Race: Buff Betty Adventure race
Date: Sept 9, 2017
Location: Shenandoah River State Park
Rider: Jessica Kutz
So every once in a while I deviate from the traditional cycling scene; specifically, I’ve taken a liking to adventure racing. On Sept 9 I participated in the Buff Betty, which is my 3rd ever adventure race (1st solo race). I was super excited for this event because it was a women’s only event, which isn’t that common for sports affiliated with the outdoor world. The race was hosted by Adventure Addicts Racing, the two previous races I had done were hosted by them, so I new I was in for a treat.
The challenge of racing solo had nothing to do with the “stages” of the race: mountain biking, trekking and paddling, but everything to do with the fact that I still don’t know how to use a compass (disclaimer: I was a girl scout. My mom was my troop leader. All I remember is how to sew pillows and start a fire.) I had with me a $3 compass, which proved useless the first time I “tried” to use it and it couldn’t settle on which way was north. In the defense of the compass, it had air bubbles (because it cost $3) so it wouldn’t function properly. No worries, I used my womanly intuition and read terrain features (that I do well, I’ve been lost MANY time on my mountain bike).
The day started off on foot and I was moving fast (strange because I’m not much of a runner…in my opinion). I found the first few check points REALLY fast and then came a bonus checkpoint. Bonuses checkpoints are in addition to the regular check points but tend to be harder to find (hence the need for navigational skills…and a working compass). Needless to say, while on the trek (run) portion I wasted 45 minutes between 2 different bonus checkpoints. Not my proudest moment (but hey, I didn’t get lost!). The next portion was on the bike I knew I could make up so of that lost time.
I actually ride my bike in the park that the race took place in (Andy Guest State Park) all the time. So I had a big confidence boost and a really solid plan of how to go about snagging checkpoints quickly and effectively. Oddly, I think I road those trails, and not on the trails, faster than I ever have out there. The bike portion was over and done with in just 1 hour without any mistakes and some pretty sweet short cuts through the woods (this is legal and encouraged in adventure racing).
Then I hit the paddle portion, the dreaded paddle portion. Don’t get me wrong, I like to paddle….when I can go slowly and listen to music. I don’t love paddling when I’m trying to go fast, look for little flags and trying not to flip my kayak when I get stuck on rocks and insist or rocking back and forth instead of simply wading through the water. The paddle is always mentally tough. I was really excited during this section because I was SURE I was going to clean the course (get all checkpoints and bonus check points) but then my enthusiasm took a turn for the worst. I paddled right past where the 2nd to last check point should have been, and I have eyes like a hawk and didn’t see it. I contemplated paddling back but I couldn’t justify that amount of work for 1 checkpoint. I paddled into the finish sort of excited (I was the first solo racer in; only a team of team experienced adventure racers came in before me) because I thought I missed a checkpoint. BUT THEN….more racers started coming in and EVERYONE was missing that checkpoint. Low and behold, some park user decided to take down the checkpoint flag (it was recused floating down the river). So technically I didn’t clear the course BUT I was given credit for clearing the course since there was no flag to find in about 4 hours (you were given 6 hours to finish). I’ll take it!.
At the end of the day, I had a blast being outside. These races are like a scavenger hunt for adults/ outdoor lovers. Honestly, I kept thinking how much FUN I was having during the race…that’s something special. I’ll wrap up my fall continuing to cross train with trail running and mountain biking and finally by competing in one more adventure race in Charlottesville VA (this one is 15 hours long!). I’m looking forward to working with our mountain bike contingent for the start of our spring season. Several long endurance races are in store for me this coming year!
Result: 1st place