Alexandre Provost, French Canadian very good and experienced adventure racer, and I, went as team Untamed New England powered by Unleash Compression in the US to compete in a 28 hours adventure race taking part in West Virginia end of September.
There was more than 40 teams total (solos, duos and 4 people teams) and I reckon we were the only not American team there.
After a 13 hours drive we got there, did our check in, prepared our gears, went to race briefing and went to bed. The maps were distributed in the morning only, which was a good thing so we could have some extra sleep before starting.
At 6am we had the maps and spent the two hours that followed marking our course. We then left by bus to the start line.
Race started just over 10:30 am in white water rafting. We were in the second wave (there was 3) of 5 boats and we had 3 other duo coed teams in our boat. I don't need to mention to most of you that my strength is paddling but unfortunately for me there was no paddling section in this race. I mean no paddling section where it would have been just the both of us. In the raft were three nice duo coed but unfortunately again none of the girls had a great background in paddling which made the work a little harder on us for the hour and half or so that we were in the boat. Our guide was awesome and the rapids were pretty cool. Alex was in the front with another brave man while I was sitting two rows behind.
TA1, we had a great transition pretty fast and in no time we were running up the gentle slope of the road that was leaving the TA direction the top of the hill. The weather wasn't the nicest weather I have ever seen in a race (I think it rained 20h out of the 28 hours that we raced) but at least it wasn't cold. Alex being faster than me on foot I had to take the tow kind of soonish in the race if I wanted to keep up with him. We almost got the first CP wrong due to too much excitement of finding (the wrong) pole with another solo male, but we corrected ourselves fairly quickly. A few other navigational mistakes followed for the next hour but we will call that "an adjustment to the course". After that Alex navigation was spot on for the rest of the course so I can't complain really :). A few hours and CPs later in very scenic locations, we got to TA2.
TA2 we jumped on the bikes, direction down hill to a massive bridge were we saw the train earlier. From there on started this twisty slippery muddy and technical single track that I didn't like that much. Alex was very patient and waited for me a lot. The sun went down and after a few hours and a crash for me on a slippery root, we finally got to TA3.
TA3 was the transition to the timetrial on foot. It was a 5km out and back to a CP and we thought there would be only one winner out of it so we didn't race it as a time trial but took it just as a part of the race. We walked some bits of it, uphills and technical stuff. We ended up (at the awards) winning the time trial for the duo coed category in 36 min :) which was faster than all the other categories (even the solo male) except from the coed team of 4 (SOG) who did it in daylight.
Back to TA3/4 and back on the bike for some sweet single tracks riding. I made a mistake in my translation of the rules there understanding that counter clockwise meant clockwise :( It is when we met another team that they explained to me that it meant anti clockwise...duhhh!!!! Alex wasn't impressed with my translating skills on that one :/. We then turned around and re rode the whole section anti clockwise.
TA5 was a relay orienteering section where we could split and go pick up each some CPs. I picked two and Alex had 6 to grab. I was pretty pleased with my orienteering at night and got my two CPs fairly quickly. I should have taken more than the two but we thought it would be ok since the other ones were all in the same area. I waited and got cold for an hour at TA and was super happy to see Alex coming back. All that time we had one team duo co ed ahead of us but he came back ahead of them...only problem was that he missed two CPs...Oh well we figured that if we were leaving fast enough and picking up more CPs in the optional CPs that were next we could still be fine so we moved on to the next section.
The next section consisted in 17 optional checkpoints including the river boarding section where we had to be in between 7 to 9am to participate and grab in the same time a couple more CPs. We could either use the bike to start with and then trek back to the bikes or the opposite or to use the bike and then back to the TA and trek to the start of the river board. We decided to trek from the TA in direction to the river boarding section and try to pick up as many CPs on our way. Alex navigation was at his best and Jeezzz he got us to one that I really wondered and am still wondering how the hell he did it. We were following a “track” that I thought for a while was an imaginary track as I could obviously not see it or follow Alex on it getting stuck in thorns and bushes every five minutes. We trek the whole night and both walking as Zombies. I can recall Alex zigzagging closer and closer to the edge of another “trail” that we were following along a fairly steep slope along the river thinking first that he was avoiding the prickly bushes and realizing after that he was actually falling asleep. I even had a tiny hallucination when I looked at Alex and saw a dog trekking along his side…didn’t last long and I swallowed lots of candies to wake me up then J. We ended up taking 5 optional CPs on that stretch.
The river boarding was thanks to NRS a blast for me. I know Alex found it a bit rough because he is not so much of a water person but I loved it. NRS had shipped for us to river board (rescue boards) and a wetsuit for me which has been highly appreciated. The boards were broad and fast and the few rapids we went through were fun. At first with the fins and stuff my feet tended to cramp a bit with the cold water but it went away very quickly. 2h15 later we were in TA running up the hill to our bikes. We didn’t have many hours left to the finish but we decided on a good route and got a few more CPs. Just before coming in we still had 40 min and argued a little bit on whether to go and get a last one or not knowing that any minute after 14:35 was a disqualification. Alex pulled out good arguments and off we went. Thanks god we did as we would know later that it could have cost us the first place if we didn’t have done it. We ended up with an additional 7 CPs leaving in total only 5 CPs behind on that part of the race.
We ended up first place duo co-ed, 4th place overall. We argued a fair bit during the race being the first race we have ever done together but we know we can work on our differences and can’t wait to race together again.
We would like to thank Untamed New England for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to go on the American territory to race such a beautiful race. Thank you also to NRS and Unleash Compression for the support and the gears!