Saturday, May 6, 2017

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim R2R2R by Eric Olsen

This is a recap of my Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) run on April 28th 2017. If you are not familiar with R2R2R, it is traversing from one rim of the canyon over to the other side and back, and in my case I would be doing this in one day. In total it is 40+ plus miles and gains 11,000 ft in vertical distance. There are a few different route choices, but mine was to start at the South Rim on the South Kaibab trail, to the North Rim on the North Kaibab and back up the South Kaibab (SK-NK-SK). This was the shorter of the route choices at 42 miles, but was steeper than going back up Bright Angel, which would have added 2.5 additional miles. There is also no water on the SK, which I will explain later.
Preparing for this run was no easy task and it was something I did not take lightly. This would be my longest pure run that did not involve a checkpoint. Prior to this, my longest run was only 20 miles, and I was looking to more than double that with a significant amount of vertical gain. The one thing I had on my side was my experience with long endurance events. I have done many multi-day adventure races and ROGAINE style orienteering events. However, despite that, I was still a little apprehensive on how well I would be able to handle this run. Mentally I knew I could do it, but I was more concerned about my physical ability. I did not want to be that guy being evacuated by helicopter, because in the canyon there are not a lot of options should something go wrong.
A great resource that I utilized for preparation was the ‘Grand Canyon R2R2R Run!’ group on FB. There was plenty of information from other people sharing their experiences. You can also find out about trail conditions, water availability, etc. I checked this page frequently, because there were trail closures on the North Kaibab due to a rock slide that occurred earlier in year. Trail repairs were being done which meant that the trail was closed from 8AM to 4:30PM daily. This posed quite the dilemma on a start time, in order to avoid being turnaround by the trail closure. Option B was to start at midnight to make it past the construction. This would mean running half of the run in darkness, which was not very appealing. Part of the experience of the R2R2R is the amazing scenery. But as luck would have it, the construction band was lifted just 2 days prior to the run. This meant sticking with plan A - a 4:30AM start time.
Sara and I arrived at the Grand Canyon on Thursday and completed all preparations for an early morning start. I laid out all of my gear and made some final decisions on whether or not the items were really necessary to carry. I wore a Salomon AdvSkin5 running vest, so space was at a premium. I counted up my calories to ensure I had enough for the run. I carried 3,200 calories in food. The remaining 1,000 calories would come from my Hammer Perpetuem. My vest holds a maximum of 2.5L of fluid. I opted to only fill the main 1.5L reservoir and only one of my .5L soft flasks in order to save some weight for my decent into the canyon, with plans to fill up the other .5L soft flask later in the run. I alternated between Hammer Heed and Fizz in order to change up my electrolyte intake. After packing up the vest and laying out my clothes, the only thing left to do was get some sleep.




The alarm went off at 3:00AM, leaving time to eat a decent sized breakfast and drive over to the nearest picnic area to the trail head. The picnic area was a ½ mile away, so it was a good warm-up for the legs before the leg-hammerfest began. We arrived at the trail head at about 4:30AM as planned. However, after a bathroom stop and few photo opportunities, the official start time was 4:42AM. This is coincidentally the same time I was born, but was completely unrelated.



The conditions could not have been any more perfect. It was never too cold nor too hot, and it never rained. The temperature at the rim was in the low 40’s at the start, so I wore a thin jacket, but it quickly came off just a few miles in. I never wore it again. The temperatures continued to remain cool for most of the ascent up the North Kaibab. It only ever really got warm on the way back when I was in the lower part of the canyon, but even still there was a nice breeze that kept me cool.
My approach was to break up the run into 7 mile segments. This is basically the distance between available water stops - Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood Campground. The first 7 miles is pretty much all downhill until you reach Phantom Ranch and then it is an uphill for the remaining 14 miles until you top out at the North Rim. Granted the climb between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood is gradual, but it gets much steeper after Cottonwood.



By the time we reached Phantom Ranch, I had not had much to drink. I checked my bladder and knew I had enough to make it to Cottonwood. I snapped a couple pics and we ran on. This is when Sara took off. This was always expected as she is the stronger runner. We were together but on our own journeys. When I made it Cottonwood I was just about out of water. I refilled my bladder and soft flask and kept moving. There would be one more water stop before the North Rim at Manzanita. The water at the North Rim was still off for the season, so this meant I would have to make it up to the North Rim and back to Manzanita before I could get more water (10.8 miles). Topping off was imperative as the steepest climb was yet to come. I did opt not to fill my second soft flask, which turnout to be ok.

One of the amazing things about the GC is that there is no shortage of awesome scenery. It really keeps your mind occupied and makes the suffering a little more enjoyable. The ascent up the North Kaibab is no exception. Once past Manzanita you get a view to Roaring Springs, a gorgeous, raging waterfall. There are also some towering rock formations that seem as tall as skyscrapers. Running on a Friday in early spring, trail traffic was light, so I got to enjoy most of these views alone. Personally I take more pleasure in viewing nature alone rather than with groups of people.


It took me 2 hours to get from Manzanita (Pump House Residence) to reach the North Rim. I arrived in just over 6 hours. I was stunned that I had made it there as fast as I did. It was such a confidence boost and my energy level shot up. I thought to myself that I might be able to actually do this in 12 hours, which is a lot shorter than I had originally planned. However, in order to do it, I knew I had to hustle. Sparing little time, I turned around and started to head back. The upside was it was going to be downhill for the next 14 miles. Going uphill and downhill uses totally different muscles, so it was a nice reprieve to be going downhill again after a long uphill.



I started thinking about the upcoming milestones. By the time I would make it back to Manzanita I would have my first marathon, and midway between Cottonwood and Phantom Ranch I would have my first 50K. This only brought me more energy, so I just kept running. I stopped at Manzanita to fill up on some water, ate some food and I was back on the trail. I sailed right thru Cottonwood since I did not need any water. My next and last stop would be Phantom Ranch before my final ascent. The 7 miles between Cottonwood and Phantom felt long. I attribute this to the time crunch I put myself on. I wanted to give myself as much time to ascend back up South Kaibab as I could.
At Phantom Ranch I topped off my reservoir and both soft flasks. I saw a bathroom and went inside leaving the door open. This provided me with some shade as I situated my vest. Shortly after a woman arrived and waited in the doorway. I went about my business repacking my vest and chatted briefly with her not realizing I was in the women’s bathroom the whole time. Oops! I thought it was a little strange she was just standing there, but I thought she was just curious about what I was doing. This would be the first time carrying a full load of water, but I knew there was no more water stops until I reached the South Rim, and I knew it was going to be a long grind to the finish and the temperature was rising. It was a good thing that I did, because I did not have much left when I finished.
The start of my ascent up South Kaibab was strong. I was tired but felt good knowing I was close to finishing. However, the more I ascended, the more tired I became. I started eating and drinking just to keep my energy level up. I was starting to feel a little nauseous but I kept moving forward. I started sucking on a Gin-Gin (ginger candy). It seemed to help settle things. I was moving slow, but was making progress forward. I knew I could not stop if I wanted to have a chance to finish in 12 hours, and I never did stop. But I was just not moving fast enough to make it. I watched the time tick away on my watch as the 12 hour mark came and went. I knew I was close. I just had to keep going. I was a couple switchbacks away when I saw the top. At that point my adrenaline took over and literally sprinted up the remainder of the trail. I’m sure it wasn’t much of a sprint but it felt a lot faster than I was moving prior to that. I reached the South Rim in 12hr and 12mins. Although I missed the 12 hour mark, I was elated to be done and to have completed the run.


Overall, the R2R2R was an unforgettable experience. I was super pleased with how the day went. My body held up just fine. My Salomon Ultras and Hammer Swiftwick compression socks were a great combination. They kept my feet happy the whole time. I end up eating only half of my food for a total caloric intake of about 2,500 calories. It was tough but doable run. I thought the R2R2R might be a one-and-done type run, but I have a pretty good feeling I will be back for more.

  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Grandpa made me a do it....100 Half Marathons

100 Half Marathons (5 Years), Half Marathon Club
Paula Elaine Pearson

Back in 2005 I decided to run a full marathon in honor of my grandpa Daasch that passed away suddenly and unexpected.  I decided I want to do “something BIG, and outdoorsy, for him” to celebrate his life and what he taught me growing up.  I was never a “active” person or even an athlete, my brother took care of that part.  I was a artist and band geek.  So researching things on line about how to train for a marathon and “how to even run” was way out of my comfort zone.  I remember not being able to even jog even down the block with out feeling like I was going to pass out and parts of my body rubbing raw against each other.  I thought several times to my self, this is awful, why would anyone run anywhere.  Let alone 26.2 miles straight!  

So I started looking at what marathon I wanted to do as this was going to be a ONE and DONE.  (so I thought at the time)  I wanted to do a marathon in a warm place and also give me time to train.  I pick Walt Disney Marathon Weekend in Jan 2006.  I did my run/walk/jogs.  I also thought it be a good idea to do a half to see how training was going but the Indy 500 had already sold out so I just said well…..thats OK, i just go straight to the Marathon. OUCH!

I picked a marathon because I wanted to do something physical and mental that my grandfather would think was cool.  You see, hes the one that introduced us kids to the outdoors.  He taught us to enjoy nature, how to skip rocks across the pond, catch frogs, catch lightening bugs, feed the ducks, ride horse back, pick and tend to the garden, ice skate and sledding, and riding bikes.  He did it all, even took all of us camping.  So an outdoors event that challenged the mind and body was a perfect way to celebrate him.  

The Disney Marathon….well I finished.  It was not easy, nor was I even trained and ready for it.  I learned a lot about running and for some reason did many more marathons after that.  

When we moved to colorado back in 2013 I decided I wanted to continue to honor him.  I set my goal out to run 100 half marathons in 3 years, well that was way too many in that time frame.   After I did 26 in one year, I decided I needed to cut back a little.  In Colorado you can do a half marathon every sat and sun pretty much all year, except Nov, Dec and Jan.  

So when I run, and not every run is a good one.  I talk to grandpa in my head A LOT.  You can see in photos that I carry a picture of him with me.  

Sometimes I think he talks back when the sun comes thru the trees and lands on my face, or when a few snow flakes land on my nose, or when I feel a gust of wind at my back pushing me up the hill.  All signs I know hes with me and saying “Good Job Punkin’”!   

So here’s to you grandpa, see you on the trails!  I love you and miss you every day.

Paula Elaine


“Punkin’”
*Some random photos, too many to post with 56/100 so far! :)



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

12HR PYTHON Orienteering Rogaine, Ohio, Solo 2nd Place Overall



The Python ROGAINE, put on by the North East Ohio Orienteering Club (NEOOC) took place in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They offered up 3 different race options: 3, 6, or 12 hours. I opted for the 12 hr version, which ran from 8 am until 8 pm.  At 7 am racers received 3 overlapping maps of the course and a small map of a corn maze. This left only an hour to survey the maps and plan a route. 

The course consisted of 68 regular controls with 1 additional mystery control. The mystery control was found by using a clue that was on one of the regular controls, but it was unknown which control that would be. You would only know it once you arrived at that control. 

All the controls were weighted, so the winner would be determined by the racer who collected the most points (not the number of controls) in the least amount of time. 

Looking at the maps, with so many controls to visit. I was unsure if the course was clearable, but my course of action was to try to clear; leaving no control unvisited. 


The race started promptly at 8 am, and racers scattered in all direction towards their first control. Interestingly enough, no one opted to go to same first control as me. 

My initial goal was to head towards the corn maze control, and pick up all the controls in that direction along the way. I wanted to get to the corn maze early before it got too crowded with the general public.

I made it to the corn maze by about 9 am. I was the first one there. I made several attempts to locate the control but struggled to find it. After about 20 mins I realized my mistake. Thereafter, I promptly found the control and exited the maze.

I knew I had lost some time, so I picked up the pass trying to gain back some of the time I had lost. I continued collecting controls in a clockwise manner around the map. 

I made a minor navigational error on control 21. I attempted to reshoot the control a couple times but came up empty. I thought it might have been stolen, because i knew I was in the right area. I decided to come back for the control and attack it from another direction. After collecting 5 other controls, I made another attempt at control 21 and found it. I think I just hadn't gone far enough earlier on. 

I continued on collecting control after control, making small mistakes here and there but nothing too costly. My goal was to walk the up hills and run everything else, and I came close to accomplishing that. From a performance standpoint I was pretty solid throughout. Staying fueled and hydrated with HAMMER performance supplements was key. 

About 3 checkpoints from the finish, I looked over my passport and noticed I had 4 un punched squares. I missed checkpoint 3 at some point during the race. It was not on my immediate map, so I finished collecting the last few points before figuring out what I done wrong. I opened up my map case and found control 3 about 5 miles out and back from where I was at. I realized I had folded the map where the control was out of view. It should have been an easy point less than 500m from a control I picked up early on. Dang it! 

I made it to the finish line at 6:30 pm and was faced with a decision, finish and leave 1 control on the course or run the 5 miles and collect the point. With an hour and a half left I knew I only had one choice- go get the point.  

I took off in the same direction as I did when I started the race. The plan was to bushwhack between roads to get to a more direct route. However, I got on a trail that never connected to another trail running parallel to it, which is the one I needed to be on. At the time I hadn't realized what I had done. All I knew is that I needed to get to the road. I finally bushwhacked my way to a road, only to realize I was on the wrong road. I was back on the road I previously crossed. I lost valuable time. I started to wonder if I should have just finished instead of attempting to clear. I still had time so I continued on. I gave myself a cut off time of 7:15. I made it to the area of control 3 a little after 7. I oriented my map wrong and made a navigation error. Time was just about out and it was getting dark. Realizing my mistake, I blazed on my LUPINE headlamp and found CP 3 right away, but past my cutoff time. It was 7:20. I took off running back towards the finish, keeping my time in check. I made it to the entrance of the camp and I knew I was going to make it. I walked up the steep road and ran to the finish once it leveled off.   My finish time was 7:47 pm. I came in second overall, just 5 mins behind the winner. Only 2 people cleared the course, I being one of them. Had I not collected the last control I would have still had second, but I would have fell short of my own goal of clearing the course.

It was an absolutely beautiful fall day to be in the woods. Despite some of my blunders, I was happy to clear the course. The distance traveled was close to 40 miles. Thanks to HAMMER for keeping me fueled throughout the race. 
Every race you learn something. My 2 big takeaways were never to fold my maps to precise to an overlapping map, leave extra showing, especially if there is room in your map case. The second was to verify that I had all the controls numbers accounted for in my intended route.   Get out and play! 
http://neooc.com/race-results-python-adventure-race-2016-cvnp-manatoc-saturday-october-8th/



Friday, September 9, 2016

THUNDER ROLLS 24HR Adventure Race by Eric Olsen


Once again the Thunder Roll Adventure Race would be taking place at Camp Benson in Mount Carroll, IL. I had originally planned to race as a 2-person open team, but due to an injury to my teammate, that left me to either find another team or race solo. Having never raced a 24 hr adventure race as a solo competitor, I thought it would be a good test for me to go it alone.

The race started promptly at midnight with a 4 mile run carrying PFD and paddle on road to TA 1. I kept a steady pace throughout the run, not trying to overdo it. I arrived at the TA a little over 40 mins, right on pace with some of the lead teams. Racing solo meant I would be paddling in one of the provided kayaks. It quickly became apparent that the yellow banana canoes that I loathe proved to be a much faster option as several teams sailed right past me. It was a little demoralizing, but I kept reminding myself that this is a 24 hour race.

The paddle covered 12 miles on the Plum River. Along the way I would collect CP’s 1-3. The Race Director (RD) dubbed this “an adventure paddle” due to the number of log jams we’d encounter along the way. I had paddled on this river a few years back, so I knew what was in store. Most of the log jams were pretty easy to navigate. However, there was one massive log jam about midway thru that proved to be the most challenging. When I arrived at this particular log jam, my Lupine headlamp kicked butt. Call Grena Bikes and tell them Team Lupine sent ya!  http://www.gretnabikes.com/.  I pushed forward.  The last section of the paddle was an out-and-back to CP 3. The RD set it up this way so that the teams heading down river would know who was in front. Once I started seeing teams paddling up river, I started calculating times to determine my standings. I was already a good bit behind the lead teams, and there were 7 teams in front of me, so at this point I was in 8th place. I knew I had some work to do, but had plenty of time in which to do it.

The threat of rain had finally become a realization. It rained steady for the last couple miles of the paddle before arriving at the TA2 (CP 4) to transition to bike. I quickly pulled my kayak ashore and made my way over to my bike where I had staged dry bike gear. The transition went quick in part to the swarms of blood-sucking mosquitoes that were thirsty for my blood. It was maddening, but I tried to stay focused. I packed up my paddle gear and placed it on the truck. I then finished transitioning to my bike gear and I was off.  With only a short while before sunrise, I opted once again to push forward.

I continued on bike collecting CP’s 5 and 6 and arrived at TA3 (CP 7) at a shelter in the Mississippi Palisades in the same standings – 8th place. There I would receive my first of 2 maps for this foot orienteering section of the course. Unlike in years past where we received pre-plotted maps, I had to copy the CP locations using a master map. Since the maps were not waterproof, I transitioned to my foot appropriate gear, along with climbing gear, and made any other final preparations before handling the maps to ensure my hands were dry. I copied the CPs and I was off.
In this section, leg coverings are imperative due to the amount of stinging needles I warned I would encounter. I brought with me a new pair of Trimtex orienteering pants to wear and test out. They proved to provide very good protection. I barely noticed the needles, and I was able to push thru a lot of underbrush with minimal abrasions. This was mainly due to the nylon material on the front panels of the pants. However, the back panels are made of Lycra, which allow for good ventilation, but they also collect briers very easily. There were easily a few hundred briars I needed to pick off post race. Unfortunately, my arms did not fare as well as my legs. I neglected to wear the arm sleeves I brought, so my arms got pretty scratched from bushwhacking.


I decided to go in a counter-clockwise direction because I wanted to get to the rappel early. I feared if I had waited to the end, that the 12 hour teams maybe arriving and I would have to wait. When I got to the rappel, I only had to wait but a minute before it was my turn. There was a second rope section for an ascent, but that would not be until I was on the 2nd orienteering map. This meant that I had to make the decision to take off my climbing gear only to have to put it back on again or keep it on. In the interest of time, I left it on. I started knocking the CP’s off one by one. I did have an issue with CP 15. I took a bearing on the CP but came up short. I end up coming full circle and ended back where I had started, so I tried again. This time I was dead on. I picked up the remaining CP’s and headed back to the TA to get map 2.
When I came back, I had found that I had made up some time. I was now in 5th place. I copied my CP’s and I was off again in a counter-clockwise direction. I meet up with team Thunder Dragons and we headed over to the ascent together. Again, the wait time was minimal. I made my way up the cliff-face and I was off to collect the remaining CP’s. With the rope section of the course over, there was no longer a need for my climbing harness, but I left it on anyways to save time. Continuing on collecting CP’s I did run into another navigation error shooting for CP 22. After looking for a bit, I determined what I had done wrong and re-positioned myself and collected it promptly. The rest of this section went smoothly and I made it back to the TA in 3rd place.
Before heading out on the bike, I was given another map and 5 UTM coordinates that I would have to plot. I plotted my CP’s, transitioned to bike gear and I was on my way. I collected CP 28 on my way to the next foot orienteering course. When I arrived at CP 29, I ran into Thunder Dragons again and we started this section together going counter-clockwise. We climbed up a spur and made our way down into a re-entrant towards CP 30. Unsure if we had gone too far or not far enough, we went separate directions. I ended up right on the CP, and I had thought they would have turned around to start heading my direction but there was no sign of them. I called out to them a few times, but nothing. I continued on alone. I picked up CP 31 and attempted to find CP 32 which was on a spur. I took a bearing and headed down the spur. This is where the wheels started to come off. I had missed it on my first attempt. I decided to go back up the spur and re-shoot. I came up empty again. I did it a third time and still nothing. At this point I was starting to worry about time. Clearing the course was fading away fast. I decided to skip it. I went back up to the ridge towards the next CP. Not entirely happy with my decision, I tried to attack CP 32 from a westerly direction. Along the way I ran into Alpine Shop. They were also headed to same CP. Shortly thereafter we found it. I must have just missed it as it was hung on the west-side of the tree. I collected the last couple CP’s and I made it back to the bike for the final push to Camp Benson.
There were a few CP to collect along the way. One of which was CP 35. The clue for this CP was shoreline. I had searched around where I had it plotted but was unable to find it. I looked for a good amount of time and other teams started arriving and were having trouble as well. I decided to re-plot the UTM coordinates, only to plot it in the same location. Thankfully, someone had found the CP on the other side of the road quite a ways away from where it was plotted. I punched it and moved on. I know I easily lost about 45 mins searching for such an easy CP. It was a mandatory CP, so it had to be punched or else the efforts of the day would have been for nothing. I made my way back to Camp Benson just before sundown. There I received my final map for the course, where I copied the remaining 11 CP’s. Before heading out, I took any extra non-mandatory gear of out my pack. In doing so, I found my bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos. A guilty pleasure I really only allow myself to have during racing.

I had heard that this section was taking teams about 2 hours to clear. However, I would be doing this section in the dark, so I knew it would probably take me longer. I had 4 hrs left, so I felt pretty good that I had enough time. Most of the CP’s were pretty straight forward. I did have a slight issue locating CP 46. The clue was “on an outcropping.” I thought this meant that the CP would be high, so that is where I looked, but was unable to find it. Feeling a tad frustrated, I decided to come back for it. I proceeded to collect the other CP’s, which I did not have too much trouble locating. It was just a little slow going coasteering. I made my way back to CP 46 and eventually found it. It was low, on top of a rock. I knew I had just missed it earlier because I recall being in that area but not looking in that particular spot.
After that, it was time to make the final push to the finish line. I crossed the creek one final time, scurried up a hill side and ran to the finish line. I crossed the finish line at exactly 23:00 hrs, completing the full course in the allotted time. This would be my first 24 hr race having cleared all of the CP’s. I finished 1st in the solo division and end up with a 5th overall placing. Overall, I was very pleased with my performance and the mental fortitude I showed racing alone.
           Thank you to Lupine Lighting, Gretna Bikes, Suunto, Salomon, Zeal, and OutThere USA!

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Thank You for the support and an Update.

We felt that is was time for an update on the "what and where has Team Lupine Racing been". We first would like to thank all the support we have gotten from everyone. Last year we had a very full schedule and while we were pretty happy with how the season went, we fell short at USARA Nationals due to an early injury.

 Most of you may know what happened to JZ at nationals last year
three hours in but lets just say it is still a thorn in his knee. He gave it threw the winter to heal up and as he started getting back into training the pain flared up quite intense. After an MRI and some ultra sound the Dr's found a partial tear on the patella tendon. He went threw treatment for that an weeks of PT. Nearing the end of that in June they found something was still not quite right and went in for another look and notice there was some cartilage damage behind the kneecap from the impact. So in July that was treated and now he is again going threw recovery for that. All of you that know him, you can only imagine how antsy he has been, revisiting old hobbies of video games and weaving para cord to keep him sane while chair bound for those weeks. He will be back and as he says "look out 2017, grab the tow and hold on"

And no the picture is not blurry it was just that crappy out...



Bone marrow aspiration from the hip bone.








The Doctors wanted to see just how well the human body can heal itself. so the poking and prodding of PRP and Stem cell treatments began. So far so good, just another reason the body is and amazing machine.







Now Rick....ohhh Rick. Early July on a routine road ride he came to a semi shaded section of road and hit an uneven section of road at about 20 mph causing him to go over hard on his bike. the only thing that he remembers is waking up in the middle of the road looking at on coming traffic, thinking "if they don't see me I am dead". lucky for him the first car that got to him was a nurse. So after a ride in the van with sparkly lights he woke up in ICU. Finding he had suffered quite the ordeal, and if this was a competition he has JZ well beat him! from Rick FB page "Yep. This is what happens when your on an unfamiliar section of road, and your bicycle tire hits a uneven section of pavement. 7 broken ribs, one of which punctured a lung. (Good thing I had a spare lung!) I was wearing a helmut but still took some road rash to the head. Surgery tomorrow morning to put the clavicle back together. Looks like I'll be setting off the metal detectors in airports for the foreseeable future."  He was so doped up at times when we talked to him he truly thought the young Nurses were hitting on him. So at that point we knew he was going to be fine. Speedy recovery to both of you.




The rest of the team has been injury free and are achieving great things. We are taking this time to iron out the 2017 team and working hard on recovery and support the rest of the team as the season goes on. Maybe just maybe Rick and Jason might take on a late season event to stretch there legs.

Thank you all for the support and We want to let all those Race Directors know that we truly miss your races and all the work you put into them. Adventure Racing is our drug and we now know what withdraws are like.

We would also like to thank all the great support we get from Lupine Lighting system, Salomon, Suunto, Hammer Nutrition, Zeal Optics, and Out There USA. Thanks for sticking with us..means a ton.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

USARA 2015 National Championship, Pineville, Kentucky



USARA 2015 Nationals, Pineville Kentucky
Oct 2 & 3, 30HR AR
Jason Zorilla(JZ) Team Captain, Rick Schnell and Paula Pearson (PWild)

Pineville, Kentucky is going to be beautiful we thought til we looked at the weather….rain, rain and more rain.  This will be a wet and muddy race and will test the mental limits of all teams and Stephanie Ross with Flying Squirrel Adventures is known to test your physical limits too in her course designs. 
Arriving in Pineville Kentucky just in time for check in to hotel and get to race check in before it closes at 5:30pm Thursday.  Unloaded our gear in our room at the lodge and decided to do the bike drop after the pre race meeting from 7-8.   We re checked the weather several times in hopes that mother nature would blow the hurricane on the east coast north of us so we would at least have 50% chance of rain instead of 100%. HaHa right, not going to happen.  The rain gear was ready to use all race.

Off to the pre race meeting that ran late so it put some pressure on us to get the bikes to the bike drop, but with no maps it was off to bed after we all did our normal night before repacking of packs, showers, snack, beer, chit chat or whatever and to sleep. 
Alarms set for 4am.  The lodge set up a grab and go breakfast at 5am that was very nice.  Getting a couple extra breakfast sandwiches and tossing them in our packs for hours later was a plus since temps going to be somewhat cold anyway.  


Map at 5:30 am(two), plot 30 points and realized we had mulitiple TA, breaking up disciplines(we liked this).   JZ and Rick worked on the maps and planning while PWild listen to random instructions from RD and kept the coffee hot.    Load bus at 7:00, now its raining again.  The school buses were packed as most team carried their paddle gear on board to stage at the start of the race. (last minute change during pre race meeting night before by RD)  Buses travel about 30 minutes up and down the Kentucky roads coming to a bridge way above the river.  We unloaded the buses, and had final pre race bridging at 7:45am.  PROLOGUE: TREKKING Mandatory Pts 10  RD handed out a prolog map, CPs at different point levels, you had to get 10 points total on foot and then run back to your paddle bag and run another mile down to the paddle put in where the boats were.   We went after CP 6 & 4b.(no credit for extra points)  Its spitting rain still.  Race start at 8AM. 

At this point PWild overdressed again (she gets worried about being cold after a Hypothermia situation in a race a few years ago).  Rushing down to the paddle put in PWild grabs a boat, JZ gets the paddle gear out and Rick is checking into the TA(turn in prologue passport and get main passport).   All is well, passed a few teams just in the transition area getting our boat in the water.  We thought we were going to have different canoes but nope the big yellow banana boats it is.  Yep, we got one that kept dragging left….this frustrated JZ but with the white small white water on the river it was a ride ….and its now RAINING. 
 
STAGE 1 : PADDLING  (TA1, CP1, CP2, TA2)
Two points on the paddle leg that was about X miles long.  Teams are to check in and out of TAs, these are points as well.  It pretty much rained the whole paddle leg and we had small rapid sections on and off along the way.  We could tell the water level had been much higher at one point as to the random stuff hanging from the trees.  We finally came to the paddle take out and it seem to be a bottle neck.  PWild grabbed the daisy chains and gave them to JZ, PWild took two of the dry bags with packs in them.  JZ and Rick pulled the boat up the muddy ramp past a few teams having trouble getting footing in the mud.  Yep, how many more hours of this rain and mud?  Carrying the boat up to the top of the paddle take out we knew we would see the boat again later in the race on a lake paddle.  Usually Pwild is excited when the paddle is over but this time she didn’t even say “good bye big F%$King yellow banana”.

STAGE 2 : MOUNTAIN BIKING “King of the Mt”(TA3, TA4)
The name of this stage just tells you that there is a big hill!  This is where the race change VERY much for us. We had to first trek about a mile to the bike drop were we changed out gear out and began the long assent, we weren't shooting to break a record just keep our pace up the mountain. most of this was road riding until we got to ridge road where it turned to overgrown road and then eventually jeep road. we were not more then 300 meters away from the TA.  We knew it was getting bad when a 4 wheel drive decided to stop trying to make the top. Around we went and JZ was in the front just slipping and sliding around the puddles then JZ took a fall....at first it just seemed like a mild fall until he let out this girlish child scream...."it wasn't pretty". He was not even walking for about 5 min...just wincing in pain. Rick took JZ bike an PWild took his pack as he struggled the last bit up to the TA and walked off most of the pain. Rick got to work cleaning  and dressing the wound and this is when he says "yea that probably needs stitches". The amazing volunteers were already on the phone calling up the medics. While waiting we planned our route and got ready for the O section. Jason says "to much time we gotta go". Off we went...The medics were going to be a while anyway....keep racing.

STAGE 3: Orienteering Trek  (TA,4b, CP3-7 any order) We approached this O section in a Counter clockwise approach. knowing the condition of Jason's knee this is kind of were our race dynamic changed for us, it became more of a keep up the pace and push on. Rick stepped up as Rabbit and NAV taking some of the Nav points here while PWild continued with her Positive Encouragement. Did we mention "Its still Raining" we stopped to check JZ's knee and dressing and found a pretty bloody leg. We had to use his calf support to keep the dressing on with all rain and treking we had left. Thanks to all the teams we saw out there for offering assistance....Adventure
Racers are Amazing people.We finished the O section up strong and made our way back to the TA. The medic was waiting to clean and dress JZ's knee again. the medic agree'ed with Rick that it should have some stiches or glue, but there was no glues to be had so waver signed and off we went on the loong ass bike section. 

STAGE 4: Mountain Biking   (CP8-15 any order, TA5 paddle put in)This was along bike section that we knew would take us well into the rainy night. We came down the hill and hit the rail trail which was an old coal mine trail running along the river. It was a really cool ride filled with old bridges and tunnels. Then we hit the roads running up the Wilderness Trail off road park. We made a plan to see just how bad the trails are weather we would continue south and get the rest of the bike point or turn back and take the road. JZ was being a trooper but his legs was getting weaker. We headed up the hill via the lower branch. This led us past the well known upside down truck in the ditch, which was still warm and smelled of gas. We kept seeing signs for buried gas line so we didn't stick around long to see what the driver may have broken. Up ant Up the big gnarly trail to the top. Rain still coming down the trail was only getting worse after cp 10. This area was turning into a muddy, sloppy, Slick goo, Unfortunately we had no real idea of the terrain and this whole area had been strip mines and hence not accurate on the map. We made our way down to 11 and decided to scrap the rest of the bike points on this leg and head back to the road.  Seeing friends out in the mud and asking "is it worth it?" and we just had to laugh.  Our thought was as slow as we were moving we would be better to leave us more time for the last O section of the race. So high tail it to the paddle we did.

STAGE 5: Paddling  (CP 16-19, in any order, return to TA5) We pulled into the paddle section and were gratefully relieved that it was in a large water treatment plant and the doors were OPEN!  This was a savior as they had burgers grilling and hot coffee and we were able to change cloths and hang our wet ones dry. This was way too nice but it did allow for the medics to tend to JZ again. This was the first time all race when it stopped raining. We packed up our mandatory gear and set off with our paddle gear. The put in was about 800m from the Plant were we put in on a quiet reservoir. The paddle was pretty straight forward four points any order then back to the take out. We shut our lights off for most of the paddle and had it done around 45 min. back to the plant quick redress and back on bikes to head back to the resort. Ahhhhhh, dry cloths.

STAGE 6: Mountain Biking  (CP 20-21 in any order, TA6) This Bike section looked straight forward on the map. It turned out the hill climb up seemed to never end. but once we got to the top we made our way with pretty good time. Grabbing the the two points that brought us to the power line mandatory decent. Ride-able?...maybe with a four wheel drive rock crawler on a dry day. We hiked most of the downhills and JZ knee was really slowing him down. Biking is normally his strong point but not this day. Finally reaching the road with a sigh of relief we still had 4K to the TA and our bikes at this point were so mud laden that it really made the climb to the TA a trudge. But we made it. what a relief.

STAGE 7: Orienteering Trek  (CP 22-30, in any order, Finish Line)Plenty of time still, we did another dressing change out on JZ leg before we set out on the last O section. This was going to be a tricky one as the points are really spread out all over and the navigation was going to be tricky on a the 1/24,000 scale. We started off in the dark and began with Rick on Nav as JZ was hurting bad and needed both hands to use Paula's trekking poles. We were moving no more then a quick walk at this point heading in the counter clockwise direction starting on the ridge. We ended up coming down on 22 a little past it so we had to regroup and attack from below. In out and back up to the ridge trail to attack cp23, oh cp23. We found our attack point via the bend in the trail. Took a bearing and when in. The area got so dense we had issues even following each other. we searched and search and spent way to much time looking and were down so far we decided to leave it. We were all very frustrated as this is a rarity for us to leave one and have such issues finding a cp. We decided the only good way to the bottom is straight down. This was not easy as it was slow going and very dense. looking at the map it was a huge gamble to head down Shelton Branch as the contour lines were 20ft and we could easily gotten cliffed out. Getting quite frustrated and concerned as the canyon walls were closing in on us we reached the narrowest point were the walls came together. The walls came together with only about 12 feet apart and we lucked out...no cliff. Still some more heavy thick coverage and
jumping from one side to the other trying to find our way to the bottom. The last hour took its toll on us and as we went for 24 which was tricky as the clue was re-entrant and a map with 1:24k scale made it tough to find the right one as there were many small deep ones. We finally found it as we were on our way back out to leave this one, we walked right by it coming in because the re-entrant was leading back away from us. but due to the scale was almost impossible to read. We made it back out but JZ was in really bad shape. We were slowed to a slow walk. So we resorted in taking the heavy hitter pain med which brought us to a fast walk. Progress right? We hit 25 without issues. 26 was a bit of a tricky one as the old train tracks we started to follow lead us to a dead end and had to hit the road and then back around to avoid the private property. At this point were gabbing back and forth as we were all still disappointed about having to leave a point out there we should have found. The quiet walk did us well so we could clear our minds and regroup as a team. We found our trail that lead off a bend in the RR bed and worked our way up and around to 26 which threw us for a loop for about 10 min because of 20ft contour lines.  Time was running out and we were getting slower as Rick was Towing JZ just so he could manage his lala land quick walk. We decided on an out and back for 27 after doing some time figures. We would evaluate our condition once we got back up to the lodge. this was a slow hike up JZ was slowed to a crawl and it was not looking good. we decided because he could not do more then a walk that we couldn't make the last two in time. If we could jog we could make it...Jason tried to jog to see but that wasn't happening. We finished the Race as a team stayed together, overcame the adversity and stuck it out as a team until the very end. We are all very proud of this team in what they accomplished at the 2015 USARA Nationals. Because Rick, JZ, and Pwild stuck it out and stayed in the race we finished the season with a very respectable 9th place ranking in the Nation. Not bad for a bunch of old amateurs....Great Job Team Lupine Racing. 
















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