September 2012

Swamp Donkey Adventure Race (recap)

The Swamp Donkey Adventure Race is a 9 hour event put on by our friends (Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing) north of the border.  They've been putting on the event for six years now and it has grown to become the largest adventure race that i've ever attended or even heard of - with 113 3 person teams coming out to brave the cold and wet conditions last saturday.
first canoes on the water
The race started at 9 am with a paddle on Falcon lake (if you've never seen a mass race start with over 100+ canoes it is a sight to behold!).  Team ENDracing (comprised of Joel Larson, Tammy Magness, and myself, Andy) had been talking a big game on Swamp Donkey's Facebook page and so we reckoned we'd better try and back it up.  We pushed hard right from the start and had a great paddle leg, coming off the water in 6th position.  Moderate winds, steam rising from the water, and near freezing air temps had made the paddle pretty epic - three teams ended up capsizing!  
The paddle was followed by a bike orienteering leg.  We took a while to warm up but navigated pretty well, despite a confusing trail network.  The trails themselves were fantastic, but punishing for poor joel who was riding a rigid framed bike and couldn't manage to ride any of the more technical rocky sections.  He took a couple bad falls when he was unable to unclip from his pedals (novice adventure racers take heed - get pedals with a mud clearing design for AR... spd style cleats are no good!!) and a fun slide down 'the ramp' but managed to recover and keep pushing.   Finally we got all the Orienteering points and settled in for a longish ride on physically demanding trails of wet sand.
sandy trails (harder than they look)
Tammy led the charge and i tried to tow joel on the sloppy mess with little success.  At this point we were in first place in the coed category and felt like hunted animals.
We finally hit pavement and settled into what we thought was a fast pace line.  It wasn't.  Another coed team blew by us like we were standing still, gaining a full five minutes on us by the time we got to the end of the bike, only a couple of miles away.
The next section was a foot orienteering section that started with a 1.5 mile trail run.  In her element, Tammy pushed the pace while Joel and i struggled to keep up.  We caught the team that had passed us on the bike just as they headed out from the end of the trail into a swamp.
This was our favorite part of the course - five points that required good navigation (not an easy feat with a 1:50000 scale map and 25 foot contour intervals!) through difficult terrain.  We never stopped moving.  One of the checkpoints proved difficult to find (for most teams) and cost us nearly an hour - but we kept our spirits up and didn't give up, or rely on information other teams provided ("we've already looked that way"), and finally figured out our mistakes.
Coming out of the swamp we passed a manned checkpoint and knew we were in first place.  it was our race to lose.
The final bike section was super short and all pavement.  we'd paid our dues i guess, and no one was close enough to catch us.  Team ENDracing crossed the finish line after having cleared the course in roughly 7.5 hours, fifth or sixth place overall, and the first coed team.  Woo Hoo!
one of the 'easier' sections of swamp...
All in all it was a fantastic race - a great balance of good navigation, physical work, challenging terrain, and suffering (man that water was cold!).  And we even got great wildlife sightings to boot - including 1 sasquatch and 1 alien.
Hats off to Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing for putting on a great event, thanks to all the amazing volunteers that made it all possible, and congrats to to all the other teams that pushed themselves against a tough course and had their own epic adventures!

Dakota Harvest Bakery

Dakota Harvest Bakery, or DHB as we affectionately call them, deserves a special shout out from ENDracing.  These guys are a small local bakery and coffee shop (Local=Best as far as we're concerned) that has really become a part of the Grand Forks community in general, and more specifically the ENDracing community.  Paul Holje and his staff have been huge supporters of our grass-roots efforts since the beginning, and continue to provide thousands of dollars of donations of amazing food at each event.  There is no way we could put together races that rival all the big budget ones out there without their help.  The importance of their involvement - and the involvement of other generous like minded local and national businesses - to what we're trying to do simply cannot be overstated. 
And we're happy to announce that DHB will once again be providing the 'mid race' meal for END-TOMBED.  Thanks guys - we can't say it enough!

Super Budget Map Board

I'm heading up to Canada in a few weeks to be on the other side of the racing coin (racing instead of directing) and i can't wait.  I'll be doing the Swamp Donkey Adventure Race - an event i did last year for the first time.  It's a great event - short enough to be fun but long enough to be hard.... a great race to do with my wife and overworked buddy Joel.  Last year we ended up in 4th place in our category (despite some 90+ total teams) and that gave us the idea that we might be able to end up on the podium with a little more work this year. 
the purple zip ties add a certain flair not seen on conventional map boards
But since i've decided to stick to my low volume training approach, i have to figure out ways to get faster without physical work.  Hmmm.  One thing we didn't  have last year was a map board for the bike, so maybe i can work to build one.  My background (a story for another post) is such that i love being thrifty, so i thought i'd see how cheaply i could build a serviceable one.  Of course it will remain until after the race to determine whether it actually was serviceable - but i thought i'd share the finished product so the ooohhs and aaahhhhs of budget minded appreciation could start early (FYI, these things can cost upwards of 65 bucks!).
Here's what you need -
1) extra thick cardboard
2) zip ties
3) old bike tube.
Here's what you do -
1) cut the cardboard slightly larger then 8.5 x 11
2) poke holes in it and zip tie it securely to your handlebars and stem
3) cut ribbons out of the bike tube and tie two lengths around the top and bottom of the board. 
the finished product
Voila - map board for the cost of 3 zip ties.  My initial tests indicate that it should work just fine... as long as i don't crash!

Ibex Offer for END-TOMBED

Men's Indie jerseyLets face it, that first lap is going to be COLD.  Last year it was 28 Fahrenheit i think (that's -2 for all you Canadians).  But by the 10th lap, it's in the high 50's!  Talk about a temperature swing.....
Is your jersey up for it?  If not, pick up one of these Ibex Indie half-zip gems - long sleeved, merino wool, ENDracing branded - and ride all your laps in comfort.  Shirts are $60.
Pre-order by shooting me an email with your size.  Mens color is 'black light', Women's is Parsley.
Orders must be made by Sept. 30th.  Payment can be made upon pickup at the race.