I've been getting lots of questions about the packrafting section so thought a second blog was in order. Above you see a google maps satellite image that shows an example of what the packraft section will be like (note - this is NOT the actual packraft section!) The ORANGE marker indicates the transition area where bikes are dropped and teams get their bins. The BLUE markers are checkpoints on the packraft section. Teams must get at least one blue checkpoint to continue being ranked. As in the above example, they are staggered on either side of the river. While it may be possible to stay on one side of the river and pick up a few of the points without ever deploying the packraft, it's important to note a few things 1) all the land is private property and travel through or immediately adjacent to fields will not be allowed. teams choosing to travel on foot between checkpoints, or even along one shore until they are a straight river crossing away from a checkpoint may face difficult travel conditions. If they choose to keep boats/tubes inflated, travel may be further slowed and/or rafts may suffer damage. I'm not saying that such modes of travel aren't allowed - teams may find game trails or other trails along the river bank or even sections where travel is easy (ie open forest, etc) and faster or more direct than travel by floating/paddling down the river. 2). Passage from the river to the obvious road leading back to the TA may not be possible from all locations. We will indicate on the map you receive (or mention on the course description you'll get on race day) which egress points are options. Teams should plan accordingly. On the above map, for example, assume the CP's are numbered from south to north, and that teams aren't allowed to cross the fields near CP 2. A team could then choose to get CP 1 only -paddling back across the river and navigating through the forest south to the TA; 1, 2, 3, and 4 - and taking the road(s) W and S to the TA, or 1-6. 3) Note that on the maps you actually receive, several of the CPs won't be pre-plotted - you'll simply have the UTM coordinates and need to plot them yourself or skip them!
packrafting 2 (and some general thoughts)
When teams return to the TA they'll have three options. The PURPLE marker represents a bike leg CP which is optional. Teams can ferry bikes across (by whatever means available) and bike directly to the CP, skip the CP entirely (and still remain ranked) or bike south to the nearest bridge, cross the river, and bike back north to the CP before continuing on.
Lastly - when teams leave the TA their bins must be empty of all non-packraft related gear. Packraft related gear includes: boats/tubes/etc (which can also be left on the other side of the river for the teams that chose to ferry bikes), pumps, paddling aids. All team food, clothes, etc that was originally in the bin must either be consumed or carried with the team.
PFD's will be arriving to the packrafting section with the team and leaving with the team, so figure out a way to comfortably and efficiently carry your PFD's. you'll be carrying them on about 10-12 miles of biking and 4-6 miles of foot travel.
PLEASE ask questions - either directly to me or perhaps more usefully on the google groups page, where my answers can be seen by all.
OK - thats all for the packrafting stuff - now one or two general comments. Please read the race rules, etc - especially new teams - and ask questions ahead of time. In addition, show up for the clinic on the friday evening before the race if you can (6-7). Practice with your team - go for runs or bikes together - think about how you're going to deal with obstacles, what roles/strengths each person has, what gear you'll need, etc. Get excited about this - it really is going to be the hardest race in the state!
One thing bears mentioning as teams work on strategy. Although some separation is natural (especially as the race wears on or a team is looking for a non-obvious CP), the general rule is to stay within sight or about 50 yds from one another. A more important rule that we'll be enforcing much more strictly is that the entire team must go to each CP. As i told one of the racers today - if there is a difficulty or challenge associated with a CP then it is meant for the entire team - not just the strongest or fastest member. This isn't so important for a CP that is 20 ft off a trail in open woods - but if the CP is 100 ft deep into a wall of weeds or on the far side of a 15 foot mud pit - everyone needs to claw their way through or get dirty. It is an adventure race after all.
NEW TEAMS - completing the course is going to be a challenge. don't get sucked in to trying to do every CP - unless you're AR phenoms you won't make it. The course is designed to challenge the very best and still be 'doable' (by opting out of some/all of the optional CP's) by first time teams. be honest in your assessment of your own place on this spectrum and you stand a good chance of finishing. Over do it and you'll have to come back and try again next year.
Lastly i want to plug the sponsors - we've got a lot of great sponsors and can't put on the quality of race we do without their support. if you've done our races before you don't need to wait till after the race to show your appreciation - send an email, buy your new base-layer from them (and of course mention the race!), or, in the case of the local sponsors, just stop in and tell them thanks for helping make this happen.
If you got all the way through this - i guess you're probably as excited about the race as i am (;