Race Report: The Longest Day

Cara Guilfoyle, Mikal Davis and Brice Wilson recently competed in NYARA’s The Longest Day 24 hour race. Cara chimes in this time with her thoughts on the race.

From Cara:

TLD was one of the most well organized races I have done. The course was challenging, lots of elevation, and very well planned. We started with a O section where we had 2 different maps with 4 checkpoints each and could divide up. Brice took the one with the more challenging appearing optional points, and Mikal and I took the 4 mandatory ones. I was pretty much doing the nav and we quickly got lost! We were convincing ourselves that we were at the right cliff and rock wall but the checkpoint just wasn’t there. We eventually went back out to the road for a point of reference and, while we were SO close to the the right trail, we took the wrong unmarked trail! once again no checkpoint, we went back one more time to the road and it started making sense. Once we were on the right trail, we quickly found the right cliff and after finding the checkpoint, found the final 3 without difficulty. We figured Brice would be waiting for us at the TA like, “what took you two so long?” But we all ended up getting there at the same time, he got turned around on the first one as well. We probably lost about 20 min.

From there we headed out to do some very nice mountain biking and eventually to the Hudson River to paddle. The paddle went well, no teams passed us. The rain started on the paddle at about 1pm and kept up till about 8pm. After the paddle we hit some serious elevation on foot (climbed 4 mountains) and were neck and neck with half way there for several checkpoints. We would pass, then they would pass then we would think we lost them, then they would pop up out of nowhere again. Eventually they passed us. We transitioned to bike at TA 4 and biked on a rocky/hilly multi use trail and roads to TA 5. We got there around 8pm to do a foot O. It was interesting because there were about 20 optional CP’s that you could get either at this time (from the north) or later in the race on the final foot section (from the south). We opted to get 5 checkpoints now and get the rest later.

When we finished, Goals and Rev 3 were the only ones out before us and they did the same thing so that was reassuring. From here we headed out onto a rather painful LONG ride (the one I was looking forward to the whole time, I should have known better) peppered with occasional checkpoints. You know its going to be bad when theres a street sign that says “steep incline ahead”. We climbed for what seemed like forever. The 30 miles took us I think 5 or 6 hours, this part is somewhat of a blur. We did hit up some drunk campers for water, they were awesome! We eventually reached the final TA to get ready for the final foot section. We switched gear around and went inside to warm up, look at the map, eat and drink.

We left there around 3:30 AM. We were all ready to get a bunch of those optional checkpoints when we found ourselves sinking (literally) in a swamp, the wrong swamp at that. I just remember Brice climbing a tree to get out of the hole he got stuck in and yelling go the other way! And Mikal’s light going up and down as he kept sinking and falling, they didn’t think it was very funny, but it was quite a scen. We then spent at least 2 hours bushwhacking through dense brush searching for a trail, ANY trail, because we had no idea where we were. We made an educated decision on which direction to head in and just went. By 6am we found a trail, and by 6:30 the sun came up and we found where we were on the trail. We were now back on track. We had 2.5 hrs to get as many of those optional CP’s as possible and get back to the finish. We ended up getting 4 more CP’s before heading in.

Overall it was a challenging race in many ways, weather, elevation, navigation. At the same time it was very satisfying in that through these adversities, we undoubtedly grew stronger as a team. I am looking forward to nationals!

A few thoughts from her teammates:

From Brice:

Remember the last time I made a two-hour nav mistake? It was during the monster foot section of Infiterra’s 2006 Michigan Coast-to-Coast. I still remember the clue: “third depression.” Why do I remember that with such specificity? Because you don’t forget two-hour nav mistakes. At TLD this year, I made a 2hr 15min mistake that I will simply name “the confused bushwhack.” This mistake alone probably cost us 3-5 optional points. I’ll spare you the details. The main takeaway was that I had awesome teammates. Despite how disappointing this was, Mikal and Cara trusted their navigator. They knew I was trying as hard as I could to get us back on track. This ordeal was pretty unpleasant, and took place at a time of night when people are usually at their lowest… but they were always right behind me. Attitude is everything in this sport, and at times like this, it makes a real difference. Thanks guys.

Rodney and Amy, thanks so much for creating such a challenging and thoughtful event – it was awesome. Do me just one favor for next time: please cut out the 2hr 15min section where we wander aimlessly through swampy woods in the middle of the night.

From Mikal:

The course was very well organized and the constant rain added another dimension of adventure! We started the race with some straightforward foot and bike sections, lost a little time with small nav errors, but all in all held a good pace and had fast transitions. Once on the water, we quickly found our rhythm and without any CPs to look for, lowered our heads and knocked out the rainy 12 mile upstream paddle. Cara and I both became acquainted with the art of peeing while kayaking and Brice apparently missed out. Maybe next time?

It was a great race, interesting course and very cold weather. All in all a great tune up for nationals and a good confidence builder for me personally since I didn’t bonk, held a good pace and was still feeling good enough to tow at 7 in the morning! Thanks Cara and Brice for the good times and thanks to NYARA (Rodney, Amy, Denise and all the volunteers) for a great race. Cant wait to race it again next year!

Great job Team NYARA — we are looking forward to seeing you all compete at Nationals.



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