by “Sean Hartman”
Editors Note: Sean never wrote his promised race report, so an anonymous teammate ghost-wrote this one for him.
Its accuracy cannot be confirmed….
adventure race in
Call Jen Klafin.
Works in construction. Gotta
be tough, and undoubtedly can out-cuss a
It’s raining as we approach
the bike drop location in
Feeling like a dad on a road trip, I pull over. A half an hour later, Ken and Jen finally find gourds that “reflect their personalities.” Having doubts about team selection. Another fifteen minutes are spent zip-tying gourds to helmets, time other teams spend preparing their bikes, scouting the terrain, etc. More doubts.
We pull into to the race
headquarters and finish site, a massive sports complex at the intersection of
We heckle the competition, make three passes through the food line, gather our maps and guide books, and head off for several hours of course-plotting and map-laminating. I’ve arranged for us to stay with a college friend, who owns a palatial loft right down the street. We arrive with sleeping bags, plastic bins, and tons of gear. He and his boyfriend are headed out for an elegant dinner. Culture clash? They are gracious; we are barbarians.
Preparations efficiently end
around 2 am, just as the night club across the street begins disgorging
boisterous patrons, a process that continues right up to the 4 am wake-up
alarm, which is reinforced with an ambulance siren. Ah,
The PA announcer announces that the race will start on time: 7 am, or just 14 minutes from now. The fast thinkers break for the bathrooms, with the dullards in hot pursuit. 200+ nervous adventure racers, four stalls—you do the math.
When the gun goes off, there are still a dozen people lined up at the rest room door. Like true New Yorkers, those fortunate enough to have jumped the line sneer as we, er, they, run past the suckers and…into the woods for 15 miles of running and navigating. Hey! This is not going to be a total urban experience after all! And what’s this? Sunshine? Muggy temps? We’re psyched…until the first briar patch.
Passing teams left and right (and going the other directions), we navigate the first 10 miles of woods. Outdoor Life Network even captures us helping a lost pro team (whose name rhymes with “Team Guiness”) find their way. The camera does not catch us making a wrong turn just 200 yards later.
To reach the final trekking checkpoint, one team member must don one of those dorky orange life jackets and swim to an island in a scenic little pond and back. Thinking quickly, I ask Ken his 100-yard swim speed. No matter what he says, I can reply: “You’re faster—you swim.” Jen and I picnic on brie and chardonnay as Ken flails across the pond, nearly colliding with a small outboard motor. Some navigator.
We leave Team Wheelworks,
our chief rivals for the amateur division title, in our wake as we climb a section
Team Wheelworks is awaiting us at the transition. They took the direct route.
Jen and I speed through the transition as Ken names our helmet gourds: Berry Gourdy, Gourdie Howe, and, in a tribute to the Big Apple, Fiorello La Gourdia. Sigh.
The 50-mile bike section has it all: long stretches of pavement, neighborhoods straight out of Dogpatch, mansions, a shooting range, long stretches of pushing the bikes, highways…and even a few minutes of actual mountain biking.
On one of the road sections, an OLN camera crew on a motorcycle pulls up beside us, thinking we’re among the race leaders. What’s with the gourds?, they inquire. “They’re festive!” says Jen. We’re headed for prime time!
Just then, a race official pulls alongside in a van. “If you’ve already reached Checkpoint 4, you’re violating the rules by riding on this road. If you haven’t, well….” We start fumbling for maps. “Hey, you’re lost,” says the cameraman angrily, as the motorcycle zooms off to look for legitimate contenders. Crestfallen, we pull over and realize we have to climb five miles back up the hill we just flew down to reach Checkpoint 4.
Many hours later, we spy the
Over the hill and down to
the river, we discover we are several hours behind the leaders, but somehow
still the first amateur team and in ninth place! Re-energized, we point our
kayak under the
Many hours later, the GW Bridge appears no closer than it did when we first saw it. But mercifully, we are allowed out of the boats. We hook up with Team Timex for a five-mile hike up to and across the bridge. In the darkness, we find Team Guiness—lost again. All nine of us scramble through the “party spots” and the debris lining the 16 lanes of traffic and find pedestrian access to the bridge.
We touch down in
We see nothing but a spaghetti maze of cars zooming under and over each other at warp speed, scrubby undergrowth, and a bunch of junk chairs clustered under the one working streetlight. So begins the urban section of the race!
Picture this: nine white folks, clad in tights, matching race jerseys pulled over life jackets that must look like flak jackets, packs and helmets with lights on them, and rollerblades. Staggering up and down stairs in rollerblades at 10:00 on a Saturday night in “parks” filled with broken concrete and debris. Kind of John Ashcroft meets David Lynch. We’re asking people for directions to the rollerblading path…they’re wondering where the hidden cameras are.
Ken, whose rollerblading experience consists of terrorizing dogs and children a few times on the Minuteman Bike Path, quickly falls, and falls…and falls behind. Prevented by the rules from using him as a diversionary sacrifice, we flail around for the better part of an hour, dodging traffic and searching for a few dozen blocks until we finally “access the West Side Pathway.”
Tugging a whimpering Ken
behind us, we reach the last test: swimming in the
However, due to the severe
nylon shortage in
Shivering, we throw on every item of clothing we can find, and blade the final mile. We triumphantly cross the finish line in ninth place, first amateur team, at 1 in the morning. Fifty feet past the finish line, I see—too late—a large curb. Trying to jump it, I land in a heap directly in front of the EMTs and race volunteers. Their eyes bulge like saucers as I collect myself and, with dignity and assurance, lead the team in for our medical check.
I’m ready for surgery, and
Ken and Jen are ready for bagels. All in all, a successful
Really written by Ken White Use when helpful…with appropriate reference.