Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 Physically Strong - TeamBOR-Nuts by Neil Dickhaus and commentary by Scott Shaw

2015 Physically Strong Race report for TeamBOR Nuts

Around late January, Scott and I decided to do the Physically Strong Adventure Race.  With Bonkhard Racing on hiatus, most of our regular races were nonexistent for 2015, so we needed a new venue to make us suffer.  Shortly after signing up, we heard rumors that this was an easy race, an 8 hour class race that people were finishing in 3-4 hours.  This was the first of several pre-race disappointments that I experienced.  Around the same time that we registered, Amanda and Mickey (to be known as AM for the rest of this report) also registered as TeamBOR  -Navigation Through Disorientation and no, this was not the second disappointment, but rather added more excitement.  AM immediately started the trash talk, at least I am going to blame them for starting it, but that did not stop us from partaking (Ahab – note that Scott said we should form a 4 person coed team because we had a good chance at winning the $400 towards Nationals, but Mickey can’t bear the thought of sharing Amanda ever and she is afraid to go against Mickey) A few weeks before the race, Dave and Jules signed up as TeamBOR Ninjas (to be known and DJ for the rest of this report).  Sneaky little buggers even registered quietly.  About 2 weeks before the race came my next shock, I had thought the race was less than 2 hours away, but it was actually just over 3 hours and that means another hour of listening to Scotts stories.  (Ahab – BONUS!) Then came the finial prerace blow, race start time was 6:30am, not 9am as I had previously dreamed.  Well their goes our plans of getting up early and driving up the morning of the race.  Oh well.

Friday at 3:30 I met Scott at his house; we loaded gear and headed out.  AM were still text talking trash, with an emphasis on A.  I just remember hearing something along the lines of “we are an hour ahead of you, get used to it”.  GRRR, we were going to show them tomorrow.  We arrived at race HQ around 6:30,checked in, got our maps, clue sheet and directions to our cabin.  Talking with the race director, I found out there were 9 teams in total racing and that last year the winning team finished in about 6 hours.  I had 2 thoughts, first was that as long as we finish, we will be in the top 10.  Second was if last year’s winners took 6 hours than we should be around the 7-8 hour mark, based on other races that we had done.   We then headed to our cabin where we met up with AM, they were just finishing up plotting of the points.  We unloaded our gear and decided to head into town for dinner.  I grabbed the map and plotting gear and the 4 of us headed out.  When we got to dinner, I was in a bit of a panic because I could not find my UTM.  Amanda decided to screw with me and had slipped it into her pocket.  I have to admit, thoughts of deflating her tires had crossed my mind.  We had a 20 minute wait for a table, so Scott and I sprawled out on the sidewalk to plot our points.  This would not have been bad except every 2 minutes someone asked what we were doing and Scott would have to give the a dissertation on adventure racing.  Shut up and read me the next point.  Dinner was pizza washed down with a couple of Blue Moons; carb loading at its best.  After dinner we got back to the cabin around 10:00 and started doing our final gear check when Chuck, Kate, Patrick and Kristy arrived.  We talked with them for a few minutes, got our bunks ready and tried to get some sleep.  All alarms were set for 5:00, except for Mickey’s, he decided that 3:00 would be better.  (Ahab – I contemplated soaping Mickey or just murdering him and throwing his body piece by piece into the wood stove for all the movement, texting, moving in and out of the cabin, and the un-needed early alarm, but I didn’t, yet I still had sweet dreams of it.Between the snoring, farting, Mickeys alarm, the bunks creaking, and someone putting more wood in the stove bring the room to sauna temperature it made for a pretty restless night.

Race morning everyone started moving just before 5:00 (Ahab – Mickey moved all night) We got dressed, loaded our gear and headed to race HQ for breakfast.  There we saw DJ for the first time.  Apparently they had arrived around midnight and slept in the car.  Dave looked pretty rough, almost like he had just finished a 24 hour race and was not happy about it.  Breakfast was fruit, juice, & yogurt.  We ate a little and finalized our route and talked more trash with AM.  This is the point where I first heard about bet we had with them.  Something along the lines of losers had shave/not shave their legs and paint their toenails BOR green for the next 8 weeks.  (Ahab – WELCHERS!) A week after the race I am still unsure of the details of the bet.

The race director had a brief prerace meeting and then said go.  The race started about 15 minutes late, but that was fine because it got us that much closer to sunrise.  It was dark, teams scattered in multiple directions.  Right away I saw a few teams take a path that was not on the map and I altered our route totake the same path.  We had a .75 mile run to get to our bikes at TA1.  We got on the path that took us to a suspension bridge that crossed the lake.  Crossing this at night was a little unnerving as the bridge oscillated up and down and I could not get my stride to match the movement which made running difficult.  (Ahab – I have to admit that I enjoyed jumping a couple of time to scare everyone and I am not sorry for it.)  After the bridge we had a muddy and wet path the rest of the way to the bikes.  At this point AM were with us, but at the TA they were faster and left about 2 minutes before us.  I think we were the forth team to get on our bikes.  When headed out of the camp and onto the gravel roads, I thought I saw AM stopped about .25 miles after the turn we need to make.  That puts us in third.  CP1 was 3.5 miles out and we had some rolling hills with a few small climbs.  I noticed right away that I had been neglecting my riding, the little hills hurt.  (Ahab – my legs hurt too, but we had just completed 2 races the previous weeks and one was the muddy Quivering Quads) One mile before CP1 Scott starts complaining that AM are ahead of us and that we are going too slow.  I told him we were fine and that they were not.  We pulled off the road and punched CP1 and passed a team.  2nd place I thought to myself.  My riding speed was slow; I am guessing 12-14 mph at this point.  CP2 was a long out and back gravel road; 4.3 miles by my estimation.  We arrived where CP2 should have been, but found nothing.  We went down the road a little further to see if my mileage was off, but nothing.  We headed back to where I originally thought it was and AM passed us.  I was so frustrated.  2 other teams arrived and they agreed that it should be right here, still nothing.  We decided to carry on down the road a little further to see if we could find it and just then AM passed us, they had found it.  3rd place again.  Down the road 1km off, was the punch on a bridge.  That cost us at lead 20 minutes. (Ahab – good thing Neil didn’t listen to me because I was losing my temper and wanted to backtrack thinking we had passed it.)

We headed towards CP3, which was 6 miles away, a TA, and the tomahawk challenge.  I was still hurting on the bike, I grabbed some food and a drink as a team passed us.  4th place I thought as I watched them slowly ride out of sight.  I could tell Scott was getting more frustrated with my riding or lack thereof.  I told Scott to do the challenge, stick 3 tomahawks in the log.  I changed shoes and ate a few oranges to try to help with energy.  It took Scott about 12-15 throws to get 3 to stick. (Ahab – I hadn’t done that since Boy Scouts, it was so cool, and it took awhile to remember how to throw them; I am buying a set.) Great job, that’s 2 points and were off on foot.  We had an out and back trek that was about .75 miles total to get to CP4, but it was muddy.  We saw AM as they were returning and then we found it a few minutes later.  Damnthey are moving good.  Back to the bikes and on to CP5. (Ahab – AM cheated by leaving their packs behind…eternity!)

CP5 was a TA and the fire starting challenge.  This was only a 2 mile ride, and on the way, Scott stopped to pick up some dry grass.  Great idea or so I thought.  The route back took us past our cabin and down some fire roads that were more like swamps.  At this point I got a little disorientated and took us down the wrong path.  Damn, I just cost us 15 minutes of riding through mud.  We back tracked to my last known point and I was back on course and quickly made it to CP5.  Scott took the fire starting challenge.  Start a fire to burn through a string with only a lighter and natural materials.  He found some sticks and pulled out what we thought was dry grass, but when he tried to light it, nothing.  He finally got some dry stuff and got it lit.  It took him about 5 minutes from start till the string was burnt through.  Nice job.  (Ahab – I have to admit that I have been practicing in the back yard of my house, but was a little nervous when I realized my lighter was low on fuel and I had left my matches and flint behind.) During this time, changed into my running shoes (even though they were rarely used for that purpose during the race).  I pulled out 2 pb&j sandwiches, ate one myself and gave the other to Scott, claiming I was trying to lighten my pack.  We headed for CP6 by bushwhacking along a creek, where we found lots of thorns, to get to the road.  (Ahab – I threw up my PBJ in my mouth and re-swallowed it.) Once at the road we had about ½ mile hike to get to CP6 and the sling shot challenge, we looked behind us and saw another team heading our direction about ¼ mile back.  We asked the volunteer how many teams had passed and he responded with we were the second.  How did we pass A&M?  At the CP5 TA I thought there were at least 3 teams that had left before us.  Since Scott had taken the first 2 challenges, it was up to me to take the last 2.  I was to knock 5 cans over at a distance of 5 meters+/- without the aid of Scott to get our 2 points.  Scott asked the volunteer if he could get me rocks and was yes.  I started shooting and Scott fed me rocks.  I knocked over the first can on my fifth or sixth shot.  The volunteer had told us that the first team took 15-20 minutes with 4 of them shooting, so we were immediately encouraged, partially because we knew they did not get the bonus point.  About this time A&M arrived.  At first they were going to make them wait until I was finished before they could shoot, but thanks to Mickeys whining, they let Amanda shoot with me.  I am guessing that it took me around 60 shots to get all 5 cans and to get the 2 points.  When we left, both A&M were shooting and they had 2 or 3 cans down. (Ahab – I helped AM by providing really big rocks.)

All I can say is that CP7 sucked.  We bushwhacked right to the spot on the map where it should have been, but it was not here.  (Ahab – I think I found my arrow on the way to CP7.) We met up with Off the Front Racing and searched for this damn point for what seemed to be hours, but I think it was about 30 minutes.  In a last ditch effort to find it we back approached it from a different angle and was able to find it behind a log jam about 50 meters further up a reentrant than we had plotted.  (Ahab – that was my fault for not searching the re-entrant better; I was lazy and didn’t want to go around the logs.) From there we bushwhacked back to the road, followed it up to a clearing,where we cut back in and followed a reentrant right to CP8.  I felt confident, navigation back on track.  Next we headed back towards the road, but stuck to the tree line till I found the proper clearing and we dropped into another reentrant\creek.  We came across Team Strong Machine heading up the creek saying they had checked below, but could not find CP9.  Based off where we came from it had to be downstream quite a ways, but not being confident in the map, I did not press too hard when Scott wanted to check upstream a bit.  Nothing upstream, so we headed downstream and it was right where it should have been.  (Ahab – this is where I found an old CP flag…bonus CP!) We stuck with them for a while as we headed to CP10.  We bushwhacked (sounds like a reoccurring theme) to the road and headed east till we found an intersection, which was actually a driveway leading to a house and barn.  We were not sure what was private property, but there were 2 men outside the barn, so we approached them told them what we were doing and asked if we could cross.  We talked with them a minute and figured where we could go without causing problems.  We were off to CP10 again and found it with no issues.  My confidence in the map was growing again.

Next stop was CP11 and the archery challenge.  Finding it was easy, getting there using my route was not.  The brush was so think I was actually crawling through it.  Once there we found out the volunteer told us that we the third and fourth team to get here.  Damn, A&M had passed us again.  I took 3 shots and scored the required 10 points to get our 2 points for this CP.  The girl from Team Strong Machine (sorry don’t recall her name), never shot a bow prior to this and with 1 shot scored 10 points, that made me feel a bit inadequate.   (Ahab – HAHA!) Oh well, off to TA3 for the canoeing section.

On the way, we came across A&M, they had just finished canoeing.  As we headed down the same path they were, they told us we were going the wrong way.  Not knowing if they were messing with us, I decided to stick with what I thought was right.  Turns out they were correct and we bushwhacked to the trail by the lake.  I figured this cost us less than 5 minutes, but probably saved us 15 minutes after the canoe.  TA3 did not have a CP, which I thought was strange, but it did have a gear check.  Whistle, check.  Emergency blanket, check. Something else, check (thinking it was UTM).  Then the volunteer showed us the map, which contained 2 CPs on the lake.  We chose our canoe and went to CPA.  The whole time Scott was telling me I had to steer.  We were drifting right, paddle on the right to compensate so we go straight, but I was.  Scott was just overpowering me.  How I wish I had a map to look at while he paddled.  We saw Amanda crossing the bridge with her bike heading to the climbing tower at CP12.  CPA punched, now head the opposite direction to CPB.  I still cannot figure out how we had a head wind, no matter which direction we were going.  On the way to we came across frozen lily pads, needless to say, they are hard to paddle through.  There were a few parts of the lake that still had ice on it.  I had overheard someone saying that just 2 weeks before the lake was froze over.  I didn’t check, but I bet the water was pretty cold.  (Ahab – we crushed the canoe section!) When we got back to the boat launch, we put the canoe, paddles, and life jackets away and headed back to TA2, where we left our bikes.  This is where the trail along the lake came in handy.

We crossed the bridge for the second time and followed a path along the lake to TA2.  We changed into our biking shoes, which we did not need to do and probably cost us some time.  We backtracked, mostly on foot, the same path to the bridge and crossed it.  On the other side of the bridge, we had a set of stairsthat we had to hike-a-bike up.  At the top of the stairs we were finally able to get on the bikes and ride, but it was less than ½ mile to the tower.  At the climbing tower, both Scott and I had to climb the wall and repel down the other side.   We changed our shoes again, put on the climbing harness and helmet and proceeded to the wall.  Afterwards I found out that Scott took the easy side, claiming short legs and I got the next harder side.  My assent was slow, I fell 3 times,and I almost gave up.  This was probably one of the hardest parts for me.  As I do at some point in every race, I thought to myself, this is stupid, why do I put myself through this, I could be at home on the couch eating Bon-Bons.  When I made it to the top, I just lied there.  Did I mention that I don’t care for heights?  Next came the repel.  Scott went first, from the time he was connected till he was on the ground was less than 3 minutes, including instructions.  Next I was hooked up and backed out over the edge.  It felt like step, step, ground.  I back on earth.  30’ high was just too much for me today.  (Ahab – I am really starting to enjoy climbing and repelling and was happy to see SuperKate taking photos.) We changed back into our bike shoes, punched CP12, and we were off on the final leg of the race.

From the tower we headed east down a camp road.  At the end of the road there should have been a trail, but I saw nothing.  Scott pointed out 2 small dots of yellow painted on some trees.  The bionic eyes paid off, there was our trail.  (Ahab – Lasik baby!) I am not sure why they let us on the trails as wet as they were.  At some points, I was sinking 6” in the mud.  I guess this was the unofficial fifth challenge, carrying your bike up muddy hills.  We found CP13 pretty easily which was just a punch, no bag or marker of any sort.  (Ahab – I actually almost missed the CP, but I stopped for a second and felt something tapping me on the shoulder.) We then proceeded to CP14.  Our route took us right past TA2 and across the dam.  The dam was a nice grassy ride, probably the easiest non-road section we had.  After we crossed the dam, we headed up the hill on a fire road which immediately started sucking us in.  In case you couldn’t tell, it was muddy, too muddy.  We reached the top and could see the lake below us.  Based on our position relative to the lake, we should be right at CP14.  We found it 20’ behind us, right where it should have been.  We were in the home stretch, CP15 then the finish line.  On the way to CP15 we came across D&J, they informed us that A&M had been through less than 15 minutes before.  How did we gain that much time on them?   (Ahab – Canoe and Mountain Biking!) Can we catch them?  We were exhausted, but still tried.  We rode another 5 minutes and found CP15 just as the trail started going downhill.  (Ahab – At this point my 29er was so mud covered the back wheel and crank wouldn’t spin and I had to rest the saddle on my bicep and roll the front wheel.) Decision time.  Do we carry on the same direction we are heading or should we backtrack through knownterritory.  I knew A&M must have carried on, so I opted to back track, hoping that would gain us some time.  We headed back down the fire road all the way to TA2 where we saw D&J and Team Age Before Beauty.  We said hello and kept moving along the lake trail to the bridge.  I felt like we were making real good time.  We walked the bikes across the bridge and up the stairs, then road to the finish line at race HQ.

When we crossed the finish line, we saw the only team to finish before us, A&M.  They had finished minutes before us.  Even though they beat us on time, we beat them on points, which put us at first place.  (Ahab – HAHA! WELCHERS!) A few minutes later, Off the Front Racing crossed the finish line, followed by Strong Machine.  (Ahab – that was our $400 bucks towards Nationals!  We can’t go anyway so it’s cool, except for Mickey…Eternity baby!) Minutes later the rest of the teams began to finish.  It was nice having most of the teams finish in a 30-40 minute period.  We were able to sit down and discuss the course.

Later, Scott and I discussed the course and how we performed.  Navigationally we were pretty accurate.  CP2 being mismarked by 1km and CP7 being mismarked by 50m cost us at least 45 minutes.  (Ahab – I think the time lost was longer.) I lost my way from CP4 to CP5, but that was only a 10 minute detour.  The rest of the points we walked right up on, and that was our weakness (since we are a team I am lumping Scott in this with me), walking too much.  I was not in the shape I needed to be to truly compete.  I believe I cost us at least 30 minutes over the entire race by not being as fast as I feel I could have been.  (Ahab – we did prove we could walk faster than an un-named team jogged through the corn fields). That is the past and it is time to start preparing for the next one.  (Ahab – no post-race food, no shared showers, no post drinks commentary?  Not even 5 pages? Neil’s slipping!)


  1. I forgot to mention all the ladies I showered with. Some stood outside the stall, some inside the dressing area, and many got in the shower with me. I enjoyed the one that tickled my back. There were so many of us in the shower I thought one of us were going to get squashed. Lady bugs perverts!

  2. Strong Machine's girl was Kate. Not this Kate, obviously, because I can't afford two entries on a teacher's salary.

    With all the mud that was probably my toughest 8 hr ever, with the possible exception of Team Virtus's CAC, which was punishing. I don't think the camp cared about the bikes on their trails because they were barely trails, certainly not sustainably built GORC-style trails.