Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 takes first place in the co-ed category at the Trailblazer Adventure Race Club's annual Siege at Fort Yargo adventure race.
The Seige at Ft. Yargo is billed as a beginner sprint race, the kind to get newcomers introduced the sport and show them how much fun adventure racing is. Nonetheless, many of the top regional teams sign up to duke it out and have some fun along the way. This year, Paul and I took my fiance Carol along with us, mostly to have some fun. Of course it never fails that once those numbers get pinned on, the competitive spirit comes out in us, and we just have to go for broke.
The race started off by having the team split up. One member was to swim about a quarter mile in the lake, while the other two collected three checkpoints on foot. All team members would then meet up at the canoes. Carol was nominated to do the swim, while Paul and I went to collect the CP's on foot. The run was pretty straight forward and Paul and I got out in front quickly to avoid the stampede of folks making their way to each CP. Luckily, the race directors had thought ahead and had hung 4 punches at each CP to make it as painless as possible. Meanwhile, on the swim, Carol discovered that I had been the last one to wear her PFD and it wasn't adjusted properly. (Note to self, check the gear before the race start.) The vest was coming up around her head making it difficult to swim. Eventually, she made it out of the water, but not before most of the race had passed her by.
As we all got into the canoe, we started paddling hard. Paul has been doing a lot of training for the Yukon River Quest, a 450 mile paddle race, so I knew he'd set a strong pace in the front of the boat. I think we could have let him paddle the whole way and we still would have done well. By the time we got the first CP we had passed over a third of the teams that were ahead of us. Paddling towards the first of the 12 optional CP's in the race, we saw a large number of boats on the shore, obviously folks looking for the point. We managed to slip in between a couple boats, disembark, find the CP and get back before most teams even found the CP. Back on the water we had moved up to about 10th place overall. After getting the last 2 CPs, we were in 6th place, and looked to be about 3rd place co-ed.
We quickly transitioned from the paddle to the bike and took off towards the first CP. Along the way, another racer turned and looked at Paul and asked him where his helmet was. In our haste, Paul had forgotten it so we had to rush back, and grab it before we could continue on. Once we corrected that mistake, we started making our way through the multitude of teams that had skipped points on the paddle and had gotten off the water before us. It's never fun to pass on single track, but we took our time, and I don't think we elbowed anyone into the woods.
After getting all the mandatory and optional CP's on the bike we got back to the TA to set out on the last section, the run. We figured we were in good shape, and were going to try to get all the CP's on this section, but we knew it would be tough. After getting the first couple, we realized that it would be wise to skip the furthest out point, instead focusing on the points that were closer to the finish. As we debated this, we ran right by another of the optional points. Looking at the watch and trying to estimate the time it would take to get to the finish, we decided that we would have to blow off the one we missed as well, and hope for the best.
As we collected the last of the mandatory CP's on the run, we were given the choice of swimming across the lake back to the start, or running all the way back around. We knew we wanted to swim because that set us up to collect the remaining few optional CP's on the way in. With time ticking down, we grabbed the last of the CP's and started to head to the finish. By chance I took a look at the rules then, and realized that there was something we completely missed! We had to portage the canoe from the take out back to the finish line! Luckily we were still close to the canoe and Paul and I hoisted it above our heads and jogged to the finish. We crossed the line with 10 minutes to spare, but had no idea where we placed.
When they got to the awards ceremony, and announced the first place co-ed team we were shocked when they called out Checkpoint Zero. We had guessed that at least one other team had gotten more points than we did, but in the end, most teams had problems with several of the points like we did.
All in all a great race. This race was a great showcase for our Inov-8 shoes as every time we got them wet, they seemed to dry out in minutes. Even the swim across the lake wearing our shoes wasn't bad. I also learned that my PFD will, just barely, fit in the Race Pro 30 pack. Certainly made carrying the PFD a lot easier as it didn't flop around at all. One suggestion for the Inov-8 pack designers though, put some drain holes in the bottom of the pack. As I finished the swim and got onto dry land I realized I had about 15 lbs of water in my pack and had to turn it upside down to empty it. I'm guessing they probably didn't plan on anyone doing lake swims while wearing a pack!