Big finish in the Arctic Challenge
what was billed as an "Arctic Challenge" was unseasonably mild, which only dulled the pain of a very tough trail running and mountain biking course. first, big kudos to Patrick and Joel of KC Multisport on a very challenging and well-organized event. it's the first of what i hope is an annual occurrence. really nice job, guys.
the race consisted of two run stages, which were mostly off-road, and one mountain bike stage, which was filled with slick, icy, slushy, muddy trail conditions and many dismounts to hike to checkpoints along the way, or carry/walk the bike through un-ridable conditions.
i teamed up with my buddy kevin, who had stellar orienteering skills and pushed me past a pulled thigh injury i incurred the night before. thanks to some great anti-inflammatory drugs and a good Ace-bandage tape job, i was good to go.
the race was peppered with 17 checkpoint areas, which were marked by an orange kite (small) normally off the trail and into the woods. we relied on a map, instincts, compass and orienteering skills to get from checkpoint to checkpoint.
the first run section was tough, mainly because we hadn't really warmed up and were immediately headed into a hilly route. we came in right behind the leaders at the transition area, feeling pretty good about our positioning going into the bike section. at each transition area, a team-builder was presented. from building a perfect square out of imperfect shapes to a word find to our worst task: balancing and walking as a team on two boards.
hitting the bike section gave my thigh a chance to recover, which felt nice until we got onto the snowy-slushy trail. i've never seen that much mud and crap. it was one of the toughest bike rides i've had.
we moved into the final run knowing we'd broken from a pack of teams and only passed by a couple teams finishing the other way, giving us the momentum we needed and the fantasy of standing on some sort of podium receiving flowers and kisses from pretty girls in cycling jerseys (did not happen, but we got some great chili at the end). we did however have a couple pretty girls cheering for us the whole way, which really helped. it was fun to participate with two other friends, Caroline and Joel, who were part of a very strong coed team (even with Caroline riding on slicks!).
we ended up coming in third in the men's division, which was a pretty sweet finish considering the strength of the competition. many of these folks are in my KC Power Hour spin class and almost all were experienced multi sport athletes. with a number of cuts and caked-on mud covering my legs and pretty well physically spent, we all headed to Barley's to refuel.