30 April 2014

The 2014 Yough Extreme

After a brutal winter that forced a lot of training indoors, it was time for the first real test of the season. 3 weeks ago I had taken the ASI team down to Germantown for a 6 hour race and had felt pretty good about my conditioning. Moving that up to 10 hours is quite a bit more and in the brutal terrain of Ohiopyle state park means a lot more!!
 The team roster was this: Team Captain: Todd Copley Team Mule: Dan (Bait) Schaefer Team Newbie: Eric Lapp

We met up at Wilderness Voyageurs at 6pm on Friday and got the maps, clue sheets and passport. It looked like a pretty straightforward linear race and we quickly plotted the points and devised a route we thought would work. The distances didn't quite look like 10 hours worth of racing but..... you never know. After beers and grub at the Falls City Pub where we looked more at the maps, we headed up to the campground. I had the college big van and ended up sleeping in there. Actually slept great after we did some final preparation for the race. We got up at 0600 and showered and got dressed and made our way down to Ohiopyle by 0715 for coffee then up to Sugar Loaf for the start of the race by 0730. The race gun went off at 0800.

Here's the stages Stage 1: 8 mile run that took us over Sugarloaf and along the trail to the road crossing and firetower road. On a spur off firetower road was CP 1 and we nailed it. From there it was the typical long slog down firetower road to the paddle section at Ramcat. We ran FAST down the road and put a great amount of distance on a lot of the competitors. We got to Ram cat after about 1.25 hours and grabbed our boats and moved to the put in.

 Stage 2: Paddle The Middle Yough is the same every time we race at Ohiopyle. We were all a bit concerned about the temperatures and knew we'd be cold on the two hours or so of paddling. I pulled some rain pants over my tights but left my shoes on as well as just my race jersey covered by the PDF. I was pretty comfortable the whole paddle but always when you get out you have "wooden" legs and feet. So...... off we went. Me and Eric in one and Bait in another. The water seemed low to me and the paddle was uneventful other than twice we got hung up on a rock. The second time was most concerning because we COULD NOT get pushed off until I virtually got my hand in the water and on the rock. We wasted 10 minutes or so on this and coincidently this was the amount of time we lost on the paddle to the 1st place team. When we got to the take out we hauled the boats up and they told us there was an optional point over at the Fern Cliff portion of Opyle. We jogged down into town and crossed the railroad tressle bridge and out onto the peninsula to nail the point then turn around and head back to the take out and the beginning of the Baughman trail to the top of the mountain.....

 Stage 3: Trek As straightforward as can be. Up the Baughman......... Up, Up, Up.... This is always a slog and we kept a decent pace up the climb to get to CP 4 and the Baughman Overlook. I looked at our times after the race and we were on pace with the leaders on this segment to the top but it appears after that CP they notched the pace up (probably ran the rest of the way in) and we continued to trek into CP 5 and the transition to bike.....

Stage 4: Mountain Bike Going up Baughman I didn't eat because I knew I had a philly cheese steak in the pack at the transition area. When I got there I started gulping this down as I changed into bike gear. It was a great sandwich with banana peppers and jalapenos.... That said not eating for the hour plus up the Baughman would come back to haunt me. We took off on bikes and glided into CP 6 and then on the way out to CP 7 I got the first of the "Bonks"..... just a tired feeling that had me pushing the bike on sections I'd normally ride. We nailed CP7 and there was a decision point. We could backtrack the way we came to pick up a fire road over to CP 8 or do some bushwacking from CP 7 thru the woods. We elected to backtrack and I'm glad we did. We got to the top of Sugarloaf dropped the bikes and humped down to nail CP 8. I was still hurting but knew I had enough to get out the pipeline to CP 9 to clear the course.

 The Finish: After bombing back we crossed the finish line and learned there was one more optional point on the top of Sugar Loaf Knob. I grabbed a coke and we headed out on foot. 25 minutes later we were standing on top and got the point and returned to the finish. Afterwards we headed into Ohiopyle for free beer and music and the awards ceremony. The Race Org totally botched the awards and the finishing times. We actually ended up in third place which is where I thought we were the whole time.... another great day in the woods. TCOPE

Did I say Free Beer....