Adventure Racing race 23:55:00  143.0 km (10:02 / km)
Here's my take on a race report from the Maine Summer AR, my first 24 hour race, with an emphasis on mistakes made and lessons learned. This time was great, next time will be greater!
Can there be anything more inspiring than being 5 minutes into your first or second race, and hearing your navigator say "Does everyone have their compass? Cool, can I borrow yours?" Mine ended up in my bike feed bag after we realized during map study that there was nothing in the instructions saying stage 1 had to be done on foot. Except it did. We went straight to CP 5 and then decided to have an adventure to bonus points A, B, C rather than stick to the easier points along the trails. Ran with Joe from A to B to C, and then bailed to collect CP 1 and 2. We'd been pushing the pace to hang with Joe and the other teams heading to C and had to deal with some hotspots after we broke off. Had an uneventful bike up to T/A 2, with a stop in Windsor for supplies.
Stuck to our plan pretty well on the Foot O section at Garcelon WMA. (CPs 11, 10, 19, 17, 18, 9, 8), except we suffered mightily following the "trail" from the lake at 18 down to CP 9. Eventually bailed out to the east, but it was thick for a while.
Got back to the T/A at 4:30 and were immediately beset upon by blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Our fastest transition yet! But our haste came back to bite us just a few minutes later. When we'd received our maps, I'd asked another teammate to help me plan our route, and we divided the maps up and drew in routes for our various stages. We'd all decided early on that we were skipping the "advanced mtb riders only" points on this next leg. T/A 2 appears on both maps 3 and 4, and my teammate had drawn in the alternate routes on the west side of map 3. I'd used the east side of 3 to bring us into T/A 2 from the prior bike leg. In the rush to get out of mosquito-ville, I loaded map 4 on the bike and followed the blue arrows north, and it wasn't until I flipped over to the north half of map 5 that I realized we were heading right to the optional mtb points we'd decided to skip. Apologies to any full-course teams who saw us tearing down the road in the opposite direction and must have wondered what we had seen ahead that caused us to turn tail and head back home.
Bonus activity for anyone actually reading this: pull up map 4, go to UTM 19 0448000E, 4908000N, and figure out why the shoreline route along the east edge of Togus Pond wasn't such a good idea. If anyone actually caught that during their route planning, I tip my navigator's hat to you. We caught it the hard way - by actually going there.
Anyway, there were lots of lessons to be learned from that bike leg. I take full responsibility for leading my team off on the bikes without having actually looked at the full route I was following. That cost us an additional 10km on the bikes.
The MTB park trails were a blast, but given the fading daylight and the difficulty of following the marked course, we bailed out after collecting our two required points. But what fun! Thanks so much for getting us out on those trails.
I started having leg cramps as we approached the "ruins" CP on the bike trail, and overshot it by a kilometer as I struggled to open a Pickle Juice shot with my teeth as we left the construction detours in Hallowell behind.
Arriving at Gardiner, the team took the O map and headed out toward the first point (the bar?), but the siren song of Hannaford's proved too hard to resist. Ditto with McDonald's. We eventually oriented the map and set off for the railroad trestle, and things went smoothly from there.
Shoved off in the canoes at 11PM, which was dead low tide. It became very obvious that there weren't going to be a lot of navigational aids along this night-time paddle. We nailed the railroad trestle, but we could have easily blown past it if I hadn't scoped the shoreline with my headlamp at that moment. 16 minutes later we passed another team heading back upstream to retrieve it. From then on, I had us bouncing from shore to opposite shore to collect features that would tell us where we were on the map. I don't think I've ever used my compass as much as I did during that paddle. I went into the paddle thinking it would be obvious when we passed by the towns marked on the map, but at 3 in the morning, the weeds in the tidal flats turned out to be better landmarks than the lights on shore. I've never been happier to see a rock in front of the canoe than when we rounded Courthouse Point and matched the asterisk on the map to that chunk of granite in the water. From there, it was easy going and we hit the final CP within 30 seconds of my prediction at Courthouse Point.
At Swan Island, we started off on a bad note by going for CP 32, in the thick reentrant, closest to the boats. Getting in was bad, getting out and up to the road near CP 33 was WAY worse. From there, the team handled the nav, taking us clockwise along the road and back up the trail to hit the boats again by 8AM. Sure enough, we stumbled a bit on the second-to-last point, and cut into our buffer time.
Only two sets of boats were left on Swan Island, and when we left the final T/A for the finish, only Untamed's bikes remained. This time, I was following a route that I'd drawn, but I hadn't looked at it in the last 24 hours, and was really worried that we'd hit something along the way that the other teams had anticipated and left early for. We hustled, but still seemed to be moving in slow motion when Untamed blew past. Eventually we hit Egypt Road in Alna, and knew we were going to finish on time. Slowed down for the final set of hills, and crossed the finish line together with 5 minutes to spare.
All in all, it was an amazing adventure, and I'm eternally grateful to kateness and StrongMachine for getting us out there in a beautiful part of Maine. The downstream paddle on the Kennebec with the Milky Way above our heads, and the sun rising over the river as we landed on Swan Island are two memories I'll cherish for a long time. The mosquitoes at T/A 2 will also not soon be forgotten - an extra thank you goes out to the volunteers who drew that assignment, and everyone who helped this race go so smoothly. And a final shout-out to my teammates on The Adventure Dogs!, who have jumped headfirst into this crazy sport and are kicking butt and having a great time along the way.