Was I the only one thinking of the Norwegian story The Three Billy Goats Gruff during the Don’t Get Lost Icebreaker Adventure Run? While crossing the many bridges in the “Trolling for Trolls” section of the course, I was relieved to know that the troll had long ago “disappeared under the rushing water, never to be seen again”.
Before the 2 hour race began, I marked out my planned route with an orange highlighter, which might not have been the best choice of colour (keep reading). All controls were optional – you could go for as few or as many as you liked. They ranged from easy green ones (20 points) to intermediate blue ones (40 points), to advanced black diamonds (75 points) and expert double black diamonds (150 points).
I decided that I wouldn’t go for the dog bone controls this time (a dog bone is 2 controls that have to be done in sequence), despite them being worth quite a lot when you factor in the bonus for getting the dog bone (in addition to the points for the individual controls). Instead, I decided that after the “Killer K”, an approximately 1 km run to an optional control that you had to do first if you did it at all, I would tackle all of the controls in the golf course.My first 3 controls would be the same ones as my daughter Ailish was going for, but after that we would split up. And we would do just the first control with our friend Anne.
If I had time after the golf course section, I would tackle the “Deck the Corridor” part of the map, which was essentially an unmarked path that you had to follow to find 3 unmarked controls (see map below).
There were a few other interesting ideas for controls in this race: “Nav4Rav4” could only be found between 10:30 and 11 AM, “Whiteout” had features on the map near it removed to make it more challenging, and “Trolling for Trolls” entailed 4 bridges and 8 controls under them, but you had to find the 2 that were “real” controls and not “dummies” (i.e. you needed the ones with the computer units within them, meaning that you had to visit each one until you found the 2 right ones).
At 10:15 AM the race began!No navigation was required for my 1st or 2nd controls, because I wasn’t at the front of the pack! But after that, my map (and eventually compass) was needed. When Ailish and I split up, I headed for the “Whiteout” control, following a creek (or where there would be water had it been spring) right to the control. Next I headed for the bridges of the “Trolling for Trolls” section. I approached it from the east, checking underneath one end of bridge D (no troll there!), running up and across the bridge, checking under the other end, and then heading for bridge C. After checking one end, I heard some kids say that the control at the other end was a dummy, but I felt that it would be cheating if I didn’t check it out for myself, so I did, and they were right. At bridge B I debated stepping on the rocks in the creek to cross over to the other side, but I suspected that the gap between the rocks was too large and I would fall into the cold water, so I scrapped that idea and headed back for the bridge. I found one of the real controls at bridge B, and the last one at bridge A. I tried 7 of 8 locations to find the 2 controls! I found 6 more controls easily before heading for the first one that was in the woods away from the golf course. Looking at my map a few days after the race, I noticed that I hadn’t followed my own plan because the orange highlighter wasn’t obvious – I missed 2 easy controls that I had planned to get.
When I was in the woods heading to #31, I ran into my daughter, who had given up finding it. We searched for it for a while, certain that we knew where we were, and unsure why we couldn’t find it. I was determined to find it, given that it was a black diamond and worth 75 points. But the longer it took, the less sense it made to keep trying. After 30 minutes, we gave up. After the race, I chatted with two 2nd place finishers who did find the control (Heidi and Barb), and learned from them how I could approach a similar control in the future. Lessons learned: you might not be where you think you are, go for the easiest approach, use the road or buildings.
I found 2 more controls easily, then debated trying to find the Deck the Corridor controls, but I was doubtful that I had the time to follow an unmarked path while rushed, and even more so when a fellow competitor (Oliver) pointed out how far he thought the loop was. So instead I headed for one end of a dog bone and found that, running into my friends John and Kristin in the process.
I thought that I might have time to do one more control, but didn’t want to go over the 2 hour limit, so I scrapped that idea and headed for the last control and then the finish line. Running up the hill to the finish I asked Barb if she had found #31, and she told me to run for the finish (never give up, you never know when someone in your age group might be just behind you) and then we could talk about #31! Since she finished 2nd in her category, I should clearly listen to Barb’s advice!In the end I covered 10.3 km and finished in 1:53:05, with a total of 790 points, which put me 15th out of 22 women in the open age group. My race went really well except for that darn #31! The weather was fantastic for an early December race.
After the race, I ran into Oliver, who jokingly said that he would have done the Deck the Corridor with me had I gone for it. Next time Oliver!
It was great to see so many kids out racing with or without their parents, as the Adventure Running Kids ARKFest marking the end of the 12-week fall session was happening at the same time.
Even after the race was done it was hard leaving without having found #31. I really should have just gone back to look for it!
Can’t wait for the next race! My strategy: use a different coloured highlighter, go for the dog bones, and if I can’t find the control, approach it from a different angle!
Follow me on Facebook: Kyra on the Go: Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete
Follow me on Twitter: @kyrapaterson