T Nation

Coach Davies--my last adventure race

I know that you are preparing for the eco-challenge. I just competed in a short version of it… I was in a race called "Raid the Rock ", an adventure race that is particularly gruelling and challenging. Here is a recap:

The race was much harder than previous years. Probably more people showed up for this one because it was “sanctioned”, meaning that it was a national qualifier, so there were teams from all over the country. The race started in pitch black at 5am, with 9 checkpoints hidden over a 12 mile course (longer if you couldn’t find them quickly) in such deep underbrush it is almost a miracle that we found all of them. They only gave us the 10th through the 32nd check points the night before (we all only got 2 hours of sleep!) We had to plot our first 9 points “on the fly”, in the dark. My legs are still so shredded they look like I was thrown into a briar patch. Ground beef thighs. With good reason, because there were so many “wait-a-minute” vines with thorns covering the ground that we might as well have been thrown in a briar patch, or a bunch of briar patches. Our legs were literally pouring blood.

We missed one checkpoint and had to hike back to it, losing 3-4 positions, but we made them back up over the hike up Pinnacle Mountain, where we actually did quite well despite the fact that I bonked on the way up. By the end of the hiking leg of the race we were in 8th place. We hit the canoes fast and headed off for a 12 mile canoe leg. That is where we made our money. When we finished the canoe leg we were in 5th place. One little thing that really pissed me off… We had to carry the canoe across a 200M feild of cockleburs. The worst kind. Dry, sharp stickers! Did I mention that I was wearing TEVAS on the canoe leg? I was screaming with nearly every step. My feet were bloody when we finally put the canoe on the rack. Josh and I had to pick stickers out of our feet for a few minutes before we could continue.

In the transition area we didn’t dally, and picked up a place in the race. This was the funny part. They had us ride our bikes into this park that ended on a pennensula. I had no idea what they had in store for us. We showed up and found out that we had to build a raft out 3 barrels, 3 4X4s, and a few pieces of twine. The raft had to hold all three of us AND our bikes, and we had to paddle about 150 meters to the other side. So funny though… we spent our last transition taking special care to dry our feet and put on dry socks and pants. So much for that!

We didn’t really even know our rank at that point, but apparently we were in 4th place! Then the bike leg got hairy. Thank GOD I knew my way around because we were not moving really fast, but teams that would pass us would end up missing their checkpoints and have to pass us again. I was really hurting by now. The bike leg was about 35 miles! Of all places I got lost in a park too. We passed by a check point and didn’t even see it. The guys even called out to us and tried to wave us down, but we were fatigued and dilerius so we rode right on by. We wandered around for 30 minutes before we found the point, which was the entrance to a long and hairy single track portion. I came back to life there. I LOVE single track. But I don’t deserve any credit though. Denise, who has not trained at all for the last few months, and has never ridden single track in her life, and doesn’t even have SHOCKS on her bike, did a great job keeping up with us. In fact, she had to stop twice to throw up, yet she still kept riding! We had learned that we had dropped to 8th place while wandering around like idiots. We decided that we weren’t going to give up any more places (we didn’t know yet that the next closest team was over an hour behind us). We rode downtown and learned that we were going to have to do an 80 foot free rappelle off our local concert hall, then ride to the last check point and then on to the finish line. We had to do a zip line off a 75 out-of-commission rail road trellis, over a portion of the Arkansas River, down to the finish line. We hit the zip line in 10.5 hours, but we had to wait for a while because it was thundering and lightening so heavily. As we had neared downtown a massive cold front had rolled in and it was pouring rain! I am so glad we finished when we did. Apparently MANY teams didn’t even finish, giving up when the cold rain moved in while they were still on canoes. When we went to the party a couple of hours later there were still more than 30 teams out still plodding along. It took the average team about 20 hours to finish.

All I had really hoped for was making the top 10, but when we found out we were doing so well we had gotten our hopes up for making the top 5. In light of it all, I am actually quite pleased with our 8th place finish.

I will be adding some photos to this thread later. I just looked at all of them and I loved them! Also, because one of my racing partner is a local news anchor, her station had a videographer and photographer at all the transition areas and did a great little story on the local news tonight. It was pretty cool.

Coach, there were several things about my training that really made the race flow for me. I would love to share them with you and talk about what you are doing the the EcoChallenge. Have you put together your full team yet?

great work JP, you did amazing. Hey drop me line personally and we can talk.

In faith,

Coach Davies