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2014 Rev 3 Adventure Shenandoah Epic 26 Hour Adventure Race

The 2014 Rev3 Adventure Shenandoah Epic 26 Hour Adventure Race was the first shot for this
years lineup to race together. Garret and I were joined by Mari Chandler and Rob Preston
from Australia. Mari has raced quite a bit with Kyle and team Tecnu in the past, but hasnt
worn the Tecnu Champion Systems kit since USARA Nationals 2011. No one on the team really
knew Rob other than brief post-race, sleep deprived chats and via Facebook, but his reputation
and credentials preceded him, and we signed him up to take Bob Millers place as lead
navigator for our top A races of the year (Expedition Africa May 2014 and ARWC Ecuador
November 2014). Rob and his wife Kathryn planned a USA vacation that just so happened to
coincide with this race and with a little bit of rearranging team Tecnu was able to get through
that awkward first date 4 weeks before landing in Durban, South Africa. Stakes were lower,
pressure was off, and nerves were calm.

Friday night the team made short work of plotting our course through the rugged Shenandoah
Mountains and carefully estimating our rate of travel for the 7 different legs. This is always
hard to do without knowing the conditions of the trails and forest ahead of time, but extremely
important in this type of race where there is a set time to finish (noon on Sunday) and the
winner is the one with the most checkpoints acquired. We can be the fastest and strongest
team, but need to use our noggins to maximize our efforts. With 50 checkpoints and 26 hours
to collect them, we needed to be averaging 2 CPs/hour, but it also appeared that the course
would take much longer than 26 hours to clear (get all the CPs). So we had a few different
areas identified where the CPs/hour might not be worth our efforts depending on the time of
day and where we wanted to be next to get to more densely populated CP areas. We also
could NOT be late. The penalty for being late was very steep. The course included a gratuitous
amount of out-and-backs and utilizing the same trails for different legs of the race. This made
for an ugly map that looked like a childs coloring book (not an artistically gifted child). Rob said
the map looked like, a dogs breakfast.

10 AM Saturday we set off with 150 other watercraft down the South Fork of the Shenandoah
River from Vaughn, VA to the take out at Compton. We had quite the advantage with our
carbon fiber Epic paddles as other teams used the heavy plastic rental paddles. The river had a
few ripples in it, but was mostly slow moving flat water with the exception of Comptons Rapid
right before the take out that gave us a good rush as large waves narrowly missed swamping
our open canoes.

Finishing the 15 mile paddle with the top 4 or 5 teams, we transitioned quickly as temperatures
rose and were soon running up Indian Grave Ridge in the lead on a 16 mile trek through the
George Washington National Forest. It got hot quickly and the team was very thankful for
lathering up with Kinesys sunblock before the races start. The trek essentially climbed up from
Compton to the massive Massanutten Mountain (a skinny ridge 1300 feet above the river),
traversed the ridge to the northeast while we dropped off the ridge to collect off trail CPs, and
then eventually dropping the 1300 feet back off the ridge to our bikes in Bentonville, VA.



The 4 hour trek saw the days heat and humidity kick up along with many stumbles and
yardsales on the so very technical rocky trails. I think Rob was the only one that didnt hit the
deck. Garret utilized his parkour moves and kept himself off the dirt most of the time. Mari
and I both drew blood and of course both of our crashes were in front of other teams. The
interesting thing about this races format (with collecting CPs in any order, leaving some
behind, and all the out-and-backs) allowed us to be racing alongside other teams. It was fun to
encourage the others and receive their encouragement as well.

In the transition area we were greeted with 2 challenges. Not something we typically see in
an adventure race, but we made short work of them with the help of Maris mad puzzling
skillz. I ran up a small hill to collect 2 corks while Mari and the boys put together a number of
large wooden shapes to form a square. From what I hear the boys were fumbling about until
Mari took charge. When I returned Mari and Garret took turns filling a bucket with holes (that
my corks filled) with river water.
We left the TA on a short mountain bike loop on the trails in Andy Guest, Jr. State Park. The
loop we planned to collect all the points included a couple 500 foot climbs, but was mostly a
flat, fast, muddy romp through really fun beginner type trails. I believe Rob described the trails
as single-and-a-half-track. We finished the 18 mile ride and quickly exchanged our steeds for
runners and did a very similar loop on foot cutting into the runnable forest as much as possible
to save distance and time. We can back into TA just before the sunset, licked our wounds a bit
after a hard and humid 10 hours of pushing the pace, packed up heavy bags for the remaining
15 hours of racing, and set off into the dark with Light & Motion Stellas on our helmets and
Secas on our handlebars.



After a few miles of riding dirt roads, one lost map, one retrieved map, one leaky hydration
bladder fixed, and one seat post adjustment we started the section of the race that will haunt
the race participants for years to come and will unfortunately be the section that we all look
back on when thinking of the race. This leg put the epic in the Epic. We proceeded to push,
ride for 10 feet, dismount, push, mount, ride for 5 feet in granny gear, push, bash shin on pedal,
curse, carry bike, fall on face, mount, ride for 6 feet, crash, and repeat for 3 hours. The hiking
trail we utilized to climb the 1300 feet to the top of Massanutten Mountain and drop down the
other side to the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area was steep and rocky. It would have been a
hard hike w/o a bike and walking in stiff soled cycling shoes, but the course designer Mark had
eviler plans for his racers. There were moments of pure joy (splashed with a side of fear) as we
lit up the trail with 1100 lumens of Light & Motion goodness and bombed down the hiking
single track. The other moments were filled with us carrying our bikes downhill. Pushing your
bike up hill to ride a fun single track down is one thing, but pushing up to push down is just
plain heinous. This section was also mandatory for folks to do in order to cross the finish
line. Yikes!!


Around 11PM Saturday night we ditched our running shoes and about 6 hours of food each at
the remote TA on the back side of the Massanutten Mountain and started off on a bike loop
consisting of 10 optional CPs with quite the investment of time to get out to them. After
climbing atop of Three Top Mountain with some actual riding we quickly realized that the ridge
we were traversing was slowreally slowlike 3MPH slow. We got 1 CP in about 2 hours time
and decided to cut our losses by heading back to the remote TA. We left 5 optional CPs (and
about 20 miles of riding of about 35 in total) on this bike loop as well as a pint of blood from the
countless crashes. I am told we turned around just before the trails got more ride-able and
actually fun (out towards Woodstock Lookout Tower), but at the time it looked like we could
have been shooting ourselves in the foot if another team completely bailed on the option bike
loop and invested more time in the final trekking section.



With the right call made we arrived back to the remote TA, changed our shoes, and headed out
into the 4AM darkness on sore feet and tired eyes. We spread out the map of the remaining 13 CPs
on this final trek section and put together a route that we could safely do in 5 hours. That would
put us back on our bikes at 9AM and give us a conservative 3 hour pedal (err. push) back the same
way we came to get to the finish line at noon on Sunday. Rob kept us on what I thought was a way
too conservative route, but his plan allowed us to get the easiest 7 of the 13 checkpoints in the 5
hours. I guess there is a reason he got 6
th
place at the 2010 World Rogaine Championships, and I
got 58
th
place!! His dialed in route plan more than made up for his 1 and only navigational
mistake (only 15 minutes). Good on ya, mate!

We finished off the trek with some pep in our step once the sun rose. The last hour of darkness
was rough for our team. Nobody but Garret seemed to have the motivation to get our hides
moving. The tough terrain took its toll on our sore bodies and foggy brains.



We heard news from Michael in the remote TA as we hopped on our bikes that we were sitting
comfortably in 1
st
with Untamed a few CPs behind us, but Untamed headed out towards the finish
25 minutes ahead of us. We wanted to close the gap just to be sure, and its a race, right? We
marched our bikes up the hiking trail to the top of the mountain catching a glimpse of team
Untamed at the summit. They showed us how to descend on sketchy loose trails as they took off
out of sight on the drop down to the river. We collected ourselves after the white-knuckle
descent and hit the last couple miles of dirt road hard in order to pass Untamed and come
across the finish line in first place with 3 more CPs than 2
nd
place Untamed New England /
MadAthlete.com. Good race to them and our other competitors out there. It was fun to see
everybody out there so much!

It goes without saying that the biggest thanks goes out to our sponsors for their support of this
exciting sport. Tecnu, Adventure Medical Kits, and Survive Outdoors Longer, Champion
Systems, Darn Tough socks, Julbo USA Pipeline and Trail sunnies, Leki trekking poles, Endurox
R4, 2
nd
Surge gels, Out There AS1 & AS2 packs, and more. Keep your seatbelts fastened this
years ride is only getting started! The 300+ mile Expedition Africa kicks off May 25 near
Durban, South Africa against our biggest competition in the sport. Seagate, Silva, Merrel
Adventure Addicts and others will be there. Many of the top 5 in the world including us at 4
th

will be in attendance for the showdown. Stay tuned for the fireworks.