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, August 27, 2005

If it was No Sweat, You were in Trouble

Lake Travis. This race was rife with opportunity in terms of places we could visit during this 24 hour escapade. Unfortunately, over half the teams did not realize this opportunity as excessive heat and stifling humidity made it impossible for them to finish.The race started with a leg where half of each team had to paddle to a checkpoint and the other half had to run to the same checkpoint and meet up to do a special test. Mike and I ran while Andrew and Tara paddled first. We got to the point pretty much at the same time and the special test was to carry 4 rocks a few meters to a designated point. A little heavy, but not bad. We switched and Mike and I were in the boats heading back to TA.

Second leg was a long bike to Pace Bend Park where we would be on foot for a good navigation section. Problem was that the instructions only told us to bring our snorkeling gear, so we knew the snorkelteering would be next, but said nothing about having to trek on foot for a few miles. So once we got to the bike drop, we had to run in our bike shoes for maybe 5 miles. It wasn’t too bad. After finding the points we had to return to the bike drop to do the snorkelteering section. Here we had to do it relay style where only one person could be in the water at one time and each teammate could only get one of the 4 points. It took place in a cove off of the lake and they gave us photos of where the underwater checkpoints were close too. We couldn’t locate one of them, which, thankfully, meant I didn’t have to risk drowning looking for it (I had no idea how far I would have to swim). So we just took the 10min penalty and headed back on our bikes. I actually liked the penalty because it forced us to rest under the shade as the temps were in the 90s and the index was well over 100 by then.

On the way back, we picked up one checkpoint and arrived in TA first, about 30min to an 1hr ahead of the next team, Vignette, the ones who would eventually win the race. The next section had us tie our bikes down onto our boats to ferry them across the river while only two people could be in the boats…meaning two would have to swim with the boats. This was a tough one…I had actually predicted this would happen. So we did our best to motor, with Andrew and me paddling, but it was real slow going. I think this effort is was put me over the top in terms of overheating. We eventually got to the other side and had to ride our bikes to the ropes course. Now this was the best part of the race! We had to do a series of zip lines, about 4-6 I think, and that had us flying through a canopy of old growth trees! That gave me a little respite from the heat, but apparently it was too late.

I downed a bunch of orange slices and loaded up my pack with ice placed out at that checkpoint before we headed out on our bikes again. The heat was just punishing and there wasn’t any tree cover along the roads we had to ride to the next parks. We had to take a few breaks along the way because I was falling off the end of the paceline every time we hit a hill, which was often since we were in the hill country of the Austin area. After a few minutes of tricky navigation, I was able to get the team to the next set of checkpoints at Grelle and had a relatively easy time with it while I was coherent, then I had to relieve myself and order Tara to start navigating because I was just too out exhausted. I guess this should have been our key that I need to just stop for 30mins. But we still pressed on to the next set of checkpoints at Muleshoe Park…it was about 3pm at this point, with the heat about to peak.

We finally made it to the park and had a chance to refill our packs with water and thankfully they had an outdoor shower that I camped under for a few minutes. But I just couldn’t reverse the effects of the heat. I then took refuge inside the ranger’s office which was air-conditioned. That still wasn’t making me feel better. I then decided we better keep moving or I’ll never get up. So, I got up and headed towards the door slow at first, but it became a full sprint when I started to feel the vomit come up. Yep, this was officially a bad day for me. I barely missed upchucking inside the ranger station because Andrew was blocking my way through the door. I made it out and sprayed the lady ranger’s nicely cared-for flower garden...so that's what chewed up oranges look like. Back to the outdoor shower for me. I was now shivering even though I was obviously overheated…heat exhaustion had set in. The vomiting was a definite bad sign as we slowly came to realize as it prevented me from keeping fluids in and just made me more dehydrated. As I tried to drink water to replace the fluids I just threw up, it would be maybe 15mins later that I would just lose it all again, and then some. The vomiting actually made me feel better momentarily and made me think I was over it, but several minutes would pass and I would be slumped over my bike again, praying for God’s mercy. It didn’t come. We slowed to a crawl and it was starting to get dark. I finally called it when my condition was only worsening with my whole body starting to cramp up successively...even a muscle in my jaw cramped! This became my first DNF. But I didn’t feel too bad as I heard that 10+ other teams had to drop out because of the heat…that is amazing considering there were only 15+, battle-hardened teams.
After being picked up by our support crew, we just hung out for a little while cheering other HART teams that were able to survive. There was one last long paddle after the bike leg for those teams who were still able to move. No teams were able to get all the checkpoints, with the winners, Vignette, being the closest to completing the course with only one CP missed.While we felt that this was our race to win, we obviously still have much more learning to do. Especially for this Yankee trying to race in the stupid heat and humidity of the South. Stupid hot.


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