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,

SC Endurance Multivitamin Created by Adventure Racers and Endurance Cyclists mandatory electrolytes for adventure racing!


jameson said...

way to CRUSH DREAMS!!! as always...

I need to get in on some of this!

sean.clancy said...


Just tell me when you're ready! Get out on the water in the kayak this winter...

next year's national schedule should be about the same as this year'

come out to boulder for some multisport madness. and a trip to Oskar Blues of course.