TEAM COMMIE BAR/SUMMIT ADVENTURE RACING
Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic 26 hour Race
Coming off of last weeks frozen snow laden race in Deep Creek, the team got ready for a hot race in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. For this race we decided to field two teams. Team Commie Bar #1 would be a two person all male and Team Commie Bar #2 would be a two person coed….
Todd Copley and Michael Scott – Two Person Male
Val Hardin and Mark Bolyard – Two Person Coed
For this race we also decided to race side by side/together.
I drove down to VA late on Friday and met the team down there for registration. We had rented a little chalet that was perfect for race prep. We got the maps and all the briefings by 2100hrs on Friday which allowed us to get in bed by midnight or so after having plotted the points and decided on our strategy and route plan. Had beef brisket, coleslaw and beer for dinner!
The next morning we had a fairly leisurely start to the morning. We drove over to race HQ and had some time for last minute prep. The race started at 0900. Here’s the flow.
Prologue: This was pretty straightforward. One person from each team was required to run about a mile circuit down to this shed and get an item to bring back. Okay…. Done.
After the prologue teams were free to pursue the course however they wanted. In the park there were about 20 or so checkpoints. You could stay and do all of those or you could do nothing and move on to the paddling section. Although the points were optional it was obviously you would need all of them to be in contention. It was apparent most teams wanted to get on the river paddling and save the park for the last as they returned towards the finish. We decided the same strategy except we did elect to get two points up on the hill by the finish before heading to the paddle.
We got on the canoes probably about an hour into the race after having done the prologue and got the two points up high in the park. Now we were going to start picking up points along the river. I forget how many but they were pretty easy and we would paddle a section then pull off to get a point and repeat. About 5 miles into the paddle we decided to attack back into the park and get a couple of points at the far end of the park that would make it much easier to clear the other points in the park when we returned at the finish.
From there it was another long pull for an hour and a half to the take out point. When we arrived there we had to unload all the gear out of the boats and one person had to then paddle down stream about 100 meters and drop the boats on the opposite shore then hike back up the opposite shore then swim across the river. About 100 meter swim and the water was COLD!! Felt pretty good though.
From there it was on to the trek. The first 5 miles or so were mostly on roads till we hit a trailhead that would take us up onto the ridge in the George Washington National Park. The hump up the mountain wasn’t too bad and the trail was pretty good till we started getting way up. The day was hot and the water from the hydration bladders was going down very quickly. Our destination was a very pointed ridge for the ropes section and a 100 foot rappel. We hit the rappel late afternoon and it was a very high rappel but very fun. After the drop we had to make our way back up on a trail where we collected our packs and continued on. We had a decision to make.
CP7 was an optional point and was pretty much only accessible via a long butt busting bushwack straight down the Cliffside. We made sure we cleared the pure cliffs and Mark and I picked a point to begin the descent. We made our way down a significant drainage staying to the right and slipped and slid down the mountain for about a kilometer till we bottomed out on the bottom next to the river. From there we followed the river to nail CP 7 and then had to continue bushwacking till we could cross the river south of the Bike Transition area and CP 8.
Going into CP 8 and the switch to bike, Mike was started to feel a bit bad. He had been without water for a while and Mark and I had been letting him take swigs off our bladders. We took a while in the transition and started off with Mike still not feeling very good. After several kilometers we turned off and hit the trail for the climb to the top of another ridge. Initially the trail was a forest road but soon turned to rough singletrack. Mike took a real bad fall and was really struggling at that point as we had to push the bikes for several kilometers up a drainage into a camp site. From there the trail turned back to fire road and we descended. We had a decision to make.
At the bottom of the ridge was where we could start a circuit to get all of the bike optionals. Or we could head back on the main course to the top of the ridge line. Mike wasn’t feeling good but we felt the optionals would be pretty straight forward and the elevation was going to be fairly doable.
Mike made the decision with the team to go for the optionals. I’m glad we did because the circuit did turn out to be pretty easy and we picked up 4 more points before turning back to head up the Veachy trail which was hike a bike to the top and CP 14 then to CP 15.
When we got back up the Veachy on the ridge to CP 15 there was an O course down the ridge and into the steep sections of the mountains. 3 of the points were straightforward out the ridgeline. The only decision we had to make was do we take the bikes? And after these 3 do we venture into the steeps.
We decided to take bikes and it was a good one. Although portions were difficult to ride we made good time out getting CPs 16, 17 and 18. At 18 we thought long and hard about going after 19 and maybe others but we also had to consider how the team was feeling and the time. We figured it would take us about another 3 hours to clear the park when we got back and it was now about 3 in the morning. Time was on our side but ultimately we made the decision to return on bikes back up the ridge to the trail taking us back to the river and the park/finish.
It was a screaming downhill from CP 25 to the river and as we descended the air got colder. We had gotten our feet soaked coming off the bike optionals when we had to cross a deep stream and on the mountain the feet got cold but now they were turning into ice blocks. We got back to the park and had the option to go by the vehicles. I restocked some water, lightened my pack a bit but forgot to change socks. It was really cold in the valley and we started off into the park wishing I had new socks….
The park was a maze of amazing mountain biking trails and we started plucking off point after point. There were 11 left that we needed to get and we made good time. At the beginning it was still dark and we got probably around 4 points before the sun began to peak over the horizon. My favorite time in adventure racing when after a long dark, cold night the sun reappears…. Love it.
We finally nailed all the points and turned towards the finish. After a long and fantastic descent we cruised into the finish of the Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic. After 24 hours of non stop paddling, mountain biking, trekking and rappelling Team Commie Bar teams #1 and #2 crossed the finish.
The effort would earn a 3rd place in the two person coed and a 7th place in probably the strongest two person male category I’ve ever seen.
We race all night…. Go ahead..... take a shot
Team Commie Bar