Thunder Rolls recap, spectator version
did not race due to knee injury and the availability of superstar SARA DALLMAN. spent the day spectating w Carrie. here is what I remember from the race:
TREK 1 (incl COASTEER 1 and ROPES 1): start at midnight. 8-point rogaine trek that included ropes (ascent and rappel). madhouse start but Alpine Shop reported later that they went directly to the ropes and got going right away. David's nav was excellent and Alpine came out of the woods in 2nd and passed Midwest Mountaineering on the 3k road run to the paddle put-in.
PADDLE 1: Carrie and I drove to the paddle put-in and napped. we missed Alpine coming thru TA in 1st place at about 2:20am. we woke up about 2:30am with Bushwhacker and Midwest Mountaineering in TA as 2nd and 3rd place, followed shortly by Rev3, MRA (Michigan Racing Addicts all-male), maybe 2 other teams, and then finally GJ/WEDALI. the paddle (8-10mi) was more of a portage due to tons of beaver dams and deadfall in the water, lots of in/out and dragging the boat.
BIKE/TREK 1: then we drove to the take-out to await Alpine's arrival. they came in just before dawn still in 1st, maybe 4:40am. everyone was soaking wet, cold, and hungry. as they were in TA, Rev3 and Bushwhacker showed up. Alpine got out of there with maybe a 5-10 minute lead. Bushwhacker rode out, and returned having forgotten map for next section, which was a 15-point choose-your-mode rogaine (inaccurately described by RD Gerry as "bike-o"). BW had a stellar route and gained about 60 minutes on Alpine. incredible!
TREK 1: 6k-ish loop trek in Palisades Park. Alpine did not lose or make up time on BW. day was sunny and warm, mid-80s.
BIKE 1: short bike leg on gravel, I think 5 miles?
TREK 2: "advanced" trek, I think 5k? RD Gerry warned teams of the bad mapping (USGS 1:24) in this area. when Carrie and I arrived at TA, BW was already in the woods. Alpine arrived and got going. then BW arrived back at TA to relocate. bad map indeed!! Rev3 in 3rd, MRA in 4th, then Midwest Mountaineering and GJ/WEDALI together in 5th/6th. BW came back to TA, relieved to escape this trek with lead intact. they left, and Alpine came storming back having made up 30 minutes. Now they were only 26 minutes behind BW with a 30-mile gravel ride to the finish!
BIKE 2: 30-35 miles of hilly gravel. both BW and Alpine reported being out of water. straightforward route choice and nav. towards the end, BW caught sight of Alpine about 5 minutes behind them and started emptying their tanks. Alpine never saw them BW ahead, likely because 12hr teams were on the course too so they didn't distinguish BW from those racers. Carrie and I were waiting at the finish and had projected the winners to arrive at 4pm. at 4 bells, no one. 4:15, no one. 4:30, no one. we couldn't stand it so we hopped on bikes and rode out to the main road to take watch. BW came into view shortly after and we were so happy for them. then 4 minutes later Alpine rolls through, unawares they were so close to 1st place!
some drama after the race finished: Alpine did not read the rules properly and forgot to all-punch CP5 (the cave) on their wristbands. they punched the passport but not wristbands. penalty = 2 hours. also, they did not punch CP37 because they did not find the flag. David attacked from below and arrived at the hanging tape in the mapped location. they assumed the flag had been stolen or mis-hung so they photographed the tape from a few angles and proceeded with their race. after the race, we learned that Gerry's course setters never found the hanging tape and instead hung the flag on a different rock outcrop. other teams who attacked from above found the flag first, but not the hanging tape, and punched without issue. Gerry and Jeff had a talk about this after the race and it is unclear if Alpine will officially be charged a missed CP, or just a time penalty. either way, terrific effort by the boys and an exceptional showing by Sara who arrived at Race HQ at 11pm for a midnight start. she never missed a beat and raced strong the whole time. also kudos to our friends at Bushwhacker who were in stellar form today. wow!!! this victory has been a long time coming for them. also an impressive 3rd place effort from Rev3 with a 2 female/1 male team. GJ/WEDALI had a rough day out there, finishing 4th coed, but finished strong and with their team spirit completely intact.
personally, i was gutted to see the looks of exhaustion on my friends' and teammates' faces at the finish line. there is nothing like adventure racing and I was so sad to miss that experience. I *maybe* could have nursed the knee through the race but certainly not at the speeds required to be competitive in this field. so I was relieved to be able to spend the day icing and resting and cheering. knee held up well and I might be able to start light training this week.