The GMARA Bitter Pill with Ian Smith and Keja Rowe, posing as team Sink, Trip, Crash. Behold phase
three of the increasingly detailed writeup. Made a video comparison
- make sure to bump it to 720p.
Start-TA1: 1:17, 6.6k
The race started at 5am with a 3 CP foot-o section. In any order, we could collect CP1 (middle of a lake-sized beaver pond), CP2 (middle of beaver pond on top of a hill), or CP3 (edge of a lake sized beaver pond, in the middle of a swamp).
CP3 - took the smart, direct route across the field and earned a 45s separation from the entire pack (pros included) detonating into a 16min error. consider it our crash course in adjusting to low-detail (circa 1997 USGS) large-scale (1:24000) maps. looking back at the entire pack of headlamps was pretty exhilarating, albeit short-lived and quickly followed by idiocy.
CP2 - spike!
CP1 - I missed a trail junction to CP1 with no major consequences. 4min, tops. Hadn't learned our lesson just yet about how vague (read: nonexistant) 15-year-old USGS trails can be. Did my penance by being the lead swimmer.
TA1-TA2: 0:32, 6.0k
Straightforward MTB/hike-a-bike leg through CP4. Virtually no nav, CP on the trail. skipped a minor cutoff, maybe 2min error.
TA2-TA3: (same location) 3:16, 12.0k
Foot-o/swim-o/tyrolean traverse from CP5 through CP12
CP5 - hilltop, straightline, easy
CP6 - time to get wet. down to the trail, get as close to possible to the CP, drybag the shoes, and go for it. ian an i trudged (swimming equivalent of trudge, anyone?) it to cp6 while keja got his grit on. not a water-loving team, we three.
CP7 - ian was getting a bit hypothermic (needs more fat), so i motored while he stuck with keja. i thought i was going to hate the swimming CPs, but they ended up being my strength. went in to this saying I swim like a cinderblock, and, well, I do. Granted, the PFD was doing a lot of the work, but i found a good backstroke and just killed it. got back to the group, took keja's pack midlake and pressed on. granted, it wasn't that negatively buoyant, but his pack retained a shit-ton of water and probably weighed 50lbs when i tried to pass it out of the lake. ugh.
CP8 - Second and final real nav error of the day. 10min. Missed a trail. Did a solid job realizing the map didn't reflect reality and bailing to the stream. Starting to realize to trust contours and waterways, and discount trails. Bet this one really got some people.
CP9 - stream, lake, stream, hilltop, spike
CP10 - stream, hilltop, spike
CP11 - trail to the tyrolean. pretty cool, but not as badass as i had hoped.
CP12 - suspicious straight 'river' = pipeline. malicious, sadistic slog up the steepest feature around. 115m up in 450m horizontal, roughly a 25% grade. peachy.
CP13 - fun little trot along the pipeline. keja had a calf cramp. i felt like a schmuck of a captain for trying to pushing the pace and learned my lesson. dude's pretty inscrutable, was hard to read his mental status/happiness for most of the race.
TA3-TA4: 1:41, 8.4km
MTB through CP13 and CP14. Rookie AR mistake, missing an obvious fire road down the east side of the reservoir. Race instructions asked we minimized off-trail travel, and we didn't think to question it. Trail was highly technical by my admittedly low standards. Mostly hike-a-biking the first half, and bombing down the second. CP13 was right at the threshold of doubt (well placed, organizers). It was originally off-trail, and that would've been brutal. I've got no sense of MTB pacecounting, and the trail was almost arrow straight on the map. I'm further out from my MTB heyday than I thought, and ate shit hard a good four or five times as fatigue set in. Fortunately I was on sweep so there were no witnesses. Ian absolutely rocked this one - and that needs no for-someone-with-no-MTB-experience caveat. CP14 was trivial, and there was a pinch of unmapped trail nav near the end.
TA4-TA5: (same location) 1:58, 5.0k
Saw untamed bombing down from BP20 and had my gold star moment on the day. To hit CP15 and then go for the bonuses would be a frontal assault up 30 contours, but hitting the BPs first would mean a gradual hillclimb. Seemed kosher as per the rules.
BP20 - switchback to hilltop to reentrant, spike
BP21 - some real inspired nav by ian here. count off the reentrants, bomb down the fourth, wettest one, find the CP just below the confluence. nailed it on a hard control
BP19 - and the ian-hits just kept on coming - there was no sign of the trail after a precise and careful pass. Caught the third vagueish reentrant pointing a great heading. Reentrant petered out and the saddle was a scootch green, but we hit the ridge maybe 30m south of the bag.
CP15 - My god. I knew nothing about stinging nettles before this. Boy, did I get the full tour. Minor nuisance, they say. lasts 10 minutes, they say. It started post bushwack descent with the slow onset of an inexplicable, intense burning sensation from the thighs down. It then blossomed into 20 minutes of just shutting my brain off - had to hand ian and keja the map and just be mindless for a few. Didn't know what was up until I brushed against another and instantly recognized the sensation. Stupid plants. Turns out it's straight up histamine they inject. It's not even like you need to react to anything and bring your own histamine to the party. Bastards. At least it's not a gimpie-gimpie
. 20min into the MTB leg and I was fine unless I brushed my leg.
TA5-end: 0:51, 8.5k
MTB to end. Slogalicious. A shade of downhill, a pinch of embarassing hike-a-bike, and then a heaping helping of false-flat, super-tired granny gearing. One steep climb (walked), and then a blissful, blissful downhill to the finish.
Second place for a team of three men (men!). Sixthish (say that out loud) overall and about 2:10 behind the killers on Untamed. Won delicious cookies for the best team name. Good times.