Tag adventure racing

navigation clinics in chattanooga

Sure, normally we do run on trails. But sometimes we see that peak in the distance and just have to see the view from atop. Going off trail poses a big risk though – will you be able to remember which direction you came from?

I’ll be organizing a series of navigation clinics throughout the year, with the first coming up on Tuesday March 3, 6:30 pm, at the Downtown YMCA. This classroom clinic will focus on using a compass, reading a topo map, and making smart route choices. Then we’ll put your newfound knowledge to test with a special orienteering course out at Booker T Washington State Park on Saturday March 7, from 9-11am.

Both events are suitable for beginners or those looking to brush up on their nav skills, and are free & open to the public.

even MORE press….


a good read, but if i had a dollar for every mistake in here, i’d be able to buy that new bike i want. contrary to what is stated, race hallucinations are NOT the a-ha moments that i love in adventure racing! oh, and the last thing i am proficient at is whitewater paddling!

YMCA Strong Adventure Race: Team Sponsorship Opp!

BIG thanks to the Ocoee Dam Deli & Grill that has stepped up their sponsorship, wanting to give away a FREE team entry to this year’s race! Here are the details… put your thinking caps on people!

YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga
PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release

For more information
contact Lisa Talley

The YMCA Strong Adventure Race announces the “I Want Adventure!” essay contest

Chattanooga, TN. (August 7, 2008) – The age old question of how to get sponsorship in the world of adventure racing is about to be answered. The YMCA Strong Adventure Race, along with the Ocoee Dam Deli & Grill, announces the “I Want Adventure” essay contest.

Interested teams should submit an essay that explains, in 200 words or less, why they should be chosen. “Adventure racing makes for GREAT stories,” explains Cathi Cannon, race director of the events. “We want to hear yours.” To enter, teams should email their essay to adventurecontest (at) gmail.com by September 8. The winner of the free 12hr team entry will be announced by September 15th.

“We are excited to be a part of the YMCA Strong Adventure Race this year,” says Johnny Gorman, owner of the Ocoee Dam Deli & Grill. “With the race practically in our backyard, we wanted to do something special. In keeping with the spirit of the Strong Kids Campaign, we are offering an entry to a team that normally might not be able to afford to race a longer distance.”

The race, now in its second year, will be held at YMCA Camp Ocoee on October 18, 2008. It will feature a youth race along with 2 adult races: a 6hr and 12hr adventure race. Athletes will explore the majestic Cherokee National Forest by mountain biking, trail running, and canoeing. Youth teams can be made of of 2, 3 or 4 people. The 6hr race accepts teams of 3, and the 12hr race accepts teams of 3 or solo competitors. For more information, please visit the race website at http://www.StrongAdventureRace.com.

About the Ocoee Dam Deli & Grill:
The Ocoee Dam Deli & Grill serves up delicious home-cooked breakfasts, deli sandwiches, burgers, and fresh local produce. They are located at 1223 Highway 64, Ocoee, TN 37361. Please call for current hours. 423 338 8184.

About the YMCA:
According to Tripp McCallie, executive director of the North River Family YMCA and Aquatic Center, YMCA programs and services include health and fitness activities, but also provide many other services to the community. The Y provides day camp, youth sports, family enrichment and other programs for children and youth. Through these programs, the YMCA contributes to the health of the community, supports families, builds tomorrow’s leaders, enhances the educational system, works to prevent juvenile crime, promotes good citizenship and volunteerism, and gives parents of all incomes a caring and safe child care environment.

The stated mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Mr. MCallie stressed that “the YMCA is for everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, age, income or ability. The YMCA’s financial assistance program, supported in part through contributions to the Strong Kids Campaign and United Way, provides scholarships for YMCA programs and services for those in need within our available resources.”

in the green at the Greenway Challenge

jim and carol put on a small adventure race, the greenway challenge, every year to benefit the north chickamauga creek conservancy. in the past, it has been a team-oriented event; this year though, jim changed it up offering only solo & relay divisions. unfortunately the event didn’t sell out this year, but we still had a great crowd and raised between $2000 & $3000 for the conservancy (much needed after a fire they had this spring that destroyed a barn full of paddling equipment).

while the masses may not have liked the new format, it suited me well with the training i’ve been doing lately. well, sort of. the short speed stuff hasn’t been a focus, but hopefully i’ve had enough of it to not totally blow up after the first leg. it would be an interesting race though – some top female athletes were coming and it ended up being one of our hottest days yet.
the open men solo started at 9:30, then we took off 10 minutes later. (the remaining divisions were scattered after us which seemed to ease potential congestion on the trail.) we staged our bikes at the top of a hill and had a le mans start. the problem was, i dropped off my bike when not many were up there so i hesitated a minute before finding it and hopping on. lisa & patsy already built up a nice lead – i knew they’d be duking it out the entire race and that i wouldn’t factor much into their game. heather was right there with me and we yo-yo’d during much of the bike leg. she’s a super fast runner, but i haven’t seen her on the bike in awhile so i thought i might have a chance. we wound around the wildflower field and encountered a few cyclocross barriers. yeah! i definitely made up time here and pulled ahead; however, it proved to be not enough, as she passed on a paved section a bit later. darn! i was trying to pace myself as i was already dripping with sweat, but at the same time knew that the race was short and you had to go all out the entire time (and perhaps suffer the consequences). 
next up was a short singletrack section that i think i got to ride for the first time. usually things are so backed up here that we are forced to walk, but the new format helped. we encountered the lead males as they ran a short section on foot, but there was plenty of room for us to work around eachother. back to the gravel roads and then it was full steam ahead to the transition area – but not before gingerly stepping through a giant cobweb challenge (imagine knee-high strings crisscrossing… you had to carry your bike across and try not to trip. luckily i cleaned it both times we had to go through it). 
back to the TA – change shoes, grab water, gel & ecaps – and off on the run. we began with a rarely used trail that abruptly ended with a 200′ scramble to the highest point on the farm. i heard this was going to be nasty, but it actually wasn’t as bad as i thought. i was able to pass 3 guys here that were thinking way too hard about finding the best path. just go! the only thing that sucked about this was the mega amounts of poison ivy that seems to flourish in this drought the south is having. (and yes, it started popping up on me within 30 hrs of exposure, despite scrubbing twice with Tecnu. normally it takes me 3-5 days to see symptoms; i really hope this isn’t going to be a bad case!)
once on top, we hit a trail and could once again run in a normal gait. the problem was my entire torso was cramping up and i was doubled over doing the old man shuffle for a bit. i think my waistpack was too loose and the bouncing around was the culprit. ?!?  anyways, after 5 min of this (and frantically looking over my shoulder to make sure no girls were behind me), i was feeling normal again. we ran through the rope challenge area and had 2 obstacles here (easy!) then off for a loop on the boy scout trail. i was doing most of the passing until my rock/creek teammate jaclyn was nipping at my heels. (i was hoping she’d be whooped still from her win at the scenic city marathon last weekend, but alas, she has superhuman legs.) i let her by and tried to keep her in sight for as long as possible (which wasn’t long enough!). we hit the razorback ridge trail alongside the quarry (beautiful, but treacherous with rocks and cliffs), then another singetrack section before heading towards the TA. 
after another rope challenge (crawling underneath a bunch), we ran to where our boats were staged. i had one of those weird heart palpitation things when carrying my boat to the water. i had to slow to a walk just so i could keep moving forward and not fall over. i was happy that i could get off my feet and recover quick; when this happened during the duathlon run, it lost me several minutes. sitting down in the boat helped and i was able to regain focus quickly. the paddle was nice and peaceful and mostly shaded (yeah!). i passed a few boats here – thanks to carol for letting me borrow her speedy perception cadence (hhmm, maybe this would be a good tsali boat?!) only 1 mishap on the water – when going under a low hanging branch, my tifosis got snagged and fell in the water. dang! i’m moving forward at a fairly decent speed; do i stop in hopes of finding them, but risk 6th place catching me? no! (i figured they sunk quickly anyways.) so on i go. i could see jaclyn ahead, but our paces were similar so there was no catching her. 
my final time (1:39.42) was less than 1.5 minutes behind her. 1st place (patsy!) was at 1:27, so the 5 of us were relatively close together (6th was another 10 min back). in all, i was super pleased with the result. everyone that i thought would be head of me was; no one snuck by that shouldn’t. and best of all, i finished in the money! granted it was just $20, but will come to great use in replacing the sunglasses. (and at least this green won’t give me a blistering rash that drives me nuts for a week or two. ugh!)
the day ended with complimentary pressure point massages, lupi’s pizza, lots of smiling faces and lots of sun (but no burn thankfully!). it has been fun to hear about the experiences of the AR newbies – hopefully they had a great time as well and will try one again soon (and practice running up hills in the meantime – yes, even if there’s not a trail we still run!)
i don’t have any action shots of me yet, but here’s a nice video from the local paper, as well as a few pics.

YMCA Strong Adventure Race

Since February, Kevin and I have slaved away working on this race, from the permits to the course design to the post race food to fill the tummies of hungry racers. Every minute showed as the last team crossed the finish line with big smiles on their face. I will say though that taking a vacation and returning only 2 days before the event was not the smartest thing. Friday night I got a mere 3 hrs of sleep, ran out of paper for my printer, and was waiting for Kinkos to open their door at 7am. But the last minute scrambling transitioned to a smooth time once the racers started arriving.

The youth race started at 10am. 14 teams toed the starting line, most for their first adventure race ever. The kids race, which included trail running, biking, canoeing and a few mystery events, kept racers busy for about an hour. This was a bit short of our target time – they were much more energetic than we anticipated!

The main event for adults was the 6hr race that afternoon, lasting until 9pm. 36 teams of 3 participated, with everything from top regional racers to first-timers. Happily everyone finished and only 1 team came in after the time limit (causing them to be ranked unofficially). The event began with a 1 mile prologue in which racers retrieved their passport. This spread out teams nicely as they hit the water for a pretty long paddle, taking teams anywhere from 2-4hrs to complete. Next up was a mountain bike section followed by a trail run, taking racers to every possible corner of the mainland of Harrison Bay State Park. (I really give Kevin props for utilizing every bit of the park. He did a great job!) A few mystery events (including archery and a rope climb) spiced things up a bit and added to the fun.

some of the newbies were challenged in keeping their canoes upright

One of the hardest times of the day came in tracking teams as they finished. People were asking me questions about tshirts when I was knee deep in checking passports and tabulating results for our 3 different categories. Quite stressful! But we got it done with few complaints. We had $1000 in cash prizes to share amongst the top 3 coed teams, with lots of great sponsor prizes going to the top female and male teams (big thanks to Scott’s Bikes, Fast Break, Rock/Creek Outfitters, The North Face and Checkpoint Zero!).

Stressful situation #2 came in the cleanup. We were able to provide more than half the teams with canoes. During check-in, we failed to tell teams to put their canoes and gear back on the trailers after the race. Sooo, all the canoes (24 of them to be exact) were laying down by the waterfront at 11pm. That left us, the tired race staff, with the task of loading them all up… which kept us busy till 1:30am. That was simply not fun and we will definitely make changes here next year!

In all, this inaugural race was a great success, raising nearly $5000 for the Strong Kids Campaign. Yeah!!

> more pictures here

In the news…

Here is a scan of an interview that Kevin and I did for the Community News section of the Times Free Press. While it was great to get media coverage, I’m not too thrilled with the overall quality of the article itself… I’ll be posting a race recap soon!

Overmountain Extreme

Amazingly this was only my 3rd adventure race this year (CPZ in March, then the Greenway Challenge in May). With so many shorter events filling my schedule, my mind was a bit unfocused, especially considering this year’s OME had a 32hr time limit. Luckily, as I started packing up the gear and hit the road, the excitement and adrenaline was building.

The low point was driving 5.5hrs from Chatt to Morganton in the rain Friday afternoon. Alone. (I’m not a fan of driving.) Once there, we had a busy few hours organizing gear, getting it all into the support minivan, and working on maps & our route. I hit the hay around 12:30am….

The alarms sounded at 5:15 and we were up shortly thereafter. We were on task and in the car by 6am to head to the start, which was the same as last year: on top of Grandfather Mountain. However this time it looked much different. See for yourself:


While the temps weren’t that cold – mid/upper 50s?!, the fog was thick and wet and winds were sustained at 25-30mph, with gusts up to 50mph. WOW! It was a bit unsettling walking across the mile-high swinging bridge when you couldn’t see the other side. We followed the Grandfather, Daniel Boone Scout Trail, Cragway, Nuwati and Asutsi Trails that led us on a breathtaking trek across MacRae Peak (5939′) and Calloway Peak (5964′). This year we actually didn’t hit the top of MacRae because of the weather – a bit too exposed. There were a few ladder to rock face transitions that had me literally shaking. No room for error. But we all got through safely. Since we can’t race through the park, the race clock didn’t start until we got to Serenity Farms. That didn’t mean that we could lollygag through this section though – even though it was still morning, we were working against the clock. We wanted every minute we could get for the orienteering section later.

Notice the tree branches blowing sideways in the pics above & below. Yikes!

At Serenity was a bike drop. We transitioned quick (since the support crews weren’t there), stashed our trail shoes in our packs, and hit the road. After a quick paved section, we hit some gravel roads that led us to a trail that followed Yancey Ridge, where CP5 was. We actually blew right by it and realized our mistake once we hit a nasty rutted out descent. This should have been an easier point to find and we just didn’t track it right. I chalk it up to still getting in our groove :) We then had a few hours on forest service roads, including a stop at Little Lost Cove Cliffs. Here we were allowed to send 1 runner to get the CP, which allowed Daniel and I to rest our feet and study the maps. (Others just relaxed…)

A few hours later, we were running low on water and was able to use a local resident’s hose to fill up. He was quite concerned that it was too warm; we didn’t want to wait! But it was straight out of the mountain and delicious. From Gingercake, we followed some fabulous singletrack down to 181, which led us to our first encounter with our support crew at Bark House. We kept our transition under 10 minutes, paying special attention to our feet for the section ahead. It was good to see some friends in the chaos (Monica+Chilton, Lauren+Wyatt & Gavin). We left right around 6pm with a snack of boiled potatoes (unfortunately they lost the salt!).

The Mountains to Sea Trail would become our home for nearly the rest of the race. My memories of this trail from last year were not good – yes, it is scenic, but it crosses the creeks constantly which meant wet feet for hours. With all the rain we had Thurs & Fri, we were worried the creeks would be swollen. Somehow though we lucked out and the water was even lower than last year. In fact, it never took us more than 30 sec or so to find rocks to hop across on. We weren’t going to waste time looking for a dry route, but if it’s just sitting there waiting for us, why get wet?! The goal was to preserve the condition of our feet as long as possible. (And I actually made it through without any blisters, although the soles are bruised/sore). The orienteering section was basically a loop, partially in this area. We nabbed CP8 & 9 in the daylight, then it set on our way to 10. With headlamps on, we continued to run on towards 10 when a rock jumped up and tripped me. I fell hard and this section of trail was not very soft. I had a rock nail the upper side of my right ankle and I writhed in pain for a few minutes. It was hard to shake off that intense bit of impact. I was able to get up and move around more or less ok, although it would slow us down considerably. Hunter & Daniel were great in taking my pack so I’d have less load to carry. (I do feel weird doing that, but they are so strong, it evens things out a bit).

CP 12 was a bit tricky and took us an hour to find, but we did it which meant we cleared the o-section. Yeah!! However, getting back to the transition area would prove to be tricky. The USGS map showed a trail we were on connecting to the M2S trail; the Nat’l Geo Trails Illustrated map showed it not. The alternative route was a longer and on
hard paved road, so we took our chances. Well, it didn’t work out quite as planned. The trail terminated where we thought it might, so our next plan to bushwack north to the M2S went into action. It worked, but was heinous. Rhodo hell! Possibly worse that CP13 at CPZ.

We ended back at the Bark House transition area at 2am… about an hour later than we planned, but an hour earlier than the cutoff. After speedily refueling, we actually set off on our feet again. We had only 1 more CP to get before heading to the summit of Table Rock, but it was quite a treat to get. We came across a few teams on the trail that were doubling back, as they seemed to think the trail ended at a creek. We were a bit disappointed to see this, but pressed on… finding success. We hoped the others wouldn’t see where we went – they didn’t, and we were able to break away. The trek up to Table Rock was long. By now my ankle was bothering me more and I coudn’t run at all. I’m not exactly sure the elevation gain here, but TR sits at 3909′ and I know we were below 2000′… so a hefty hike to say the least. We had joked earlier in the race about seeing the sun rise here (we expected to only see stars). The sun came up on our hike up – the camera was stashed though, so no pics of that, but a here are a few from the top.

Back at the parking lot of TR another bike drop awaited us… it was around 8am I think. Chris (the race director was here) and seemed excited that we had gotten all the points so far – apparently many teams had skipped o-points. We fueled up and put on lots of layers for the descent ahead. The paved road was steep and full of switchbacks. I was getting too much speed for this hour of the day with no sleep, but made it down ok. Once we hit the gravel roads, I felt more at home. We grabbed 1 point on the way to the final transition area. The ride was about 2.5 -3 hrs, then we arrived at Lake James. Time to paddle!

We had the fastest transition recorded – we needed every minute on the lake. A few points had been eliminated to shorten the course, so the opportunity to portage twice saved us a chunk of time. I did have 1 mishap though getting back into the canoe after one portage – I lost my balance and fell right out… and into the water. Luckily I didn’t tip the boat over, although I got soaked and knocked the crap out of my calf on the side. The sun was shining strong and warmed me up sufficiently. As we got closer to the inlet where the finish was, we checked our clock. 58 min until the cutoff. There were 2 possible points to get on the lake… 1 being not too far away. We went for it. I timed us from a point across from the inlet, estimating the time to get in. We’d have a certain do or die time to get the point before we’d have to turn around. We paddled hard to the cove, which then seemed to go back forever. We went ashore with 10min available to find the point. We ran to the back point and only needed to spread out for a minute before Hunter saw it. Yeah!! While we wouldn’t have enough time to get the last point, we’d finish only missing the one.

We finished with about 20min to spare (compared to last year’s stressful 10 min!) Chris and Michelle had a great cookout going and we also celebrated Carol & Neal’s birthdays. mmm, brownies!

The final results for coed elite were:
1. Enduraventure
2. Black Dome (both of these teams predictably top place finishers)
3. Charbon’s Outfitters –> That’s us!! (we also got 3rd place overall, out of 27 teams)

We are all super psyched with our final results. We also won some $ which is nice to help offset the entry fee (and give a little thanks to our awesome support team of Robby & Christy). We are already getting amped for next year’s season, which looks to include 3-4 30hr races. We’re hoping our solid performance also nets us a more solidified sponsorship from Charbons. (Big thanks to them for supplying us with food and technical t’s for this race).

Thankfully, I was able to crash in Asheville with the Curwens and slept for a wonderous 13 hrs. I am feeling pretty ok now, although my feet were still sore when I tried to run last night. My ankle is still a bit swollen, but there’s really not pain unless I press the injured area. Now to recover quickly so I can keep the mileage up and be ready for Stumpjump in 2 weeks!

Introducing the Strong Adventure Race

This is my latest race directing project. Earlier this year, I was approached by my friend Kevin (a diff one than the one I put on Adventure24 with) and the North River YMCA here about putting on a race to benefit the Strong Kids Campaign. Hmmm, interesting. After a bit of talking and arm twisting, I was in. The Y was super psyched at our ideas and the entire board was ready to get involved.

The race will be comprised of 2 events: a youth race (as part of the goals is to expose the sport of AR to kids and get them excited to get out in the woods), followed by a late afternoon main event (6hrs). We are modeling our event after the Challenge Four Adventure Race put on by the YMCA-Cherokee Outdoor Center near Atlanta, which seems to have great success (and is coming up shortly!)

Kevin is working hard to design the courses; I’m doing the official race directing (coordinating a ton and making sure all the Y volunteers keep busy with their talks – which really makes my life easier!).. and of course, I’m took it upon myself to do the design & such for the event.

For more info on the event, check out the website.

We need racers, mentors for the kid’s race, and volunteers for the day of the event!
We also need sponsors of all kinds! monetary, in-kind product (swag bags & prizes), etc. Please drop me a line if you are interested in supporting the event!


Big Sky Country.
The Treasure State.
State Fossil: Maiasaur
State Animal: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis -> did they really have to name it this??)

host of the 2007 Mountain Adventure Race… 300 miles (aka 4-5 days) of navigating through pristine wilderness, traversing 10,000′ high peaks, killer singletrack and what’s certain to a ropes section of epic proportions.

and, just why am I mentioning this race?
because I’LL BE THERE!!!
My team just got word that we’ll be racing as team CheckpointZero/MyTopo.com. That’s right, a sponsored spot!! (we just need to figure out how to get there, and make sure we have all our gear/food/clothing… if you want to help us get there, do drop me a line!)
Daniel, Hunter and I are stoked… now, on the hunt for a 4th teammate.

The next few months will be interesting; lots of training and organizing. And learning about bears… Montana has the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48!

my 15 minutes of fame…

I was recently interviewed by Competitor Southeast Magazine and voila, a 2-page spread appeared in the latest April edition. Wow! I had no idea it was going to be that big, with so many pictures (eeek!). I didn’t get to read the article before it was published, but had several friends call with congrats after they got advanced copies at last month’s Georgia ING Marathon. I finally got my copies (and send a few to my family to surprise them) and must say it sounds pretty good! A new adventure racing discipline was created (canyon + pioneering… whoopsie! that should be canyoneering, but hey, that sounds a bit more Lewis + Clark-ish.

I want to give big props and thank yous to Robert at Wilderness Adventure Photography who supplied me with some great high-res pics and failed to get a mention. Robert is one of the most dedicated photographers out there, chasing us crazy enduro athletes around, day & night, rain/snow/ice/sun, throughout many states in the SE. Buy his stuff so that he can afford to keep coming out in the woods with us!

Here is a link to the article online… or you can pick up your free copy of the magazine throughout the Atlanta area (REI, Smoothie King, YMCA…)

link doesn’t seem to work anymore, so i’m posting some jpgs…