12 June 2016

Cradle of Liberty 14hour Adventure Race Report - Team Commie Bar

Team Commie Bar/Summit Adventure Racing
Race Report
Cradle of Liberty 12hour Adventure Race
Author:  Dan Bait/SWAT Schaefer.....

4 June Cradle of Liberty 14 hr Adventure Race 
bait (Sorry for the delay--been a busy week and every time I want to use the computer, someone was doing homework...)

Here Goes: Coming off a runner's high from the Dirty German 50K, I focused on getting in a few MTB rides before the Cradle of Liberty and it certainly paid off. This race was shrouded in mystery. We registered over a month ago but they didn't tell us the start location until about a week before we needed to be there. The roster for Team Commie Bar was me, DJ and Chris. The instructions were simple: Show up at 0500 with all the gear you'll need to run, mountain bike and canoe for 12 hours. 

At 0600 we boarded a school bus and headed out--still with no idea of where we were going! The RD told us that we would receive maps and instructions once the clock started. I really enjoyed the lack of info--that meant every team would start the race in the dark and would not have time to plan routes (generally we get our maps the night before so we have time to plan). An hour later we got off the bus in a park along the Lehigh River in Northampton, PA. The rules and maps were spread randomly on a baseball field and when the RD yelled GO! we had to find our and the race began. The first leg of the race was a prologue--we had to plot three points on the map using UTM coordinates. Usually this is simple but the grid for the first point was cut off and we made plotting this point a little tricky. We figured it out and next thing I know I'm swimming across the river. It was surprisingly deep, and cold, and swimming while wearing shoes really sucks...I got the first point and swam back to the team. 

Next DJ ran to a point that was downstream, but on land. Finally all three of us met at the final prologue point which was the beginning of the Canoe section. We appreciated the current and made fast work of the first 5 miles, grabbing two checkpoints along the way. Although parts of the Lehigh are designated as 'scenic' this section is decidedly not. We passed sewer plants, steel mills and old factories in Allentown. There must have been a hundred rusted out shopping carts along the entire section. We made good time on the paddle and worked well as a team--sometimes paddle sections can be really miserable but this time it was great. After 10 miles or so we hit the transition area and picked up our bikes.

 We dropped all of our paddle gear but were required to bring our PFD's. We rode through a section of town and then paralleled some railroad tracks. There was a little dispute among us and other teams about when and where we could cross the tracks--the rules were a little vague so we made the best call we could. After crossing the tracks we did a MTB section on some pretty decent trails. It was very humid so some of the rocks were super slippery so we rode conservatively. We worked our way up the side of the mountain to the very top and then bombed straight down to the next TA. One thing that was awesome about this race is that we all took turns navigating and everyone did well. At the bottom of the mountain we put the PFD's to use during the Swim section. In the middle of the river were a series of islands with checkpoints on them. We swam from one to the next and really had fun with this part. The water felt great and it's not often we swim this much in a race. At this point we'd hit nearly every point offered, expect for a couple we intentionally skipped as part of our strategy. We made our way back to the TA and spoke to the RD. He gave us a couple suggestions about upcoming points and sent us on our way. 

Back on the bikes sans PFD's was nice and we headed into town. First stop was 7-11 where we grabbed some water and a coke and a pretzel and some peanuts and I think someone even had ice cream--that's the fun of self-supported racing!! Too bad they don't sell single cans of beer in PA!! 

We headed out through town and even rode through a drainage tunnel under an interstate highway. At this point we'd been racing for about 6 hours and we were heading to another wildcard--the Hide and Seek section. In adventure racing usually all the checkpoints are on the map and you use your map and compass skills to collect them. Checkpoints are usually orange and white kite like flags that have a hole punch attached to them that you use to mark your passport. Well, the Hide and Seek section turned all that on its head! 

The first point was marked but from there on each point was just a compass heading and distance to the next. Amazingly we were only one of three teams to nail every point of this section!!! The points weren't far apart but the terrain was challenging--lots of rock piles and old mining holes and a couple of small cliffs. Really cool area. Next up was the final bike section. After a road ride through town we hit the trails. This part of the course was tough to plan because of the placement of the mandatory points. They were all in a corner and once we got there there was nothing close. We ended up dismounting from the bikes and running up the side of the mountain to grab our final point. We ran down, got on the bikes and headed back through town to get to the finish line. We finished with 10 minutes to spare!!! We were soaked and muddy but had a great race. This was definitely the most urban adventure race I've ever done and it was a blast! We came out in first place in the three man division and secured a spot for USARA Nationals! Lookout Roy--The Commies are coming to town!!! 

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