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Monday, September 27, 2010

Duluth wrap up (Part 1)

The 24 hour WILD AR in Duluth, MN has come and gone.  Here's a brief trip report:

As is typical, getting there was the first (minor) challenge.  Pat was about 15 minutes late picking Tammy and I up but Jim was ready to go as we drove down university Avenue (he's a law professor and had to teach an 8 am class that morning) and had had time to change out of his suit.  Stopped for coffee and gas in East Grand Forks and were on our way by 9:30, with the check-in cutoff at 2 pm and the race start at 4 pm.  We'd forgotten the directions and had a bad map of duluth, so we had our first navigational challenge as we approached the race HQ and had to ask for directions several different times (some people pointing us, with complete confidence, in the entirely wrong direction).  But we made it by 2:15, and still beat the other GF team ('Young Guns' Erik Sanders and Logan Evans) who had driven to Duluth thursday afternoon but spent the morning in a desperate search for ascenders and throw bags.....

It was a whirlwind for the next hour or so, then the pre-race meeting where we learned we'd be climbing, not ascending.  Goody!  there were three climbs (easy - 4th class, medium - 5.3, and 'hard' - 5.6).  the climbs would be right away in the race.
After the successful climb, in first place (:
Bang - the race started with 200 meter run across a field to get the maps.  Pat White sprinted for us and was the first back, but his pack wasn't loaded yet.  teams started pedaling out of the parking lot and i frantically tried to hurry the team along.  without looking at the maps we furiously chased teams up a hill and around back of the HQ only to find them all stopped there, looking things over.  so we stopped and looked for a bit, then set off, making several wrong turns (there was a barrier across the bike path the direction that we wanted to go that threw us off!). by the time we got to the climb, most teams were already there.  Only one two person team was in line for the hard climb, so we got in the Queue.  The first guy was at the hard part and couldn't pull the move - he had to ascend and so they were penalized and his partner had to go behind us.  woo hoo!

Tammy made it look easy.  Pat made it look very hard.  I thought it was a sandbag for 5.6 but not too bad - polished and slick and somewhat technical.  Jim had opted to go last so that if he needed to ascend, there'd be no one left that had to go to the back of the line.....  as it turns out he cruised it, and there was no line.  we were the only team to complete the hard climb and so for a little while in first place (it counted as 3 CP's).  Back at the bikes we had to carry the climbing gear with us to the paddling section - which ended up sucking because 1) our packs were too small and we had to rig stuff hanging all over and 2)it was a 30-40 mile ride all on pavement.  At this point though, all were in good spirits and we were having fun.
getting ready to paddle
At the kayak we found out that we were the last team to come in (except for the team that had dropped out).  Pat and I paddled together and ended up being a bit faster than jim and Tammy, and so had to wait occasionally.  I volunteered to get wet when we hit sand bars and dragged the others across - the water was actually pretty warm - or maybe just felt so because the air was so cold (hovering around 40 degrees).  After picking up a CP on an island we headed towards the trek TA, but had been told we had to find the channel under the bridge and could not portage the road.  After following the faint lights of a team into the land and watching them portage we realized we'd come too far south and turned to paddle 3/4 of a mile into the fierce wind to the bridge then 3/4 of a mile to the TA.  Bummer.

While beaching jim had the wobblies and fell into the lake.  We were told that we were the only team that hadn't portaged..... bummer.  The race director gave us 30 minutes of time credit (better than nothing!  although disqualifying all the other teams would have been ok too (;  ) and we got set to go.  Except jim was turning blue and shivering uncontrollably.  The volunteer did not like the look of things and   said we couldn't continue unless things got better for him quickly.

Jim:  "i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i a-a-a-am-m-m-m-m o-o-o-o---k-k-k-k-k"

hmmm... what could we do?

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