Hi-Tec stop #1
Castaic Lake, California
Once again MESP keeps us guessing. What a surprise! At the pre-race meeting this year MESP did not tell us what the order of the events would be. They did not tell us the distances of the events either. They did however give us an instruction booklet for all of the special tests, which proved to be totally useless. The only one we could figure out was that we would be doing the 12ft wall at the end of the race. Unbeknownst to us, this would be where we struggled in the race.
RACE TIME: At the starting line, we were handed a six inch rubber ring and another instruction sheet. Here we were told that the first event would be a 5 1/2 mile run. The catch was that each team member had to keep one hand on the "ring-of-love" at all times during the run or face disqualification. The cannon shot and we were off! The start was a little dangerous as I could see Karen Lundgren from team Hi-Tec stumble and get dragged at least 10 yards. We established a good spot (about 10th place) near the front of the pack as we settled into our pace. As the field spread out we started picking off teams one by one. Before we knew it we were breaking into the top 5 and noticed that our bib number of 102 didn't fit with the other single digit teams. We worked our way into third despite an untied shoelace.
About 4 miles into the run was special test #1. Each team member had to put on a life vest and swim 150 yards across the lake (a little mercy as we were able to let go of the ring-of-love). We were able to close in on 2nd place BMC software, but couldn't overtake them. After the swim we once again grabbed onto the ring-of-love and continued the run with our life preservers. Into the transition area came test #2. The ring-of-love had to be put onto an 8ft rod. A little mix up here made this special test easier than expected. It turns out that the rods were place too short and the instructions were not clear. The ring was supposed to be placed onto the rod while never touching the rod, but the instructions only stated that the team members couldn't touch the rod.
Test #3 followed immediately. We had to swim about 50 yards out to a raft to retrieve our kayak paddles. Reaching the kayaks was special test #4 where we had to carry our kayaks about 1 mile along the beach. At the put in point we continued running along the shore until we finally caught up and passed 2nd place BMC software. This was short lived as they past us back while we were getting into our kayaks. We stayed in 3rd place for most of the kayak. Red Bull managed to pass us near the end of the kayak section.
Next came the 10 mile bike leg (which happened to be only 6 1/2 miles - thank goodness). Once we hit the hills on the bike we started being passed. We managed to keep the other teams close. This race was by far the most competitive Hi-Tec race I have ever seen. It was anyone's race for the 2nd-10th spots. After the bike portion came test #5, which was a seat tied to the end of a pulley. One team member had to occupy the seat while the other two pulled the rope to raise the seat so a bell could be rung. Special test #6 came next which was a series of swims across the lake. A few team forgot to pick up their life vests and had to go back a retrieve them before entering the water. The swim was below the dam where there was a cable strung across to keep boats out. This proved useful in pulling yourself across the lake instead of swimming.
Following the swimming was the second trial run around the lower lagoon. The pack was bunched up too tight to determine what place we were in. The officials on the radio said it was anyone's race for 2nd -10th place. We were told we arrived at special test #7 in 4th place. The atlas boulder was to move a boulder around the post and back. We tried to pick the smallest rock, but being so fatigued made us delirious. We ended up picking the flattest rock of the bunch which did not roll to day the least. 2nd place Hi-Tec was crossing the finish line as we finished the atlas boulder. Next was test #8 "The Wall".
Our first try at the wall was unsuccessful as Dave and I tried to lift Kara. Another minute wasted as BMC software crossed the finish line. On our second attempt we managed to lift Kara high enough to grab the top of the wall. While this was happening FogDog ran up to the wall and made it over for 4th place. Kara was out of energy and couldn't manage to get her lift herself or get a leg up on the wall. Our third attempt was to lift me up the wall first. I was also too tired to pull my body up so I used my climbing skills to get a leg over the wall. Finally on top the rope was thrown up and Kara climbed up the wall. Third up the wall was Dave as 5th place Red Bull crossed the finish line. Before coming off the wall 6th place Swissvoyage.com completed the race. Finally up and over the wall we crossed the finish line in 2:53:45 for a 7th place finish.
Overall we were very happy with our teams performance. 7th place is something to be very proud of given the talent of the competition. Especially when you consider this was Kara's first ever adventure race and also our first race with this team. It is a great feeling competing against such great athletes. On the other had we know we can do better. A top 5 finish was within our reach, but we choked on the last special test. Look for team racelab on the podium in Sacramento. Until then - have fun racing!!!