Adventure Racing 26:40:00 
Two Rivers AR with Mark/Becca
We drove up the night prior and checked-in at the Econo Lodge in Williamsport. We got the course outline, which showed an opening river paddle, a long optional bike with a short opt-out ride, a trek, a long bike ride, a nighttime trek, and a big bike back to the finish with a handful of optionals on the way. Mark was openly hesitant about any bike leg having been light on training and riding coming in. We agreed to plan on dropping the first bike leg unless the paddle went exceptionally well.
Leg 1 - Paddle
The paddle did not go exceptionally well. The staggered start had us going off towards the end of the group in an awkward aluminum canoe. Within the first 100m we were out of the canoe dragging it over rocks. Within 1.5 km of the start we saw two other boats flip and countless people out of boats maneuvering around rocks. The creek was moving fast and the water was too shallow in spots. It’s hard to explain how much the aluminum boat stuck to every rock. We barely went a minute without getting rocked around. I’m a decent reader of the river, but I really miss having Kevin in the boat to make up for my mistakes.
On the map we had 3 “Caution: Curve” markings, which Brent described as hard corners that should be easy enough to navigate, but just something to keep an eye on. The first was a hard right, with shallows river right and a load of deeper, faster moving water to the left. I gave the call to head left and ride the outside, but just as we entered in the fastest piece of water I saw a large rock right in our line. I called for a hard right, but Mark wasn’t able to move us off of our line. We slammed head on into the rock and the stern of the boat swung left and got stuck on another, smaller rock. Untamed New England had been direclty behind us, but Jeff was able to steer them just clear of us. Unfortunately, they swamped on another rock and yard sale-d down the creek. The boat immediately began filling with water. We tried to shake it free, but got no movement. After a minute or two of jostling we made the decision to climb out to shore, which was at the stern of the boat. We unloaded our gear and climbed out through the boat, with a brief scare after Becca was nearly sucked under. From the shore we tried to move the boat, but it was completely full of water, with only the downriver high side of the bow out of the water. In the 5-10 minutes after pinning the boat, we saw another team swamp just below us and the rest of the teams make the wise call to portage around. Another coed 3 team came up the bank to help us, but we only managed to get the boat a foot further down the river and even more stuck, this time against the bank. We sent them on their way and decided to have me trek back up the river 200m to find Jim Driscoll who was on water safety patrol. He paddled down to us (swamping his kayak in the process) and looked on with the same puzzlement that we did. With no cell phone service and no real way of making an easy exit, Jim offered to stay with the boat and sent us ahead to walk down the road to M1, where he said there was a group of boat rental people waiting. We walked up to the road, began packing up our gear, and we immediately flagged down by Kate Matthews in a big red van. The door swung open revealing two additional teams (Soggy Bottom and Hunting Bigfoot) who had recently received a similar rescue. I fetched Jim from the river, we loaded up his kayak, and hitched a ride forward to the TA to find out how to continue. We stopped at M2 to find Brent, who gave us a couple of options. The best choice for our race involved taking a ride forward to the TA to drop off the other teams before riding back up towards the start to find the abandoned boat of Hunting Bigfoot. He also mentioned the possibility of a time credit due to having to board a boat above where we lost ours.
We eventually got back up to the abandoned boat just before 10:00, almost 2.5 hours after we hit that stupid rock. We took our time downriver, portaging anything that seemed sketchy. At one particular portage I slipped and slammed me right thigh into a rock, a big bruise that would bother me for the rest of the race. We navigated most parts reasonably well, but did swamp right before "Caution: Curve" 2. The water safety person there was shocked that we wanted to continue in the water. Another bizarre highlight was as we punch M1. A tree about 20m away toppled and fell right in front of us. Frightening.
We ended arriving at TA 6.5 hours after starting the paddle. Having budgeted 3 hours, this was...frustrating. We were shocked to find that there was another all male team still in the TA, meaning that we were no longer in super duper last place. We TA'd as quickly as we could, dumping some wet gear for dry and fueling up after the paddle.
Leg 2 - Bike
We made the simple decision to forgo the optional points on the leg and bike right to the next TA. 5 miles and 38 minutes later we pulled into TA2.
Leg 3 - Trek
Quick enough transition and we set out on foot. We did get a peak in TA at a few teams coming in off the big bike, and got word that Rootstock was less than a hour ahead, albeit 3 points to the greater.
On this trek, there were 3 mandatories and 9 optionals, but we only would receive credit for 7 optionals, meaning that we needed to choose 2 to drop. I initially wanted to drop G and I to save distance, but as the trek went on I like the idea of dropping E and D better, as E looked to be the toughest to navigate to. We ended up going M4, M6, H, J, L, K, I, G, M5, F. We had a small issue with J and the deer fence that surrounded it, but we ended up spiking it despite the buzzsaw thorns on the way. L was a little tougher as we had trouble leaving the deer fence and finding the correct trail. We approached L from the southwest and took a while to get oriented, but did a great job following the contours, the creek, and the sound of the road to nail L. The rest of the loop was easy enough, including a nice find of F as we skirted the spur right to the flag. We moved extremely efficiently on the trek, running when we could and only straying off course for a few minutes. As a team, this was a strong section and I felt great that I could lead us through it. We got into TA in under 4.5 hours with the fastest trek of the day. More importantly, we had passed a number of teams and gotten ourselves back into contention in the race.
Leg 4 - Bike
This leg was straightforward. We had soaked our supplemental map earlier on the paddle, so we couldn't use it for anything, including deciphering which roads and trails were better than others. Still, we made this leg work as we hit M and then N, passing 4-5 teams in the process. Just past N we saw a beautiful sight to the south, as the moon appeared over a deep valley. The full moon would follow us for the rest of the night. In fact, it was so bright that I was able to go without headlamp until after 9pm. After some big climbs and chilly descents we arrived at TA after 10pm.
Leg 5 - Trek
This trek looked tough on paper. We had fueled with our drop bag at TA, and I felt hydrated and full after feeling the opposite on the bike. The fresh grilled cheese from Brent didn't hurt. The dispersion of points was such that their wasn't a perfect route choice. Additionally, Mark was hesitant about S and T and wanted to leave them until the end to give up ample time for the bike back. With all of that in mind, we started off to M7, following the reentrant up to the CP, travelling on the banks when possible but eventually using the creek itself for travel. The trip took longer than expected in the dark, almost a full hour. I paced counted up to M9, but in the process of nailing that, I lost track of the gap in the hills across the creek. We guessed wrong and spent about 10 minutes travelling north before turning back around. From M9, we made our biggest error of the trek.
I was feeling too confident and didn't aim off of the point, instead using NNW as a bearing. When we reached a higher elevation, I realized that I could have been in any number of places on the hilltop and/or saddle. We left M9 at 12:00, and before finding M8 we had travelled east, west, north, and south. We had teamed up with Bill Donohue and followed headlamps in every direction. In the end, we had travelled off of the map to the north and needed to skirt around the northern hilltop to the CP, which was in a rough placement in a saddle. We found it around 1:45, which left us close on time to do the whole loop. We conservatively found R and then used it to spike O, which felt great considering how much trouble I heard it gave other teams. From O we travelled south to P, but ran into another team as we were locating the creek. They pulled us off line and we ended up hunting almost 30 minutes before I decided to take my own line to it. Some swampy trekking but accurate travel landed me on it, and we were off on a decent to Q. Unfortunately, it took way too long to get down the hill, and we got to the road at 5, which was our cutoff to leave the TA. We ran back in to TA, and prepped to head home.
Leg 6 - Bike
As we prepared to leave TA we ran into Rootstock, our first seeing them since early in the paddle. Little time for talking; we got on our bikes and began the trip home. The ride out was tough, and we pushed much more than we rode for the first two hours. We worked with the Cherubinis for a little bit on the way out, as they were using the supplemental which was a big help. When we hit the pavement we took off, as I still had it in my mind that we could get most of the optionals on the way back. Mark and Becca were unsure if we had enough time for it, but I was able to convince them that we had plenty. U and V were just as simple as I'd hoped, and I decided that W, X, and Y would be too much. We turned back to roads and limped home as a team. I pulled a few tows on the hills to keep the train moving forward. Just before the finish we were passed by Halfway There, and rode into the Sullivan County Fairgrounds just after 9:30. After a few conversations, myself and Michelle F. agreed to tie for 3rd in the coed 3, as we had both had issues on the paddle that led to differing time issues.
A top-4 finish was the conservative goal, as we've officially got a spot at Nationals. Even more so, it felt great to get back to that position and pass so many teams after the miserable start. Outside of a few week moments at night I was super dialed in on the nav. I was also really impressed with how good our splits were on the bike. It felt like we were plodding at times, but consistent forward motion and strong nav got us there in the end. A few things to work on moving forward, but an overall fun race. Thanks Rootstock for a wonderful race!! I'm looking forward to the MSAR with the NH Trail Vets - should be a super strong team.