|Race report:||Genesis Adventures adventure race|
|Date:||August 3, 2002|
|Location:||Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, Cornwell CT|
|Participants:||Dan Fitzgerald and Rob Sczupak|
Neither one of us had never done an adventure race before. When, during the pre-race briefing the race director described the event as ‘difficult’, we became somewhat skeptical. Turns out he was right.
This was an orienteering event with 19 checkpoints (CP’s). For those unfamiliar with orienteering, the basic premise is to find a series of numbered flags placed at different locations on the racecourse. Participants are provided a map of the course, a scorecard, and nothing else. One must supply all additional equipment used to locate the CP. Once located, a paper punch (hanging from the numbered CP) is used to mark the scorecard in the correct numbered box to prove the station has been located. Since each CP is assigned a unique paper punch, one can’t simply punch the scorecard ad infinitum & proceed to the finish line.
For this race, orienteering was combined with mountain biking, kayaking, (more) mountain biking, trail running, and eight ‘special tests’ interspersed throughout. Teams were grouped into male, female, and coed categories. The first special test involved carrying your life preserver for all race segments except the trail run.
Bang! The race begins, and everyone is in a wheel-barrel race. This is special test #2. After doing this for about 75 yards around & over a small hill, we get to the transition area & start the 1st of 2 mountain biking segments.
Up the mountain. Where the chairlift goes. The steep one.
We are sweating bullets and pushing our bikes up the slope. It’s already about 80°F. We get to the top of the chairlift & start looking for the first CP. Turns out most people (us included) misread the maps & the correct chairlift was actually the next one over – about 300 yards down the hill. So we ride down, and get our card punched. Welcome to adventure racing!
This process continued for about 1.5 hours, during which time we got lost and doubled back several times (taking other teams with us, of course!). Despite the warnings, the maps were quite inadequate. Luckily Mr. Park Ranger was watching over us throughout.
After the 1st mountain bike leg was the kayaking portion of the race – 2 loops around a pond. Then Special Test #3: one team member stays in the water holding onto the boat from behind while the other paddles on loop #1, then both get in & paddle on loop #2. Dan was the paddler, Rob was the sinker (excuse me) swimmer for loop #1 (in water = good at this point). Fortunately we passed several teams at this point!
Mountain bike leg #2 started next. Downhills, uphills, rocks, mud, hardpack, culverts – all with the life jacket still on. The highlight of this leg was *bombing* down a ski slope into the transition area. Yee haw! Except Rob missed the CP half way down the hill & blew on by! Dan happened to notice another team stopped, & got our card punched without either of us having to turn back. A fun ride that could’ve cost us. And so it goes with adventureraces.
In T2 was the next special test: throw a frisbee into a hockey net 25 feet away - blindfolded. Dan threw, Rob retrieved (and retrieved, and retrieved). Blindfolded ultimate frisbee would definitely be funny to watch.
On to the trail run, and up the mountain again – the same part we pushed our bikes up four hours earlier. Easier to run up it than bike. It must’ve been about 95°F. Some other teams were really hurting by this point; dehydration was a big factor.
We found our next two CP’s without incident, then tried to shortcut our way back to the next CP via other routes on the map. Remember how map was inadequate? Cha-ching!!! As we looked at the grown in trail, we noticed the map was last updated 2+ years ago. This backtrack could’ve been a lot more costly.
Abandoned stone towers, bandanas hanging from trees (ala Blair Witch Project), trail splits in 5 directions (all unmarked & not on the map), then CP #17 at the top of a rickety old fire tower. Special test #6 was at the top & required -both- team members to paint a fingernail w/nail polish. Some teams didn’t read too well & had to come back to do this after reaching the finish line – including the 2nd place male team. We went with the snappy shade of shit maroon. (Hey! How do you remove this stuff?!?)
Two more CP’s, some heavy duty trail running, & back to the transition area for the final special test – build a copy of a LEGO model from memory. Again, teamwork was the key thing here. Lego model built, run down the finish chute, and over the line. Race complete!
We were told by some other competitors that the Genesis series was much more difficult than the Hi-Tec series. Apparently Hi-Tec marks trails more clearly, and is not quite as strenuous. There were only 60 people in this race, which can be a pleasant change from most triathlons. Whether attendance was a function of race difficulty, insufficient marketing, or simply a sign of the sports’ infancy we don’t know. We do know this race tested strength and endurance, was about as long and tough as a ˝ Iron, and was fun! Just like your 1st tri, your 1st adventure race is all about conquering the mental hurdle of ‘just doing it’. Now then - who’s ready for the next one…?!?