Sometimes the gods of racing, adventure racing in this case, quickly, almost immediately, give you a glimpse of what your race will have in store for you and more times than not that glimpse into your future isn’t a pleasant one. Maybe my glimpse occurred when I was diagnosed with an ear infection and given a prescription that said, “May cause blurred vision,” a potential side-effect that if experienced would not lend well to a successful race. Or maybe my glimpse occurred when I developed a persistent chill on the way to Osage Beach, MO. Or it could have been when a teammate’s rear mountain bike tire went flat just minutes into the race. I guess I had a few glimpses of what Bonk Hard Chill 2007 had in store for us. And none of the glimpses considered the colder-than-normal temperatures. It was frigid!
I have always been a morning person and with the addition of two daughters to the family, my mornings have just gotten earlier so the 4:15 AM wake-up-call didn’t faze me as much as it probably phased some of the other soon-to-be-racers. They say that it is not the amount of sleep you get the night before the race that matters, but that it is the amount of sleep you get two nights before the race that matters most. To keep a long story short, if I was lucky, I maybe got three-and-a-half hours of sleep two nights before the race and we added about four hours of interrupted sleep to that total the night before the race. Ask yourself this; are seven-and-a-half hours of sleep enough to embark on a potential 18-hour race? Time would tell.
Well, you already know how our race started out…flat tire! To be exact, our actual race started out with a short run to retrieve our clue list. Anyhow, these things happen and our spirits stayed in check during the minor setback. With the problem fixed, we were off once again. An approximate five mile mountain bike leg up, down, and around the hilly and windy roads of the Ozarks found us at what we learned, later that night, to be an old U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) building complete with a mess hall on the lower level flanked by fireplaces on each end. It was the fireplace located on the main level that would serve as a godsend that day; it was lit. This building would serve as one of two transition areas for many of the racers. It would be the only transition area we would actually use for its intended purpose for reasons soon to be revealed.
In the relative comfort of the old building, we plotted points, fueled our bodies some, tried to warm up, and transitioned into our trekking gear as the next stage put us out in the forest to locate tiny windsock-like devices (controls) hanging from ice covered trees. Pushing the door to the old building open, we were quickly reminded of the freezing temperatures that loomed outside. We were off!
Once in the forest, the body warms up quickly. And mine warmed up fast! I was sweating profusely almost immediately. It’s hard for me to regulate my body temperature because I have two settings; hot and thermal-nuclear. Like a well made scone, I was dry on the outside and moist, more like soaking wet, on the inside. I wouldn’t call our navigation spot-on, but I would say that we did a good job as there were only a couple of times that we went on wild-goose-chases. Amongst the trees, the habitat trails were rivaled by the number of scurrying footpaths of the adventure racers which were easily revealed by the blanket of snow and ice on the forest floor. These paths, the later, were easily followed and they didn’t always lead you to your destination. We found this out a few times. We collected all of our checkpoints and headed back to the old Corps building for what would become the beginning of the end for us as we would soon find out that we would be going out in the canoes. On an aside, on Friday evening Jason, of Bonk Hard Racing