Berryman Adventure- 12 hr
Well the Berryman has came and went. First off let me say it was a wonderful race, Jason of Bonk Hard did a wonderful job organizing and planning the race. A HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers and the staff of the YMCA. Consider yourself warned the following race report is rather lengthy, but if you ( by you I mean the two followers I have, and what few other people will come across this) enjoy reading race reports as much as I do, then read on.
Now on to the details.... Chris and I left Lebanon around two on Friday and headed up for check-in, setting up camp, bike drop, and pre-race meeting. We drove straight to the YMCA which was the pre-planned bike drop. We gave our bikes a once over and placed them inside of a building with our shoes and helmets. We arrived at Bass River Resort a little later and were directed to the resort to check in. I have to say Bass River is a beautiful place with what appeared to be all the amenities a person could want and still consider it camping. We got our spot and headed out to it to set up our tent. I had brought my small Coleman tent which is very easy to set up and provided plenty of room for the cots that Chris had brought for us to sleep on. Crystal and I usually sleep on an air mattress, but that would have seemed a little too personal for Chris and I. After camp was set up we headed up to the lodge and enjoyed a nice dinner of spaghetti, salad, and chicken. It was a pretty good meal and prevented us from having to drive somewhere to eat which would have been all the way back to Cuba or on to Potosi and there wasn't time for that anyway. After dinner we headed back down to camp, gathered up our camp chairs, a couple of beverages and headed up to the pavillion for the pre-race meeting. It was pretty packed with all the teams cramming in to hear what Jason had to say. The maps were handed out and then Jason explained the start times for each race. The 36 hour race would start at 4 a.m., and they would have to board buses at 3 a.m. this made me glad we weren't doing the 36 hr race. The 12 hour racers would board buses at 6 for a 7 a.m. race start. We would be bussed to the YMCA for the start of the race. We headed back to camp, started a fire, and sat down to plot our points. We received the coordinates for all of our points except # 14 which would be a mystery event. Plotting was straightforward, Chris and I have a pretty good system which we have developed over time, Chris reads the coordinates and I plot them and tell him what landmarks it is near to compare to the cluesheet. The hardest part of plotting was trying to keep an ink pen writing after the maps got wet with the dew. We got the plotting done, briefly looked over the map at the routes and called it good. In hindsight it probably would not have hurt to have studied the routes a little more in depth, especially considering that the supplemental map had some very useful information on it. After getting done with the maps we hopped in the car to drive back out to the highway in search of cell phone signal. Bass River is great, but there is absolutely no signal anywere down there. We got back out to the highway and found some signal. I called my wife to check on her and my baby boy and Chris called and checked in with his wife. I told Crystal that it would be late on Saturday evening before I called back. Expecting to finish between 4 and 6 I told her not to start to worry unless it was after 8 and I still had not called. After our phone calls we headed back to camp and turned in for the night. Trying to sleep the night before a race is never an easy task, or at least not for me. I am always anxious about over sleeping, the start of the race, navigating, etc. The cots were not to uncomfortable, but coupled with anxiety and the noisy neighbors, it was not a very good night of sleep. We woke up just before 5 a.m. and started getting ready for the race. It didn't take very long to tear down camp ( we had been informed the night before when we checked in that someone could want to rent our spot, since we were not staying saturday night). I had brought some peanut butter and honey sandwiches and bananas for breakfast, with Gatorade to wash it down. I am not sure what Chris ate, he hardly ever wants to eat before the race, not necessarily the best of an idea in my opinion, but to each his own.
We boarded the buses and rode down to the YMCA for the start of the race. We took our bikes out and pushed them down to the soccer field for the start of the race. We would start off trekking, but would eventually be back for the bikes. We sang the national anthem, lined up, and the race was off. There was about a mile or so road run, up a pretty good hill to get to checkpoint one. This really helped to spread out the teams a little, but there were still a lot of teams in the area when we arrived. We had planned to go to the intersection and shoot a heading, but got caught up with all the teams and hopped off the road a little early and went right past the checkpoint, missing it. We regrouped and found it, but still probably lost at least ten minutes. From here the next few checkpoints were found pretty easily, 3-11 could be done in any order. The only one that we hit out of order was 8 which we hit after 3. After 8 we headed to 4, the clue was a spur. There were several other teams in the area, and they were all having a hard time finding it. I think we may have gotten off a little on our heading, I am not sure. Either way we got to the area and had a difficult time finding the correct spur. We had missed it, but knew the only way to get back on track was head back from where we had came, on our way back we actually walked back across the right spur and found the checkpoint. I don't know how much time we lost here, but I would venture to guess at least 30 mins or a little more. #5 was on a rock bluff overlooking the lake, it was a wonderful view from up there. The rest of the checkpoints from here back to the soccer fields were found without anymore big snafus. # 12 was a mystery event, which turned out to be a rock wall. Once person had to get into a harness and climb to the top and rapell back down, I elected Chris to do this and he didn't object. Just watching him, it looked like he really enjoyed it. At 13 we received coordinates for #14 which would be another mystery event. We lost a few minutes by going down the road and coming into it from the backside, not realizing that the road went right up to it. The mystery event was a zip line, since Chris did the first one I would do this one. I am not really afraid of heights, however standing on the ground looking up to the platform at the top I started to feel a little nervous. I climbed up and got clipped on and went zipping down. It was fun, but not until I was going, the whole process of sitting on the edge of a platform and then sliding off to free fall along the zip line was a little nerve wrecking. We quickly headed back to the soccer field for transition and headed out on the bikes. I had looked at the map and knew what road we needed to watch for, and we settled in for some pedaling. Well we were looking for a county road identified with numbers and had not paid close enough attention to the surrounding landmarks. This resulted in riding past the road we should have turned on, we probably added on somewhere around 4-6 miles with this error, not too big of a deal, but rode a couple of really big hills and wasted a lot of time, and hr or so by the time we realized, debated with some other teams and turned around. Once on the right road we encountered some serious uphill gravel road riding. Things went good for a while, although the hills took a serious toll on our legs. Later in the day we were on the Berryman trail and had a little bit of a problem finding #18, we thought we had went far enough as did some of the other teams that were riding with us, we started to turn around, but ran into another team that were familiar with the area and did not think we had went far enough. We turned around and continued on right to the checkpoint. # 19 was at an artesian well which was being put to good use filling camelbaks. Between 21 and 22 we rode a short section of the Ozark Trail which was probably the highlight of biking portion. It was fast, flowy,and a lot of fun. At 23 we dropped our bikes and hit the courtois creek for an 11 mile paddle. The creek had good current, but there were a lot of sharp turns, logs, and shallow areas. Not a super enjoyable paddle in my opinion, but in adventure racing you are not there for a leisurely float. By the time we were on the paddle it was 5 p.m., we knew at this point that we would not make it in time for the awards ceremony, we weren't going to win anything so at that point we elected not to kill ourselves to get down the river. Highlight of the paddle, the manned checkpoint was being ran by Jim and Wendy Davis, they had been at the rappel earlier in the day, but we hadn't taken the time to talk to them. While I had never met them in person, I had followed their adventures on their blogs and friended Jim on Facebook. We stopped for the punch and took the time for a formal introduction. We visited briefly, received some much needed encouragement for the remainder of the paddle and headed out. They are some pretty cool people and I look forward to seeing them next month at the BT Epic at Bass River Resort, and many more times in the future. We had about 5 miles after the manned checkpoint, unfortunately it turned dark before we made if off the river. We thought we were pretty close to the end so we didn't take out our headlamps. We hit a few extra obstacles in the dark but safely reached the takeout, pulled our canoe up, and ran for the finish line. Despite the fact that the winners had been done for several hours, there were still several people cheering us on at the finish.
Official time was 12hrs 34mins, 23rd out of the 36 2 person teams, and 36th of 59 teams total. While that doesn't sound overly impressive, it was still an admirable feat. We entered this race with one goal, the same goal that we have had for all of our attempts at Bonk Hard events, get all the checkpoints and finish before the cutoff. We accomplished our goal for the first time out of 5 races and had a great time doing it. We lost some time here and there, realized we still have a long ways to go to competetively race, but considering that I lost a lot of training time due to the ankle injury, it was a satistfying experience. The Berryman is described as "a real ass kicker", and I can honestly say it lived up to its reputation.
On a seperate note, Congratulations to Bob Jenkins and his teammate for completing the course. They had apparently never raced together and were both fairly new to navigation. Before this race I had never met Bob, but I had read about a lot of his adventures on the Team Virtus and Team Redwheel blogs. I guess I have commented on some of them and he recognized me and came up to introduce himself before the start of the race. I hope I don't ruin his reputation, but that was very nice of him. We saw him several times thoughout the day, a few times on the trek, and several times on the bike ride. Odd thing about the biking, he was always headed back the other way from where we had came from. I guess when you are that damn fast on the bike you tend to ride right past the checkpoints, but I don't know for sure. I look forward to running into him again in the future as well.