Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Heat, MOAT Scorch Lake Georgetown

So Lake Georgetown came along after repairing my navigational confidence at the NavTexas event. This was another Rattlesnake race, so I was again nervous about the checkpoints. My nervousness and stress skyrocketed that morning when it seemed to take forever for us to get ready and leave Austin for the race. We got there and everyone had already arrived, even Rick and Melissa! I was frantically rushing to ready our TA and make sure I didn’t forget any gear. I was still trying to get things together as they started to call teams over for the pre-race meeting. To boot, the temps would get into the mid to upper 90s that day, compromising many of the teams, including ours.

I was racing with Andrew, which I knew would be great because he is such a strong athlete. He probably could be elite if that was all he did. So I assumed that he would be dragging my limp, exhausted body all over that park, but to my surprise that’s not what happened…the race would be more exciting than that.

So the race started off with a puzzle, as expected. Being engineers, we took to task and started compartmentalizing the puzzle. I think we did a really good job and were leaving transition before most of the other teams. Next was the bike. We mounted the bike at the same time as MOAT, so we were on their behinds…or should I say Andrew was on their behinds. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t mash on the bike—I think it was because I didn’t warm up at all before the race. So I struggled early and was happy that we easily found the first checkpoint right at the trailhead of the bike section. From there I fumbled to get my pack back on and MOAT got a head start on us. Andrew, being an expert biker, had no problem passing them in the very sketchy, sharp rocks, while I had to wait behind Carlos and company. Finally, Andrew stopped driving the bus and let them pass and I followed him once we got going again. But now we had inherited a new problem—Andrew had a blowout right as we were exiting the technical section. Once we got out, we realized it was a serious problem—the tire itself was slashed from side to side! Unbelievable! This guy has had nothing but problems with flats ever since moving to Texas. No ordinary patch job was going to work, so we had to bum some duct tape off of another team. We never did get the name of that team, but we wholeheartedly thank them, if they ever read this report.

Unfortunately enough, we realized we didn’t bum off enough duct tape and were deeply worried that the amount we did have on would fail and we would have the same problem all over again. Thankfully, Tommy and Jill rolled up on us and they tossed us their full roll of duct tape and kept going. Andrew, again, being an engineer, built a huge factor of safety into the taping the tire, wrapping it around the entire circumference of the gash several hundred times. Although it made for a rough ride for Andrew, it lasted throughout the bike leg…but apparently it blew up right after we got off the bike and were off to the next mystery event. What timing.

But before that, we still had a bike/trek nav section to complete. Andrew was cruising at a very good clip and I was able to hang on and I was feeling better. Of course, it would not be that easy. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Andrew was starting to get nauseated and weak during the bike and it came to a head when we got to the trek section. While I gathered my gear for the trek, Andrew limped off to the bushes and started to unload the cereal he had early that morning. This was his first hot weather race since moving from Canada. I was now very worried, but decided just to work on the map while he tried to sort himself out. I decided not to rush him as I knew that this could be the end of our race. Andrew, a person with a high constitution, was able to keep trudging along even after such an episode. I would have been done. We walked at first so that he could recover and that seemed to work wonders. I tried to be spot on for these next points as I knew taking more time to find the points could only aggravate his situation.

The first one was in a ditch, which we found pretty easily as MOAT was heading back from the trek section. I was actually thinking we lost a lot more time than that, but I think Andrew’s ability to recoup quickly helped out. Next was on the top of a hill…it was a pretty good climb walking straight up. It was a fast descent back down to the trail and to the next point which was right on the trail. We now had to head back and pick up one more point on the way to the bike drop. From how the point was plotted, I knew we would need to cross the creek that eventually fed Lake Georgetown. I stumbled a little and didn’t read my map correctly and spent too much time on this one. Thankfully, I figured it out and found this one down the branch of the creek. We now ran back to the drop, right behind a male team that had passed us during one point of our tire/sickness bouts.

They weren’t in front of us for long as they looked as if they still had to plot the remaining points of the race, which gave us the advantage. Since we had plotted all the points already, we headed straight out on our bikes, back to the main TA. There were no more incidents on the way back.

Making it back to TA, we were faced with a flurry of special tests. First was a word puzzle, then an exercise in passing a marble along with a pair of half-inch diameter PVC pipes, and finally a choice between a swim and another brain-centered activity. We chose the latter as I saw the course that we would have to swim and knew it would take us a lot longer, even if it did cool us down. So we sat down with a set of PVC tubes and elbows and were tasked to make a complete circuit with all the pieces, not leaving any ends exposed. Did we say we were engineers? This took us no time as I had a class in Hydraulics and Andrew is, well, smart. It was also nice to sit in the shade for a while. We were now ready for our next section, the paddle.

This section seemed straightforward as we only had to pick up 3 points on this leg. First point was no problem, but the second was more difficult than it should have been. It was right on a so-called “beach”. We docked our boats to one side of this beach, not far enough to see the checkpoint. So we took a lot of time scurrying around when the point was actually just a few meters away from where we parked the boat, hiding under a bush. The last point wasn’t too bad, but the passport momentarily left our possession, so we had to spend time looking for it. With all this, Team Run Amok had caught up and was on the beach starting for the third checkpoint. We had to motor now because I knew they were superb navigators and great runners.

We, more like I, paddled to exhaustion back to TA while Andrew was just getting stronger and stronger. We now had one final trek to finish. It wasn’t very long, but I think the heat was starting to get to me and I might have fallen behind in my hydration/nutrition while paddling. Now, Andrew had to tow me through. We walked at first, thinking we had a good lead over the other teams. Silly me, I forgot about Run Amok. After finding our last point on the trek, we saw them heading towards their last checkpoint. This is where I had to muster up my last bit of strength and I told Andrew to tow me while I tried to run. It worked out fine after a few starts and stops.

So, through all this, we still were able to hold on to 1st place 2-male, finishing behind overall winners MOAT (4-coed)! I’m pretty sure this is my first adventure race win and it felt really good. After the low of Ft. Parker, this victory was fully embraced by me. Lake Georgetown is a great venue and I can’t wait to tackle it again next year.