Wisconsin Adventure Racing - Driftless Zone - Dodgeville, WI - August 28, 2004

Amazingly our whole team found the DonQ hotel for the check-in and pre-race meeting. It is rather heartening when you don't get lost on the way to an adventure race. We usually like to save that for the race. Justin and Molly arrived at 2:30am Saturday, which was a great wake-up call since the race could have started as early as 4am, in a town about 30 miles away from our hotel in Dodgeville, WI. Again, we managed to find the start, and had a chance to glance at the first map, and go over some more strategery with our support crew, Mark and Molly, who are the best in the business! Had they known what they were getting into, they perhaps would have slept in and ordered room service.

The race started with a short trail run and bushwhack (or if you are Canadian, bushcrash) to the first CP. Which was actually CP2; CP1 was the start, which confused the heck out of us - we got our first map with only CP2 on it, and frantically searched for CP1 on the map while running in the dark, and decided to just go for CP2. It was a 5am start - very anti-climactic - most the racers assembled in the dark at a picnic shelter. Joe, the race director, says "Everyone ready?" then "Go!" That was it. There were still teams getting their gear together and conversing at their vehicles. We overshot CP2 by about 1/2 mile, so eager to run run run! So we crossed the river, and got into the thick bog/swamp. It was really slow moving, and we got sucked in up to our thighs in places. It was light by the time we found CP2; 2 people in a canoe in the middle of a swampy bog. Justin dove in, trudged thru, got the map, and on his way back to us (standing clean and dry on the shore) says "guess who is in first?" and points both thumbs to himself. How can that be?! As it turns out, there were a few teams that got there within 18 minutes of the race start, but the canoe wasn't there yet. Arg. Good news for us though! While we were waiting for Justin to retrieve the map, we met up with another 4 person team, whose 2 female racers were in bikinis and barefoot, with their Tevas in hand. Momentarily dumb-struck, Scooter and Erl just stared. Scooter started to say "How YOU doin'? but I dissuaded him subtely, trying to keep his focus on the race. These girls were troopers, and I think were probably triathletes, ready for a road run and clean 1/4 mile swim to start the race. As soon as Scooter and Erl found their voices, they heaped many helpful suggestions on the girls, such as putting on pants, running shoes, bug spray, and anything else they could think of just to prolong the conversation.

Onward. So we got our next map/instructions to CP3 - they went with a whole Lewis and Clark theme, and our maps were on faded yellow paper, hand-drawn, and not much for topo. We slogged thru some more bog, and decided to dive in and swim about 20-30 feet across a swamp rather than go around - it was warm and just reeked, but really was kind of fun (I thought). We found the river, ran along the southern shore, and then saw the CP3 - across the river about 1/4 mile, and the current was pretty strong. We walk/swam across, and were the 1st team there. We got our next map, hustled into the canoe, and took off. About 5 minutes later, we decided to read the instructions sheet - turns out we needed our rappel gear. Doh! Back to the CP where our support crew was waiting with our stuff (they figured it out before we did). I feared that they had already packed and left the CP, so I shouted at full power "MARK WE NEED OUR CLIMBING SH*T!!!!!!!!" The onlookers weren't impressed. At this point a few other teams were finishing the swim and were already paddling. Back into the canoe - it was about 3.5 miles - we decided to go with an as yet untested and highly suspect canoe configuration; all 4 of us in one canoe. One expert at a canoe rental place said we would spend more time in the water than in the canoe, and that it wasn't rated for all our weight (which I took rather personally). But as it turned out, it worked really well, despite our few near misses with being dunked into the drink. We smoked the paddling section, and arrived to CP4 about 15-20 mins before Joe (a claim which he refutes - says he was there the whole time...), which was bad because he was supposed to give us the next map. So we wandered around there searching, and finally Joe showed up, just in time to have 3 other teams pull up on shore. Arg.

Joe gave us a huge topo map - we plotted 3 UTMs, and raced off to the rappel. Climbed a large hill, and got harnessed up for a 40 ft rappel; other teams had caught up to us at this point. Then it was the mystery challenge - we hunted around and found it before the other teams, and shimmied through about 100 yards of cave - some spaces were so tight we had to slither thru on our bellies. We were a bit freaked out - clausterphobic Scooter put his foot down and said that he needed a bigger light before he would enter into the cave - so we started talking to each other to allay fears. We bonded and conquered the cave, and then slid back down the hill and raced back to the canoes. A quick 1/2 mile paddle to find our support crew, dumped the canoe and onto the bikes. From there it was a 25 mile hammer-fest in the rain, up and down some pretty good sized hills (one 3 miler), back to Dodgeville. We weren't sure where the end was - the plotted UTM point covered a lot of ground - but we were biking next to the DonQ, and Justin recognized the "finish" trailer from last year, dives into the ditch and towards the trailer. Once we got there, I saw some checkered flags, but no Finish sign and nobody was around. Are we in the right place? Knock knock knock on the trailer door - 2 old guys watching TV. Me "Is this the finish?" Them <bewildered stares>. Me, getting rather agitated, thinking other teams were right on our tail "Do we have to do anything else, another map, a mystery challenge???" Them <bewildered stares>. Then "This is the finish. You are the first team." Woo Hoo! 12:02pm finish - for a total of 7 hours. Whew! Joe and Linda graciously awarded us free entry to the race next year for our first place 4 person team finish, so you can be sure we will be back. Can't get enough of those swamps!

(C) 2004-2007 WEDALI adventure racing