01 December 2012

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14 October 2012

More National Championships - Race Recap

2012 National Championships

I drove back from Boston on the Wednesday night.  I was pretty much packed but looked at the weather forecast and said “oh no!!!”.  It was supposed to be no higher than 28 degrees over night.  That would be cold.  I added some gear and Thursday morning took off for Kerhonkson NY.

I pulled into Hudson Valley River Resort (HQ) about 1130.  I checked out the area and the hotel.  Race registration wasn’t until 1330 but I did learn that the bikes needed to be packed and turned in early.

I went and had some lunch then checked into the motel.  I worked on getting the bike loaded with lights/food/spare parts/ect…  I then got the gear bag packed and did a partial load of the paddle equipment.  I went to registration and met up with Chris and we checked in together.  Stephen was running late and didn’t get there till about 1730.  Chris and I continued on packing in the parking lot.  Two things had happened that were typical of Carpe Vitam team good luck.  ON the way over Chris’s truck began acting up and he had to drop it off at a garage in New Paltz and I went to pick him up.  Secondly Stephen was running late and even thirdly Chris left his gear bin in the parking lot and we went to get gas and when we got back it was GONE!!!  We were crushed.  Everything he owned was in there.  We went to the race briefing and informed the organizers.  They put out the bulletin but to no luck.  We attended the briefing and afterwards started driving to the hotel to make a list of things we needed when the phone rang.  Someone (another racer) had snagged the bin thinking it was part of their teams.  We got it back and were overjoyed.  I ended up packing my pack two times that night scared about the temperatures.  I finally thought I got it right but that pack was heavy.  Also no gear bins meant carry all your food.  Yikes…

The next morning broke very cold.  
Stephen and Chris dispute a map segment....

 We hit the hotel for a bite of breakfast then it was a bus start.  We got the maps and had two hours in the bus to plan the first segment which was a paddle.  When we got there it had started raining.  It was upper 30s and cold.  They briefed the segment and said the race teams could split up to get  points.  We planned several new attacks based on this.  Stephen and I dropped off Chris at an OP and went to get another in canoe.  By now the winds had picked  up and the lake was like Hawaii 05 with 3 foot waves.  It was like a white water rafting trip in a canoe.  We picked up Chris again and redid this leapfrog attack for several points before heading into the transition area.  We were all soaked and freezing.  I mean really freezing.  We all changed clothes out of the paddle bag and then started off on bikes.  

 I had forgotten to check out so had to go back about a ¼ mile to check out.  We started the King of the Mountain portion of the bike ride.  It climbed up Middle mountain.  My feet were like blocks of ice and my hands not far off.  We climbed and climbed.  With even the exercise I was still cold.  ON the way up it started snowing.  Fantastic.   
Stephen nails a point...

At the top we had a long down hill on the road that further speeded the hypothermia!  After the climb up Middle mountain it was a 20 mile slog to CP 3 where we could hit the optional points.  We started picking off about 3 points and thought about going further but knew we should keep moving.  We planned to hit the CP4 before dark so we didn’t have to rig lights on the bike just yet.  Our plan went well.  Except coming down one of the last descents I took a nasty header over the handlebars and crashed my head into a rock.  Thank god for helmets.  I was a bit dazed but saddled back up and continued.

We hit the Checkpoint at dark and there was a fire there albeit very small.  Not very good.  This segment was optional points on foot.  We grabbed the map and headed out to find two points.  The first was easy and the second we spent way too much time on.  I was FREEZING and pulled on EVERYTHING I had in my pack to keep me warm.  Finally we nailed it and made out way back to the CP.  Stephen was sick now and very slow in the transition.  Every racer goes thru ups and downs throughout the race and this was definitely a low for him.  We resaddled up the bikes and headed off. 

Supposedly on this segment there was a store/restaurant but it was now midnight and little hope it would be open. 

We kept cruising and came thru the small village.  My goodness there were lights on the building and about 30 bikes parked outside!!! 

We went in and I drank a Gatorade and a hot cup of coffee.  I had a BLT sandwich and a bag of chips.  Then a basket of French fries and contemplated ice cream. 
More importantly we got warm again for the first time since the start of the race. 
I changed some clothes and we headed out.
Chris feeling the effects of the cold....

At the next transition Stephen still wasn’t feeling well.  I had been navigating since the start of the race and was burned out and Stephen was going to take over but he was feeling really bad and couldn’t concentrate.  I took the map back.  Right now it was 0430 and we had ridden all night.  We had about 9 miles to go on the trekking portion and then about a 2 mile ride to another transition area where we had to make a cut off by 1000 hrs in the morning.  I was a bit concerned on the time.  Out of the transition area I pushed the pace.  Stephen felt like shit and I forged a bit ahead to get a move on the checkpoint in case we had problems finding it.  We got down to this area and had to do a major stream crossing.  

 I found an old tree that had fallen across and we started to cross.  About half way across a branch broke I was leaning on and I nearly fell 5 feet into a pool of water.  With the temperatures below freezing that might have been the end of the race for me.  Thank goodness I balanced and stayed on the tree. 

We nailed the point and then moved off for another point that I thought would be very difficult.  We had NO TIME TO WASTE!  We started jogging with full packs for about 3 miles.  We got to the area and climbed a very significant mountain to finally hit the point.  We then bushwacked our way right down the southside and made the way to the transition are with about a half hour to spare.

They had some hot dogs on the grill there and I ate a couple.  My food and nutrition were going well based on the diner the night before and today at this CP! 
We saddled bike and I navigated a simple segment into the start of the trek.
When I looked at the map for the trek I was horrified.  It would be over 4 miles of climbing and over 2000 feet of elevation gain. 
Again thoughts of the time concerned me.  We started humping and for the first time I started feeling the length and duration of the race.  It was 0940 in the morning and I had been racing for 25+ hours.  We slowly climbed and climbed.  Chris was drinking water out of mud puddles on the way up and I was laughing my ass off.  Now the time cut off for the rappelling section loomed.  We had to get there by noon or so to get the rappel in and then ride the remaining 4 miles back to the finish and get there by 2pm.
Ready to saddle up...

Up top of the mountain we did nail two easy points.  I was still concerned by time and we hastedly made a mad dash down the mountain for the rappel station.  There were still a lot of teams out on the course doing the same thing.

When we got to the rappel section there was a bottleneck.  We had another option to skip the rappel and accept a 15 minute time penalty.  It was going to be REAL TIGHT.  I decided I’d rather control my destiny and accepted the 15 minute time penalty and headed for the bottom of the mountain and the bikes.  If not we would have had to stand in line and then try and make the cut off at 2pm. 

We basically crawled off the waterfall ledge and made our way down to punch in below the rappel.  I missed doing the rappel because it was beautiful going over an amazing waterfall.

We headed down and got on the bikes at 1pm.  We had 45 minutes to go 4 miles.  It totally depended on the elevation and the trail whether we could make it.  Thank goodness the segment started with a huge 2.5 mile descent off the mountain where we averaged over 25 miles per hour.  At this speed we could walk in the final 1.5 miles and still make it. 
We got into the resort at just about 1:30 and cruised across the finish line with time to spare….

Overall I felt pretty good the entire race except the fall on the bike and the power shortfall climbing up the final mountain on foot.  Our team finished in 6th place in the nation and I was glad to have participated.

United States Adventure Racing National Championship.....

Two quick videos from the mountain bike riding.....  Both day and night.

30 September 2012

The Megatransect 2012..... a trail marathon like no other....

The Megatransect is a legend……..
This was the 10th year anniversary of the 1st Megatransect and it is an amazing race.  I cannot even begin to try and explain to people that have done this race what it consists of.  Take your best marathon time ever and double it and you’ll be close.  I ran, walked, hobbled and even crawled on this year’s edition.  Ask Soul what he thought!!!

Here’s a quick recap from me.
As normal I pulled into Castanea about 5pm.  BBJ and Soul had been there since noon or so.  I immediately started carbo loading by downing Troegs beers as quick as I could.  We hung out a bit and I got my campsite set up and also bought a new hydration running pack.  I believe this is my 40th hydration pack alone.  I have a fetish for packs.  I sleep with them. 
So we got set up and went to the Church for the annual spaghetti dinner.  Mighty fine stuff and we got to sit and listen to ultra runner James Conway tell war stories.  I think Soul was getting nervous…….

After that we went back to the Mega site and goofed off for a bit more then hit the tent at about 2130.  I was sleeping like a baby and woke up at 1am thinking it was time to race.  Back to the fart sack.  Where’s that old standby pack…

Anyway I got up about 0430 and had a long hot shower.  I then made my way over to Bfast.  I wasn’t that hungry which is not usually a good sign but I had eaten too much spaghetti the nite before.  I had a scoop of eggs and that was about it.  About 0630 I meandered back to the car and started lubing up and getting dressed for the race.  I went with the following:

Vasque Velocity trail shoes
Smart Wool Phd Lite socks
Compression calf covers
SBR running shorts
Long sleeve tech shirt
Go Pro Chest harness
Nathan 1.5litre hydration pack
2 gels/2 cliff shots

The gun went off at 0700.  This year was beautiful weather.  Cool and dry opposed to last year which was a miserable slogfest.  Soon I was headed out on the road to the trail head.  It was the same as last year.  I think about 3 miles or so till you hit dirt.  It’s hard to not push the pace here because you know soon you’ll be walking/crawling but you have to maintain and hold back.  This race is LONG AND HARD…..
I hit the dirt at just under 30 minutes and started the first climb.  It went well and then winded up and down till mile 6 and the Boulder Fields……  This is the most amazing stretch of a race ever.  1.5 miles or so straight frigging up on nothing but massive boulders. 

At the top I was feeling good and sauntered/crawled along Rattlesnake ridge.  I took a pretty hard fall at about mile 8 but was back up quick.  It was dry this year which was better.
At the end of the ridge the trail drop painfully steep on nothing but rocks all the way to the valley.

I made the 10 mile aid station at I think 2hr 40.  Because I didn’t eat that much Bfast I was starving and took on WAY too much food and drink here.  I felt it for another 4 miles. 

From here the aid stations were spaced about every 4-5 miles or so.  I took a little over an hour to pull into the 14 mile aid station at 3hr50.  The trail got super tough from here navigating the Giant Steps and the Reservoir trail.  A lot of hurt here but there was also a nice blonde in front of me……

By now I couldn’t tell if I felt good or sucked.  That is a good feeling so I just kept pushing.  At the 17 mile aid station I was in at 4hr 40 and I felt pretty good listening to stoner shoe gaze music on the Ipod. 
I barely stopped at 17.  Long enough for a drink and a fig newton then I kept on going.  I pulled ahead of a lot of people by just cruising thru the aid stations.

Now here was the deal.  I knew If I could get into aid station 22 miles at 6 hours or so then I might have a chance at breaking 7 hours.  I kept cruising.  IT band started hurting a bit now but some crystal meth helped that.

So I cruised into 22 miles at 5hr 58…  I just kept on going because I knew the trail from here was tough going over the Raw Trail Boulder Field.  I had an hour to go 4.2…..  I climbed the Raw as quick as I could then punished myself on the descent.  My knees were shot now and I took a pretty big faceplant fall that wrecked my ankle.  I kept going and hit the road at the bottom and started making my way to the Green Mile.
I was really hurting now but refused to give up and/or let anyone catch me.  I would walk 50 steps then sprint 50 steps. 

Ultimately I cruised in at 7hrs 9 minutes something…..  A pretty damn good Mega.
More video and pics to come….

24 September 2012

Prep for the United States National Championship

Presented By:

2012 Tecnu Darn Tough USARA Adventure Race National Championship

Kerhonkson, New York October 11-13, 2012

Dear Racers,

Congratulations on qualifying for the 2012 Tecnu Darn Tough USARA Adventure Race National Championship. You have raced throughout the country at regional qualifiers to make it to the USARA Adventure Race National Championship. Now one team will rise above the rest and be crowned the 2012 USARA Adventure Race National Champions.

Prepare for a breathtaking course in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Teams will be challenged by the course and amazed by the beauty of this year’s USARA Adventure Race National Championship.

2012 will mark the initial year of an open division featuring all male & all female teams. One of these teams will earn the distinction of being the first USARA Open Adventure Race National Champion.

The USARA National Championship website will feature live race blogs and images enabling friends and family to follow the action from home as it unfolds. www.usaranationals.com

Not only do we have a very challenging and exciting race course designed for the competitors, we also have an exciting USARA National Championship weekend planned for family, friends, and spectators. Each spectator will receive their own swag bag with course information, maps, swag and discount coupons for local restaurants & attractions.

After the race, the awards ceremony and banquet will be a great place to swap race tales well into the night. This will be a time of celebration and camaraderie. We hope that your team, as well as any family and friends, will plan on attending.

The 2012 USARA Adventure Race National Championship will be based out of the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The event check in, race start & finish and the post-race banquet and awards ceremony will all take place at the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa

Congratulations and we will see you in October! USARA Staff 2
Thursday, October 11
5:30 pm Race Check-in

Hudson Valley Resort & Spa Kerhonkson, New York

7—8:00 pm Pre-race briefing

Hudson Valley Resort & Spa Kerhonkson, New York

Friday, October 12

5:30 am Maps & Course instructions given to teams

5:45 Load buses
(depart at 6:00 am)

Hudson Valley Resort & Spa Kerhonkson, New York

7:45 Final pre-race briefing

8:00 am RACE START

Saturday, October 13


Hudson Valley Resort & Spa Kerhonkson, New York

7:00 pm Awards banquet

Hudson Valley Resort & Spa Kerhonkson, New York


Extra meal tickets to the awardsceremony / banquetfor family or friendsare $15.00.Extra mealtickets mustbe reservedby contactingRachaelatinfo@usara.combyAugust 31, 2012.


All coedteams(coed& coed masters)will begrouped together for USARA National RankingPoints regardless of the category they are registered in at the USARA Adventure RaceNationalChampionship. (Example: Team USA wins the Coed Masters division at the USARA AdventureRace National Championship but comes in as the 4th coed teamoverall at the race. Team USA will receive 4th place USARA National Ranking Points.


Friends, family, and AR enthusiasts are welcometo come and cheer or volunteer! Volunteers and spectators are not allowed to provide any assistance or information to racers. Media and Spectatorswill be givendirections and maps to scenicviewing locations on the race course.

Volunteers are needed toassist with check-in Thursdayafternoon, ascourse& blog personnelFriday andSaturday, and with clearing the courseSaturdayafternoon and Sunday. Volunteerswill receive race shirts, excellentswag bags, tickets to the awards banquet, an incredible experience,excitement, lots of laughs and smiles, and ourgratitude! For more information on howyou can volunteer, please contactRachaelatinfo@usara.com.


The coursewill be unsupported and in "Expedition" format. Teams will receiveMyTopomaps, and may receive pre-plotted maps withadditional details forcertain legs of the race.

USARA Nationals will use a "Modified Rogaine"format. Teams will have30 hours to reach thefinish line with as manycheckpoints as possible. You will lose a checkpoint for every minuteafterthe 30 hour mark thatyou arrive. Teams will be ranked according to number of checkpointslocated,followed by their finishing time.


Mountain Biking–Single & double track trails, off road travel&pavement.

Paddling–River paddling in canoes

Trail Running/Trekking –Single track& bushwhacking.

Navigation –Compass & map, orienteering




There will not be a gear check during registration – gear checks will be on the course. Any questions concerning gear should be directed to: Rachael at info@usara.com.

FULL TIME MANDATORY TEAM GEAR (Each team must have the following)

Cell phone in water proof or zip lock bag
Pen (suggest Nite-Ize inka water and freeze proof pen)
1 Lighter or water proof matches
7 Twelve Hour Chemical lights minimum of 4" length (may substitute as long as burn time equals 7 x 12 hours)
7 zip ties (8 inch minimum length)
1 Strobe Light – must be visible for 2 mile radius
Survival Mirror
Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight .7 Or build first aid kit containing the following contents: (8) 2x2 or 3x3 sterile dressing, (2) 3x4 non adherent sterile dressing, (1) conforming gauze bandage, (4) 1x3 adhesive bandage, (3) knuckle adhesive bandage, (1) tape ½"x 10 yards, (1) swift wrap elastic bandage, (8) 200mg. Ibuprofen, (2) antihistamine (Diphenhydramine), (2) afterbite sting relief, (1) moleskin, (5) towelettes, (3) antibiotic ointment, (1) tincture of benzoin, (3) butterfly closure bandage, (2) pair nitrile gloves, (1) tweezer, (3) safety pins, (1) duct tape, (2) alosak.
*Epi pens are recommended for individuals with an Epi pen prescription


(Each team member must have the following)

Race organization provided number to be worn and visible over other clothing
Space Blanket
Waterproof Jacket (Sealed or Taped Seams) Note: ultra-light, water resistant 3 oz. jackets will NOT satisfy this requirement

MANDATORY INDIVIDUAL BIKING EQUIPMENT (Each team member must have the following on all biking sections)

Mountain Bikes Only (No Cyclocross)
Front lighting system - must be mounted on handlebars. (Teams may wear headlamps but they must also have a light mounted to the handlebars)
Flashing red tail light mounted on bike (not on pack)
CPSC Certified Bike helmet
1 Cable bike lock per team (long enough to lock three bikes together)

5 Race management will provide canoes, single blade paddles & PFD's. You may bring your own paddles (both single blade or double blade are acceptable) and your own PFD's- Type III or higher, non-inflatable. Race management will transport your paddling gear after the paddle to the finish line. (1) Gear bag large enough to fit all paddling equipment labeled with team name and number (This will be used by race management to transport your team paddle gear). You will need to take this bag with you on the canoe leg. A trash bag will NOT suffice for this requirement.


Race management will provide canoes, single blade paddles& PFD's. You may bringyour own paddles (both single blade or double bladeare acceptable) and your own PFD's-TypeIII or higher, non-inflatable. Race management will transportyour paddlinggearafter the paddle to the finish line.

(1) Gear bag largeenough to fit all paddling equipment labeled with team name and number(Thiswill be used byrace management to transportyour team paddlegear). You will need to take this bagwith you on the canoeleg. A trash bag will NOTsuffice for this requirement.

Note: If you choose to have race management transport your team paddle gear, itwillbe at your own risk. While we will make everyeffort to keep yourequipment safe, we will NOT be responsible forany damage.Ifyou are worried aboutthis, then you should carry your team paddleequipment throughouttheentire race.




•Maps other than those provided by therace organization

•Communication devices other than sealed cellular phone

•Motorized means of transport

•Night vision


Water purifier orwater purification tablets forentire team(teams should be prepared to acquire water fromwild sources such ascreeks)

•Waterproof map case(maps and instructions may become unusable or damaged from water if not protected)

Means ofcarryingat least 50 oz of liquid


2 compasses

1 UTM Ruler

Food forentire race(18-30 hours)including electrolyte replacement•Chain tool / bike repair kit

•And,of course,duct tape

Insulating layer top& bottom (poly pro, wool, fleece,etc)


Knife with locking blade

•Long Pants

•Bike Gloves


•Dry bag / Trash bag

•Bug Spray, Sunscreen, Sun Glasses

•Bike Odometer/Speedometer (more than one per team suggested)

•Bike pump or CO2

•Spare bike tubes /Bike Patch kit

eservations must be made by September 25, 2012
First night stay deposit required at reservation (refundable until 7 days prior to arrival) * Rates are based on a 3-night minimum stay. Deluxe $120.00 per night for up to 3 people Standard $99.00 per night for up to 3 people


Congratulations again on qualifying for the 2012 Tecnu Darn Tough USARA Adventure Race National Championships. We look forward to seeing you at the finish line!


The USARA Staff