Sunday, June 22, 2008

Notes from the pre-race meeting

* Teams are carrying a Spot tracking device (also an emergency call system). That company is providing the leaderboard and all the CP update info directly from the Spots. The paper system at the CP's is only a backup... so if the leaderboard stops working, blame Spot and not the volunteers :)

Side note - as much as I'd love to believe that there is finally a GPS system that works the way we'd like in an adventure race, I haven't seen it yet - maybe this year is the year. It does appear that race management is relying on it pretty heavily, which is a strategy I am skeptical of at this point. We shall see.

* Very exciting to have a TV production guy who put on several Eco-Challenges (including Borneo) here working on putting together the race video. Even the 5-minute race course preview was really cool, with awesome Eco-like music. On the downside, I have no idea what channel "Rush HD" is or whether many people will get to see the results.

* The climbing director described one part of the ropes course and then said "the rock is generally sound. Watch out for loose rocks. If you have any question about the rock, thump it with your hand… if you see it move, flex, vibrate, etc., notify a guide" - at which point I said to John - "remember Telluride - look, look, here's a loose rock, better call that in - wait, here's another one - ahhh, they're all around us!!!" :)

* Our water director, Josh, did a spiel including a comment about how big the water looks from the road looking down. But don't worry, once you're in the water, it will look EVEN BIGGER :) Who knew our water director was so charismatic in front of a big crowd? He's been mostly quiet and serious around us.

* They did a 3D flyover of the course (although one of the water crew guys thinks that was an older version of the course before some recent changes). It was really cool, and I think I followed quite a bit of it in terms of what areas they are going to. First a huge hike up Lone Mountain which looms over Big Sky Resort (still has plenty of snow on it). Teams loop back around to the resort for TA1, then leave again on foot for many more miles until they reach TA2 and the start of the Duckie section (that's us - yay!). We'll have a dark zone there, and I theorize that at least a couple of the fast teams will make it before the river opens on Tuesday morning.

About 20 miles of Duckies in fast (but not too terribly challenging) water. Then the teams switch to riverboards for 9-10 miles of the most bumpiest, wavy, challenging water the Gallatin has to offer. Our team is going to mark the big hazards tomorrow to prep for team arrivals.

John and I were excited to see the course looping by Squaw Creek Road several times during the race - Howie is hanging out less than half a mile from there. Sweet!

The rest of the course involves heading east toward the Yellowstone River for kayaking, lots of trekking up and down mountains, plus a couple long sections that are obviously mountain biking. Mentioned in the briefing: Telephone Ridge (just east of our "home" and close to where we have been training), Hyalite Reservoir (east of there), Bridger Bowl (north of Bozeman), and the Crazy Mountains (east of Bridger Bowl).

And it sounds like the main ropes course (out of 3, including a rope up to Long Mountain) is above the riverboard portion of the Gallatin River. Looks like really interesting rock to climb around on.

Well, I was hoping to see a course map online tonight, but it looks like the Spot site isn't active yet (must be holding off until race start) and I guess I shouldn't bug any of the teams for CP locations... or maybe we will anyway :) Hoping to get back online sometime after the race begins, probably won't be until later this week after the river sections are done.

See ya!
-Marcy
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