Monday, August 30, 2010

1st Place at TRIOBA 24 Hour Adventure Race!

25 Hours and 50 minutes after starting in Chelan, Team nuun-SportMulti crossed the finish line in Plain as 2010 Trioba Champions.

Including an audio interview of Glenn Rogers:

What a race!

Team nuun-SportMulti at the 2010 Trioba 24 hour Adventure Race was composed of racers Matt Hayes, Mari Chandler, Sean Clancy and guest-racer Jeremy Rodgers. Mari and Sean went into TRIOBA with a 5-for-5 race winning streak together. For most of those races, their 3rd teammate was ace-navigator Glenn Rogers. This time around, Glenn was the race DIRECTOR, and teammate Matt Hayes would step into the navigator role. Could they keep the magical streak alive? Glenn and co-director (Team nuun-SportMulti racer and co-founder) Ryan Van Gorder promised to throw some curve-balls to prevent ANY team from having an easy go of it. By the time teams reached the finish line, the 2010 TRIOBA 24 would go down as a classic and one of the harder-but most rewarding-events in memory...

For Adventure Racers seeking a truly wild, gnarly, challenging and fun point-to-point course, the 2010 Trioba 24 Hour Adventure Race did not disappoint. The race was professionally directed with by our nuun-SportMulti teammates Glenn Rogers and Ryan Van Gorder. In the months leading up to the race, Glenn and Ryan posted random photos of locations they were scouting for checkpoints on the course. The photos depicted mountain-top fire lookout towers, mine entrances (?!), a ruined "castle" (seriously), rattlesnakes and some very large mountain lion and bear paw prints. We knew the race would offer serious navigational challenges and options, massive amounts of elevation gain and loss, and brutal amounts of rocky off-trail terrain. Oh, and a substantial paddle. Having known and raced with Glenn and Ryan for a while now, my expectations for the race were very high.

After a pre-race meeting in the town of Plain (the location of the finish) at 9pm where we received out maps and checkpoints, teams were bused (yes, in an old schoo bus!) 90 minutes to Chelan where the race began with a surprise midnight Prolog: an urban orienteering course in downtown Chelan. The local police gave us some funny looks as we bolted down the street hooting and hollering. Checkpoints could be hit in any order, so teams crisscrossed each other as they scrambled to complete the Prolog and begin the actual race in the mountains. Instead of punching our passports at each CP, we were given a list of questions and CP locations where we could find the answers. Names and dates on statues, address of the post office, etc. It was actually a fun way to start the race, and the only time we would be running on a flat surface!

Our team finished the prolog and began the first leg of the race, a 20+ mile mountain trek, about a minute behind Team Verve of Seattle, led by Latvian ace-navigator Peteris Ledins. The trek began with a substantial 3,000 foot, very steep climb straight up to a mountaintop before settling into more of a rolling (ok, steep and endless) rhythm between checkpoints. Peteris out-smarted us to one CP in the first couple hours of the trek, earning an instant 25 minute lead. This leg had some particularly steep and loose trekking, so I was glad I had my clear-lens Rudy Project glasses on with a Nex Strap. Awesome nighttime combination for adventure racing. If you are an adventure racer or 24 hour mountain bike racer and you don't use clear lenses and a NEX STRAP you are missing out, and risking it. Taking a branch to the eye is no fun! We finished the 7 hour trek, which had 7,000' of mostly off-trail elevation gain, in 2nd place. Team Verve is known for their exceptional navigation and fast travel on foot through gnarly terrain, so we were not surprised that they were able to maintain a lead heading into the first transition.

Placing a Checkpoint in an old abandoned mining building? And a few INSIDE mines? That's TRIOBA.

After the trek came a 20 mile paddle down the SLACK Columbia River. The river was moving at less than 1 knot, if at all. Because we were racing with guest-teammate Jeremy Rodgers, of the USA Wildwater Kayak Team, we knew we had an advantage over everyone in 'horsepower" but also reading the river. After a bit over 3 hours, we exited the paddle less than 10 minutes behind Verve and made a quick transition to the following mountain bike leg with the intent of a quick pass for the lead.

The mountain bike section allowed our team to exploit our strength on two wheels and to build a large lead on Verve. We managed to pass Verve in the first few miles and built on our lead throughout the 3.5 hour, 4,000' elevation gain ride. Along the way, we stuck to our team's proven formula for success by assisting our lead navigator, Matt Hayes by thinking aloud and collectively searching for key elevation markers, trails and features to eliminate any costly mistakes. Matt navigated one of the most flawless performances I have ever witnessed, with virtually zero mistakes throughout the race. In such a difficult race, this is exceptional and Matt's navigation is now at a world-class level in my opinion.

We exited the mountain bike section with a commanding lead on Verve, with Team MERGEO further back in 3rd than expected. The race was ours to lose. We were faced with an "optional" two-Checkpoint mountain trek that only teams who had cleared the entire course so far would be allowed to begin. The trek began with a SKETCHY steep and loose rocky climb out of the TA that involved hands as much as feet! The arduous and risky climb led us up a ridgeline to the first of the two CPs, which Matt nailed with surgical precision. Along the way we saw countless bear tracks and scat, as well as what looked like mountain lion tracks which added to the excitement. During the long downhill run and bushwack back to the TA, we encountered a recently-eaten deer carcass and other fun reminders of the carnivorous inhabitants of the wilderness. We chugged water and nuun out of our Hydrapaks as we headed back to the river-side transition.

Our guest-teammate Jeremy Rodgers had some extreme chafing issues during throughout the race, which came to a head in this section. Even turning his tri-shorts inside-out did not offer enough relief, so with no sign of civilization for miles in any direction, he opted to go au-natural for a bit as we bushwacked across the mountains in first place. At this point in the race, temperatures were in the 80s and the sun was beating down on our SportMulti hats and visors. I do not want to imagine the tanlines and sunburn that resulted. Jeremy visited the PAIN CAVE in a big way and never complained. We finished the 3.5 hour, 2150' elevation gain "optional" trek in first place with a large lead heading into the penultimate massively masochistic mountain bike ride to the finish

We began the mountain bike, the final leg of the race, at just after 6pm, having raced hard for 18 hours nonstop. Of course we were awake for an additional 18 hours before that as the race started at midnight, since Glenn masochistically started the race at midnight. Sleepmonsters started to kick in as dark fell, but we fought them with Red Bull, FEIN, Vivarin, and caffeinated gels. I had two large flasks pre-filled with Vitargo and FEIN before the race, which I somehow managed to not pack in our team transition bin. DOH!

The final bike was navigationally quite challenging, with or without sleep deprivation. After the race we would learn that many teams were either lost during this section or opted to stop and briefly sleep before continuing. From the Trek-Bike Transition, we climbed nearly nonstop, save for some bike-wacking from the trek-bike TA at 1450' to a fire lookout at 5800'. Although we started the bike in warmer temperatures, wearing tri shorts and unzipped jerseys, by the time we reached the 5800' checkpoint 4.5 hours later in the darkness we were all donning knee warmers, BUFFs, gloves, and jackets. The temperature had dropped precipitously and light rain and stong wind greeted us above 5,000'. Thunderstorms in the distance provided some help with our navigation, as the lightning strikes illuminated the fire tower structure above us. GOOD TIMES.

After the fire lookout TA we had a mostly downhill ride to the finish, albeit a 3 hour long one, with a nice 1400' steep grinding climb to break up the fun. We continued to work as a team to navigate flawlessly, and crossed the finish line after 7.5 hrs and 7200' of elevation gain according to my Suunto T6 watch. Remarkably, nobody on our team had a flat or mechanical throughout the race, except for some chain skipping here and there. (TURNER FLUX + SCHWALBE NOBBY NIC TIRES, FOLKS!). For me personally, this is even more impressive since this no-flat streak on the same tires/tubes includes a 24 hour adventure race two weeks ago and the 100 mile Breckenridge 100 4 weeks ago, as well as training in-between. This is unheard of.

Our rag-tag motley troupe crossed the finish line in FIRST PLACE at 1:49am, after 25 hours and 50 minutes of nonstop racing.

Before we could say thank you to the TRIOBA organization, they were handing us hot chocolate, lasagna, sodas, and whatever else we needed. First class all the way! We managed to sleep/shiver a few hours camped out near the finish line before waking up with the sunrise and greeting the other teams as they finished before the 9am cutoff. The adventure racing community vibe was strong, with teams lined up at the finish cheering until the last team finished after over 30 hours of racing.

If you live near Seattle, or anywhere in the Northwest, or if you are interested in visiting the adventure racer's paradise of Washington, you should check out what TRIOBA is doing. This fall and winter they will be offering talks and slideshows at REI and other locations for new as well as seasoned adventure racers. If you are just getting into the sport, Team nuun-SportMulti and other Seattle teams are offering a series of beginner races and clinics for athletes of all backgrounds and abilities. Contact us via or Sean is putting together similar programs in Boulder, Colorado as well.

Lastly, for discounts on nuun, SportMulti and other endurance supplements, please check out


Christina Chacharon Photography:

We had some fast composite tandems reserved, but somehow when we went to pick them up they were "gone". We wound up paddling these plastic Necky Amaruks, which worked out fine.

MAKE SOME NOISE!!! Exiting the last mountain trek with a nice lead on 2nd place.

Some of you reading this know what the Feather means...

Entering transition after the last mountain trek. A bit worked but ready for the BIG ride to the finish...

RVG resisting the urge to mention the conspicuously inside-out tri shorts.

Count the teammates! It was great seeing so many of my teammates in one place.

Matt's shirt sums it up nicely.

Team nuun-SportMulti, 2010 TRIOBA Champions

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tough 2nd Place at Gold Rush 24 Hour Adventure Race

For another perspective on the race and VIDEO footage of the paddle, ropes, bike and trekking sections, check out my Gold Rush teammate Slater Fletcher's blog at Slater raced with a GoPro helmet-mounted camera and took some amazing footage. Additionally, he added a cool soundtrack. Make sure you check it out!

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of joining my Team nuun-SportMulti teammates Cyril Jay-Rayon, Jen Segger and "Stuntman" Slater Fletcher at the Gold Rush 24 Hour Adventure Race in Long Barn, California, near Yosemite National Park. Race directors Mark Richardson and Adrian Crane put on one of the best 24 hour adventure races I have done, anywhere, and I have been adventure racing since 1997. The race managed to be very challenging physically, even without much-feareds bike-destroying manzanita bike-whacks or a gratuitously long and boring hike-a-bike. Instead racers were greeted with an impressively considerate course design and wilderness experience that reflected an enormous amount of thoughtful planning and hard work. Every single one of the Gold Rush volunteers I encountered were ON IT, proactive and seemed as connected to the race as the racers. After crossing the finish line I had to say "No, Thank You" about 700 times as they continued to offer more and more drinks, food (fresh off the grill!), etc. Schwag included a nice long-sleeve tech running shirt and adventure racing mandatory gear item raffle-give-aways.

The race itself consisted of approximately: 3.5 hour paddle-4 hour bike (5200' gain)-9+ hour trek (6,000' gain)-9+ hour bike (6,000' gain). There were 24 checkpoints plotted along the way in a True Adventure Race point to point format. At all times the teams knew where they were ranked and what the gaps were in front to the next position. For most of the race Team nuun-SportMulti ran next to or minutes behind Team Yoga Slackers. Unfortunately we could not close the gap although we tried like hell to the very end! The heat and altitude (the course was laid out mostly between 5000' and 8400') took its toll on racers throughout the race, punishing those who skipped opportunities to fill their bottles with water and nuun at the many streams along the course. I fueled primarily with my usual Vitargo, however I did not bring enough and found myself a bit depleted around the same time the SleepMonsters kicked in after midnight. This is a dangerous combination for adventure racers, because regardless of your experience or past success, when you become sleepy and simply forget to drink or eat you can dig yourself a deep hole. 6 feet deep in my case! One mountain-top checkpoint at a ski resort we hit at 4am happened to have a giant stack of cold cans of Pepsi. In hindsight perhaps I should have shot-gunned a few of those before the following bushwack descent down the backside of the mountain!

Gold Rush 24 was a legit, "real" adventure race with a challenging, scenic and fun point-to-point course which took nearly 27 hours to complete. Thankfully the race organization chose a point to point course and not the lame ROGAINE design that has been poisoning and sabotaging our sport over the last few years in my humble-but-widely-shared opinion. A scenic free-hanging cliff rappel, scramble and ascend section was particularly memorable. Some 24 hour races today don't even *have* ropes sections for myriad reasons. Gold Rush 24 did, and it was awesome. Wait until you see the photos. Just Phenomenal. Imagine mountain biking to a ropes course atop Yosemite valley for an idea of the scene. I should also add that I learned my nose is still unbreakable after Jen accidentally delivered some foot-to-face Chuck Norris action as we climbed towards the ascent. You had to be there. Being kicked in the face halfway through an adventure race incidentally is a super way to wake up with a shot of epinephrine. I'll stick with FEIN for now, but that might be my go-to wake-up move for future races when I lose the plot at 3am!

Link for some photos the race organization took:

The site of the race was just outside the northwest corner of the spectacular and world-famous Yosemite National Park, almost touching the park boundary. In my opinion Yosemite is one of the true wonders of the world. You cannot name too many places better suited for an adventure race. I have posted some photos on Facebook and will continue to post more as they come in.

Our 4th teammate (a cameo appearance by triathlon, multisport and mountain bike monster and good friend Slater Fletcher) wore a Go-Pro camera throughout the race and was able to get some great shots and footage that we will try to post on our DART adventure racing team Facebook page, Slater had a strong race just as I predicted, and I think my teammates Jen and Cyril would agree that we look forward to racing with him again! He is one of the few people in the world doing both the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 8 weeks and the XTERRA World Championships in Maui a couple weeks later. If he had it his way I am sure he would tack on the UltraMan a couple weeks after Maui.

As for results, nuun-SportMulti wasn't able to secure the win this time, and took a close 2nd. Our dreams were definitely crushed....but only because Team Yoga Slackers absolutely killed it with a phenomenal, flawless race, edging us by half an hour. If they had made one real mistake or even suffered a few flat tires we would have been right there to capitalize on their mistakes and swoop in for the victory. This did not happen, which means Yoga Slackers not only beat us physically and with quicker navigation, but their attention to detail in transition and gear is also spot-on. They earned this victory! Yoga Slackers was on fire the whole time and absolutely deserved the hard-fought win, 2 weeks after we narrowly edged them at the Big Blue Lake Tahoe 24 Hr Adventure Race.

YogaSlackers seem to be on fire right now and we look forward to competing again soon. I highly recommend checking out their website if you haven't already. This is a very cool group of people who not only kick ass in adventure races, but also teach clinics in Slackline Yoga, Vinyasa and Acroyoga. Very cool stuff. Very cool people.

Up next for nuun-SportMulti is the Trioba 24 Hour Adventure Race in Lake Chelan, Washington. Trioba promises to give Gold Rush a run for their money for killer course design and "true" adventure. I will report back with the answer! If you can get to Washington in 2 weeks, check it out: If you aren't familiar with Lake Chelan area, look it up on Google Earth. One of America's hidden gems. We hope to get back to our winning ways at Trioba, and roll into the National Championship race in Moab with a perfect score of 300 in the Checkpoint Tracker Series.

Shameless Plugs: I am riding the same 2008 Turner Flux, straight from their factory without mods, that carried me through the 2008 and 2009 seasons. I get compliments on the bike as it looks "new". It rides like new too! I have been meaning to switch to a 29er, but this bike for some reason is unbreakable, super fun to ride and perfect for adventure racing. Why change? She's been good to me.

The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires I rode are the same ones I put on a week before the Breckenridge 100 a few weeks ago. Considering I have been on some long and/or gnarly rides on technical trails and mixed terrain in between Breck and Gold Rush, that is around 300 miles on these tires without ONE flat. Incredible. Weird, even. I am running them WITH tubes right now, at about 38psi.Like many, I always coat the inside of my tires with baby powder, but nothing else out of the ordinary to prevent flats. I weigh about 180lbs. The side knobs are in great shape as are the middle knobs. These tires are amazing. My teammate Jen Segger rode Racing Ralph in the back with a Nobby Nic up front at the Tahoe Big Blue 24 hour adventure race 2 weeks ago and the same set at Gold Rush. Again, no flats and tread is in great shape. This is amazing mostly because the Schwalbe tires tout a very high-tech rubber compound that provides amazing traction. Usually tires like these would last a couple races and need to be replaced. Fortunately for my pocketbook, I will race the very same set at the Trioba 24 hour adventure race in 2 weeks. I'm sold on Schwalbe tires.

Lastly, the new Light & Motion Stella 300 lights we're using this year are a huge step up from the Stella 180s I used two years ago. We are moving much faster through bushwack sections and navigating better with improved visibility at night. Check out reviews online and you'll see why they are a no-brainer for adventure racing and 24 hour mountain bike racing...

Wrapping it up, if you have never done one of the Gold Rush races, you are truly missing out. This was my first one and I will definitely be back. Awesome job, Mark and Adrian (and army of volunteers)!

In Adventure,

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