Better Late than Never......Trailblazers / IsoSeries Yuki Joy Race Report

>> Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Waterlogged Dogwoods recently participated in the 2010 Trailblazers / IsoSeries Yuki Joy 15 HR Adventure Race in the Hanging Rock State Park area of North Carolina. Bob, Marcey, and Jeff E represented the team this go round. I was really excited to race with Jeff for the first time as we had worked together several times for Trailblazer AR Club - RDU Chapter and Bushwhack Adventure hosted events the last couple years. Overall it was a great, fun event and the Waterlogged Dogwoods placed 4th Overall and 2nd in the Co-ED Category. Trying to find time to participate in an Isotopes Racing event had been elusive, and hearing all the previous rave reviews on their ARs, it was awesome it finally worked out - word on the street is that these big-brained individuals are all graduating with PHDs and will be moving onto their next great adventures.

Marcey's comments are bolded.

After all showing up at the Moore's Spring Campground, checking in, and setting up our base camp, we all piled into Jeff's car to drop off the paddling leg equipment at TA B (Tom Mix Road Bridge over the Dan River). Marcey's big joke has been that if I go to a race, it will eventually rain at some point (hence the team name) and this race was no different. Marcey – and in 16 years that I have been camping, it has rained every single time. The looming clouds came in fast and opened up - making the car ride and dropping off the equipment in a torrential massive storm interesting. There were several downed trees and debris in the road on the way back. I thought I scouted a great place for my tent, on a sizeable palteau, but the physics of water in the liquid state proved me wrong. My tent was in a small lake with a river flowing through it. The next adventure was assisting the race staff and other racers in pushing the biggest U-Haul Truck I have ever seen out of a precarious position as it was stuck in a muddy field. After some final equipment prep, making my foil cooking meal, and enjoying some pre-race "cold ones" we hit the rack - Me sleeping in my car, Marcey in Jeff's car, and Jeff in his US banned Euro springloaded tent (neatest tent ever!!!!) Marcey – Jeff needs to keep his garage locked up or the ‘neatest tent ever’ might get legs.

Race Day started early, getting up at about 4:15am for a 4:45 race brief. When Todd finished the brief there was a couple minutes left prior to the start and I hurried back to our base camp to round up the troops. When we finally headed off on the course, the race had already started and we were back in the pack. About 10 minutes in, I realized we never grabbed the passport so had to turn around. I guess while I was running to round up Jeff and Marcey, the passports were distributed. Not a huge deal for a 15 hour race, but the 20 minutes we lost would have been nice to have back during the Hanging Rock trek leg at the very end.

It has been noted by a few that I write too long of race reports, so I will try to be succint - I just enjoy remembering the experience and think the greatest adventures and things I would like to share actually occur outside the purview of the actual racing. We first rode to TA A at Camp Sertoma, and trekked to retrieve CP 1-3. The only issue we had other than confusing CP 1 for 2 was at CP 3. We hit the exact location from two separate attack points and it was on the second time, where we finally opened our eyes and saw the control. Marcey – Actually, we missed it because it was next to a flying trapeze and Bob and Jeff don’t want to admit that they were very distracted by it and were wishing they could try it out. A larger bike leg on paved roads brought us to TA B after retrieving CP 4-5. CP 5 was right on the NC-VA border where we figured out that I like to pee in my backyard and Marcey would rather pee in Virginia's backyard.

At TA B, we transitioned to a paddle down the Dan River. Even though the weather on Race Day was picture perfect, the rains the night before really swelled the river - which was a good thing. The Dan is notorious for being a fickle river with many shallow points, rocks, and walking outside the boats. Not this time, the river was moving nicely. Racing with three folks, we first opted for Marcey and Jeff in canoe and me in the recreational river kayak. The water navigation was simple enough and we easily found CP 6-7. At CP 7 we decided to stop at the bridge over the Dan and walk to the bridge over Big Creek because we would have had to paddle up the creek a ways and I thought the water flow would make it difficult. Probably could have attacked it either way in the same amount of time. We continued down the Dan to TA C, where we could have trekked to get CP 8-10 which was close to base camp, but decided to continue on our way and get the paddle portion done in one segment. CP 11 was a little tricky, we got to the right area but I plotted the control on the west side of the spur instead of in the draw (rentrant) - east of the spur. A short paddle brought us to TA D,

Back on the bikes we headed up hill toward CP 12. I took one wrong turn toward the Hanging Rock State Park, which was ok because we stopped to take some cool pictures of the Park ridges and rocky faces. CP 12 was on a very old and unused trail that made us pay attention on the terrain to find where the trail began. We then rode to the first true gem of the course at TA E, where StokesCORE just recently completed about 5 miles of really great single track trails. We received another passport and had to ride the whole length of the 5-mile trail system to find small controls along the route. The trails were very winding, had built berms on some quick turns, cool rock gardens and creek crossings / log bridges thrown in, and decent ascents and decents which made the experience truly enjoyable. My favorite control was at the very top of the hill with an open field adjacent to the trail. There was a great view of Hanging Rock and a sign on the control said "Yes, you are climbing that". A nice long decent brough us back to the TA, but we found out we missed one control and had to back track a small ways to find it. Marcey – these trails were awesome!!! StokesCORE did an amazing job. Too bad it is only five miles at this point. Short story…right when we got to the start of the trails I went through a spiderweb. I could see the web and the spider swinging around off my helmet. I am used to being covered in webs being an early morning rider but I had to stop and remove it when after about 30 minutes on the trail, the web caught a fly and I could actually see the spider climbing up to get the fly! I was not going to be a part of that murder so I let them go by the side of the trail and caught back up to Jeff and Bob. Bye Bye little fly.

We then rode to the start / finish to collect CPs 8-9 which were both on elevated terrain that was challenging to trek to the top. I plotted CP 9 on the steep bank of the Dan River but was it was really on the high ground so took too long to find. Back at base camp, we refitted and took a small break to eat some food and to get ready for the last push to Hanging Rock State Park. Along the way, we stopped to get CP 10. The rest of the ride was pretty much all up hill. We stopped to get CP 21 at the falls near Tory's Den and then one last bike uphill to the last TA E. This is where we saw Check Point Zero, the eventual winner's, headed to the finish, while we still had lots of work ahead of us. Marcey – there is nothing like seeing the winners off to the finish when you still have two hours to go! I changed into dry socks at the campground so I was in happy spirits. Looking back, I may have mentioned ‘dry socks’ one too many times to Jeff who forgot a spare pair. Sorry Jeff.

This part of the course was the truest gem, trekking the Hanging Rock Park's awesome trails packed with big boulders and other unique terrain. We first went to CP 17 and had to scamper over some big boulders. Then we tried to find the old climber's trail leading to the firetower where CP 13's home was. Not finding it, we continued along the rock face trail in a NE direction until we found another access to get to the fire tower. This route also included some hands and feet maneuvering up the steep slope, but we finally hit the Moore's Wall Loop Trail and CP 14 at the tippy top. Marcey – the most beautiful part of the day but also the saddest to see all of the trash people threw in the firetower. Spent way too long here as well, taking in the scenary, capturing some cool pics, and making some decisions on how much time we had left and what remaining CPs we should grab. Option #1 - Take the Loop Trail east to get CPs 15, 18, 19, and 22. Option #2 - Take the Loop Trail west to just retrieve 13, 19, 22. CPs 20 and 16 were out of the question with how much time we had left. We ended up playing it safe and going with Option #2. Finding the climber's trail from the top was easier and we scampered down to find CP 13 (might I say one of the best scenery, hard to find CPs ever - in my experience). Marcey – Jeff and Bob scamper. I tentatively ‘bushwhack’ my way at a snail’s pace. I promise I’ll get better guys! We then headed back, picking up CPs 19 and 22, and running most of the way back to the TA. At one point we thought about bushwhacking from CP 22 to the TA, but the low ground probably had too much vegetation and we ended up sticking to the trail toward Tory's Den and back up the hill. Marcey – i.e. Marcey sucks at bushwhacking.

A quick transition and it was a very fun, fast cruise, all down hill, back to the start / finish. This was awesome, I don't think we peddled hard once, traveling about 4Km in a couple minutes. We finished with a bit of time to spare and partook in the weenie roast and story telling. Marcey – No weenies for me since there were no veggie dogs. Thanks to Madame GPS who found a pizza place after a few curse words were thrown her way.

We were extremely happy with our performance - a good mix of enjoying the adventure, taking time to appreciate the sceneray and experience, while pushing ourselves when needed. The whole Isotopes Race Staff and volunteers put on an amazing race with an awesome course and great support. I now know why these races have such glowing reports about them. A special thanks to the volunteers who manned the TAs and helped with moving our bikes around the course - the efforts and support is greatly appreciated by the racers and I hope you all had fun as well. It was also great to race with Jeff for the first time and I look forward to the possibility of racing together in the future. And as always...thanks to the family for allowing me to be a kid once again.

More Pictures, Results, Course Map


2010 Best Ranger Competition

>> Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The 27th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition (BRC) was conducted at Fort Benning, GA from 7-9 MAY 2010. Forty 2-person buddy teams representing mostly the US Army Ranger, Special Operations, and Infantry Division community ended up competing in this year’s competition. 1SG Kevin Dylus and CPT Bob May (from the Waterlogged Dogwoods) were Team 41 representing the North Carolina National Guard and finished 10th overall. Along with the Rhode Island Team that finished 14th, its the first time a National Guard Team even finished the event.

The BRC was one of the most professionally run, well organized, community / sponsor supported, and camaraderie laden event I have ever been associated with. It was not just two Ranger Buddy Teams doing really hard things for three days straight, it was a highlight of what this highly trained and motivated community does and has done in support of freedom from tyranny around the world.

As Guardsmen, we stand alongside our AC brethren in contingency missions around the world……it's good to know that we can now stand alongside them in a rigorous competition such as the Best Ranger Competition. All those who competed should feel proud and my hat off to those that persevered fought on to the Ranger Objective and completed the mission, though we be the lone survivors.

Read the Full Report.

Erin's Blog and Pics from DAY 1, DAY 2, DAY 3.

Additional Pics from Fort Benning PAO.


Bushwhack Adventures - Falls Lake Challenge 2010

>> Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This race report is from Marcey. Drew and Marcey competed in the 2-Person Co-Ed Division.

The Falls Lake Challenge 8-hr Sprint Adventure Race was a great learning experience for Drew and I. After arriving at the park, we learned that Bob, who is Master Navigator and the most experienced by far, needed to stay home to take care of his little boy, who was very sick. Bob just completed the Best Ranger Competion so was probably in the best shape of his life so this race would have been a cakewalk for him. Needless to say, I wasn't nervous being in the capable hands of Drew who said "I think I can plot UTMs". Drew explained to me that he was used to plotting military style but that it should be similar.

We spent about 30 minutes plotting the course and decided to hit the paddle and run section first due to a call for thunderstorms later in the day. Biking is Drew's 3rd favorite discipline so there was no argument from him. This turned out not to be a good tactic since we didn't pay attention to the assigned points and missed out on a couple of checkpoints that were 30+ on the bike. I was a little worried about my titanium upgrade (clavicle 2009) since I hadn't paddled for about 11 months but I had no problem thanks to Dr. Jones at Impact Orthopedics who definitely fixed me up right! We got messed up on the very first checkpoint and went to the wrong inlet. After spending probably 15-20 minutes there we gave up and paddled again only to realize that we had went in too early so this time we were able to find it pretty easily.

After a few checkpoints we docked the boat and started on the run portion. We spent about 20 minutes looking for the first one and Drew realized he had plotted incorrectly. We also made the decision to spend no more than 10-15 minutes looking for a checkpoint. Once, when we were looking for a checkpoint that wasn't there, I asked Drew, "Are you sure you plotted correctly on the right line?" and followed up with "And I say that lovingly". He kept apologizing and I kept saying I would do no better and I was having fun so I didn't really care. I also decided that we needed a bracelet that said WWBD or What Would Bob Do?

After this minor screw up, we were able to find all of the checkpoints after taking a quick peek at the park map near the campgrounds where Drew realized that there were roads at the campground that were not on our map. This made more sense and we became successful! We were getting close to time so hurried back to the boat and made the decision to finish out the paddle points. Drew was out of water and so was I but thought we would be okay. We grossly miscalculated how long it would take us to finish out the paddle points since at this time, we thought we would at least be able to hop on the bike and get a few points. After getting the last paddle checkpoint we paddled a steady pace to the finish, which took about 45 minutes. I had a massive blister on my hand from paddling and we were both a little dehydrated. The phone rang with about 20 minutes to go and I said it was probably my mom, who was volunteering and I am sure was wondering why we had not come back to get our bikes. Then a sheriff's boat came by and asked if there were any boats behind us (there was one kayak). I said that my mom probably sent the Sheriff out to make sure we were okay.

We saw the first beach and thought we were home but it was the second beach so we had to paddle a little faster in order to make it under the eight hours. We did, with only four minutes to spare! We never even made it to the bike but got all but one of the paddle and trek points so I was happy with the volume we were able to get. The after race pizza proved to be the hardest workout of the day for my jaws. The prizes were great and the organization stellar considering all the rain we had.

Lessons learned from FLC:

Check the number of points assigned to each checkpoint.
Don't spend too much time on a point. If I can't find it in 15 minutes, move on.
Never forget paddling gloves.
Always wear knee socks.
Check for ticks...many, many times.
Keep an extra water bottle in the boat.

Great job by the Waterlogged Dogwoods!!!!!


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