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


Ryan Denner said...

Dude, killer blog. I stopped on by via James W, Ryan W and Slater's blogs. Good stuff man. I love that guys shirt!

sean.clancy said...

that shirt sums it up nicely, yeah?

also, awesome RAAM coverage! hope the legs are 'fixed' soon. i went through a winter and spring of tendonitis that was NO fun.

Anonymous said...

Wow nice blog Sean! It looks like you have a great time racing. I wish I had your motivation. :)