2 April - Crooked Compass 8hr Adventure Race
Dan "Bait" Schaeffer
We here at Team Commie Bar take our racing seriously. Very seriously. After being on overnight shift all week, I woke up at 2PM Friday, packed my gear and headed a couple hours north to the booming metropolis of Frackville, PA where I met DJ, the newest member of TCB. We spent the night at a fleabag motel and stayed up till midnight eating junk food and drinking Hop Nosh Beer...Found out my water bladder was missing a key part, thankfully DJ brought a spare!
Woke up at 0515, ate my traditional yogurt and cheerios and loaded up the car. It was in the 30's and raining on the way to the race start. The forecast was iffy and they are supposed to get 3 inches of snow tonight! Anyway, we registered, got our gear squared away and hung out till 8 for the race to start. The concept behind this race was to take a 24 hr adventure race and break it into 3 8-hr segments.
This first race was 8 hrs on foot only. (The 8 hr canoe and 8 hr MTB races will be later in the year). There were 9 mandatory CP's and 36 optionals. The race started at the bottom of the mountain, aptly named "Big Mountain" Luckily the first two CP's led us to the top and we pretty much stayed on top of the ridge for most of the race. Now, I bet you're thinking "The whole race was just on the ridge?
My grandmother could do that in a hoveround! !" Well this being PA Coal Country the entire top of the ridge was old strip mines. If you look at a topo map of that area, its all red dots indicating mine tailings. Well mine tailings can be pretty significant features, and that's where all the CP's were: hundred foot high boulder and shale piles, mine pits, ditches, and abandoned equipment (even a giant coal bucket that we could fit in!) all sorts of stuff and none of it was mapped. But something amazing happened--we hit every point up there. We did a lot of bushwhacking going point-to-point but everything lined up nicely. And we made it look easy. DJ navigated the first half and I navigated the second half.
We tore through the CP's and decided that time be damned, we were going to clear every single one of them on the course. Along with the strip mine features, there was a network of trails on the ridge.
It took a little bit to realize that every one of those trail was blazed Red. Staying on the Red trail
became our running joke--but also a good reminder not to slack off on navigation. After we cleared everything on the ridge, we ran down the mountain and the rest of the course followed the Roaring Creek and a series of lakes that were made from damming it. This section started out easy but turned into a long bushwhack along the creek. We had solid pace counts to keep us on course and we nailed the CP's along the creek. The water was waist deep when I had to cross a couple times to get a CP but it felt good--my legs were pretty shredded from all the bushwhacking. After we hit the last CP, we bushwhacked to a rail-trail that would take us 2K to the finish. We had 25 minutes left so we did a run/walk and covered that distance in 15 minutes. I was walking on air when we hit the finish line, in time and having cleared the entire course! 20 miles and 45 checkpoints down landed us 2nd place in the Male division. I can't think of a better way to start the 2016 season!!