Thunder Rolls 2014: Prelude to the storm
This was to be my third time at the Thunder Rolls 24 hour adventure race and my first time there without Team Virtus. My teammates weren’t able to race this one due to life and important hair appointments and the like, but luckily Robin was busy being a good mom on race weekend, leaving Chuck in need of a partner. When our Team Godzilla teammate Keith joined in, I was delighted to finally (for the first time ever) be the youngest on the team and jokingly suggested a team name of Age Before Beauty.
While my regular team is...um...punctuality-impaired, I knew I couldn’t count on Keith and Chuck to show up late and made sure everything was ready in time for us to meet up at my house on 10 a.m. Friday morning. Sure enough, Chuck pulled up right at 10, but even after we’d loaded all of my gear Keith was still missing. This was particularly concerning in light of the last email we'd received from him.
|Chuck assumed he was joking; as you can see, I was a little worried.|
We were both worried by 10:20 or so and were scrambling around trying to get Keith's number from a friend when I realized I had it. No answer, so I left a message: "Ummm, Keith? Chuck and I are a little worried because we're here loaded up for Thunder Rolls and you're not. Maybe you're just running behind, so give us a call and reassure us."
Since that number hadn't helped, we started trying to track down his work number, and after a bit I tried calling him back again. This time he answered. "It's today?? I took off next Friday! I thought it was next week."
"Well," Chuck observed and I passed on, "The race doesn't start until midnight. You can still get there."
"Nope," Keith said flatly. He was disappointed and apologized to us, but we were bummed for him. He was missing out on everything; we were just losing a teammate (and now I was going to have to be the one to take care of the passport) but could still race.
We'd stopped for lunch about an hour and a half down the road when I got a message from Keith. He'd changed his mind and was going to make it happen, but he wouldn't get to camp until 8 or so. A three person team once again, we finished eating and headed north.
Arriving at Camp Benson is like coming home to a family reunion. Lots of teams keep coming back, so you get to know each other; plus, having volunteered at adventure camp for the past two years, I've become good friends with most of the volunteers. There were lots of hugs and hellos as we got checked in, dragged all of our gear to our cabin to find that we were roomies with our Lupine AR buddies.
The weather was hot and ridiculously humid, so we opted to skip the ascending practice. We've both got some experience, and we decided we'd be better off saving our energy for the actual race ascent. Instead, we got our packs together and were feeling weirdly prepared way early. Chuck and I left our bikes at the nearby bike drop as soon as it opened and got back to camp in plenty of time to enjoy the pasta dinner. To be honest, as we drove back into camp I did have a brief moment thinking, "I do not belong here," before pushing it aside and going to meet our friends.
|Paula and me before the race|
|Eating with our friends Donovan, Todd, and Brian|
We were so busy hanging out and talking that we missed the very beginning of the pre-race meeting. Luckily, we got there before any important information was given out. Gerry handed out the race books and gave us an overview of the course. My favorite part was his explanation of one of the bike CPs: "You're going to go past a sign that says 'Bridge Closed', and it is closed, but you can get through. It's been on a list to get fixed for like 7 years, and it's falling apart. There are some places you could fall through, but don't worry...it's not the most dangerous thing you'll be doing tonight."
Reassuring words, indeed.
Looking over the course, I saw some things I wasn't crazy about. Starting with coasteering meant our feet would immediately be wet; a 22-mile canoe leg -- that's a big portion of my least favorite discipline; the placement of ascending at the end of the race, when our legs and arms would be fried; and a mandatory trip down the luge, which I've managed to avoid for two years. Yikes.
|I might have been feeling slightly intimidated.|
Chuck got the maps while I secured us a spot at one of the tables, and we set to plotting points. I love getting to read the coordinates and be part of the route planning process because then it gives me a good idea of how the course fits together. As I read coordinates, though, I couldn't stop yawning. I'd been up since 6 a.m., was getting ready to race for 24 hours, and I was already tired. Awesome.
We got our route figured out and did some strategizing; meanwhile Keith showed up and got all of his stuff taken care of, taking a little teasing from people who'd heard of his mix-up. "Oh, you're the guy who thought it was next week?" I'm sure that coming in late he felt a little at sea, but he handled it like a champ. We were all ready in time to lie down and rest for a little bit. I closed my eyes but never did manage to sleep, and before long it was ready to line up for the start.
|Me, Chuck, and Keith|