I drove over from TA3 to TA6 - which was at Ruck-a-Chucky river crossing, how cool is that! I'd love to run Western States someday and this is an iconic part of that course. As a TA, it was kind of a sand pit and one of the hottest places of the whole course. But hey, no bugs! And we had a super awesome crew working there for several days straight, making this the spot I will remember most of all.
Starting with Paul, Spencer, and Khristy, showing up in the middle of the first night to set up the rope crossing over the river. Khristy and I were short on sleep by this point so we were sorta punchy and it didn't take much to make us laugh. Paul and Spencer were good sports, and they were also awesome with crossing the river on a paddleboard and stringing the rope.
Here Spencer is holding said rope to keep it above the water while Paul is adding another length to make it long enough to tie off to a tree, while I'm doing anything but helping and Khristy is managing to get a funny picture through all the laughter:
OK, back to the seriousness of racing. Team Bones made it in from the first whitewater section plus trek (including the river crossing with the rope) in time for the whitewater raft leg in the morning. Here they are getting ready to load up in a truck for a shuttle to the rafting put-in. There is a dam release each morning around 9 am, so all teams would be doing the whitewater rafting starting in the morning. If they arrived too late they would have to camp with us overnight and wait for the next day.
Team Bones was the only one to make it that first morning. No sign of GODZone - ?
After a fun whitewater rafting trip (complete with a snooze in the raft while waiting for the water to catch up to them again), team Bones prepped for the next long bike section:
Going over the maps, I think there were several options through here:
Every once in a while I get a decent action shot. Go team Bones!
From that point on, teams arrived off the trek at all times of the day and night. Here is team MMDJ assembling bikes and drying clothes under an EZ-Up:
Team GODZone arrived too late for the first day's rafting adventure, so they were the first on the water the next day. Here they are arriving back at our TA. They moved quickly, but it seemed like they were racing for 2nd place after spotting team Bones a 24-hour lead:
Team Rusty Bottom Runaways was "stuck" for many hours at TA6, and while they were there they helped anyone and everyone they could. It was amazing to watch - they moved boxes and large water jugs with the logistics team. They moved EZ-Up's around to keep shade over everyone. They even helped team Journey Racing put their bikes together:
But that wasn't all. When they heard that another team was missing a key bike part and would not be able to ride out until they somehow got a replacement, Tosh (Rusty Bottom team captain) GAVE UP his own bike to the other team. Who does that? Tosh said that anyone would do the same, but that seems unlikely. It was an incredible, selfless act of generosity. Paul brought his own bike down for Tosh to use the next day and it all worked out. Amazing.
Rusty Bottom Runaways won the spirit award for the race, well deserved!
Meanwhile, back at the TA... team NorCal getting some sleep while they can:
We waited for the last team to arrive, team Seek Adventure. It wasn't certain they would make it for the 3rd day of whitewater rafting - until they showed up on the other side of the river in the early morning light. Hi guys! I yelled over that there was a rope crossing further upstream, but they opted to just jump in and swim across right there:
It was a rowdy bunch of racers piling into trucks for the final day of rafting. Richard from team Renegades looks stoked!
Getting to know everyone really well in the back of a van:
Finally a bit of a break - time for Khristy to relax for a couple minutes! She and her team worked their butts off with medical and foot care for the teams. Well done y'all!
Soon after I was called to drive out to CP23 to hang out with Matthew for a day and greet the teams coming through on bikes. Hey, another Western States locale, Robinson Flat! Wish I had more time (and energy), I would have loved to run on the trail. Instead I opted to sleep when given the chance :)
Team Tahoe/Haeleum getting prepped to depart from CP23:
Nutella on the go!
Team Seek Adventures ready to explore more of this bike section:
Team MMDJ getting food and doing a map check:
Team Renegades entertaining us at CP23:
And that was it for my time on the course - what fun and what a experience!
It was also great to get to know Dr. Bannar, Maria, Khristy, and Zak better during a "decompression break" while waiting for teams to arrive at the finish line:
And the winners - wait, it's GODZone! How did that happen? Apparently there was a challenging bike-whack section in the area called (appropriately) "Hell Hole" and team Bones spent some time trying to find a way through. They ended up going the long way around instead. Team GODZone managed to figure out a way to get themselves and their bikes through the mess, saving them a bunch of time. And overcoming a 24-hour deficit for the win. Congratulations team GODZone and what a finish!
More teams arriving back at the Hardrock Hotel, this time it's team NorCal:
Welcome back, team 40/50 Promax Pure Bar!
Team Renegades with a fine finish line pose:
Another gear explosion at race HQ as teams came through briefly before hitting the showers and hopefully getting some sleep:
Team MMDJ approaching the finish:
Team Rusty Bottom Runaways regaling us with stories. One of them asked Tosh why the heck he thought they could do this, when their normal Crossfit workout is 5-7 minutes at a time? I also heard one say he could bench press however many hundreds of pounds, but at some point he couldn't lift the kayak paddle anymore. Too funny!
Chriss and Tosh from Rusty Bottom Runaways hanging out with the Kiwi's Lisa, Sarah, and Sonya from GODZone:
An elaborate cake for Maria's birthday at the post-race party:
Matthew and Beth setting up the awards table:
The post-race party was great fun, lots of stories and laughter, good food and drink, and some Outdoor Television videos and amazing photos from Kaori.
Well, that's a wrap on the race! I'm so glad I was there!