Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Hard Way...

"The Hard Way"...is how we learned the North Georgia 30 Hour Adventure Race's sadistic reputation is dead-accurate!

On Sunday morning at 11:45 after 26 hours and 45 minutes of nonstop racing we crossed the finish line in 2nd place, just under an hour after local powerhouse Team EndurAdventure. It was tough to lose after leading the race for 20 hours, but the lessons learned from this race will certainly make us a faster team. This was just the first stop for Team nuun-SportMulti in the CheckpointTracker 2010 National Series.

This year's NGAR punished the more under-dressed racers with nonstop rain, mud, icy stream-crossings and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees F. The nearly 20,000 feet of climbing (19,700' according to my Suunto T6 altimeter watch) allowed racers to warmup...a welcome respite when your hands and feet are painfully numb! The corresponding ~20,000 feet of descending and endless bushwacking (up and down steep, leaf-covered slopes with thick rhododendron, pricker vines and multiple stream-crossings) sapped whatever precious heat we built on the climbs.

Photo: Team nuun-SportMulti after crossing the finish line at Fort Mountain State Park, Georgia.

As an early season "hit-out", this race was a success on many levels. My nuun-SportMulti teammates Jen Rinderle and Ryan Van Gorder were absolutely on FIRE throughout the nearly 27 hours of racing. We cannot wait for our next opportunity to show our capabilities. On a personal note, after winning 9 adventure races in a row with my team, this 2nd place has lit a fire in my gut and has motivated me more than ever to raise the bar. You certainly learn more from your losses than wins, so this is a blessing in disguise.

Some highlights:

-A blazing portage-with RVG and I running with the canoe on our heads while Jen carried our paddles and dry bag-up and over a steep hill and down a road, only to run out-of-control dragging the canoe downhill on the other side with the canoe bouncing between trees, over logs and branches, splashing down in the lake on the other side...and dropping the pack.

-A mandatory 10 minute stop at a checkpoint at Mulberry Gap mountain bike lodge that we hit around 3:45am, in pouring rain and very cold temperatures. The volunteers had fresh-baked cookies, ramen noodles, and a wood-burning stove going that warmed us up almost immediately. It was hard to leave! (Thank you!)

-Riding and running past frozen waterfalls, trying to avoid tapping the brakes while riding over icy patches on the muddy singletrack and fire roads.

-Climbing to the top of Fort Mountain, 25 hours into our race when our bodies were tired and sore, but our minds knew we were just a few miles from the finish line.

-Jen's husband Ed Rinderle providing excellent crewing along the way (before, during and after the race) allowing us to have fast transitions. Crewing is a dirty job that even Mike Rowe would appreciate. Thank you Ed! You're a legend!

These race experiences in harsh conditions push even the very best gear to it's limitations and is exactly why world-class companies like Arc'Teryx, Vasque shoes and Gregory Packs sponsor our team and use Team nuun-SportMulti for research and development of their products. If the gear is not destroyed in these conditions, it is pretty much indestructible. They've cleverly "out-sourced" a very dirty job!

Here are the only photos I could scour off the web:

At the start line

Even bending over to stretch I am almost as big as my competitors!

Finishing the Prologue run at the front, looking for my team:

Entering the water with 4 other teams up front, sitting in front of canoe, white shirt:

Start of 17 mile paddle (including portages)

Another view of the put-in next to the dam

Monday, January 11, 2010

Georgia on my Mind

We've got a ferociously nasty 24 hour adventure race on tap for this weekend! "The NGAR" (North Georgia Adventure Race) promises to be the coldest, wettest, GNARliest thing I have done in a while. BREATHE Magazine did a tremendous write-up on the race.

NGAR historically is a cold, nasty race. With temperatures at the start line a few years ago reaching a mind-numbing 10 degrees (F), capsizing your canoe is something you want to avoid at all costs. Multiple stream and river crossings in sub-freezing temperatures, often in the middle of the night while carrying your bike, are also part of the deal. Fun, right?

Right now, the forecast predicts warmer-than usual weather: 30s and rain. This is actually quite an improvement over the recent snow and 15 degree temperatures the area has endured during a record-breaking cold front.

This year’s course will be approximately 90 miles through some of the most scenic, challenging, and historic terrain in north Georgia - roughly 20 miles paddling, 25 miles hiking and 45 miles biking through the frigid North of Georgia and the picturesque Fort Mountain State Park. When asked to make a prediction as to how much snow would fall on course this year, Berwald jokingly mentioned, “35 feet, bring snowshoes.”

Once again I am racing with my usual adventure racing team, renamed for the 2010 season "nuun-SportMulti". My teammates will be Area 51 escapee alien-human hybrid Ryan Van Gorder and time-traveling Terminatrix Jen Rinderle (Jen is a local Georgian on loan from Team Checkpoint Zero, fresh off a tough race in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia). We are all looking forward to tremendous competition coming from the local teams as well as current National Champions from New England.

Dreams will be crushed. By Sunday afternoon we will know whose. Win or lose, it will be a challenge for all teams from the elite down to the first-timers just to finish the course.

While most athletes know nuun is the leading electrolyte tablet that we all drop in our water bottles, SportMulti may be new to some folks. SportMulti a multivitamin co-developed by our team captain Cyril Jay Rayon and fellow adventure racer/ultrarunner Christian Burke, both highly accomplished racers on the international level. The SportMulti formulation was specifically created for athletes and is priced quite competitively against other options on the market. I have used it for about a year now. www.sportmulti.com or you can buy it online at endurance supplement store FeedTheMachine.com

See you on the other side!