It was a wonderful cause and a fantastically grueling course! I had no idea it could possibly be that hard!
It started out with all the teams running in there fins and with boggy boards to the boat dock to begin a 2 mile riverboarding section. It was absolutely ridiculous and hilarious as the same time to see everyone running like penguins to jump in and start kicking down the river. Lifequest got a fantastic start and exited the water within the top three teams.
Then we had to quickly transition to our kayaks and begin what was the most daunting part of the race. We kayaked 24 miles on flat water to transition two. We lost a significant amount of time here because three of our team members (including myself) had very little kayaking experience going into the race. Luckily, I was with our one team member, James, who had a great background in kayaking. In the race you are only as strong as your weakest link so no matter how fast two of your members are you always need to be together. Here several teams passed us but finally we got to the kayak finish.
We entered transition 45 minutes behind the first team, which in a 30 hour race is not bad at all considering trekking and biking were my teams strengths.
In transition the race director provides you with a map, and coordinates to locate several checkpoints. Here you must plot the points and decide as a team which way you want to go to hit all the checkpoints. Once we were all changed and ready we started the trekking portion of the race. We passed several teams just in the first two miles of the race. We thought everything was going perfectly when we saw a huge line of people ahead of us. Part of the race course required all the teams to ascend the face of the cliff while being carabinered onto a rope. The problem was you could only go one at a time and we ended up losing another 35 minutes waiting for our turn to ascend the cliff.
Once we got to the top the search was on. The terrain was mind boggling, I had never trekked across such rugged and intimidating terrain in my life!
We were doing fine getting the points but we started to run out of time. In order to do the treverse and repel you had to be on the equipment at 6:00 pm and 6:30 pm, we knew there was a significant line at both so decided to miss both of these and continue to look for our last two points, which if you miss a checkpoint it was a 2 hour penalty and the ropes section was only a one hour penalty. Long story short, we never found these two other points and made a major mistake of not leaving when it was still light out. We got stuck on this horrific terrain at night, which let me tell you was the scariest moment by far. You would start walking and all of a sudden you would walk up to the rocks edge and not be able to see the bottom with high powered lights because it was so deep.
We were out here for additional 6 hours trying to find a way out. When we got back to transition I was so happy that we were all OK. Then it was time to jump on the bikes and ride into town up to slick rock and begin the second section of orienteering. We were all so tired and cold and started to hallucinate, it was quite an experience. Once at slick rock we decided to have Will and Luke bike the course while myself and James would run it to find the points. We got two of the closest points and decided to move onto the next section of the course. Which was to ride the dirt trail from slick rock up past porcupine rim trail till it turns into a road that finally takes you back into town. 3/4 of this section was straight up hill. This was when Baja lighting system was key!!! I had the brightest light by far and could provide light for my entire team. We all absolutely fell in love with Baja lighting system. I even had other teams asking about it because everyone was so impressed! Here we passed several teams and took about 3.5-4hours to finally make it back into town.
We obviously did not place high at all after being lost of 6 hours, this was a significant amount of valuable time. However, we all had a blast and plan on coming back next year stronger, more prepared, and most importantly wiser!!!