16 May 2011

Cradle of Liberty 24hr Race/100 miles

In Adventure Racing there is a fine line between winning, finishing and utter disintegration…… 

This weekend Team Commie Bar participated in the Cradle of Liberty 24hr Adventure Race over in Promised Land State Park….

Paddle section:  22 miles
Run/Trek/Hike section:  33 miles
Mt. Bike section:  45-50 miles on trails/fireroads/regular roads

Here’s a link to the race map:  http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~esh27/2011Cradle.html

Here’s the race report:

My teammate and I met up on Friday afternoon onsite to get ready to plan and also to take the bikes to the bike drop off point where they would stay until tomorrow.

At 1730 we dropped bikes and headed back to race HQ for check in.  We received the maps and race book.  We had a lot of UTM plotting to do and also we had to transcribe plots from race HQ maps.  It looked like a tough course from the beginning.  For those going for at least a majority of the points it would be a very, very long night.  That plus the packs were heavier than I wanted.  We had to carry the rappel harness and gear the whole way plus the bike helmets the whole way plus shoes and all food, water filters, clothes changes for the weather.  My pack weighed in at 22 pounds which was WAY more than I wanted for this hump.

Saturday morning we were transported by bus about an hour north to the start of the paddle.  At 0930 the race started.  We fell into a good rhythm on the water just about mid pack.  The pros were well ahead but we were in a group of about 4-5 boats going about the same speed.

The first checkpoint brought the entire race back together however as even the lead boats were still there looking for the point.  Apparently it was misplotted but we ultimately found it and headed on.  At CP2 we had to get out of the boats and then individually move to a optional check point individually then come back and tag our teammate so he could move off and find one. 

After this it was just a very long pull down to the take out point.  The Delaware River was a great river and the rain had held off for the most part although a permanent mist created wet conditions.  All together we paddled straight for 5.5 hours.

After pulling out and dropping paddle gear we made a quick sock change and then threw our packs back on to move to the rappel section.  Probably the steepest 2 kilometers I’ve every tried to hike/walk.  It was a long hand over hand climb up and when we got there they were still debating us going over the edge because of wet conditions on the rock face.  They finally cancelled the rappel and sent us on our way continuing up and over the mountain. 

View from the top of the rappel site

Rappel site

Thus began the TREK FROM HELL……

At 3pm we left the rappel site.  We would not stop walking/trekking till 6am the next (Sunday) morning for a total of 15 hours straight.  When we started we planned to try and get to checkpoint 6 before dark because this was worth 100 points and on an azimuth heading that we were required to walk with unplotted maps.  It would be much easier to do in the light. 

We got down to CP 5 and started a semi-death march back up the mountain looking for CP6 and then up to the Appalachian trail and CP7.  To my knowledge, no one on the course found CP6 and when we got to CP7 there was a crowd changing into rain gear as the rain had begun and it was starting to get dark.  It was also cold on the mountain and I pulled gloves and a hat along with my head lamp out of my pack.

We made it to CP8 and then a long walk along the road into CP9.  We signed in and we were the 4th team to make there.  This was encouraging and we stopped to get some more water and change our socks again. 

Our only navigation error the whole race came enroute to CP10 which required us to do a swamp crossing in the dark which was not fun.  We finally picked up the right trail in the maze of criss-crossing trails and found CP10.  At this point we were seriously trying to figure out how we were going to complete the trek.  It appeared that we had still around 12-15 miles to go and our feet were turning to hamburger in the wet conditions.  It had started raining incessantly and the trails were slick.  Every step that slid caused our feet to skid around in our shoes and pop blisters.  That plus we knew we needed probably AT LEAST 4-5 hours to complete the bike portion.

This is where we beared down.  I remember getting CP11 barely and hitting the fireroad known as
Mountain Road
.  By now it was 4am and we were both walking zombies in the rain.  These are the times of the race that I don't remember but vaguely but it is what this type of racing about is to me.  I walked 15hrs in the rain with a guy and we barely said 4 words other than map checks and navigation comments.  I kinda like that.
Anyway, we kept on and finally just after the sun came up at 0530 we were within site of the Transition area to bike. 

Walking into the transition area it was a bit difficult to comprehend another 50 miles on Mountain bike.  We were the 7th team to get  here but apparently several other teams had blown off CPs 10 and 11 so although they were technically ahead of us on the course we had more points.  Also during the night 2 teams abandoned and at the transition to bike 2 more team elected not to continue. 

So off we started.  We picked a direct route because we had not time to spare in trying to cover 30+ miles in 3 hours or so.  The rain was incessant.  After beginning peddling I actually felt damn good.  The different muscles being used were fresh and my nutrition and hydration throughout the night had been good.  Even my teammate said he felt pretty good. 

Then disintegration.  Micah (my teammate) started feeling issues in his IT band muscle.  It kept growing worse and worse with every turn of the pedals.  The hypothermic cold was not helping either.  With 15-20 miles to go it was apparent that we could go no further with his leg basically frozen up.  Team Commie Bar abandoned the race course and called for help/evacuation at 0800 and about 20 miles from finishing.

Altogether I felt very good about the race.  We finished with 290 points and if we had made it to the finish within the cut off period we would have been the 5th team to finish.  I’m still awaiting final results from the race organizer but I also think we would have won the 2man team division.

Oh well.  The line between winning, finishing and disintegration is a fine one.  Great race. Despite the DNF.


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