May 02, 2007

Castaic Lake Adventure Race

Well I was going to race the Xterra this weekend, however, my knee was still giving me problems and with an adventure race at the same location I thought it would be best to take it slow, hang out with Monique on the trail and learn some navigation skills. Yes, I learned a lot and we got cooked in the process. Good times ;-)

Like our normal schedule we decided to sign up for the sprint AR and just pack all of our gear for the weekend and head out. We arrived just in time for a great clinic by Cyril from Dart-Noon. Insightful tips on navigation and team racing. We were inspired and after we learned that the sprint AR did not really have any navigation and that we could not use our new Tango boat we decided to upgrade! We switched to the longer 12hr race and thought we would just get more time to practice. Now, what was Cyril saying about bearings and declination? Oh well, we were off to get some dinner and get some sleep before our big day.

Race day morning was an easy start for us. We decided that as a team “Fletch-Lives” we would take it slow and make it a long training session. The race started with a run/trek from the start to where we had dropped the kayaks at CP1. We let everyone take off on the start and even decided to go way around the trail so we would not be following the crowd. I am not going to say who's idea that was but it was just the start of a long day of learning. Sometimes it is not so bad to follow everyone IF they are going in the right direction.

Finally... arriving at our Kayak, we were in good shape and looking forward to getting into the water and making our very first paddle in our new Tango. What better time for the first time in new gear and even a boat at that then in the middle of a race. This is an adventure! At this point we had lost sight of any of the leading teams after our little detour but we had arrived and really knew how we got there on the map so we were learning something. Once in the water navigation was easy and the tango was rockin’. We started passing teams but tried to stay focused on our goal. The heat was already starting to crank up and the water felt so nice. Arriving at the first Kayak CP(checkpoint) we found instructions for a orienteering trek for about four additional checkpoints. We grabbed our instructions and started running north. Hey, where are we going. Ahh, North? Our first instructions read something about “shooting a bearing” and we soon found ourselves sitting at a picnic table reading very slowly.

We were very thankful for the teams that helped us out and we did learn so much. Just when we started gaining momentum I had my knee problem back in full force. Agghhh… After walking backwards down the hills and popping several Advil’s we managed to complete the trek section and we were back in the boat. My knee problem was from my weak hamstrings and quads pulling my knee to the side. I realized that I was pushing with my legs out to the side when paddling and it was just making it worse. That was a huge help in understanding how I got jacked up in the first place. I had been paddling quite a bit lately and it all started making sense. Now if we could only get to 170 degrees SouthWest of the letter "F" in the word Forest on the map....

We started picking up checkpoints and learning the little details of the map that only come by painfully overlooking them. By now the heat was out in full force and we were running back to the starting TA and we would be out of the water for the rest of the day. We packed our food, water and headed for Grasshopper Valley on our bikes. Here is where we really got cooked.

We were actually racing up to this point but somewhere in Grasshopper Valley we wondered around for hours trying to get three checkpoints. We saw lots of dead cows, little shade and a scant racer here and there. Our pace was slowing way down and we soon found ourselves without water and deep into the valley. We had passed all of the checkpoints on our way up and arrived at the end of the valley at the furthest northern checkpoint some long hours later. Another lesson learned is to get out of the valley (heat) and get to the ridge where there is some light wind and visibility is much better. It is also easier for the rescue crews to find your body if you cant find your way out. At the last checkpoint they had water and that was all we were looking for to keep us from blowing up.

As dark started to set in and we were heading back to the TA we had renewed energy. We had survived the day and the heat. We had found all of the checkpoints and learned how to get the details out of the map that we needed. We had raced as a team.

Back at the TA we discovered that they had taken down the bouy for the last section of the race but I was so stoked that we were ready to take it on if we would be able to... We could have raced all night. It was cool out now and we were ready to go but everyone was packing or had already gone home. We were just getting going now and understanding this map reading thing? We were lucky to get our cheese burgers and it was better than any metal and tasted so much better too!

The next day we decided to volunteer for the Big Blue and hand out water for the Xterra race. Another cookin' day but so much fun. Here is the short race report from the Xterra and are some pictures from our Adventure Race and Xterra Race

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