Monday, October 26, 2009

USARA Nationals - brief recap

Team Vignette (me, Dave, Kip) raced the USARA Nationals near Denton, TX last weekend. John was supposed to race with me and Dave, but his knee is still healing. Thank you to Kip for stepping in at the last minute!

We got to bike on pavement for much of the first half of the race, plus we paddled on the lake for over 6 hours. It was pretty windy, but we managed to keep the canoe going in the right direction and we found all the checkpoints on the water. More biking, a couple short trekking sections that we enjoyed (except for CP9), and then more biking on pavement. I'm not a fan of running on pavement, but I'll bike on it any day.

The second half of the race looked to be mostly on trails, but we detoured around the worst of them. The main Greenbelt trail could not be avoided, but luckily it was 10 miles (out and another 10 back) of mostly solid hard-packed gravel. It was covered in water, thin layers of mud, and an occasional muddy puddle, so we got wet while riding it, but we could still ride fast and it was more cold (being nighttime) than nasty. A bit more on-foot orienteering, then the sun came up (yay!). Our final challenge was riding 4.5 miles of awful, thick muddy equestrian trail that we were required to take, and we disliked it intensely but at least it was the last thing we had to do so we pushed through it. There was supposed to be a 7-mile trekking section at the end, but that got removed (to our dismay). But at least we were done. We rode 110 miles total!

We finished in 13th place overall, out of 68 teams. Our whole goal was to do the best we could while still enjoying ourselves for the most part. Dave towed Kip on the bike, I led the paceline a couple times, we stopped at a convenience store for snacks, we didn't rush through transition like normal, and we raced for ourselves instead of getting caught up in the competition (since there were a lot of other teams around us much of the time). We started out in the back of the pack and had fun slowly moving up, and we were really happy to clear the whole course and finish as well as we did.

I'll write a longer race report, but that's a start for now :)