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Night Adventure Race October 12, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking, trails.
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On Saturday Jonea (my female teammate) picked me up at the hotel in Scottsdale where Tracie (my wife) and I had a room for Saturday night.  While Tracie was at a work related dinner and meeting, Jonea and I headed up to McDowell Mountain Park for the Extreme Heat Night Race put on by Rick at Sierra Adventure Sports.

The race started just before dark at 6:00pm.  To start, teams had to punch their card at 5 points that were shown on our first map.  It was a mad dash, as all 5 points were easily attainable in less than 5 minutes because they were all around the perimeter of the huge parking area.  Then came our first mystery event.

Teams were allowed 1 frisbee per team, the object was to throw your frisbee into a 4′ fire pit about 40′ away, and each team member had to make it in the pit. This was pure chaos, as all the teams were lined up, throwing and retrieving the discs.  People were running in the way and getting hit as they were trying to pick up an errant throw.  Someone was yelling “on per team!”, intending to let us know the one disc per team rule, but confusing some teams into thinking that they meant one make per team.  It was really rather hilarious.  Jonea made her 3rd throw, and I think I took about 5 throws, and then we got the next map and were out on the bike leg.

We took the longer but faster pavement route partway to CP1, and arrived there just as there was no more light at all in the sky.  It was a gradual uphill the entire way to the CP, and Jonea’s legs were having a hard time getting going.  She was frustrated that she was struggling, but kept pedaling, and eventually her legs muscles decided to get in the game, and we pushed on to CP2.  We were now 8.8 miles of up hill into the ride.  On the way to CP3 we were crossing a whole bunch of little sandy washes, and some of them were pretty soft and deep.  Every time I would hit one, I would yell out to Jonea, “sand!” so she would know it was coming.  After I barely stayed on top of my bike going through one, I heard a yell from behind me, and when I looked back, Jonea’s bike was still upright, but facing perpendicular to the trail.  The sand had almost put her into a huge cactus!  We caught up to one of the teams that passed us earlier at CP3, then started the 2+ mile descent toward CP4.  The other team made better time than we did going down the ridge, but we were still really moving fast for it being pitch black and a single track trail.  We got to CP4 just in time to see some other team’s tail lights heading down a trail that we knew was the longer of the two ways that we could go. This gave us a spark, and we blasted through the campground then headed back toward the TA.  In the last half mile, Jonea’s front tire finally succumbed to the cactus incident, and she flatted.  She was yelling to me that she had a flat, and I was yelling back that I know and just keep riding!  We made it to the TA, and on to the next mystery event at CP5.

In this event, each team was allowed to have five pieces of 2×4 that were about 12″ long. With these they had to move from behind a line and around a cone about 15′ away and back across the line without touching the ground.  I have done something like this before, but it involved bricks on an uneven surface.  This was smooth wood on fairly smooth concrete, so I just stood on two of them like skis and bent over and grabbed the front of one as I slid my foot forward then did the same with the other.  This worked great, and I was done in about 1 minute.  Jonea was employing a different method using the other 3 blocks, but switched to the lift-n-slide after she saw the success that I was having.  We were done in a jiffy and then went to change our shoes for the trekking leg to come.

As soon as we got CP6, we turned off our lights and used the bright moonlight to see the trail.  We ran down a trail that paralleled a wash then at CP7 when the trail crossed it, we took the wash itself further down the canyon.  In the wash we came upon team E-Lyte, where Hollon’s team mate was lying down in the sand while Hollon was stretching out her leg cramps.  We asked if everything was ok, or if they needed anything, and then kept on toward CP8.  In an attempt to operate in “stealth mode”, we only used our lights when we needed to check the map, hoping other teams wouldn’t see us and either know how close we were getting to them (wishful thinking), or follow our lights (more likely to really happen).  The route from CP8 to CP9 was on the competative mountain biking trail in the park, so it was pretty gnarly.  We climbed up and over a ridge and were all the way down the other side punching our card at CP9 when we saw the first lights top out on the ridge behind us…..or….where other teams using stealth mode???  hmmmmm.

I am not a runner.  It hurts my knees, I get cramps in my calves, and I really don’t enjoy it.  BUT, for some reason at this race, I had some weird mojo going on and was able to run about 80% of the 6.1 mile trekking leg.  We had to look around a little for CP10, but once we had it, we were finally headed for the finish line.

We finished the race in 3 hours and 15 minutes, which was good enough for 3rd place overall, and 1st in the co-ed division!  Not bad for two old timers!

This was a super fun event, and racing in the moonlight was amazing.  I look forward to trying another night race.  The volunteers were great as always, and Rick and Kim put on another successful event.  If you haven’t tried it yet, sign up for a beginner friendly adventure race and get addicted!

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