Thunder Rolls 2010
24 Hour Adventure Race
8/28/10 Oregon, IL
2nd Place : 2 Person Coed: Heather Kluch, Rod McLennan
5th Place: 2 Person Male: Evan Wing, Nick Schey
We drove as fast as we possibly could so we could make it in time to the most important part of the race….the pre race dinner! We stuffed our faces with pasta, salad, and garlic bread and awaited Gerry, the race director, to preach our impending doom. We learn that there would be no single track, all checkpoints needed to be retrieved in order, and the radios that we purchased would be used for one of the navigation sections. Sounds simple enough, but listening is easier than doing.
After our meal and lecture, we assumed that we will be able to squeeze a quick nap in before we get maps and gear ready. Being up since 5:30am, working all day, and then starting a race at midnight that goes until midnight, means very early hallucinations, so we get down to business. Rod and Nick stay behind to plot the UTMs on the maps, while Evan and I head over to the bike drop, which throws an hour of possible sleep right out the window. It was pretty far, and Evan’s sleep deprivation was already catching up to him. I think he turned the car around 4 or 5 times before we actually got on the right route. We finally arrived at our destination which was down some twisty hilly road (which I then knew we would eventually be riding up that beast), dropped the bikes, and then headed back. This time Evan had the route down, but we both agreed that neither one of us should’ve been driving since we were already seeing pretty starbursts with all the headlights. Totally trippy. We finally make it back to our team in half the time spent trying to find the bike drop. We start changing clothes and getting our gear ready, realizing that there is no way we’re going to get any sleep. We accept this since we really have no choice, and I make sure I pack enough 5 hour Energy bottles in my pack. They’re my lifesavers.
Race Start- Run to Paddle
We all line up and Gerry starts the countdown, 10, 9, 8……MIDNIGHT…..and we’re off on a 2 mile run to snag our canoes. It’s dark, I’m tired, my legs don’t want to run but they have no choice. We arrive to the canoes to find these yellow heaps of heaviness that I immediately despise. These yellow plastic heffers weighed almost as much as me, so the 1 mile twisty trail portage ahead of us does not appeal to me. I grab the back end and we’re off on our torturous trek. It’s only about a half hour into the race, and I’m already cursing Gerry’s name….I think that was his goal. We get about half way to the put in and my arms just couldn’t handle the beast anymore. I tell Rod to just drag the boat like we saw another team doing, but he says no. Well we had to figure out something or else I was dropping that thing and we were going nowhere. Luckily our other Otter team we were racing with was equipped with two strapping young lads, so Evan and Nick traded off on holding up the rear with both canoes in hand. Finally my arms stopped feeling like noodles so for the last short part of the portage I sucked it up and carried it again.
It was the perfect night for a paddle, not too cold, clear skies, the moon was so bright that we didn’t even need to use our headlamps. It was simply gorgeous. Knowing how my appendages don’t like wet or cold due to my Raynaud’s disease, I took the usual precautions of gloves, and rain gear just in case. Luckily I made it through the entire 22 mile paddle without white, bloodless, numb fingers. I was damn proud! We started off paddling a few miles up river to snag the first CP. Evan and Nick were always right near us keeping us wildy entertained, and April and Ellie from Team Chupacabra rolled up on us every now and then. We paddle for a while and suddenly hear a lot of noise as we get closer to the shore and finally realize we were right near a campsite which seemed to me like a child molestor’s dream. That creeped me out a bit. It sounded like an older male camp leader forcing young girls to sing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” I thought I was hallucinating and out of my mind at this point, but I verified with the Otters it was actually happening. Of course after hearing that song screamed by I’m guessing about 20 girls, it got stuck in my head so I had to sing it for the rest of the paddle. I’m sure everyone loved that seeing I have such an amazing singing voice. ;o)
We finally reach the first CP and just as we turn around we hear a loud splash. I turn around to see arms and legs frantically flailing as the packs were being thrown back into the boat. Yes, you guessed it, Evan and Nick dumped. They pulled the canoe to the shore to get all the water out, but since we were going down river, we just let ourselves float and laughed to ourselves, well ok laughed out loud, until they could catch back up to us. We continued the rest of the paddle to the take out. There were no CPs along the way which made it seem forever, so we couldn’t wait to get out of the boat. Our minds started messing with us at this point. I kept seeing grass in the water, I saw an island, and dolphins that were diving out of the water. Rod kept seeing ginormously oversized gym shoes along the shore, but we figured out that they were really just boats. So only a few hours into the race and we’re losing our minds already. After over 5 hours of this insanity, we finally spot the takeout. We get out of the canoes and our bodies are cramping, soaked and freezing. We try to do a quick transition, but we’re cold, our hands aren’t working, and we’re having issues trying to tie up the paddles together. I peel the wet clothes off of me, and didn’t have anything really warm so I was given a fleece that was down to my knees, while sporting my glasses with yellow lenses. I looked like Poindexter, I felt extremely sexy right then. After we get everything wrapped up, we head out on our bikes over to the nav section. The ride was amazing. The sunrise was beautiful and the roosters were cock-a-doodling at a really odd time. It almost sounded like a person imitating a rooster, so we cock –a-doodled back at it. It was fun in a strange sort of way. We finally pull up to the nav section. We see a lot of bikes dropped there already, so as I always assume, I think we’re in last place. Rod convinces me otherwise.
This was definitely a challenging part of the course. The object is, one teammate stays back with a compass, map and a radio, while the rest of the team wanders around the grassland without a map, but just a radio and a compass. The person without the map has to describe where they are to the person with the map, so they can figure out how to attack the checkpoint. If you’re not good at describing things to a T, then this would’ve been a nightmare for you. Luckily, Evan is good at little details and Rod and April (Chupacabra) are good navigators. Evan, Ellie (also Chupacabra) and I went off to frolick in the grassland while Rod and April stayed back. We’re pretty much grasswhacking our way through grass that is taller than me. I can’t see anything but the grass enclosing around me. I start getting tired and it makes me paranoid. Even if I jumped up, I saw nothing. I never thought grass could torture me in such a way. Not only did the grass mess with me, but the raspberry thorn bushes were torture. My trekking pants were no match for them, and they were just everywhere. It was like being stabbed constantly for hours. Suddenly I could feel myself start to bonk so I have Evan reach in my bag to grab my PB&J bites. I start chomping away and Evan keeps asking if I can run. In my weak and delusional state, all I could mutter was a simple no, but I was thinking “if you ask me that one more time I’m going to punch you in the face, when I get my energy back.” Well thanks to the PB&J’s, I recovered, and I decided to not punch Evan in the face. We’re almost done and only have a few CPs left. We get out to a road and I realize that I’m almost out of water, same goes for Ellie and Evan. I see a house not too far away so I tell them, I don’t care, I’m breaking in that house if no one is home. There was no way we could finish the course without water, and our only option was to go back the start, get water, and then come all the way back out again. We were way too far out for that. So we run to the house, bang on the door, and it’s open but no one is answering. Evan decides, screw it, and runs around the back to look for a hose as I’m yelling to let the homeowner know we’re entering his yard in fear that he might pull out a shotgun. Evan scores and finds a hose and just as he was about to use it, the guy in the house yells down from a second floor window telling us to come inside since that water is better. The guy turns out to be super cool, let’s us fill up our bladders, gives us ice cold water in a real glass, and offers to make us PB&J’s, but we declined the sandwiches since we could hear Rod and April yelling at us through the radio. So we get back on route for the final CPs. These weren’t so tough even though I was in thorn hell again, and we made our way back to the start by way of thornless and grassless trails. After approximately 5 hours of running around in tall grass and blazing heat, we were wiped out. It was nice to come back to find that Rod and April were very well rested, and Nick was even more rested since he got to take a little nap. I should’ve punched him in the face too. ;o) We gobble down some snacks and switch into our bike gear and head out on the road back to the main transition area. It’s pack raft time!
We have a tough ride back to the TA. The wind is kicking our butts, we’re dropping each other, it was a struggle to get back, but we made it. We open our bins to pull out these crappy inflatables and Dan Debehnke from Elk Bones generously let’s us use his pump. I still owe him a Cheeseburger. I told him I’d give him one, but I walked back to grab it, forgot what I walked back for, and then ended up eating it later. Sorry Dan! After our rafts are filled up with air, we walk down the trail to the put in. We have to paddle up river with these things, get a few CPs and then paddle back. The nightmare begins. I have a one person raft which I sit very low, can barely paddle and the thing wiggles almost out of control with every stroke. I get it just right and use all my abs and arm strength just to go under 1mph. It was demoralizing. Rod’s raft is bigger but he’s having the same trouble. Evan and Nick drop back far behind us. Nick is having problems moving and we can’t stop to wait otherwise we’ll end up floating back to the put in. So we paddle on, cross the river against the current, and pull around to the other side of an island. We’re almost there and Rod’s paddle snaps in half. There’s no way for him to move that beast upriver, so I pull over the shore, give him my paddle, and sit there and wait while he gets the CPs. There was a volunteer at this CP, so he mentioned to Rod that without his teammate, we could be disqualified. There was nothing we could do, so he got the CPs anyway, and headed back over to me, I was literally right around the corner so I wasn’t too far away. As soon as he pulled up to me, I hear a weird gurgling noise coming from the water. Rod’s raft got punctured! He reaches over and plugs the hole with his fingers, but now he’s stuck in this position because if he lets go, he loses all the air. There’s no way he could fit in my little one person raft that barely holds my weight, so we think, this it it, we’re done. Well his finger plugging seemed to be working out well, so luckily we had brought some rope and a carabiner since I was worried I’d need a tow upriver. I clipped it to his raft and towed him down the river. Good thing this was down river, because no way I could’ve towed his largeness against that current. We make it back and decide to wait a little bit to see if Evan and Nick are on their way back. There’s no sight of them, so we head up to the TA to talk to Gerry about what had happened. We tell him about our pack raft nightmare and he agrees to not disqualify us. We love him for this. This is the one time I didn’t curse his name. So we do a quick transition, put some dry clothes on since it’s starting to get dark and chilly again, and head over to get our map for the nav section.
We get the map and head out to start the nav. It’s a beautiful area but we know we won’t be seeing much of it since it’s going to be dark soon. We had down the same trail where we put in for the pack raft so we decide to check one last time to see if Evan and Nick are there. We see a few rafts floating, one that’s almost deflated and the other one floating lifelessly. We can’t tell who it is so I tell Rod to yell Durka Durr! I knew if it was Evan, he would answer back, and sure enough we got a Durka Durr back! So we decided that if they did a quick transition, then we’d wait for them so we could all do the nav together. At this point, it wasn’t about winning or worrying about who was in front of us, we just wanted to have fun racing altogether. So both of them did a quick changeroo, and we ran off to conquer the land. Well actually the land conquered us. We set off on our journey just as the sun started to set. We had a small struggle with the first CP, but corrected our mistake and snagged it. We weren’t so lucky with the second CP. It was dark, the trails weren’t on the map, we were tired and pretty much out of our minds. We start wandering aimlessly through the woods thinking that the CP would just pop up right in front of our faces. Ummmm, yeah, not so much. After being stabbed by thorns and whatever else attacked us, we decide to head back to the trail to attack it differently. As we pop out onto the trail, we see a few other teams floating around like lost souls just like us. So we head up the trial not knowing why we were doing this since it wasn’t on the map, but it seems like a good plan at this time. We walk for a while and see another trail, and decid oh cool, let’s go down this trail, this looks fun. So a few turns and trails later with no CPs, I decide to call it. I said guys, we’re STILL looking for the second CP, we’ve walked around in circles and pointlessly walked around on trails, we’ll be here all night doing this!!! I told them, let’s just stop, and head back, and hope that since we get back earlier, we could place ahead of a team that got the same amount of CPs, rather than wander around til almost midnight, and not find anything. Well since Rod saw a bird laying on the ground gazing up at him, moving it’s mouth like it was talking to him, and I saw the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, we all agreed this was probably the best idea. We headed back to the finish which seemed like forever. We crossed the finished line and gorged ourselves with pizza, but unbeknownst to us, the adventure doesn’t stop here.
Post Race Shenannigans
Nick decides he can drive home since he’s not feeling too tired. I’m guessing the nap during the radio nav section helped him out a bit. ;o) As for Evan, Rod, and I, we’re just too tired and don’t want to risk it. So, we decide to sleep in the car for a couple hours. I set my alarm and immediately pass out. The alarm goes off after what feels like two minutes later, and we’re still in no condition to function like normal human beings, so we decide to wait until the sun comes up. The sun rises, we make sure everything is packed up and ready to go, start the car and nothing. The car won’t start. We think, no problem, we’ll just have Evan jump it. Evan tries, still a no go. We try someone else’s jumper cables, another car, and still nothing. We’re getting so frustrated and we’re starving so we decide screw it, we need food! Let’s eat and figure it out afterwards. We meet at some local diner and eat amongst some of our pals from Midwest Mountaineering and Elk Bones. It was delicious but had to get back down to business soon after. We found out that all auto parts stores were closed, so Evan had to drive us about 20 miles to Walmart to get a new battery, we also bought some fuses just in case. We get back, swap the battery, and woohoo, it starts! We are relieved and happy until I get in the car and realize the radio console doesn’t have power. So I think oh that kinda sucks, no music for the whole ride home but whatever, I’ll probably sleep anyway. Well that was pretty much impossible. Not only was the radio not working, but the air conditioning and the windows were dead. Somehow when we jumped the car, it blew the main fuse which wasn’t in our pack of fuses we bought. So it’s a blazing 90 degrees outside, and we’re stuck in this sealed up toaster oven for the entire ride home. I sprawled myself across the seat like a dead body, and if anything touched my skin, I freaked out. It was so hot, my skin felt like it was melting off of me. It was miserable and pretty much the worst ride home ever, but after dealing with thorns, cold, heat, hallucinations, a punctured raft, a broken paddle, a dead car, and a human oven, I still say I had a total blast and all these tortures just added to the adventure! ….For the Love of Misery!