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    Mon, 26 Mar 2007 11:50:14 -0700

    Paula and Heather find time to take part in a Women's Adventure race this past weekend.
    Getting ready for the race.

    Showing their skills - NOT!!

    Inflating the beautiful boat.

    Getting in synch paddling

    Transitioning with the boat.

    Stamping the passport at a checkpoint.

    Bike jousting.

    Paula taking control of the map!!

    All smiles at the finish.

    A lot has been going on with the crew at since the Ironman Arizona training camp. We are getting close to the racing season here and what that means is that Roch and Huddle have put on their race director hats. They are working non-stop to get the Ford Ironman 70.3 California (March 31st )and the Ford Ironman Arizona (April 15th) races ready. Those that have never seen how much work is involved to get a race ready for the athletes to compete, should spend a day with Roch and Huddle.

    After these first two races of the season are complete then it will be back to training camps – with the Ironman Coeur D’alene camp taking place on April 27-29th.

    Despite all the craziness, Paula and Heather were able to fit in a little fun this past weekend as they took part in the Women’s Adventure Race at Lake Hodges here in San Diego County. While Paula has some adventure racing experience, competing in the Mild Seven Outdoor Quest numerous times, this was my (Heather’s) first adventure race. This was a great way to experience an adventure race in a very low key, fun environment. The race would take place in Lake Hodges and the surrounding trails. There were approximately 15, one, two, or three person teams taking place. The race would start with a mystery event. This event would have the teams making their way across the grass using wooden blocks. You had one more block than the number of team members and you had to make your way from point A to B without touching any part of your body to the ground. Well, clearly all the other teams had practiced somewhat – but not us. We went about our business only to find that by the time we finished we were dead LAST!!!

    Being last is not necessarily a bad thing. What this did was make the next event – a short run to retrieve a couple of tennis balls which had numbers specific to your team written on them, and bring them back to the transition, much easier. Since we were dead last, it was no problem as we could just follow all the other teams. By the time we made it back to the transition area, we were in second place. Only a one team was ahead – a single person team.

    Next was the paddling portion of the event. You had to manually inflate your boat, and then paddle to a small island; scramble up the hill and stamp your passport; make your way back down to the boat and then paddle over to another location. So we now had to inflate our beautiful Coleman Navigator boat (OK it really is a dingy!!). Because we are so well organized, the only pump that I could find to pump up the boat was a little $5 unit from REI. It was the most ridiculous looking pump you have ever seen. All the other teams had huge double shot pumps, and there we were with the miniature pump. We took turns getting the boat pumped up – each of us with our own style – and managed to get the boat inflated pretty fast. Off we went on our paddle to the island. We had opted for long kayak paddles as we thought this would be the most efficient way to paddle the blow-up boat. We did well on the paddle – got our paddling in sync. I knelt in the front and Paula sat in the back and made sure we went straight. We made it to the island and scrambled our way up to the top and stamped our passport. Of course from the top we decided that the quickest way down would be to take the most direct line straight down the steep hill. We did our share of bush whacking on the way down but it definitely was faster. Now it was back in the boat to paddle to another location. We were still in second and the single person team was holding her own.

    The next event was to open a treasure chest and retrieve a portion of the course map that we were missing. There were a couple of combination locks and you had to find the correct combinations on a list, to open the chest. Paula got her first lesson in combination locks – I guess in growing up in South Africa they didn’t have school lockers like we did!!! We got the missing portion of the map and then had to run with our lovely boat back to the transition area. We started by each taking a side of the boat – this worked pretty well, but the wind kept catching the front of the boat. So half-way back, we opted for Paula taking the boat and me with the paddles.

    Once we got back to the transition area, we hopped on our Mountain bikes, put our running shoes in our back pockets and were off on the next stage. We had to ride our Mountain bikes to a check point, drop the bikes, run up to the top of a hill, to another check point, and then back down to the bikes. Once we got back to the bikes we were to ride back to the transition area. We started on our bikes and were pretty sure where we needed to go – luckily Paula is really good with a map. We were making our way to the check point when the girl that was ahead of us had gone off course. So now we were back even with her. We all pretty much made it to the bike drop at the same time. Because it was quite a run up the hill, we decided to switch into our running shoes – the other girl did not. When we got to the checkpoint at the top of the run, they did a mandatory check for equipment – we had to show them our first-aid kit – which luckily we had. Then it was back to the bike and hammer to the transition area. We rode well on the way back and assumed that we made it back to the transition area in first. When we got there, they informed us that we were only a minute behind. I guess this is all part of adventure racing – we assumed you had to follow the map on the way back, but it didn’t specifically say that so, it was possible to take a shorter route back. Live and learn!!!

    We had one final mystery event to complete when we arrived at the transition area – Bike Jousting. You had to take a long jousting pole and retrieve a ring off a rack – then without dropping the ring or touching your feet to the ground, return to start line. If you have any knowledge of our bike handling skills you will realize that although this sounds easy – not so much for us!! We did pretty well, only dropped the ring once. Then it was the final event – a run/hike to 3 separate check points before crossing the finish line. As I said before, Paula is really good with a map. Well for some reason I decided where we should go to get to the first check point. We went off in the totally wrong direction. Only once Paula took control of the map again, did we find our way. We scrambled up and down the hills and found the 3 checkpoints and made our way back to the finish line. We cross the line about 8 minutes behind the girl in front, only to find out that she received a 10 minute penalty from the very first challenge. So we had actually won the event – taking about 2.5 hours to complete the course.

    We had the best time participating in the event. It was a great opportunity to get in a good workout and to have a lot of fun at the same time. Would I do it again – you bet!! It is amazing how tiring it is – you are going as fast as you can for each event – so there is not a lot of pacing involved. So if any of you have the chance to step off the beaten path and participant in an event like this we really encourage you to do so – variety is the spice of life!!!