Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prepping for Raid the North Extreme

The days seem shorter as Raid the North Extreme is rapidly approaching.  About all the training hours have been banked, it is now time for banking sleep and final packing.  The team is hoping that you take a moment each day to check our progress and give us a shout out.  The long days and nights will start to run together, it will give us a needed boost as we transition from one discipline to another to know that our friends are out there, willing to give us a virtual pat on the back for what we have accomplished and kick in the butt to keep us moving down the trail.

Team Midwest Mountaineering Training in CO
You may be asking....  What is Raid the North Extreme?  Here is a link to the event website.  Read as much or as little as you would like.  We are going up against some of the best teams in the world.  Our goal.... to complete the event, have fun, maybe learn a little about ourselves and each other.

One item we are really excited about!  British Columbia's West Kootenay!  The are will have spectacular vistas, some of the best mountain biking in the world, epic paddling opportunities, and plenty of opportunity to suffer.

The teams will be equipped with SPOT tracking.  This will enable you to follow our progress and see where we are with respect to other teams.  It is unclear at this point where you will be able to do this, but I recommend visiting Checkpoint Tracker and the Raid the North Extreme sites.  One of them will have a link to the tracking page.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Day on the Moon

Castle Valley
October signaled the end of the Adventure Race Season for Midwest Mountaineering and we went out in style at the CheckPoint Tracker National Adventure Race Championships in Moab, Utah, aka The Moon.  Paula Waite and Pete Wentzel made the trip to Moab with super recruits Cathy Diamond and Nick Rogne.  We were really happy to have two experienced adventure racers join us as we battled wind, diesel fuel spray and icy mountain passes to reach the race start.  The trip was relatively uneventful as we bonded as a team and ate some good food on the journey.  We arrived in Moab a full 30+ hours in advance to stretch our legs, scout the area, and finalize race prep.  What a great race location; rugged, beautiful and surreal.

TMMAR with Ian Adamson
One benefit to our early arrival was that we were fully packed and prepared and able to attend the presentation by Ian Adamson, Seven time World Adventure Race Champion and three time endurance Including current) record holder for the most distance in 24 hours in a kayak.

The race, attended by all the top teams in the nation, started at 8 AM on a cool, crisp, sunny day on 29 October.  The first discipline would cover all the water activities for the race; riverboarding and kayaking.  The start tunnel was a comical site with over 150 racers in bike helmets, flippers, wetsuits, all with riverboard in tow.  The countdown ended and we all "flipper ran" to the dock for the plop in to the water.  The team assembled and all jumped at once.  Pete started kicking to catch his "large flippered" teammates and noticed an issue right away, his flipper straps had fallen off.  He fumbled getting them back over his heals, turned, and the teammates were gone.  A few more kicks and a strap broke.  This is going to be a long two miles.  The team negotiated the rapids and had a lot of fun in this section that ended way too quickly.  Pete managed to keep his flippers on by curling his toes and kicking constantly, which pushed the flippers further on his feet.  However, when he stood, the flipper came off and was lost in the mud.  $45 worth of AR gear gone... love this sport.

CP Tracker Nationals -- Water Section at EveryTrail

The team transitioned to paddle, Paula and Nick putting down a pace that Cathy and Pete had a hard time maintaining.  Both boats managed the rapids without tipping, pretty good for mid-westerners with infrequent exposure to the trickier situations brought on by the moving water.  As the rapids passed, we settled in for the long 25 mile paddle.  The rapids sections were behind us, the uncomfortable seating and long effort were muted by the incredible scenery.  Paula and Nick got a few breaks as they waited for Pete and Cathy and the entire team took the opportunity to fuel for the long day in front of them.

Corona Arch
The team reached the end of the paddle, stripped off the water gear and prepared for the first trek section.  Pete plotted the 7 controls as Paula read the coordinates and we set off for Poison Spider Mesa.  The team was debating whether there was enough time to get all the controls before the mandatory stop at the tyrolean traverse when they walked through the corona Arch and to the Via Ferrata that took them to the top of the Mesa.  All that changed when they saw the Queue at the via ferrata.  The team ended up waiting nearly an hour at this section and quickly surmised that controls 5 and 6 were probably not within reach.  The maps provided were pretty sketchy and it would take a full on team effort to make sense of them.  The terrain was surreal, the maps were crap, and the footing was iffy, but all the teams had to deal with these items.  Reaching the top of the mesa, we headed north west toward control #4, an easy start to get our bearings, or so we thought.

TMMAR Route on Poison Spider Mesa
The rules stated that we had to stay on the rock or trails, but the rock was at a 45 degree slope, and there weren't any trails.  15 minutes later we are at a standstill as Cathy plays spiderwoman with 2nd thoughts about her chosen profession.  She wasn't going up, down, or sideways without help.  Nick took it upon himself to help, but quickly realized that the only support he could give was morale.  He talked Cathy down and we decide on more conservative, less direct routes.  The trek was a combination of undulating smooth rock and big slabs piled up on top of each other like remnants from an earthquake.  This team wouldn't be going anywhere at a running pace.  A fast trek was the order for the day.  In the end, the team was a bit disappointed in this section.  With three good orienteers, the first two controls were located, but the team came upon them with other teams leaving, not quite a follow, but not a find.  Control #8 was not to be located.  The organizers placed the control within 50 meters of the map edge, frustrating as half the map was left empty (cut off in the pic).  With little to go by on the maps, no control descriptions, and nothing to reorient from (off the map) the team wasted 30 minutes walking around, not realizing they had wandered off the map.  We abandoned in order to get to the Tyrolean before the cut off and recognized our catching feature from across the valley, too late to go and get the control we had searched so long to locate.

Reaching the Tyrolean, we queued up for another 40 minute wait.  Teams were taking a long time to cross, and even though there were three routes, this bottleneck took time.  Teams were starting to abandon hope of crossing as we made our way across.  This was one skill the team was familiar with and we quickly made our way to the other side of the 350' wide valley with the floor 200' below.  The team quickly headed further to the southwest and checked in at the rappel, 14 minutes before the cutoff.  Phew.  Following the instructions, we removed our shoes and socks and got ready to cross a waist deep pool of cool water to the rappel site.  We were next in line when the clock struck 6:30 and we were told the site was closed....  but we were here in time...  no, the rules state you have to be on the rope... no they don't...  In the end, we made sure the log showed we were there in time, that we had punched well prior to the 6:30 cut off, and we headed backwards, up the valley in search of a way out, in the dark.  The alternate way out was a 20 minute detour that eventually linked up with the exit from the rappel and we enjoyed the fun scrambling route off of the Mesa.  Hard to believe we spent over two hours waiting or having to backtrack on a section that lasted 5 hours.

Back at the TA, the team donned their cycling gear, stowed their totes and headed off on the bike to the top of the mesa directly east of Moab.  It was good to be moving and have a sustainable pace.  We quickly settled in to a pace line and started passing teams, not knowing whether they had more or less controls than our team.  It was a nice night out, not too cold, not too hot, clear, so we were able to see the stars.  As we got to the edge of the Mesa, we started the steep, 400' climb.  Put it in low gear and spin.  Another team or two were passed in this section.  We didn't know if there would be a queue at the end of the climb, but better to get there first.

We pulled in to the Slickrock TA and got our map and CP information.  We are given the option of biking, trekking, or both.  We quickly decided to try and bike as much as possible.  It is the famous Slickrock trail....   We plot the points and plan on doing them in reverse order 21 down to 15.  21 and 20 are on the beginner loop, so we will be able to get familiar with the terrain while we bike this moonscape at night.  Three of us are sporting AYUP Lights, so the night is almost day anyway.  We head out, looking for turns in the trail and estimating distance.  We come to the first point where we feel we need to dismount, drop our bikes and take the short jaunt to the control.  Lights everywhere but near the control.  We found it easy and trotted back to the bikes.
TMMAR's route on SlickRock 
On the way to CP21, Pete found out what the white lines are for... to follow.  The tendency is to follow your teammate, but when your teammate takes a turn, you end up cutting the corner.  Pete hit a ledge at the bottom of a hill and went straight over the bars on to his head.  Lucky it and his helmet are hard...  Ten minutes later and Nick cuts a corner, a corner around a big pit in the rock with steep sides and a large pool of water.  A skid, a slide, and a few chuckles and we all focus on the white lines instead of our teammates.  CP20 came as easy as 21 and we are setting out again.

The cliff at CP 17
Things got a little confusing here.  We went from an area of only singletrack, to single track and jeep trails.  We figured the jeep trails would be easily identifiable, so we counted turns and jogs and tried to estimate distance.  All of a sudden we are at Shrimp Rock, almost all the way to 17.  What to do?  The decision was made to pick up CP17, then return for 18 and 19.  We measured carefully, but we didn't see the intersection where the path split on the way to 17...  this is confusing.  Luckily, the sharp turn past 17 was recognizable.  We used it to confirm that we were in the correct spot.  A quick backtrack and CP17 was found.  Again, there were a lot of teams milling about, some on the south side of the trail?  On the way to 17, we chose to go north then follow the depressions.  Going past the easterly depression, Nick and Pete topped a knoll and were met with a black wall... The lights would not penetrate the blackness.  Two more steps and you get a quick trip down 450'.

We took the now familiar route back to CP18, found the intersection and had a "Eureka" moment.  Single track is dashes, jeep/alternate routes are dots...  They are more spread out than the dashes, but locate-able.  CP 18 was an easy find and we are off to drop our bikes at the next intersection.  We dropped at the prominent intersection in our route, and set off on foot for 19.  A longer trek, so we changed shoes for this one.  The route was either widely spaced dots, or sand, so dropping the bikes was probably a good decision.  We reached the area and went south west from the trail, not realizing that the trail map on our satellite photo was offset from the actual trail.  We spent 25 minutes locating this control.  An quick hike back to our bikes and we set out on the alternate/jeep path towards CP14.  

Well, we found out why this is an alternate path.  Rock so steep you have to rest your butt on your back tire on the downhills and have to zigzag your bike (on foot) up the uphills, if you can keep track of the dots.  This was slow go, our mistake on the initial route which caused us to back track from 17 was taking it's toll.  After a lot of effort, we see stripes and confused teams, proof that we are at the western intersection.  A small bobble (wrong trail), and the team reorients and hits CP14.  By comparison, the ride to CP 15 was easy, as was finding the control.  We wanted to take the alternate route back, but couldn't find it and rode the single track back in to the start point.

CP Tracker Nationals -- Bike Section Home at EveryTrail

The cutoff for the bike/trek was 7 AM and we roll in at 5:30.  It is a little cooler now, and we are all a little hungry.  Hard to eat when you are holding on for dear life.  But, we only have one control left!!!  Hard to go up from here right?  Apparently not.  We set off to the east on a long climb...  A 34 mile slog that involves 4000 feet of climb and a fun 4500 foot descent to the finish.  Tuck the maps in and ride... right?  Not true...  there were two turns that were pretty crucial to making it back efficiently.  The first was easy to find, the second, where you turn on to the Kokopelli trail, was a little tougher to find, miss it and you start down with nowhere to go but back up.  We debated the 2nd, could we make it to the final CP on an alternate route?  In the end, we chose correctly and beat some other teams back by 30 minutes.  Teams that were riding by us on the hill to the peak.  Along the way we saw teams sitting in the middle of the road eating, a team sleeping, and a whole lot of incoherent nonsense.  The super-elite teams don't get to see the babbling gaggle at the back.  I think they are missing out.  The peak was awesome, and so was the ride to the finish where we ate a little too much and went down for a nap.

I think that the experience of this event, in this terrain, made the trip worthwhile.  There has been a lot of debate about the format, opaque rules, etc., but if you step back and just ask if you had fun, it is pretty easy to smile about the event.  Frustrating...  all good events are.  Hard...  I would feel cheated if it wasn't.  A lot of AR is about teamwork and bonding, this race provided plenty of opportunity to build that bank up.  Thanks CP Tracker, see you next year.  Hopefully, a little closer to the top of the finisher list.  :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanks for the great photo Jason!

Midwest Mountaineering at the high point of the CP Tracker AR Champs!

Jason Perreria, Wild Adventure Race Owner and Adventure Race enthusiast, ran across Midwest Mountaineering at the summit, 8419' above sea level, about an hour from the finish at the Checkpoint Tracker AR Championships.  Thanks for the great picture Jason.

Blog post to come soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

William Rocks the Madison Ironman

Although a series of injuries scuttled a lot of his training regimen, William still toed up to the start line and did a killer job at the Ford Ironman Wisconsin.  There were a total of 322 in his division and 2912 competitors overall.  Here are the numbers:

William Eddy


TOTAL SWIM2.4 mi. (1:35:32)2:30/100m2161269

BIKE SPLIT 140 mi. (1:58:14)20.30 mph
BIKE SPLIT 243 mi. (2:07:34)20.22 mph
BIKE SPLIT 329 mi. (1:32:56)18.72 mph
TOTAL BIKE112 mi. (5:38:44)19.84 mph667113

RUN SPLIT 16.35 mi. (1:04:15)10:07/mile
RUN SPLIT 26.65 mi. (1:09:41)10:28/mile
RUN SPLIT 36.23 mi. (1:00:20)9:41/mile
RUN SPLIT 46.97 mi. (1:19:26)11:23/mile
TOTAL RUN26.2 mi. (4:33:42)10:26/mile647111