John “The Hammer” Harter and Tiffany “Chapstick” Cameron hammered the competition yesterday in Saturday’s Eisenhower Challenge, a 3-4 hour adventure race at Eisenhower State park, near Osage City, KS. In spite of the previous evening’s deluge and a one-hour delay race morning, the race did take place. Hey, this is adventure racing, not triathlon! For those who have never done an adventure race, we (and I think I can speak for Hammer here) highly recommend it. This was our first attempt at this type of race and, with the exception of a few “tense” moments, it was great fun and a lot of laughs.
The race started with 42 teams of 2 (coed or same sex) gathered around all of the mandatory gear while the race director explained the “rules.” Each team carried a punch card which must be punched at all of the checkpoints. Missed checkpoints resulted in a 30-minute penalty. Because of the rain, the biking course had changed overnight. What was to have been single track riding was now mostly on gravel/dirt/clay roads, equestrian trails, and across hay fields (much to the relief of the weaker member of this team!) We were to interpret the biking portion from two maps.
After instructions were given, one team member was asked to raise their hand. Always wanting to be first, or perhaps I was flashing back to my school days, I immediately shot my arm in the air. The member who did not raise their hand was to sprint, after the gun shot, about a quarter mile to a boat dock to pick up further race instructions and maps. Even though John claims to be a cyclist not a runner, he was 4th to reach the dock and retrieve our instructions. However, being new to adventure racing, John followed the road back to where I was standing while many other teams cut through the woods to get back to their teammate (yes, apparently, this was legal; one of the many things we will tuck under our racing hats for next time).
The first two instructions involved running, reading a map, and biking. Instruction three was the first of two team challenges. In races past, the team challenge, involved hidden poker chips, solving math problems or solving a puzzle. This time it involved strength, speed, and dexterity. We possessed the first of these two but were severely lacking in the third! All 42 teams had to hoist their bike, one at a time, over a chest-high horse “hitching post” then hurl his/herself over said post-eleven times! We eventually had to pick up an inflatable kayak, paddles, and two pfd’s (life jackets) and hit the water. Once across the lake we hoofed it back over hill and dale, across ankle-deep mud and water back to the bikes where the fun really began.
(Editor’s note: we have to point out that this was Tiffany’s first adventure race AND she was actually writing this at the end of the exhausting day of the race so you can forgive any small lapse of memory in her report…following the solo sprint by one team mate, the race actually kicked off with a kayak leg across the lake where we stowed the kayaks at a checkpoint and set out on foot. From there we proceeded on a run through ankle-deep mud, grass, gravel, and pavement back to the TA where we picked up our bikes for the “hitching post challenge” before setting out on the first bike leg.)
As previously mentioned, the weaker cyclist of this team was ecstatic that there was no single track, especially since that’s how said team member broke her wrist. However, that enthusiasm quickly evaporated when the mud and gravel bogged down my front tire so much that the tire would no longer spin. I had to get off multiple times and clear mud out of the tire. Hammer, on the other hand, whistled his merry little self on up and over the hill completely oblivious to his teammate’s rapidly rising temperature!!! As I pushed my now 100-lb. bike up the hill, I saw my teammate sitting quite happily on top of his bike reading our map; not a speck of mud on his hands! Needless to say, I was happy to get off that bla