March 19th, 2022
I have no idea how time flies by so quickly. I had planned to post this a while ago, but well…here we are April 4th?!
Anyhow, here is the race recap of my second adventure race!
Friday March 18th David, Mike (David’s co-worker), and I all loaded up David’s jeep with our gear and headed to Milford, Kansas. Along the way David and Mike shared memories of this race as this was their very first adventure race a year ago. The Break Up adventure race is the longest running adventure race in Kansas. This meant that there were going to be a lot of racers and a lot who had probably participated in this event before.
I didn’t feel as nervous this go around since I knew more of what to expect. I was just excited to give this sport another go!
We arrived around 5pm and went straight to the “Acorn Resort” to pick up our maps for the race. We didn’t see many people and David let me know that the more experienced you are, the less you feel the need to stick around after getting your map. The map and checkpoint clue sheet is all you need to plan for the race.
We arrived at our Airbnb and dove into planning our route. This time, David did not have to plot any points as they were already provided. All we had to do was get a better idea of where these checkpoints would be and a master route to get them the fastest.
Around 9 pm we called it a night and were quick to head to bed for some sleep. Of course, that was not the case for me as I tossed and turned for the majority of the night. At 5:30 am our alarm clocks went off and I loaded up on oatmeal. We all poured coffee into red solo cups for the 15 minute drive back to the resort. There was no way we were going without coffee! I started getting excited as we drove in the dark. I asked David what race we were going to and he growled back “It’s the EXTREME BREAK UP!”
It was game time.
We arrived at the start which would be our first transition station and started getting our bikes prepped for riding later. I had to tape on a red blinking light and fix my water bottle carrier. Then at 6:45 am we all huddled around the race director for the pre-race meeting. It was a chilly start in the low 30s but I was so amped up I didn’t care.
We listened as the race director gave us important notes, such as “Don’t fall in the water when you are canoeing, it is cold” and let us know that for the start of the race, we could either canoe, trek, or bike. This time there was no pre-race competition to get our passports. We were all given them at the meeting and then right at 7 am, she yelled into the microphone,
We decided to do the trek first to warm up and were given an additional small map. David and Mike quickly decided on a route to collect the four checkpoints and we took off on a nice jog.
I felt paranoid as I saw so many racers all heading in our direction. Raid the Rock adventure race didn’t have nearly this many people so we were quick to be by ourselves.
David also started the race with one malfunction after another. First, his water bladder had a pin size hole in it and was leaking all over his backpack so he ended up having to leave it in the car. Then once we started trekking, his backpack strap completely broke and I had to tie two straps together to make it stay on his shoulder. Then, as we started bushwhacking through the trees to collect our first checkpoint, David’s map carrier that hangs from his waist got caught on a branch and a piece fell off so the map was hanging by a corner. As we backtracked our way out, we all kept our eyes on the ground looking for the piece. I, by some miracle, actually spotted it so we were thankfully able to fix that issue. However, I knew that wouldn’t be the last malfunction.
We quickly found all four checkpoints within 44 minutes. We were feeling good heading back to the transition station. Our initial master plan was to canoe after the trek before we had to bike to the other side of town. As we approached the transition station we let them know that Team 234 had arrived and that were were going from the trek portion to the canoe and the race director walked by and said,
“NOPE! Canoes are gone, you are biking.”
We looked at her for a second and then headed out. They only had a certain amount of canoes and between the people who had started on the canoes and were ahead of us in the trek, there were none left.
This meant that we were not going to be able to canoe till the very end of the race. We put on some extra layers and headed out on the bikes. It was rather chilly still but with every creeping inch of the sun that came out, we started to warm up.
We biked on gravel and picked up another 3 checkpoints. Since we had looked at google maps the day before, we saw that there were multiple opportunities to cut through fields on our bikes to connect us to roads. This was the amazing part of adventure racing, there was absolutely no route whatsoever. For instance, at one point David had us hop over a barbed wire fence, ride through a field and trailer park, just to connect us to the road we needed to get to. No route, just get the checkpoints.
We then got on some mountain bike trails to pick up a couple more checkpoints and head to transition station 2. Here we dropped our bikes and started trekking again. I was feeling good by now. I was completely warmed up and confident in our ability to compete. We once again found the first two checkpoints with ease and had two more to go.
This is where we had our first big mistake. The race director had given us an additional smaller map portion for this trek section. We decided to follow that fully instead of referencing our bigger map. We ended up spending 45 minutes looking for checkpoint 13 when we were in the wrong area the whole time. We decided as a group to give up and continue on for checkpoint 12. We all felt deflated because this meant we were not going to clear the course (Get all checkpoints).
As we bushwhacked through a ravine to get to checkpoint 12, we saw another team hole punching their passport. I asked them as I approached which checkpoint it was and he said,
“This is checkpoint 13.”
“You are freaking kidding me!!” I shrieked. I was furious since we had spent so much time in the wrong area but at the same time I was relieved, now we were back in the game!
We quickly moved on to grab checkpoint 12 since we now knew our mistake and back to the transition station. This trek portion ended up taking us an hour and 20 minutes and we covered around 5 miles. We still had a long way to go and it was now time to hop on the bikes. We covered 7 miles as we rode through grass, gravel, and pavement swirling up and down and all around. I was still feeling great, I had been biking a lot more since my last adventure race and felt like my legs were working well.
After another 4 checkpoints we headed back to transition station 2 and were given another map. This map would allow us to see the next half of the race and transition station 3. This was going to be the largest biking portion of the race, with the majority of it on gravel. David and Mike sat down to make a new route and once we felt solid about it, headed out.
This… was where the fun began. We set out on the side of a highway and went across a bridge with a gorgeous view of Milford Lake. It was quiet and still and for a moment I didn’t feel like I was in a race. It was such a calm moment as no cars passed and there was zero wind as we looked at the glassy, still lake. I took a deep breath and smiled. This was just too much fun.
We then turned onto some gravel and flew down the hills and passed cows and looked at the vast views of Kansas farm lands.
The checkpoints all seemed like they were going to be relatively easy to find.
We rode to the top of a hill and as we looked down we saw a few teams off to the sides picking at their bikes. We had no idea what they were doing but paid no mind to them and started full speed down the hill into darker looking gravel.
This was a huge mistake.
We rode into this gravel, which was mud. Thick, heavy, sticky mud that clung to our tires and wouldn’t allow our tires to spin. We spent a while picking off what we could with our hands and sticks but our bikes were no longer functioning.
So instead of riding our bikes a couple miles to the next checkpoint, we had to walk them on the side grass and sometimes carry them. We eventually got to a point in the road where we saw a group of trees down the path to our left. We knew that our next checkpoint was going to be at a cemetery as the checkpoint clue read “RIP”. Instead of walking our bikes along the side of the road, we cut off through the field to beeline to the checkpoint.
From there we got back on dry gravel and spent the first part with mud flinging off our tires and weird noises as our bikes were creaking back to life.
It was a huge relief to be moving quickly on our bikes again. We covered a total of 17 miles and right before we made it to transition station 3, David announced that he had a flat tire. With all his issues earlier, we should have known he would be the one to get a flat. We quickly stopped and started taking it apart and fixing it and continued to the next transition station.
Once there, we dropped our bikes and headed out for another trek portion. We were making good time and I felt like we were spotting the checkpoints with ease and making bold moves to bushwhack through the forest instead of running on the road.
One portion of the bushwhacking started to make me nervous. I kept my compass out and made sure we were heading southeast but the further we went into the forest, the more concerned I became. I was having major flashbacks to a time in Ethiopia where a friend and I legitimately got lost in a coffee forest as we tried to hike from her town to mine. We followed a trail that disappeared and ended up bushwhacking through the forest. A normal 2 hour hike took us 4 hours. We ended up being saved by two ladies out to gather wood. If it wasn’t for them, who knows where we would have ended up.
Regardless, eventually we heard the road up ahead and knew we were getting close to being free of the grasping trees. We covered around 6 miles and headed back to the transition station to start the bike ride back to the start.
It was wild to me how fast a 12 hour race went. It felt like a much faster pace than the 24 hour race and I was loving it. We biked for another 12 miles and had the last section to complete.
The canoe! We all hopped in and took off. We had 3 checkpoints to get within 2 hours before the cut off.
I was stoked, this was going to be my second race and being able to clear the course is a huge accomplishment. We gathered all three and finished the race within 11 hours.
We ended the race traveling 64 miles and coming in 4th place! After each race we learn so much about how to be better for the next one. The biggest lesson I learned on this one…if you see people pulled off of the road, picking at their bikes, don’t follow them! 😀
Until the next one!