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"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Navigational Floetry is Poetry in Motion at Huntsville

yummy heed
Okay, so many people laughed at my team name. "What the heck is Navigational Floetry?!" It was meant to illicit visions of navigation done so well that it "flowed" like "poetry". With our good performance this past weekend, I thought the name fit well...yes, it still sounds dumb, but you get the point.

I was very nervous about this race because it seemed that right after Bike Drost sent out that challenge email on the Yahoo group, everyone started to sign up! There ended up being 27 teams and 16 of them were in the expert-coed division, our division. Among them were MOAT, Run Amok, a gaggle from Houston Fit AR, and several of our own prestigous navigators from HART. So, as Tara kept telling me, I had to bring my "A game". No pressure at all.

prerace meetingThat morning, Mo and I get to the turnoff for Huntsville State Park and I get a call from Tara. I'm assuming she's wondering where we are, so I tell her we're right there. But then, through the static I hear something about someone being sick. So I'm thinking, there's a bug going around and a bunch of teams aren't showing because they're sick. "Yippee!" I'm thinking. I hang up because its hard to hear Tara. I get there and find out that Tommy was telling her that I was "sick" and wasn't coming to the race. Nice. The trash talking had already begun. No matter. I just focused on getting set up for the race. Mo put all my gear together for me then started taking over the job of race photographer. Tara was determined to go bare bones for this race, so she was snickering at me with my backpack and mapcase, etc. She just wanted to be light and fast, so I understood that. But I needed hydration, so there was no way around the backpack. I did end up dumping the mapcase and just kept the map in the ziploc it came in. I also had the chance to try out for the first time my orienteering gaitors. Bright red, everyone homed in on them right away. Hey, they looked "different" but they performed wonderfully during the race!

how's the hair?So we started with a short run around the paved road while Tara waited with the map under her foot. At 830 we started, but I knew this race would be long, so I didn't blow it out on this run. There was one guy from a 2-male team who decided to bust out of there like he stole something--I just let him go. We got around, picked up our packet, and rushed to plot our points. Tara plotted while I read the coordinates--this worked out perfectly as Tara plotted like a pro! We were the first expert team out of there!

We decided to do a counter-clockwise approach around the lake, dumping cps 13 and 14--there were 17 cps out there but we only had to find 15 of them. First was cp 1. Wow, as usual, I started out slow. I saw a trail on the map and the cp looked to be right on the trail, so I tried to just follow it. After about 5mins of futile searching, we decide to reset and get back to a known point and do a bearing. We get back to the powerline easment and get to a bend. I start to get a bearing when Tara says, "its right there", hanging off of a pole. Unbelievable. Not good. Tara was right, I was a bit flustered and I just needed to relax. I took a second, stopped, and focused. We ran down a dirt road to the fenceline trail, over a couple bridges that crossed the swampy area at the northwest corner of the lake, heading for cp 3. We take a right before hitting the fence line, up the hill. Its tough to find because the brush is thick, but Tara finds it. She is on today, finding almost all of the points. One of the Houston Fit teams is right on our heels, so we try to get out of there asap. cp 3 is right off of a creek. I aim offcenter and backtrack and there it is. They're not too far behind, so we move to the next cp right away.

Across the swamp to the other side of the lake, we head uphill to cp 4, which should be at the bend of the fence line. Got it. Tara was in charge of checking out the goodies and taking whatever she thought was worthwhile--we found a free entry to the Colorado 100. She could have it! Next is a long bushwhack down to a draw for cp 17. There was a bit of confusion here because we had marked it as 16 on the map, but we figured out we had marked 16 twice. For the next 2 cps, we would coasteer. At cp 5, it was a bit swampy, so we had to go around a bit, but as soon as I stepped to the other side of the creek, there it was in front of my face. Nice. cp 16 was easy, right at a point next to a creek.

We followed the creek NW where cp 6 was supposed to be at a bridge. We trudge along and Tara notices a bridge to our west. It seemed too early for it to be the right bridge, but to be safe, Tara explores it. Good thing she did, because that's where the point was. That one boggled me for a bit. The biggest score was made at this one as there was a big rubber spider hanging by the cp--needless to say, Tara took "Spidey." He was now a symbol of our good luck and we tucked him into my backpack for the rest of the ride. Down the bike trail we went to the spillway where cp7 was. Got there no prob and the cp was at the bottom of the spillway. Since we were down there already, we decided to just cross there. We got a bit wet, but it worked.

Down a dirt road to cp 8 which was supposed to be on a hilltop. Okay, so the topo showed a fairly flat hilltop, so it would be hard to spot the absolute top. So we did a pacecount from a trail intersection then headed into the brush. Tara found it again. We were off again on the mtb trail. cp 9 was at a creek, but I wasn't sure which side of the trail it would be, so Tara and I went 100m in each direction. Before that point, the last time we saw anyone was at cp 3. As we approached the cp, we saw Dave Boyd and Patti Plagmann of MOAT. Interested to figure out where we were in relation to them, I waited a bit to see which way they were going. They went the opposite way, so I figured we were ahead of them. Cool. We busted down the trail to a swampy area where cp 10 was supposed to be. This was my least enjoyable cp. The clue said marsh, so I followed this little tidbit and went swamp diving...literally. I tried crossing a fallen tree and momentarily lost my balance and fell into the marsh. Knowing that there were alligators in the park, I didn't stay in there for very long--as I crawled out feverishly, a frog jumped off of my mud-covered shoe. I was pissed. Looking at the map one more time, the cp was plotted more towards an upslope, so we changed our search pattern and Tara found it no problem.

poison ivy?! heck, bull nettle!Back on the dirt road, we ran to a trail intersection for cp 11. Got it. Next was cp 12 next to a pond. We started seeing a bunch of teams now, obviously heading the opposite way we were. cp 12 was right there, so now we just had one more: cp 15. We backtracked to the trail intersection and took that to the bike trail. We followed it a bit then headed off of it to the hilltop cp 15 was plotted on. This one took a while to get to as the hill slowly sloped upwards. On my way to find the very top of the hill, I hit a patch of bull nettle--that stuff stings like heck!! As I let out a yelp, Tara calls out wondering if I'm still alive. It was at the perfect height, hitting the unprotected section between my shorts and my gaitors. Man, that burned. Anyway, back to business. After a few more minutes of searching, I spot the cp after crossing a horse trail. Noting that Drost said the bridge was still out on that side of the park, I decided not to take that route and just followed the horse trail to the bike trail and took that all the way back to the main road.

yeehaw!As we ran down the main road, I was ever-vigilant, looking over my shoulder and in all other directions, making sure no one snuck up on us. At that point it, I was wondering if we had this one. I asked Tara, "2:30 is good, right?" We both thought it was, but I still wanted to keep the pace up just in case. That run seemed to take forever. Finally, we spot the timing tent and head right for it. Mo, Deb, Drost, and Art are there, but no real excitement from them. Now I was wondering if someone had beat us there. We stop at the tent and they proceed to ask us what we needed....they thought we were coming in for a short transition! Now I knew we had won. It was a great feeling! They had not expected us to finish that fast--I think they said we beat their expected winning time by 1hr! As we sat there waiting for the next team to come, we started to wonder if we did something wrong...finally, the 2male team came in over 30mins after us. Then other teams started to flow in relatively consistently from there.

great weatherAlthough I really liked the format they used for their first NavChallenge race at Pace Bend, this was a good, straightforward nav race nicely run by Art and Drost. I'm definitely looking forward to their next race! Maybe at Memorial? :)...or how about a bike-only orienteering (bike o) race?!?


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