Monday, November 7, 2011
Whiskeytown Extreme 24 Hour Adventure Race Report
NorCal Adventure Racing's series finale event for 2011 was the Whiskeytown Extreme 24 Hour Adventure Race.
Located in hilly Northern California near Mount Shasta, Whiskeytown Extreme was ominously billed as a "graduate level race". Teams faced mazes of trails and fire roads across challenging terrain strangely devoid of any flats. A single paddling section took racers across Whiskeytown Reservoir. Through narrow coves and inlets (too narrow to turn a triple kayak around) teams sought checkpoints hanging from high branches in the darkness of night. Mountain-top checkpoints gained by climbing and bushwacking up steep walls of forest rewarded racers with magnificent views of distant mountain ranges and alpine lakes.
The ~100 mile course largely avoided gratuitous hike-a-bike and bush-wacking in favor of multiple route choice decisions and strategies.
Significantly and quite impressively, Whiskeytown Extreme 24 stuck to a genuine Adventure Racing format. Teams found checkpoints in sequential A-Z order. This should seem quite obvious to most, but an increasing number of lame races over the last few years have foregone Adventure Race courses, opting for a new orienteering format where teams can hit checkpoints in any order, skipping the "hard ones" and still "finishing" officially. In the orienteering format, many teams strategically skip portions of the course as they please and the winning teams sometimes cross the finish line last, with all the checkpoints.
Kudos to Rich and his staff for keeping it "real". For back of the pack and new teams with developing navigation skills, there were short course options towards the end of the race.
Team nuun-SportMulti (Ryan VanGorder, Jen VanGorder & Sean Clancy) moved swiftly as a team but made a few uncharacteristic and costly navigational mistakes that would preclude a victory this time out.
The details of these navigational SNAFUs will be shared over beers and laughs at a campfire, or out on the trail. Suffice it to say that even the most experienced and successful teams can make self-immolating 'rookie' mistakes. The Whiskeytown Extreme 24 course punished any mistakes while handsomely rewarding the best navigation decisions, another sign that the course was thoughtfully and strategically designed by the highly experienced race directors.
After completing the course in a bit over 26 hours, a disappointed but focusedTeam nuun-SportMulti ran across the finish line as the 3rd place team in the mixed 3/4 person rankings. Whiskeytown Extreme 24 would be Sean Clancy's first adventure race since doing both 24 Hour Adventure Racing National Championships (USARA and Checkpoint Tracker Series) in October 2010. The race also marked Jennifer VanGorder's return to team 24hr racing after the birth of her second daughter Jora earlier this year. Lastly, it also served as a tune-up for busy dad Ryan VanGorder in his preparation for a moonlighting assignment Down Under. RVG is off to race as a hired gun with our friends and rivals Team Tecnu Extreme/StaphAseptic at the 2011 Adventure Racing World Championships in TASMANIA in November!
PS, I snapped this shot of Golden Gate Bridge on my way up from Santa Barbara...taken from Crissy Field. I lived here in 2001 and would enjoy
this view on my evening runs...it never gets old.