Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the beginning.....

Well let me start by apologizing because I am going to try to give a little report on all the past races that I have attended. Reports in the future will be much more in detail.

In May of 2008 I had the opportunity to do the Standby at the Ozarks Greenways Race while working on the ambulance. I really had no idea what adventure racing was even about, but I must admit after seeing it in action a person has to think one of two things.... Look at all these stupid people punishing themselves or Hey I think I would like to try that and I chose the latter.

Berryman Adventure Sept. 08

As summer progressed I discussed with my co-worker Chris my desire to do an adventure race. He had been reading about some of the races put on by Bonk Hard Racing and we made the decision to attend the Berryman Adventure. We recruited another co-worker, Jeremy and Chris' brother-inlaw Scott, and the team was set. We would have a 4-person male team, Chris had opted to name the team The Lost Boys and little did we know how true that would become. Well the training began and seemed to go well. We ran together and biked together and the only apprehensions were about the concept of navigating solely using map and compass and the plotting of UTM coordinates. I undertook the task of learning to plot the coordinates and left the navigating with a compass to the rest of the team, seeing as how they did have a little prior experience at this task.

Finally race weekend arrived, we all rode down together and enjoyed the ride. We arrived in Van Buren and found our lodging and continued on to Big Spring, checked in and enjoyed a wonderful spaghetti dinner.The pre-race meeting was held on the gravel bank behind The Landing which was convenient since this is where we were staying there. There were some awesome raffle prizes given away, which no one on our team won, but we were just excited to be there. Maps and clue sheets were given out and we headed to our room to plot. Chris and I did the plotting while Scott and Jeremy took a drive to Poplar Bluff to get some stocking caps, we all had synthetic caps, which actually were not approved gear. We took our time and methodically plotted our UTM coordinates onto the map and the guys were back shortly after we finished. We called it a night around midnight, knowing that we would be up early the next morning to do the bike drop before heading to HQ for the start of the race. The National Anthem played and the race was off with a bang. Crowds of people ran together and everyone pretty much ran to the first checkpoint together. However it was after this point that everyone started to spread out and we realized we were not as sure as we had thought about this whole concept. We experienced a few small blunders and fumbled our way throught the first seven checkpoints, made it to the river crossing at which we would receive our life jackets and would need to swim across the current river. I can honestly say even though it was starting to warm up, the water was still pretty cold. We made it across and found the road that would lead us to the field we would find our next checkpoint in. We found it with relative ease and thought we were starting to get the hang of this stuff. Key word there, thought! We left the pond and decided if headed in what we thought was the general direction we would find the trail we needed. Keep in mind we just went in the general direction, no compass heading or anything. Not a good idea, we ended up well away from our intended destination and found trails that the map didn't even show. We ultimately found our way back to something we could recognize and made our way back to the field where this fiasco started. It was at this point that needed to decide to either skip a few checkpoints so that we could just run the road and make it to the canoes so as to be off the water before the cutoff time. Well the team decided that we didn't want to give up on checkpoints already, so we would regroup and try again. We shot a heading with the compass and were able to find the next point and felt pretty good about it. This feeling was short-lived however, due to some type of extreme navigational mistake that ultimately took us on a rather long and painful journey to places that were not where we wanted to be. Simply put we got lost, and I don't mean a little bit. We spent the next few hours wandering around before ultimately happening upon a mansion of a house in the middle of nowhere. Luckily the nice gentlemen there were able to send us on the right track, and they were also so nice as to let us fill our camelbacks, which was good cause we were pretty much out of water and energy at this point. By the time we got back to where we needed to be, we were faced with another decision. Call it a day or continue on knowing that by the time we could reach our bikes we would be destined to ride the highway back to headquarter. We made the decision to just call it a day and hike back to HQ and call it a day. I think on the long walk back we proceeded to eat all of the food in all of our packs. We went and retrieved our bikes from the bike drop and headed home.
I will say one thing, it was one heck of an experience for my first adventure race. When they say the Berryman is "a real ass kicker" they mean it.

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