Shoeless in Hartford
The kayak was to be the first event for this year race in Hartford. As we gathered near the starting line about ¼ mile or more from the kayaks we were handed instructions for the first special test – “The rescue carry”. In a mad dash to be the first to reach the lake the two teammates had to carry the third. We struggled a little getting into the kayaks and connecting the towline. After the first lap around the lake we came upon the second special test “Paddle Break”. Two of the teammates had to swim to shore with their paddles, leave them there and swim back to the third teammate waiting in the kayaks. Then we had to circle the lake once more with only 1 paddle for all three teammates. We elected to keep the paddles together and had Dave do all the paddling. Many teams broke the paddle into two and used a canoe paddle stroke. We recently practiced this type of paddling on a recent camping trip where Dave paddled the sevylor kayaks 8 miles with my 10-year old daughter in front, and towing a second boat with my 15 year old nephew and my other 8-year old daughter. So we knew he could keep up a quick pace for a long period of time.
Coming off the kayaks we were given the next special test: find “SEX” in the woods (Otherwise called “Orienteering”). The letters we were told to find happened to spell sex. After having near flawless orienteering in Sacramento, we struggled with sex in Hartford. We saw team Red Bull and followed them for a short time, but they didn’t want sex. After a few minutes we started seeing many more teams entering the woods, but none of them seemed to want sex either. We didn’t have our lights so we started getting worried that we wouldn’t find sex before dark. Finally, we found the first marker which helped us orient where we were. As a result we were able to quickly finish sex once we got started, but this was by far the worst sex we ever got.
Off to the Balance Bar trail run – part 1. We had some ground to make up, so we set a fast pace. It was still light out, but dark was fast approaching. About 1-mile into the run I sprained my ankle. I was in a lot of pain, but able to finish the race. Tracey also had been fighting some ankle problems, which flared up during the first run. Following the run was a special test called “Peg leg ladders”. In this special test one teammate was to remove on of their shoelaces and climb a 12-foot beam (being held by the other two teammates) to reach a rope some 15-feet high to tie the shoelace around. Luckily I always have an extra pair of shoes in the transition area, but what about the teams who didn’t. What did they do for the second trail run?
Next was the mountain bike-part 1 where we were able to make up some more ground and give our ankles a chance to rest. The last section of the mountain bike course took us through the mine area that was deep sand. Pushing our bikes through this sand really made Tracey and my ankle scream with pain. Instead of carrying the bike, I elected to push the bike and use it as a crutch for my sore ankle. Next came the trail run part two that was the same course as the first run. I transitioned quickly and started out ahead of Dave and Tracey to try and get my ankle to loosen up. They ended up taking a wrong turn and started following the bike course for about ½ mile. They caught back up to me half way through the run with some more lost time.
Following the second run was a special test called “Knot”. I believe the concept of this test was to tie a knot in a rope. Then while all three team members held the rope (one on each end and one in the middle), the knot had to pass from one end of the rope to the other. This was very confusing at the time but we managed to complete the task by our fourth attempt. Not too bad.
Next was the second mountain bike that ended up very crowded and bottlenecked. Thanks to all the teams who made every effort to make it easy to pass. Especially at the back up when climbing over the fence. It is very much appreciated! Coming of the bike was the last two special tests of the evening: “Evacuation and the Wall”. Evacuation had us go through the strings of chaos, over a six-foot wall, and across a balance beam all while carrying one of the teammates. If at any time that person touched the ground the test would have to be restarted.
It turned out to be a long night and our longest race of the year. We managed to hold onto an 8th place finish despite our mistakes and injuries. We look to bounce back in Pittsburgh so look out. Hope to see you there.