Team NYARA headed to the Nebraska for a new to us 12 hour race put on by Angry Cow Adventures — and they won!
Race: Run, Row, Rock and Roll 12 hour race
Team: Chris Edmundson, Olof Hedberg and Whitney Hedberg
This race report is brought to you by Whitney Hedberg who for reasons that will be come clear will be referred to as “mandatory equipment” for the rest of the report.
I was excited to race with Olof and Chris for this race. We had never raced with Chris before but knew he has a lot of AR experience so I was looking forward to seeing him in action. I was actually a kinda last minute add in when another racer backed out. The week before the race I spent 6 days hiking the Colorado Trail with a friend. The last day of our trip made a turn towards epic including lots of snow, lots of elevation gain and loss and lots more milage than planned. It was awesome. And it left me with a strained quad. After a few days rest I decided that my quad felt good enough to race so we hopped in the car to make the almost 10 hour drive to Nebraska (picking up Chris in Boulder along the way). As luck would have it, Chris is a great Physical Therapist who became my real-time quad consultant.
Race check in was the night before the race — which we love because it gives Olof-the Rain-Man-Hedberg plenty of time to use his freakish brain to memorize the course. The race start was a 30 minute bus ride away from the town we stayed in. We had the option of paddling or doing a foot section first and we opted for paddling. Solo racers had to provide their own boats while we had the pleasure of using nice, stable (slow) aluminum canoes complete with canoe paddles. The long course involved crisscrossing a lake lengthwise and portaging over a dam several times. At our first dam portage we learned that we were only allowed to have two paddles — we missed that rule somehow — and so started my role as the heaviest piece of mandatory equipment that Olof and Chris have even had the pleasure of carrying. While I sat in the middle and guiltily “navigated” the section, Olof and Chris paddled like whoa. We managed to leave the water in second place (of the teams who paddled first) only a couple of minutes after a solo racer in his speedy kayak.
The first trek section was fairly short and the Rain Man had it planned out down to the last centimeter so it went well. Actually, it went well for a while. Then good ol’ “mandatory equipment” perked up again and her strained quad started causing problems…we had to walk the last couple of points, but after our strong paddle section and quick transitions we felt like we were still in a good position. As we barreled into the TA for another fast transition I think our intensity may have frightened a few nice volunteers. 🙂 The volunteers were friendly and let us know that we were in the lead. I was super happy to get on the bike because I knew that my quad isn’t as affected by biking as it is running/walking.
The first bike section was very straight forwarded navigation-wise and was completely on gravel roads. I typically think its boring to ride only on roads, but these were fun. Fast rolling, short hills through pretty farmland was probably some of the most fun dirt road riding I’ve done. We kept good speed on the bikes and felt good going into the second TA. Before heading out on the trek we did the Team Challenge, which involved stacking huge buckets into the tallest tower possible. We went for speed more than sound engineering then headed out on trek number two.
The terrain was interesting — lots of rolling fields and pasture that were connected by tree filled reentrants. It was beautiful. As we started this section it was clear that “mandatory equipment” wouldn’t be moving very quickly as my walk looked robotic at best and my running looked a lot like an aging zombie. We decided to mostly walk the section — which would eat into our lead, but hopefully save my quad from getting any worse. The section was fun and included lots of barbed wire, one hip deep river/swamp crossing and several herds of cattle. The Rain Man’s navigation was spot on. The mandatory aging zombie was slow. Oh, yeah, and I couldn’t do downhills at all. So picture me — often referred to as an amazon women because I am far from small — draped over poor Chris piggy-back style, feet nearly dragging on the ground, as he does his best to get us both down the steep hills. Heaviest. Mandatory. Equipment. Ever.
When we got to the final checkpoint, it wasn’t there. We searched for it with a solo racer for around 25 minutes and decided it had been stolen. Then another co-ed team rolled up. Lead over. We told the other team that we couldn’t find it and planned on leaving then headed out. I put my game face on and zombie-ran myself all the way to the TA where we quickly reported the missing CP and jumped on our bikes hoping to regain some of our lead.
The final section of the race was a bike section with a short paddle/run. The bike was super fast and fun. We flew towards the final TA. When we got there we learned that one person would paddle up river while the other two ran — all meeting at a CP, then another would paddle down and two would run back to the TA. Chris took one for the team and paddled up stream while Olof and I jogged. We realized the run was pretty short so decided that even though I was zombie-runner it was best that I ran twice and Olof paddle back.
Chris got off the water and was a little bit wrecked by the tough, strong current and less than fast kayak. We jogged back together and in my shining moment for the entire race I was able to offer him the help of hanging onto my pack while we both zombie-ran back to the TA. We arrived at the same time as Olof who wanted to join in all the apocalyptic fun by getting leg cramps that had him zombie marching to his bike then zombie yelling for the first few hundred meters of the bike.
The final bike was through Fairbury to the finish at the Burkley Wellness Center. As we did the final push through town I was happy knowing we had won the Co-ed Elite category. We pulled into the Burkley Wellness Center and were treated to showers! with fresh towels! and delicious pulled pork sandwiches.
Huge thanks to Angry Cow Adventures, all the friendly volunteers and especially Craig Bontrager (and his family) for putting together such a fun race. We enjoyed our trip to the middle of America and meeting all the nice people there who also love this crazy sport. Oh. I can’t forget to give a shout out to the Capri — the epitome of a motel. Complete with neon sign.