Bonk Hard Chill
February 11th, 2006
by Dave & Mike
Hectic winter schedules and conflicting commitments left this half of Team WMS nearly out of contention for participating in any adventure races this winter. However, true to form – Mike and I managed to free our respective schedules and make a rash, last minute decision three days prior to the race to make the trip down to Lake of the Ozarks State Park for the first annual Bonk Hard Chill. Had we thought this through sufficiently? Probably not. Had we sufficiently trained for an 18-hour winter adventure race? Absolutely not. Were our wives and friends correct in their assessment that we were idiots for wanting trek, bike, and, most nerve-wracking, canoe in the middle of winter? Perhaps so.
Nevertheless we found ourselves rolling into the land of go-cart tracks, cigarette boats, silicone implants, and walnut bowls on Friday, February 10, 2006. As a side note – are walnut bowls made from the wood of walnut trees, or are they actually tiny bowls made from the walnut itself? It’s a question that’s haunted many a traveler to the Ozarks or Branson as you pass endless billboards advertising this local specialty craft.
Registration was held a local church in Osage Beach and as we pulled into the parking lot there was a fleet of cars with bike racks sporting everything from your everyday hybrid to best of class full-suspension cross country bikes. There were some serious teams here for the race. We chatted with our race directors, Jason and Laura, checked in, ran through a cursory gear check, signed the USARA waivers, and mingled with a few other teams that were making their way through the process. We left the church, dropped off gear at the hotel (yes, we stayed in a hotel rather than camp for this one…), took a spin around the park to get a lay of the land, and stopped by the “BAMF Compound” – three or four teams snuggled comfortably in one of the park’s small cabins, where we talked to John, Nancy, Jeff, Johny, John, Amanda, Kelly, Kevin, Airin, and Sara, and then headed back to the church for dinner.
For dinner we were treated to a spread of salad, bread, lasagna, spaghetti, and cookies. It was a great opportunity to fuel up and meet some of the other teams. In all honesty, we’ve met some great people since we got involved in this sport. You generally don’t find the level of pretense or arrogance that you run into in other sports so it’s always nice to sit down to a pre-race dinner and share thoughts, strategies, and concerns about the race and get an honest answer from the other teams, however experienced they may be. We talked to our WMS teammate Tiffany who had joined forces with John Maynard for this race to race under the Blue Hills name, as well as Tracy and Ryan from Blue Hills Adventures whose races we’ve enjoyed in the past, and also had a minute to chat with Daron Bennett – navigator and scribe of the always entertaining chronicles of the Flying Monkeys – whom we hadn’t seen since the Berryman Adventure.
When we finished dinner we still had over an hour to kill before the pre-race dinner so we went back to the hotel to relax. When we re-joined the group back at the church the auditorium was nearly full – we had to sit on a table at the back of the room – over 50 teams had shown up for this race.
Jason and Laura welcomed everyone and thanked us for coming, discussed their upcoming race schedule including the intimidating yet exciting Mighty Mo Challenge, and handed out a host of door prizes provided by the sponsors. After the usual overview of race rules Laura announced that the race would start at 7:00 am and maps/checkpoints would be handed out before leaving the pre-race meeting. Many teams had