Friday, August 22, 2014

Great Adventure Challenge 2014

An hour and a half of driving to borrow a kayak, a precious day out of the camping vacation, sore legs for days and what do I have to show for it but a small (2 actually) Lucite trophy that says "1st place".  Was it worth it?  Hell Yes.

My kayak is fun, maneuverable, comfortable, pleasant to paddle but it isn't a race winner.  Last year I bought a race winning kayak that was not fun, maneuverable, comfortable or pleasant to paddle.  Not to mention that it was 3 times too small fro me which put my center of gravity uncomfortably high so I sold it.  (Sorry Bill, Here's hoping that tipsy kayak doesn't flip on you in next years race)  This year I arranged to borrow a very nice ocean rig from a friend.  With one practice paddle under my belt I was off to the races.  The kayak wasn't magically fast, as I had hoped, but it got me to the finish in exactly the same place as last year, 16th and 2 minutes faster too.  Most importantly, I wasn't terrified the entire trip.  You can pay for piece of mind...or you can borrow it.

Off to the biking leg.  I didn't know it at the time but I had 16 people to pass in order to make it to the front of the pack.  Usually there are a handful of bikers that are faster than me and today was no exception.  I passed about 10 people on the road before we hit the trail.  At the bottom of the steep rocky descent I saw one of those handful off to the side with a flat.  I briefly stopped to see if I had the right size tube for his bike, I didn't so off I went.  In the next 10 miles I was able to catch and pass most (maybe all?) of the other bikers.  At one of the last water stops I learned that there was one other biker ahead of me and he was way ahead of me, 5 minutes ahead of me!...At least he was part of a team so I didn't care.  OK, my competitive nature still wanted to beat him but people on teams are "cheaters" so I chose to let it go, for my own good.  I'll concede that he was a stronger biker than me as was my friend with a flat.  Next year I'll try not to ride a hilly 52 miles 2 days before the race.  Nonetheless I was the first individual biker over the line and also had the fastest time, I'll take it.

Now the damn mountain.  The hike up is hard but that's OK.  The hike down is f-ing miserable.  I lost the race last year on the downhill leg so this year I was going to do my best to hold onto the lead even if my quads hurt for a week.  It turns out that's just what happened.  Both the win and the pain.  The 2 people ahead of me were on teams and I passed the other individual that I knew could beat me, flat repaired, on his way up at the start of my downhill "run".  I must say it was no less frustrating this year when the second downhill runner passed me like I was STANDING STILL.  How, HOW do they run downhill that fast, I just don't know.  It was also on my descent that I passed my wife as she was coming up.  I was too focused on my own race to notice that she was the first woman, not on a team, that was coming up the mountain.
First Individual Woman Over the Line

After looking over my shoulder and pounding my quads until they were screaming, I made it to the bottom, the first individual to cross the line with all the fame and glory that goes with it.  The fame and glory is limited to a few people saying "nice job", but hey.  I was able to "run" to the truck to get a camera and capture my wife coming over the line as the first woman finisher with all her fame and glory attached.  She was smiling... hard. A celebration ensued on the lawn with beer and ice cream and beer and a hamburger and maybe another 1/2 a beer in somewhat that order.  The slower finishers kept trickling in for over 2 hours after the fastest ones were done but nobody cared.  This event is all about the feeling of accomplishment for having taken the challenge.   Well, unless you were vying for the podium.  Speaking of that, my wife and I took our turns getting our awards for first male finisher, first male 35-49, first female overall and first female 35-49. We were happy, our legs were not.

First Male Finisher
First Female Finisher

Like fools, we decided to bike to and climb a mountain 2 days later, the legs weren't too happy about an addition trip down a mountain but the sunrise from the top of the mountain was exceptional.
Mountaintop Sunrise


  1. Nice post! Awesome job recounting the day! It was an exceptional day!