Hand-in-hand through the finish
BEAVER CREEK – The best way to condition for adventure racing is getting used to the possibility of the race coming to a grinding halt.It often doesn’t matter if racers hammer as hard as they can on their mountain bikes for 25 miles, try to maintain a jog for the 25 miles of trekking and paddle their arms off for the river section. Because if they get lost or can’t find a control point, their race – the win anyway – can just slip away.In the case of the Beaver Creek Nike 6-Hour Adventure Race Sunday, the win didn’t slip away, but two teams ended up sharing it.The six-hour race went a little long.Team Nike/Beaver Creek – Rebecca Hodgetts, Jay Henry and Dan Weiland – and Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar – Ian Adamson, Sari Chwalk and Michael Tobin – crossed the finish line arm-in-arm in 7 hours, 45 minutes and 28 seconds. They were then given a 30-minute penalty for not finding checkpoint No. 18, which was inaccurately marked on the map.”There was a checkpoint that wasn’t there,” said Henry, who didn’t appear to be daunted from the aftermath of his third-place finish in Saturday’s Ultra 100 mountain bike race. “The kite had disappeared. The race came to a bit of a halt there.”Halt? There’s no halting in racing. Is there?
“You do have to modify your outlook. It’s a different type of competitiveness,” said Chwalk, whose legs, like other racers’, were scraped purple from bushwhacking. “You have to realize it might be better to stop for three minutes and take a better look at the map than just go for it, which is really tempting.”The race began with a prologue, followed by a biking-trekking-biking section and a zip-line ropes course section near Beano’s Cabin. Racers then rode to Arrowhead for another map and compass segment and back into Beaver Creek for a welcomed ride up the chairlift with their bikes. From there, racers rode down through Rose Pedal and Paulie’s Plunge to the Eagle River, where they paddled on air mattresses for about a mile before bushwhacking up and over the ridge east of Beaver Creek and back into Beaver Creek Village. There were 23 checkpoints in all, and when the leading team didn’t cross the finish line after about six hours, race organizers began to get concerned that one of the checkpoints had blown away.”The orienteering part was the longest,” said Hodgetts. “We just had trouble finding a couple points.”By the time the two Nike teams reached checkpoint No. 18, Hodgetts’ team had a 10-minute lead, but both teams agreed – with something akin to a six-pack handshake – that they would cross the finish line together.”They were very gracious,” said Adamson. “We were coming together a lot with Nike/Beaver Creek, but we had very different choices. We’d lose each other for an hour, then come together again. We’re all compromising in some way, but we all work together well. With the two teams together, it’s very useful to work with other teams rather than against them, because in the navigation sections, six pairs of eyes see a whole lot more.”Splitting the jackpotThus, the $4,500 first-place prize purse and the $3,000 second-place purse were combined and split six ways between members of the two teams.
For adventure racers accustom to the high-speed nature of almost any other kind of race, there is always a point of mental checking when checkpoints can’t be found in an adventure race.”It’s the most frustrating thing,” Henry said. “In a mountain bike race, if you pass somebody and you’re riding well, you won’t ever see them again. In an adventure race, you can be going twice the speed and come across teams that just took a better route. It’s frustrating when it goes poorly, but it’s great when you get it right.”On Sunday, getting it right took more than one group’s effort.”It’s not a marked course, so you really have to pay attention and pace yourself,” Chwalk said. “We made one mistake where we made a turn and we thought we knew where we were, but it was a 10-minute mistake. It was fun to finish with these guys. They had some time on us. Checkpoint 18 just wasn’t there. And an extra three sets of eyes looking for the checkpoints and looking at the maps are helpful.”Team Protech/High Gear/Training RX – Travis Macy, Dave Mackey and Danelle Ballengee – came in about 20 minutes after the Nike teams to take third place Sunday and were followed by Tokyo Joes/Go-Lite (Dave Wiens, Monique Merrill and Pete Swenson) in fourth and Go-Lite/Timberland Sprint (Chris Boyd, Jodi Kiefer and Keith Bushaw) in fifth.Sprint race results
All-female team1. Team Totally O.C. All-male team1. The FirefightersCo-ed1. Hug it Out2. Trailripper3. What’s for Brunch?
Family1. TNT We are Dynamite2. Team Incline3. What Just Happened?Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado