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DIY Adventure Race
June 19, 2011

A month ago, Layne, a local pal, put out the word that he was hosting an Adventure Race for 5 of his nuttier friends -- Kent, Greg, Carmen, my brother Tim and me. Of course, we were all in!

Here's what we ended up doing:

We rode mt-bikes from the MSU campus out about 10 miles to the Rose Lake State Game Area, riding a mile or so of singletrack before ending up at the public skeet range, where we each shot (at) 10 clays. Then we biked again to a friend's house where we did an obstacle course. Then we biked more, to Layne's house on the Red Cedar river, from where we canoed about 8 miles back to town, where our vehicles were. Then we met up back at Layne's house for a BBQ celebration. We timed all our stages. What's not to love?

Most Adventure Races seem to be far away, are intense, and have $50-and-up entry fees, so we had a dandy time inventing our own. (Thanks, Layne!)

No one had ever done the route before, so we were all impressed when it took us over 6 hours to finish.

It was a hot, humid day, which challenged us enough in the breathing department alone.

Other points of interest included...

*Host Layne kept things lively with trash talkin' emails leading up to the big day... and a rap song... and a couplet-rhyming post-race poem summarizing our heroic epic.

*Our normally mild river was in roaring flood stage. Some of our paddlers were novices, but no one tipped over. (Early on a team had a scare they came close to a sideways logjam roll-under.) Two strong paddlers were surprised to be twice threatened by an amateur crew in a bargier boat.

*The obstacle course was designed by the little daughters of one of the racers: they came up with a doozy! 100 jump-ropes... one-leg hopping... monkeybars... high-swinging... puzzle-solving... deep-grass golf chipping. Whew!

*The skeet-shooting produced some red-faced shotgun experts. I usually hit any skeet I shoot at. This time I got only 1! Layne also enjoys the shooting sports -- and he got 2! Our resident firearms expert didn't do much better. The beginners and amateurs cleaned our clocks. (I used a sweet skeet gun, too -- that I had never shot before. Doh!)

*The longest mt-bike leg had a storybook result: 3 stronger riders were doing a good job of working me over on my old rattletrap bike, but after a few miles my brother broke his chain. ...And then there were 2. After we hit the singletrack, our strongest guy took off in a breakaway. We watched as he rode up a big hill and...missed a flagged turn. ...Then there was one. A half mile from the finish, a stick jammed in his spokes and he pulled over. I was in the lead! I put the hammer down and finished that leg first. A hilarious tortoise and hare outcome, I thought.

*Layne couldn't know how his events line-up and timing method would work out, but at every stage of the day the rankings kept getting turned topsy-turvy. It was a cliff-hanger all along. He couldn't have planned it any better for drama if he knew what he was doing. : ) Someone in the rear before the obstacle course was suddenly in the lead after it. For our final stage, we made our canoe teams by pairing the first-ranked racer with the last-place and so on. I was in 2nd so I canoed with the 2nd-to-last place racer -- who happened to be a strong paddler. We paddled my nicer boat into a decent lead. But I hadn't been doing the math and didn't appreciate that I was two minutes behind in the standings. Our canoe had to win by more than that for me to win. Twice during the leg we looked back to make sure we were far ahead...and saw the 2nd place boat -- with the 1st place guy in it -- right on our stern! Yikes! In the end we finished several minutes ahead and so by a small margin I got to bring home the 1st Sparty vs. Chief Okemos Adventure Race trophy!

We were all pretty tuckered out afterward, since it took a fair bit longer than we'd imagined. We went through sun, rain, dirt, humidity, heat. But we had a great time. It was certainly a fun way to see the county.

...And it was a dandy way to kick off the summer. Can't beat it!

A slender margin of victory is still fun! Thanks, Layne, for the great event!

Gathered up before the next stage.

A beautiful spring day...heading into summer.

Ready to start a big unknown day of racing!

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