Soggy Bottom Boys Rogaine and Land Nav Challenge

Feb 27, 2010 – Congrats to Jeff and Rob for taking second place in the 6-hour course! They raced as team Bushwhack.

The Soggy Bottom Boys Rogaine and Land Nav Challenge was held near Spring Grove, VA, and used the Pipsico and Chanco areas that Patrick and Don saw in the Tidewater Traverse a few years ago.

2010 Swamp Stomp AR

Feb 14, 2010Swamp Stomp proved to be another cold race for, complete with numb fingers and toes. This time the temp’s dipped below freezing and left us with ice on our shoestrings. And this was in Florida!!

Excerpt from the race report: “The temp’s were close to freezing at this point. Patrick and Rob pulled off their outer pants to keep them drier, then Rob went in first. The water was usually between ankle and knee deep.” Read the full race report here.

Race pictures can be seen here and here (Don’s).

We ended up taking 7th place in the 4 person coed category, and 9th place overall!

Wading through the swamp trail

Rob wading through the swamp trail at 1AM

2010 Mandatory Gear AR

Jan 30, was represented at the Mandatory Gear Adventure Race near Conway, SC by Patrick Downie, Jeff Eichman, Nicole Lewis and myself – Don Childrey. This was Nicole’s first real AR! It was Patrick’s first time running the MGAR, Jeff’s second, and my third (the first run was as a practice race in 2008).

Excerpt from the race report: “… I was up at 4:28am and checked the radar. Lots of green and yellow just west of us, and it extended off the radar map. All of that was coming our way.  The rain began falling just as the first team started at 5:30am. It was 37 degrees outside. ” Read the full report here.

We ended up taking first place in the 4 person coed category!!

Jeff, Don, Nicole, and Patrick

Atomic AR Report

Deena, Don and Jeff teamed up a week after the 12 hour Yuki to race the inaugural 24 hour Atomic Adventure Race in Georgia.

Don’s pics

We went into this one aiming low. It was Jeff’s third racing weekend in a row, Deena’s first 24 hour AR, and I had only trained by doing last weekend’s 12 hr Yuki. The cutoffs seemed tight, so we prepared to make the call to skip points (4 hr penalty for each).



The race started off with an uphill prologue run for Deena, then we all hiked up 1,000 feet to get our bikes and fly down the paved park road. Another team had a rider’s rim brakes overheat the rim and burst a tire.

On the ride to the first foot-O section, a number of teams, including some of the top teams, mis-naved the roads and we got ahead of them. I think we were listed in 5th place at one point.

We had trouble with the 1:24k scale on the foot-O at first, but soon adjusted and got back on track. It rained on us during this section, and we were wet from then on.

The ride from the first foot-O section took us through some bike trails that were a red-clay slopfest with all the rain.

As we approached the next TA, we saw some CP flags that we didn’t have the UTM’s for. At the TA, we were given the choice to try to get 3 of these new CP’s in fifteen minutes. If we failed, we’d have to go get two more. We choose to go get all five up front, mostly because my knee was keeping me from running. Besides, you have to get ALL the CP’s to really “clean” a course, right?

Burn TA

Burn TA

From there we trekked about 3 km to the river put-in. We had to swim across the Etowah River to get the TA CP before we could paddle. The paddle was long, but the river was up two feet so it was moving pretty good. We had to be off the river by 2:30 am (first cutoff). I think it was about 6pm when we got there, so we were still looking ok at that point in the race.

River takeout

River takeout

The trek back to the bikes included a number of CP’s. We were able to use our namesake skill and bushwhack several of these successfully. Several teams kept passing us, again and again. They were running, we weren’t.

Night fell on us in this section, and we finally reached the TA to get back on the bikes. The volunteers were relaying that more rain was moving in on the final foot-O section already. I put on my first pair of dry socks (after about 12 hours of wet feet). They made it 15 minutes until we had to wade the river again, with bikes. The rain arrived again as we started 10 miles of uphill red clay trails and roads.

The big cutoff was to arrive at the Wildcat TA by 4:30 am. If we made that, we’d have 10 hours to hike 10 miles and ride 7 or 8 back to the finish. We arrived at about 3 and were trekking by 3:35 am.

The final foot-O was mostly on trails. The three points were so spread out, any bushwhacks would have had to be a km or more long, in very steep terrain, in the rain, in the dark. Our tanks were getting low, so we decided to stick to the trails. Our pace slowed almost to a crawl as dawn arrived and we topped the highest peak. The downhill on the other side was endless and nearly as slow out of caution.

We eventually made it back to the bikes to discover that there was only one other team still out on that section. All the rest had either not made it to the section, or had only picked up one or two points, or was one of the lead teams who were still running when they left and were long gone.

We granny-geared back out of the valley we were in and spun our way back to the finish area. There was a bit of brain-deadness happening in this section, but we finally reached the park and the start area.

The kind volunteer there cheered and gave us our final instructions. Drop your bikes, get all of your mandatory gear, and hike up the Amicalola Falls stairs to the top of the park. This was the same 1,000 feet of elevation gain that we started out on, except that was on a trail. This time we were to take the more scenic stairs. There are 600 actual stair steps in this climb, plus a bunch of steep paved trail.

Stairway to H...?

Stairway to H...?

I have never hurt so much on a stair workout. I don’t think it’s possible to get this kind of red-line burn in a gym on a stair machine.

Why is Deena smiling?

Why is Deena smiling?

We were met at the top by Josh and some of his crew. They had a tray of homemade brownies, which we dug into. Then they piled us into the backseat of a volunteer’s Xterra and he drove us back down to our bikes. We had to keep the windows down, for everyone’s sake. 26+ hours of wet AR fun had us smelling pretty strong by that point!

Back at the bottom, other vol’s had burgers and dogs going on the grill and we started the recovery process.

We managed to clean the course, getting all of the CP’s, even the two extras at the Burn challenge, and we made all of the cutoffs. We felt pretty good about that. Draft results have been posted , which put us in 6th place in our division. We had a blast and lived through the challenges. Everyone should attempt a 24 hour AR at least once in their lives!!!

YukiJoy ’09 Report

Team Bushwhack Adventures had a great showing at the 2009 Isotopes Racing YukiJoy adventure race! When it came time for heading to the prize table, we were the first ones called, as the first place coed team! The final standings may change (that’s another story), but we will be proud of our performance regardless.

Don’s pics from the race course

I understand some of our readership may not have the endurance to make it through my book-length race reports, so I’ll try to do a Cliff-notes version here.

Deena, Jeff, Patrick and I formed a four-person coed team this time. Sully and Roxie were our cheering section. The race started at 7am with teams plotting the 24 CP’s on their maps. We then ran through camp to the river, paddled and waded our canoes upstream for about a kilometer to CP 0, then turned around and paddled downstream for about 11 km’s, picking up CP’s 1-5 on the way.

At TA 1 we transitioned to bikes and rode about 7 km over to CP 6 and a hike-a-bike-O section. There were five more CP’s there to be found among a set of ATV trails. The overnight storm turned the red clay to slick mud, so we chose to take a risk by hoofing it instead of biking it. Apparently that was a smart guess on which would be faster, as other teams were hating the biking and weren’t happy with us as we passed them. This might turn out to cost us in the end. What cost us more was my stupidity in not taking a water bottle with me. We spent more time on that section that I thought we would and I got a little dehydrated.

Once through that section, we biked the 7 km back to Danbury and picked up two more CP’s close to town, 12 and 13. My dehydration was starting to kick my behind at this point. I was drinking and taking electrolytes, but the midday heat and being behind on fluids took me a while to recover from. As we climbed hills towards Hanging Rock State Park, I got really slow and started having a few brain misfires. At one point I intended to shift gears up but grabbed a handful of brake instead – surprise! Soon after that I sprawled out on the ground under a shade tree for a few minutes and finally got my temperature down and some fluids soaking in.

The ride up into HRSP was a killer. The road went from1100 feet to 1700 feet in about 3.5 km. If it wasn’t for Jeff and the tow rope, I might still be crawling up that hill!

At the Visitor’s Center we refilled our camelbak’s and then checked into TA2B. From there we hiked across the park, up and over a ridge and down to Tory’s Den, where we punched CP 17. As we left 17, it started to rain. We climbed back up to Moore’s Knob, punching CP 18 on the way and finding CP 19 on top of the tower at the knob.

By this time my left knee had decided to abstain from downhill’s, at least it wasn’t going to do them without screaming at me. The 4,037 rock steps in the path coming down were very painful. I wasn’t the only one grimacing. We decided then to seek sponsorship from Celebrex.

Back at the bottom of the mountain we picked up CP 22 by the lake and headed back around to our bikes. We had to be out of the park by 8pm. It was 7:30 when we rolled away. The hill that took almost an hour to get up only took 5 minutes to get down. Patrick hit 56 kph, with both brakes on. We had one hill to grind up just after we got out of the park, but from there it was all downhill back to the campground. We punched in at the finish at 7:45, leaving 30 minutes on the clock. Had we not been so ready to be stopped at that point, we probably had enough time to get one more, if not two more CP’s in that amount of time. Ah, hindsight.

Regardless of the outcome, we had a great time on the course and worked pretty well together. I’m looking forward to the Atomic AR next weekend! 24 hours of AR insanity! What was I thinking?!

Update: The results have been posted. We were penalized 1 point for not dragging our bikes through the mud-fest-bike-O section. But we were one of only three teams who hiked all the way across HRSP. Most other teams hiked in to one point and biked around to the other side to get the other mandatory point. As result, the RD gave us three bonus points, equivalent to the three CP’s we could probably have gotten in the time we spent hiking that other teams didn’t. The result was a change in points, but we still maintained first place in the 4 person coed category! That also put us in 7th place overall. Not bad!

Swamp Fox ’09 Report

Jeff, Patrick and Don (me) teamed up to race in the Palmetto Swamp Fox Adventure Race on March 21st. 2009 was the 4th year for this 12 hour race, put on by Steve Morrone of KanDo Adventures. It was set in and around the South Carolina lowcountry town of McClellanville, about an hour up the coast from Charleston.

It took us about 3:15 to get from Raleigh to Georgetown, where we checked into a hotel, dropped some stuff, and then headed another 25-30 minutes south to McClellanville. We checked in for the race, got our swag bags, dropped off some Bushwhack Adventures biz cards to be put in the other race bags, and got our huge maps. These are the biggest ones MyTopo sells – nothing but the best map-folding challenge for adventure racers!! We grabbed a quick bite at T.W. Graham’s diner in town and plotted our CP’s before heading back to the Town Hall for the pre-race briefing. We were told there were about 150 racers, in about 50 teams, signed up to race.

Nothing too unusual in the briefing, except that by the time the sun set the next day, we would know of several questions that should have been asked. It’s a tricky balancing act. You want to ask questions so you have the info, but at the same time, asking in the briefing gets the answers to everyone else there who is listening. Turns out a lot less people were listening than you would think.

The race start was at 7am, and we had to drop our bikes about 15 minutes south of the start, down at the Buck Hall Campground. Our friend Dale Long and his son came down from Conway to volunteer. He was manning the bike drop and would be there starting at 5 am. We headed back to Georgetown, grabbed some Subway sandwiches, and had a pre-race toast with a bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale. There was general packing and rearranging, some NCAA tourney watching, and finally a reluctant lights out once alarms were set for 4:45 am.

The reluctant crawl back out of bed followed too quickly. It was almost 50 degrees outside, which was ten degrees warmer than it was forecast to be. We loaded up and dropped the bikes about 6 am, reaching the start area at the Town Hall and marina about 6:15. There was lots of milling around, more repacking, and a murmur of anticipation in the air. The lines at the two portajohns grew and shrank like the ebb and flow of the tide. Perhaps that “anticipation” in the air was coming from the portajohns?

There was some issue causing Steve to delay the start. We heard that some team had locked their keys in their car and he might have been waiting on them. We moved our rental kayaks from the middle of the pack towards the launch end of the field. Then we did our turn in the tidal line at the little green houses.

Finally, at 7:30, Steve got us ready. The 20′ of rope in the gear list was to be used to tie ourselves together for the first section. This was a mini-O-course around town, looking for 5 CP’s for which we had written clues about their location. At each CP we were to write down the letter-number on the tag. Back at the start area we had to use these letter-numbers to find letters from a matrix grid, and then unscramble the letters to make a word. Once we had the word we could tell it to a race volunteer and get our race passports for the rest of the race. If you couldn’t unscramble it, there was a sentence clue posted at the back of the building to help you figure it out.

At 7:33 am, we were off! We ran a comfortable pace around town. Several of the points were in the same location as last year, and we didn’t have trouble with any of them. Back at the start area, the other guys split off to visit the now-lineless portajohns while I decoded the letters. I had to use the sentence helper, but knew the answer before I read the whole sentence. With our passport now in hand, we grabbed our boats and hit the water 23 minutes into the race.

The paddle route led us out of the marina to the intracoastal waterway, and then southward towards Buck Hall and our bikes. There were 3 CP’s along the way. The first CP was on an island on the left side of the waterway. Despite the mini-O-course at the beginning, the field was still pretty bunched up, with perhaps 12-15 boats ahead of us and the rest somewhere behind. The first CP was a paddle-by. We just had to read the word on the sign and write that on our passport. First word of the day was “shrimp”. No time to stop and write – just remember it. That would bite some teams about 10 hours later.

In the pre-race briefing, there were questions asked about the UTM sheet that had “2TA” and Steve’s comments about the “second TA”. Seemed clear to us that we would be doing something on foot at CP 2. I’m pretty sure Steve even said that. What we didn’t know was what that might be. We figured we’d find out when we got there and would just do it.

Paddling down the waterway that morning was glorious. It was cool, but not cold. The sun was at our backs. The wind was 10-15 mph and pushing us from behind. The tide was flowing in the direction we wanted to go. We were making great time with minimal effort.

CP 2 was on the mainland side of the waterway, up a large creek. It was the first big creek we came to. The mouth of the creek was just past a man-made retention pond on the left. And directly across from an inlet into the marshes on the left of the waterway. I had the map on my lap. The other guys had to exercise their faith in me at that point. They didn’t understand why there were a dozen other boats paddling furiously down the waterway ahead of us, as we turned up the creek. Another team just ahead of us stopped at the mouth, started in as we did, but then backed out and headed on down the waterway. Jeff and Patrick asked me if we were good. Yes, I said. Is your confidence level high, Don? Yes, I said. Ok, they said and kept paddling. The Greenville Lab Rats were just head of us, going up the creek. I know they’re pretty good with their nav, so in addition to my own nav decisions, I really was confident in where we were going. But the guys were still bothered by the bulk of the field’s decision to pass by this creek.

Around the third bend, right where we expected, were the TA volunteers. We hauled our kayaks up a muddy marsh bank and got a simple map of the Tibwin Wetland park from the volunteers. There were 6 CP’s to be found there. Three of them required us to triangulate their position from other points on the map. We grabbed a compass and snack and ran off down the dirt road, passing by the Northern Lites teams who were on the ground triangulating.

At the first intersection, we decided it was probably better to stop and figure out where the other three points were before we ran by them and wasted time and effort. As we triangulated, the Lites ran by us, heading straight up the road. One of the points plotted along a road. The second one plotted just on the north side of a long narrow pond with a road on the south side. Perhaps we had that one a little off? It would make more sense if it were on the road. The third point was simply 65 yards south of a “treehouse” that was marked on the map.

As we got up to go, Patrick said “let’s go counterclockwise”. That’s sort of an inside joke that comes from us realizing that most mountain bike trails are more fun when ridden counterclockwise. We all agreed and promptly took off down the left fork in the road. (Did you catch that goof? It took us about 20 minutes.)

We had a nice jog along some sand roads that wound around a few tidal and manmade ponds. The first CP we came to was simply at the corner of a pond. The next one was two intersections up, turn right and then down at the end of a road. The map showed a very short right angle turn at the very end, with the CP there. When we arrived, we found a large clearing, but no road to the right. We circled the field but saw nothing. On my second lap around, I noticed two overgrown ponds through the trees to the right, with an overgrown causeway between them that ran perpendicular to the road we came in on. Is it possible that …? Sure enough, there was a faint trail down the causeway. I pushed my way about 15 meters in and spotted the flag further on. I got the passport from Patrick and ran through the briars on the trail to punch the control and run back through. First blood of the day for me! We quickly ran back out so no one would see us and get an easy find on our behalf.

The next CP was the one south of the “treehouse”. Run up the road to the next right turn and 100 meters down to the “treehouse”. Easy. I think it was a deerstand, or maybe just an observation platform. Either way, we turned south there, spread apart and headed into the woods. A few seconds later we spotted the control, punched it, and were on our way to the next one.

This CP was marked just on the right side of the road, with no other features to identify where along the road. We ran along, scanning the woods to the right. Jeff spotted it first. It was hanging from a branchless tree about 30 feet out in a watery swamp. RD Steve had been so kind as to place it at the end of a long downed tree that was about a foot over the water. I got the honors as the guys stood by just waiting to see if I was going swimming. The log was half rotten, slippery, and the few limbs and saplings within reach were spaced just a little to far apart for comfort. I’m sure my windmilling was entertaining, but there was no splash.

Back down the road we ran, past the treehouse again, and on down to the CP we had plotted on the north side of the long, narrow pond. As we ran along, we watched a narrow ditch off in the woods to the left slowly widen and deepen to a creek and then become a real pond. About that time I spotted the orange and white of the control. Dang! It was on the other side of the pond. The pond was about 40 feet across and very black water. Alligators? Too cool, right? I was very tempted to jump in. How deep do you guys think it is? We looked back up the road and thought about running back to where the pond was just a ditch. That was maybe 100 meters. But then I noticed on the map that the end of the pond on the map was not much further away in the other direction. We looked down there and realized there was a causeway across the dam, with a road across it, so we ran down there.

On the other side of the pond, we faced fairly thick undergrowth, but a little further back from the pond I noticed what might be a road clearing paralleling the pond. It turned out to be a logging path, strewn with the debris from a clear-cutting operation. I ran down it towards the location of the control. Ok, so it was really more like I stumbled and windmilled and tip-toed my way over the debris mumbling to myself “do not twist your ankle, do not twist your ankle”. I finally got the control and danced my way back down to the road.

From there we just had to run along the road beside the next pond, a larger one, and look for the CP along the south edge. This one turned out to be hanging from a dock at the far end. A little map inaccuracy is ok, if the control is easily found anyway.

At that point, we just had to get back to our boats. We had made a large clockwise tour of the park so far. We could either run back down the road, turn left and go down another road to the boats. Or we could live up to our name – Bushwhack. Based on the questionably scaled, handdrawn map of this park, the bushwhack distance was about a third of the road distance. We thought briefly, then hit the woods. A few minutes later we popped out onto the other road and met the Northern Lites teams heading out. We all ran down to the water together. Our transition speeds were similar as we all got back on the water about the same time.

Patrick asked one of the volunteers about other teams. There were only a dozen or so boats pulled up there. He told Patrick that only 6 or 7 teams had arrived so far. And we had been on foot for nearly an hour there. What was going on with those other teams?!

When we got back out to the intracoastal waterway, we saw a few teams struggling their way back up to the creek. They had the wind and the tide and the sun against them. Ouch. We were flying down-course as they crawled back up. Based on this, we figured the full field of 50 teams might be reduced to 6 to 10 teams competing for the top spots.

We had chosen to paddle in kayaks since they are generally faster on flat water. But today we noticed that the canoes with 3 paddlers were much faster, downwind. Whenever we turned and headed upwind in the creeks, we were able to gain on the canoes. Not sure you can get a lesson learned out of this, unless you know of a way to predict if the wind will be behind you or in your face.

The third paddle CP was up another creek to the right. Two bends up and there it was – “Creole” on the sign. We turned around and paddled on down to Buck Hall and the take-out. As we got closer, the winds were kicking up waves from behind us. They were big enough for us to catch a ride and surf our kayaks for 20 to 30 feet at a time. Now that’s the way to paddle in a race!


We transitioned to our bikes, said hi to Dale, who gave us the UTM for CP 4. It was at the south end of a pond a little further to the west. We rode out the Palmetto Trail until we hit a road. Turns out this was the road in to the Bishop Jerdan Center, which I think is where some teams had rented bunk space the night before. Steve had a loop of rope strung between the bank and a small wooded island in the middle of the pond. There was a pulley at each end of the rope and a kayak tied to the rope. We had to ferry one person out the island, let them find the CP on the island, and ferry them back.

The 3-person Female team had just sent one of their gals over when we arrived. We pulled the kayak back and hauled Jeff over. Then we hauled the girl back. Then we hauled Jeff back and hauled it out of there. We chose another bushwhack at this point. Taking the road south to the water’s edge, it was only 100 meters or so over to where the Palmetto Trail came down to the water’s edge. A few minutes of bike-whacking later and we were on the trail. Sweet.

A hundred meters or so later and we met a team scratching their head. Uh-oh. First red flag. They were looking for CP 5 but hadn’t found it yet. I thought it was further along the trail, so we went on. A few bends in the trail later and we came up on one of the Northern Lites teams. They were having trouble finding it too. Not a good sign. Second big red flag.

We looked at the map, but it didn’t give us much info to go on. There was a cemetery on the right, and further down there was the CP. I vaguely remembered there being several overgrown roads off to the right of the trail in this section. Guessing that we just needed to look for these and go up each one until we found it, we rolled on.

After going for several minutes, we crossed a bridge over a small creek, but saw no overgrown roads.  Just as we were lamenting the fact that we did not measure our distance from the last known point on the map, the other Northern Lites team came back down the trail towards us. They had gone on too, but never found it. They were now backtracking from an intersection up ahead, and measuring. Their measurement put them just east of the bridge. When we got there, one of the other Northern Lites had his bike upside down and was working to repair a flat.

Without having our own measurement, we were pretty much at the mercy of other teams. By now there were several teams piling up in the vicinity. We made several forays into the woods on foot, circling around looking for the cemetery or the CP. Nothing.

Back at the trail again, another racer came through and said he’d found it. He said to go to the old house and follow a bearing of 220 degrees and we’ll run right into the cemetery. Once we’re there, the CP is within sight. So we went back and found the road that led to the house, which was right where we had met the first Northern Lites team. At the house, I shot the bearing and Jeff and I paced off 100 meters or so, and spread out as we went. Nothing. We circled back. Patrick had waited at the house to pick up other clues. Nothing. We went back to the trail, over to the bridge again and circled further out into the woods and back again. Nothing.

At this point, most of the other teams had disappeared. It felt like over an hour since we started looking for CP 5, although we didn’t know exactly how long we had been looking. Reluctantly we decided to skip it and go on. That was a hard decision, since we’re accustomed to getting all CP’s. Immediately we started regretting having spent so much time on it. Lesson learned – as soon as we realize we’re not finding a CP easily, we need to establish a cutoff time to spend on it. Especially if other teams are having trouble too. Second lesson learned – make sure we ask at the pre-race briefing how the scoring will be done and if the RD expects anyone to clean the course. If we know up front that skipping some CP’s is expected, it will be easier to leave one behind. At this point in the race, it was early enough that we had no reason to believe we would not clean the course. I’m sure making the call to skip your first CP is always a tough one.

Moving on, we snagged CP 6 when Jeff caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of another team at the control. Thanks, ladies!

The trail soon crossed US 17 and put us on the section that was standing in water last year. This year the water was gone, but there was slippery mud instead. Deep slippery muck. We spun and slid through that and finally reached the gravel road on the other side. From here we just had lots of road and double-track riding to do. Don’t think we saw any more trail after that.

CP 7 was to the west of a bend in a gated dead end FS road. As we arrived at the bend, we were dismayed to see a half dozen or more bikes laid out on the ground. That could only mean teams were off on foot searching again. Great. We knew it should be to the west, and maybe 100 meters in. We formulated a plan to go in on the left, spread apart, and sweep to the right. That should be a more methodical approach than what we had done at the CP 5.

As we got about 50 meters in, we heard a female voice yell out “here it is!” Perfect. Thanks!! We punched that one in short order and headed out quickly.

CP 8 was near a pond at the next intersection up. There were several teams riding up the road close to us. Some slower, some faster. We passed a couple of them just before the five-armed intersection and were sure they would be right behind us as we took the road we needed. It circled the pond to the far side and that’s where we came up on Paul. Paul was a Solo racer, who happens to live in Apex, just like Patrick! Small world.

The good news was this CP was only about 50 feet away. The bad news was it was on an island with a lily-pad choked stretch of water between us and it. RD Steve had rigged a rope up between a tree on our end and a tree on the island. Paul had stripped down to his shorts and used the rope to pull himself across the water and back.

Before I realized what was going on, Jeff and Patrick both called “not it”. What? Oh. I’m it. Great. So I took off my pack, shoes and socks, and headed into the water. Using the rope, I pulled myself hand over hand across, letting my legs drag behind. The rope sagged to within a few inches of the water when weighted, so I was pretty much all wet. A quick punch and back across. That’s when I realized the other teams that had been behind us had not followed us to this CP. Weird. Where were they heading if not here?

CP 9 was another intersection up, and off of a road to the left, in an area marked on the map as Fort Corner. The map didn’t show a road in to the CP, but we assumed maybe there would be one when we got there. Sure enough, there was.

We found Steve at this CP, with some other volunteers. They had a rope ladder of sorts hanging from a tree. It was really just a rope with 12″ long dowels tied into it at a spacing like steps. I nominated Patrick to go climb it, since I was still soaking wet and Jeff had done the kayak ferry. Patrick put on the harness, got on belay, and worked his way up the rope. It was harder than it looked. Another lesson learned – I should have been folding the map in preparation for the next sections instead of watching Patrick have fun on the rope.


CP 10 was about 5 km away. It was located 150 meters to the east of a bend in a dead end road. Once again we found a number of bikes strewn around. As we chatted with one racer there, we heard a “pop” come from one of the bikes. Hmmm. Checking the tire on it, Patrick found it to be flat. Yikes. It belonged to one of the racers out in the woods. This area was covered in younger growth and bushes. We shot a bearing, Patrick gave us a pace count to go, and we were off. The bushes were head high in places, so even though we were only a few meters away from each other, we were often out of sight.

As we neared our pace count limit, Patrick whistled from the left, which must be the sign that he found it. We had decided earlier that the code word when we found a control should be “skunk”. It was not something obvious, and not something that would bring people running. Oh well. The whistle worked. We punched and worked our way back out to the bikes.

From there we headed to CP 12. Jeff was doing a great job leading our paceline on the bikes. Patrick and I fell right in behind and were glad to let Jeff lead us. We were holding a 24 to 26 kph pace most of the time. CP 12 was in the same spot as one CP last year, so it was an easy find. The map showed a road bed going from there to CP 11, but on the ground it was more of an overgrown trail. There were bike tracks heading into it, but we figured our pacelining on the road was way quicker than fighting our way through that. Besides, our googlemap research at the hotel indicated that the woods got thicker and the road less identifiable further in. Better not to chance it.

We came in to CP 11 from the other end of the road and found it without any problem. We did pass a bike laying down about 100 meters short of the CP. Not sure where they were looking, but it wasn’t in the right spot!

CP 13 was located on a creek, a few hundred meters past the end of a dead end road on the map. We couldn’t tell on googlemaps if the road continued to the creek, or across it to tie into a road on the other side, so our plan was to ride in and make our call once we saw what it looked like. Coming back out would add 2 miles to our distance, but could be much quicker than fighting through overgrown stuff.

Once in, we found a single-track trail following a very old road to to the creek. There were several small rickety foot bridges to be crossed on the way. One was so rickety the last two deck boards broke as I went across them. That left Patrick to deal with what was left of the bridge – sorry!

At the creek we had planned to make the call about whether to push through or go back and zip around on the roads. The trail appeared to continue on. It wasn’t too bad, although we wouldn’t be able to keep a 24 kph pace on it. It would save two miles, and it was kind of scenic back in the swamp. So we forged ahead.

After carrying my bike over 20+ logs and reaching the intersection at the end of the road, I’m not so sure we saved any time, but it was forward progress. Another team was standing at the intersection studying their map. We said hi and turned right, heading towards the TA where we would start the O-section.

Over the next 2 km’s, we met lots of teams hoofing it towards us on the road. They were going after the O controls. Some were walking, some were jogging, with obvious looks of pain on their faces. I was starting to drag at this point and wasn’t looking forward to my chance to push myself down this road too.

We arrived at the TA and discovered that Steve was here now. There was a big cargo net strung up between two trees and I was elected to climb it so that we could get our O-course coordinates. We got a set of triangulation instructions for the CP’s instead of UTM’s. Steve also told us that there was now a race cutoff at 6:30pm. That was an hour earlier than we had expected the race to end. I verified the time penalty – 1 point for every 15 minutes we were late.



This TA was in a campground. As we sat there refueling, a fellow in an older car pulled up to the site next to us and started fussing at the team that was spread out in the circle drive between his site and the one Steve had set up in. He was from Vermont and was very perturbed that people were encroaching on his peace and quiet. Steve tried to talk to him but there was no appeasing him. Steve did the best he could by moving the bikes further away and walking away. I imagine this was a pretty remote spot normally, but with a race TA there, it was not remote today.

It was now about 4:15pm. Steve told us it was about an hour ride to the finish from here. So we had just over an hour to go get some of these CP’s. We plotted the two closest ones to see where they were. The closest was about 2 km away. We knew we weren’t going to be running very fast. But we did want to get off the bike saddles for a while. Our butts had been screaming at us for a while. So we changed shoes, grabbed a snack and headed off back down the road.

Our pace started out as a walk. I tried pushing them to a pathetic jog, which worked a little. It hurt me too, and my left knee was sending new pain signals to my brain. Age? I noted it as something to remember one day if I ever needed a knee replacement. It made me think of my friend Karen who we drug through Utah in a 3 day race with bad knee pain. She has bone on bone contact now, and lots of pain. Her knee replacement will come sooner than mine!

About 15 minutes down the road, we still had not come to the intersection I was looking for. It was only 0.75 km away, and it taken us 15 minutes to get almost there. Feeling disheartened anyway, I did some quick math and suggested to the guys that at this pace, we might not be able to get this one point and get back in time. If we missed the cutoff, we would lose the point anyway. I suggested we’d be better off skipping the O-section altogether and focusing on the remaining CP’s we could bike to. We’d be able to move much faster on bike than we were doing on foot.

This suggestion was tough to make, since O-nav was supposed to be our strong suit. But we were feeling the weight of having to give up on CP 5, and knowing we had wasted too much time in the process. We were all thinking that we’d really botched this race, although no one really said so out loud. We didn’t give up, we just needed to adjust our approach to one of cutting losses. So we turned around and struggled back to the TA and got back on the bikes.

As we headed out, I told the guys to go right, back down the road we’d just traveled three times. I had the map, so they just went on my direction. About a half km later, I started wondering why we would be heading back towards the earlier area of the race. It tooka minute for my tired brain to recognize that was wrong. The old guy in my head slowly got up from his recliner, stretched a little, reached over and grabbed the handle of the red flag and weakly raised it up, yawning in the process. What? Wait a minute. Guys!

Jeff and Patrick were ahead of me riding side by side down the gravel road, no doubt discussing the teacup theory of stock trading, market trends, or something like that to distract them from the physical sensations of racing. Unfortunately, that meant they coldn’t hear me yell at them. I stopped to yell louder. Nothing. I grabbed the whistle and blew as hard as I could. Nothing. Finally one of the Northern Lites guys, who was coming down the road close to them, got their attention and I waved them back. Glad I didn’t have to chase them down myself!!

I let them know I really meant “left” when I said “right”. I think this is when Patrick coined the new team motto “North .. south .. whatever.” So much for nav being our strong suit!

The good news is that once we passed the TA for the fourth time, we found ourselves on a paved road. We cranked up the paceline and zipped along at about 26 kph for the next 3.5 km’s. The next CP was down a dirt road about 750 meters. It ended with a few hundred meters of overgrown road complete with more mud holes. We slipped through, punched the control, and slid back out.

The way towards the next CP inolved 3-4 km’s of sand road. Some of it was so bad we had to get off and walk. Fortunately those sections weren’t too long. When we reached the turn for CP 19, we stopped to see where we were on time.

The CP was 2.5 km down the road. That would be a 5km roundtrip. Plus we had about 10km of road to go to get to the finish line. The map showed the last 1.5 km to the CP as a “trail”, and not a “road”. It was a few minutes before 6 pm. We did some tired-brain math and decided it would be very close to try to get this CP and make it back on time. If we went over, we’d lose the point, and just as importantly we’d lose the energy and effort it took. We only hesitated briefly before deciding to skip this one too. There was one more CP on the way, and it was close to our route, so we just headed for that one.

CP 20 was a short way down a road from an intersection I had come through in last year’s race. It was behind a pond and as we pulled up to the area, we found a few bikes on the ground where an old road headed into the woods beside the pond. A quick walk into the woods and we found the control, punched, and were on our way. We weren’t moving all that fast, but our spirits were buoyed up by the fact that we only had to get back to the finish now. Make a left turn, and then a right turn on the road that ran straight back to the finish. No problem.

We were further excited to find that most of the way was on a paved road. We got the paceline going again, and despite a bit of a headwind, we managed to hold about 24 kph. I know Eich was redlining up front, because I was doing the same in the back, just trying to keep up.

This was one of those situations in a race where you dig a little deeper than normal because you know it’s almost over. It reminded me of a bike section at 4 am about two days into the AdventureXstream Expedition race where my mantra became “I can do anything for 15 minutes”. Just 15 minutes of pain here on the bike and I will be there. The breeze blew. The dogs barked. The wheels turned. The clock ticked, but time was suspended. Funny how you can tune out everything but the rear derailleur in front of you and the simple thought of “stopping”. At the same time, your body keeps on pushing, but it seems like someone else’s body. Yeah, ok, it’s easy to get a little weird describing this. It’s one of those “have to be there” experiences, and most people would be ask “why?” instead.

The final few miles were uneventful, just more enduring and spinning. We final ly rolled into the finish area and crawled off the bikes. I grabbed a card and punched it in the timeclock, with just 7 minutes to spare. This was a neat application of a time clock to record the finish time without someone having to write it down. We needed to hand in the passport, which Jeff had. Patrick saved us at this point by remembering that we needed to write down our two words from the paddle CP’s – shrimp and creole. I did that and turned it in. We were done!!

Breathing, without the need for forward motion. That’s why we race. So we can enjoy the feeling of stopping!

The volunteers had a big pot of shrimp creole ready for us. It was delicious. We savored the creole, caught our breath, chatted with other racers we knew and watched the finishers come in. Steve had a big LCD monitor up showing the spreadsheet being updated as the results were entered. That was nice.

If Patrick had not reminded me to write down the two words, we would have ended up another place down in the standings. With them we had a total of 19 points, and we took second in the 3-person Male division. Wow! We spent half of the race thinking that we had blown it today. Goes to show you that you should never give up. It’s ok to make mistakes, the trick is to make less than everyone else!

The Northern Lites 3p Male team took first, with 24 points. I think they actually lost a point because they didn’t write down the second word. Getting the one or two more points that we considered would not have made a difference in the final division standings after all. In the overall standings, we came in 10th, out of 52 teams. Having one more point would have put us in 5th place overall. Not bad considering all the training we didn’t do!

As in every race I do, I gained experience that hopefully will translate into lessons learned. It’s always interesting to race in an area with different geography than your home training grounds. I always learn from the things I see other race directors do, or not do, and try to apply those to my races to make them better than ever.

This was the first time Jeff, Patrick and I had raced together as a team, and we got along really well. I’m looking forward to the other races we have coming up together. Thanks guys, for a great day of racing!

I also want to thank the other teams in the race. Many of them are friends we see at races on a regular basis. The adventure racing community is a great one, with lots of cooperation before, during, and after the race. It’s competitive, but not cut-throat. That’s definitely one of the reasons I love AR!

Steve Morrone and the KanDo Adventures volunteers deserve a big thank you too. I know all too well how much work goes into making a race happen. Steve laid out a challenging course for us. Racers could, and will, complain about different aspects of the event, but in the end it’s up to each of us to decide to enjoy the experience we had or not. I enjoyed mine!! Ok, so I did complain some on the course, but we all know that’s mostly the endorphins talking!

Race on!

KanDo Adventures race results


Swamp Fox ’09 surprise finish

Team Bushwhack Adventures had a roller coaster day racing KanDo Adventures’ Palmetto Swamp Fox ’09. Some good nav early on put us in the top 6-7 teams (out of a field of 50 teams). But then a tough checkpoint tricked us into wasting a considerable amount of time mid-race. That demoralized us a bit, making the latter half of the day less fun than it might have been otherwise. A late-race change in the cutoff time caused us to skip the main foot-O section, where we had hoped to put our nav skills to good use. But we kept moving as fast as we could, with a running conversation about Celebrex, joint replacements, and being too old for this $#%^. Eich did a great job red-lining us from the front of our paceline and we clocked in with about 7 minutes to spare. As we worked on a few bowls of steaming hot shrimp creole, other teams came in and we discovered that we weren’t the only ones who had mistakes or trouble on the course. The final point count put us in second place in the 3-person Male category!!

I’ll get a more comprehensive race report posted after I get the mud off my bike and the leeches out of my shorts.



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