So this was my first foray into the "adventure racing" realm of things and even though there were not too many teams that showed up on this particular weekend, it was STILL a blast.
Let me preface this by saying that Western NY got the typical late February/early March DUMP of snow about a night or two before this 4 hour orienteering race in Mendon Ponds Park on Saturday March 27th, 2010. We got hit with about 8 inches of fresh and deep powder that would inevitably create a hastle for the race directors in disguising the check points (they didn't want to leave tracks to them in all the fresh snow) and for course management.
This race was a 4 hour orienteering/adventure race and it consisted of a mountain biking portion, a snowshoe or XC skiing portion (your choice) and a "post hole" loop in the very beginning. The race started out with about a post hole 1/4 mile loop up a very steep embankment (you weren't allowed to wear snowshoes for this...hence the post hole aspect of it) This was the only point in the race that teams split up and each person did this individually and then had to partake in the "challenge" of the race. The challenge this year was to knock off the cardboard heads from this 2x4 with a snowball from about 20 feet away. The cardboard heads are the race director Mort Nace and I don't know if he had prior knowledge of this before race day. Good stuff :o) After both teammates went and knocked the heads off, they were free to start orienteering their way thru the course.
My teammate was none other than Tim Howland and we set off on the bikes for checkpoints one thru four. We raced away from the lodge and took a trail that was an old road in Mendon which would've saved us a lot of time, had it been plowed. Thing was there was about 8-10" of deep powder to trek thru with our mountain bikes and snowshoes strapped to the outside of our packs. It definitely made travel a little slow. Well, we made it to the transition area, ditched our bikes, strapped on the snowshoes and headed out to collect punches 1-3. Things went really smoothly until punch 2 where a few of the teams bunched up and we were kinda lost looking all around for the call out. It was labelled as a fence and with all the snow, it made it really hard to find. The only bobble was that #3 I went down the side of a creek and realized I was on the wrong side and unable to cross given all the ice. We caught up and blazed thru 1-3 and grabbed the bikes and picked up #4 on the way back to the lodge.
Tim and I set out for 5-9 and were feeling good with a comfortable lead. We sailed thru 5-9 and hit some good hills there (cardiac hill included) and breezed our way back to the lodge for the win in 2hours and 50 minutes having collected all 9 check points. The 2nd place team of husband and wife Weilers came in on skis about 20 mintues behind us.
This was a really fun day and a great haul prize-wise. Tim and I each won a pair of Pearl Izumi Shoes, a pair of smartwool sox, and got a long sleeve t-shirt out of the mix. I won a pair of Kahtoolah microspikes in a raffle and will be giving those to my buddy Brian who lent me his bike (Hambone) for the race. Good times, a great foray into orienteering and I would LOVE to do more races like this in the future. The combination of orienteering yourself and hauling butt to the next checkpoint was REALLY fun.
I gotta get a post up about snowshoe nationals that were this past weekend, but I'm afraid that will have to wait for now. Hope the good weather is treating everyone well and you are hitting the roads in style. Train hard and I'll see you out on the roads. Cheers.