. More than once I had to reassure the team that “I got this”. I may have knocked something loose under the van as now I think I hear a louder exhaust noise than I heard last week.
We arrived at 0900 along with about 30 other teams and assembled our TA, then checked in with the race director, who gave us three topo maps, a punch card and a set of race instructions. We were told that one of the checkpoints had been eliminated to keep the race from going over the 10 hour time limit as trail conditions had deteriorated significantly from when the race was originally designed. We also learned that we would not get the map for our first two checkpoints until the race started at 1000. One of our team would have to run to a designated place a quarter mile away to get that map and bring it back to the rest of the team who would then figure out where those first two checkpoints were and how to get to them. Of course we selected our fastest runner, Nancy, and she did not fail us.
CP1 was just under a half mile away on the lake shore through the woods and we had to get there on foot. While most of the teams went one way we went a slightly different way to make sure we didn’t get caught in some sort of flood plain. We arrived at CP1 in about 5th place I estimate. We then ran back to the TA to get on our bikes and head for CP2 which was 3.5 miles away on one of the trails of the Hickory Ridge trail network north of the scout camp. Again, we went a different route than most of the other racers in order to ride more on gravel roads than on muddy trails. This proved helpful as we were the first team to arrive at CP2. CP3 was 5 miles away at the north end of the southern part of Combs Road that leads from Maumee over the ridge towards Elkinsville. Along the way we were passed by four teams that were riding faster than we could manage. One of the streams we had to ride through in this section was well above the bottom brackets of our bikes and flowing quite quickly. Gail took a great picture (attached) of our alpha female leading her three hurting men by a good 50 meters on the bikes as we approached CP3. If you look carefully you can see the box turtle we had to avoid hitting in the road.
We departed CP3 on foot in fifth place for a trek to CP5 two miles away on Browning Ridge. CP4, to have been reached by canoe, was deleted due to flooding. Navigation in this section was a bit tricky and we soon found the teams that had beaten us to CP3 were now all following us to CP5 and to CP6 another mile beyond that. Another mile and a half after CP6 got us back to our bikes in second place as one of the teams following us, Team Dark Side, sprinted past us in the last 100 meters. I guess the other teams decided not to follow us. Team Dark Side were strong cyclists and they disappeared from our view down the road never to be seen by us until the race was over. In fact, we saw only a couple more competitors after that point.
We had to ride another ten miles on a variety of roads and trails to visit two more CPs before returning to the TA to start the final trek section. We learned we were 18 minutes behind Team Dark Side. The race directors estimated this 5.5 mile trek circling Lake Tarzian would take 1.5 hours, but it took us 2.5 hours to get through it. One of the stream crossing we had to make was nearly waist deep and flowing fast enough so that we had to hold onto each other to make sure no one got washed away. As Dave was pulling me from the creek I for a moment feared I was going to pull him in the water with me since I outweigh him and he didn’t have a good grip on the shore. When we finally finished we weren’t surprised to hear that Team Dark Side had finished an hour before us. We were happy enough with second place, so were ecstatic when we were told we were being kidded and that actually we had finished first. Team Dark Side arrived a few minutes after us with another team just minutes behind them.
I think it’s great that AR allows older folks who aren’t as quick as they once were to still be competitive if they keep their navigation accurate. And I am grateful for the team fellowship of the sport. Our team would have been incomplete if any one of us hadn’t been there, as each person made a valuable contribution to the effort.