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


Luke said...

sounds epic bro! glad you and the team-mates survived.

i'll need to hear that canoe story in detail someday.

DARTvg said...

Nice write up Sean! Good memories now that the pain is gone ;-)