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Adventures

Cowboy Tough 2016 - 2nd overall after battling hard for 3.5 days in the wilds of Wyoming

Judson Douglas

What a race! #CCT2016 certainly was the most competitive race we have seen so far in Wyoming at the Cowboy Tough! We finished in 2nd place overall after 1.5 days in the lead. What a great experience, and we are proud of the direction our team is headed. We look forward to building on it!

Take a look at our own 240 pictures gallery, we have some amazing pictures of our journey: https://www.flickr.com/photos/140415534@N03/sets/72157670656591901

All informations: http://www.cowboytoughwy.com/
Official race pictures: http://rev3adventure.smugmug.com/2016CamecoCowboyTough

Total distance : 700km
Racers: Greg McHale, Denise McHale, Alex Provost, Stuart Lynch

AR Cowboys Caspering

We each had a good preparation prior to the race, and arrived ahead of time to get everything in order. Casper is a quiet city and we made sure to take in tourist sights as it was our first time visiting. Never know when familiar street corners and sights can become handy in a race!

Objectives

We came to race in Wyoming with 3 clear objectives:

  1. Improve from our last outing in Iowa, and first as the newest version of Team Tecnu
  2. Bring back an entry to #ARWC2016 in Australia 
  3. Race to the best of abilities

We clearly reached objectives 1 and 2. We had a better overall execution than in Iowa. Happy Mutant Olmitz Miner was our first race together and there were some key elements we wanted to improve upon for #CCT2016. It's normal as we are just at the beginning of this new team. We are still discovering how we all interact together, and finding cohesiveness, and how to capitalize on the teams strengths, and make weaknesses our strengths, and the more we will race the more effective we will get.
As for the free entry to World's, AMK won the race but we knew going in they won the ARWS Belize earlier in the year and already had an entry, so the entry available at #CCT2016 goes to the next team in the ranking, who is team Tecnu. Goal accomplished.

Our last goal still lies somewhere in front of us. We had a lead for 1.5 days, and were building on it but were slowed considerably by stomach issues. We certainly raced our best given the conditions but there is far potential for this team, and we are excited by this potential as we felt like we were the fastest team out there had our race not been altered by illness, and we look forward to proving that at our next outing. Denise, Greg and myself all had food/heat related issues at different points that prevented us from going full speed for an extended period of time, and yet we still managed to keep the race close. We are steadfast on our goals for excellence as a team, and in what the future holds for us. 

Highlights

We certainly have several: racing along side world champion in Stuart Lynch, leading for half of the race, the first 4 TAs, seeing bald eagles, not flipping in the rapids, sleeping under a truck, coyotes screaming at night, climbing those high desert gravel roads (...really a highlight?), sharing those mountain house meals, and bonding as a team.

Hard times

Boy we also had some hard times out there: TA5 and all TAs after that were a struggle. This is where we have to improve the most, is a more efficient execution in TA. 

Stomach issues: I had a rough patch on the trek to Roaring fork. I guess it started on the bike, which is quite unusual for me. We managed to make the most out of it but it cost us some time for sure. Shortly before the TA Greg started to feel weird as well. We took some extra time in the TA to make sure to recover and be ready for Laramie Peak ascension as we planned to go for the $250 bonus. We were all keen to set the tone there but Greg suffered on the way up and we had to take our foot off the pedal a bit. Rest assured that as I'm typing these words we have plans in place to address these issues, and be a much more well oiled machine the next time out.

Somehow we thought TA10 was at the top of Casper Mountain so we went all the way up only to figure it was at the summit of Muddy Mountain, yeah that other mountain. So we swallowed it and down and up again we went... I'm sure AMK was shocked to see us coming down as they trudged up the long climb on their bikes.

Racing with a Star 

We had the privilege of racing with Seagate racer Stuart Lynch, and 4-time AR World Champ. A sincere privilege it was indeed as Stu was kind enough to pass along some of his racing knowledge, and views that we will thoughtfully use to make us a stronger unit. It was not only a racing but a learning experience for Denise, Greg and myself, and something we are all reflecting on to make us better athletes, and teammates.

Many racers asked us after the race: "So how was it to race with Stu?" The answer is that it was very straight forward. Stu keeps things very simple and he was all in whenever we needed his support. He is the consumate team player with no wasted energy.  We gelled instantly when he arrived and it was as if we had been racing together for years. A true Champion, and now a wonderful friend.

Wyoming

Wyoming is a wild and unique place. Congratulations to all teams, volunteers and race organization for putting on a great show.  We loved racing there and we are glad we had a taste of it as we are building not only for #ARWC2016 but also for #ARWC2017 back in the wilds of Wyoming. 

Sponsors

We would like to take a moment and thank our incredible sponsors for without them we would not be able to test the boundaries of human endurance. Our family over at Tec Labs, makers of Tecnu and Tecnu Extreme to rid your body of poison oak and poison ivy oils. Our amazing Partners over at Ripcord makers of the best travel and evacuation Insurance out there. They keep us safe knowing that they will be there to protect us if we need them. Voler makers of the best racing kits out there. They keep us looking sharp as we race fast. Out There USA packs by Mike Kloser are frankly the best out there. Leki for making the best trekking poles. Darn tough Vermont socks for blister free socks. Headsweats for the best performance visors and hats (thanks Alan). Julbo USA for their incredible Aero, Trail and Dust sunglasses, they keep us safe. Saltstick for their incredible electrolytes. Xact Nutrition for the delicious maple bars. Princeton Tec for their incredible head lamps. Kinesys for amazing greaseless sunscreen. Skwoosh for awesome canoe pads. Specialized for their amazing Epic carbon fiber 29ers. Lazer for amazing Mips helmets.  Mountain House for incredible and deliscious meals. Chamois Butt'r for great lube that keeps our butts chafe free. Light and Motion for Seca and Stella lamps to light our way. Skins for killer compression gear.  KEEN footwear for great kicks. Mocke for the best PFDs on the market. Hillsound for killer gaiters and crampons. Thank you all amazing partners. We were Cowboy Tough, and Cowboy Strong.

Next up, ARWS exhibition race in China in September.  

Alex & Team Tecnu

New team kicking off the new season in style @ Happy Mutant Olmitz Miner in Ottumwa Iowa

Judson Douglas

Here is Brian's race report - Attackpoint style!

Friday May 27

7 PM

Adventure Racing 67:25:00 340.19 mi +10760ft

Happy Mutant Olmitz Miner in Ottumwa, IA

Tecnu Adventure Racing - Greg, Denise, Alex, & Brian

Brian drove in Thursday night and the rest of the crew arrived midday on Friday after some flight delays. This compressed our prep time significantly.

Weather was a bit warm and the area had quite a bit of rain leading into the race. We were expecting a lot of flat "road" riding and we got it. They also had to drop some of the trail riding due to all the pre-race rain.

Ended up having to drop the second paddle section to stay on track to finish. This was an EASY choice as we arrived just before the starting cutoff and knew no teams behind us could come in and start it. It was also going to be against a wicked headwind on our second night (without any sleep yet) and would only yield 3 additional CPs compared to the "short-course" (much faster) option.

In addition Greg began having significant pain in his right leg 48hrs in so we slowed significantly for the last ~24hrs and dropped a few more CPs. Fortunately we had built a significant lead by that point and didn't have to worry too much about the team behind us aside from gathering a few CPs on the final trekking leg.

Overall we had quite a few navigational mixups but will work to address. We also had quite a bit of strong navigation and good teamwork between Alex and I. Alex did almost all of the bike/paddle nav and we pretty much split the foot nav with Alex remaining primary. Additionally we had to pull out the plotter a few times to either correct a misplot (once) or determine more appropriately what feature was plotted.

Additionally we spent a lot of time in TAs but some of that was due to having to plot in TAs. Additional pressure from other teams would have certainly pressed this issue more. Otherwise we tried to keep the hammer down at least for the first 48hrs.

Road Running 55:00 7.15 mi +300ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101064174

Prologue run around Ottumwa. We were tasked with finding unique landmarks around town with minimal clues (i.e., addresses) and a tourist map. We were not given any actual CP locations.

Greg put the hammer down right away. Alex navigated us through the streets. We could have attacked 1 CP better based on the address but no biggie. Otherwise it was smooth.

TA 35:00

Toby and Jon stopped the race for 35 min to allow some significant thunderstorms to pass before we got on the river in Alum canoes. Much appreciated. All time gaps from the prologue were maintained.

8 PM

Road Running 10:00 0.6 mi +10ft

Carried our paddle gear to the put in.

Paddling (Canoe) 5:10:00 42.5 mi

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101066382

Paddle down the Des Moines River. The river was moving at probably 5-6 mph. Greg hooked up a nice rig for the boats that stabilized the second boat behind the first. It took an hour or so for Greg to be able to control it well from the back and then another hour for us to realize the impact Brian still had in the back of the first canoe. Despite this trouble it was a major benefit to have the team moving constantly as one unit.

We overshot the first CP just a little, or maybe just missed it on the first pass and had to trek back for it, allowing Rev3 to almost catch up. The team had some sleep monsters going into the last CP but then a heavy downpour woke us back up but caused some chills for some of us.

We caught a strainer right before the takeout but were able to get out without taking on any water.

Saturday May 28

2 AM

TA 31:00

Greg and Denise broke down the boats and Alex and Brian plotted the next trek. We all got some Mountain House in our bellies and then took off. Saw Rev3 paddling in as we left across the bridge.

3 AM

Orienteering 2:46:00 10.15 mi +700ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101069644

Really fun Orienteering section. Actually enabled us to stay on roads/trails most of the way but with some off trail sections. We had one mistake where we misinterpreted a trail on the map that was our cue for a shwack so we had a longer shwack than intended. Otherwise excellent nav and teamwork. Everybody moved well.

6 AM

TA 1:08:00

Plotted the long bike leg

7 AM

Road Biking 5:45:00 56.28 mi +1700ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101073462

First half of the long bike leg. We got started on the wrong foot misidentifying a bridge on the map. The bridge was too new for the map. We spotted another bridge down river but figured it was just off our map. We spend at least 30 mins searching for the CP and trying to call RDs. After giving up we left and realized as we tried to leave what the deal was.

After we got going again we hit our first B road which meant carrying our bikes and walking through clay. We were able to clean them off just after. Denise and Brian took some tows for the rest of this leg. Brian had trouble keeping food down towards the end as it was getting hotter. He managed to stuff some food down right before a TA and was gifted with a soda at TA which made all the difference.

We had one of our most interesting CPs during the race on this leg at the American Gothic House for a classic picture.

1 PM

TA 15:00

TA had soda and candy. This was good as we realized we were going to be low on food and also helped ease my stomach.

Orienteering 2:30:00 6.8 mi +360ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101076686

This was originally supposed to be a MTBO leg but the trails were way too sloppy to ride. Instead we stopped to the South of the trails and had to trek to all of them. They opted not to give us the trail map, which would have been greatly appreciated. We got a chance to see some maps along the way but Google shows even more trails.

Brian did this leg without a pack to ensure his recovery was successful. We had a few small hiccups with the nav but some were due to the inconsistency of the trails.

We saw Rev3 coming into the trails as we were leaving.

3 PM

TA 15:00

Grabbed some more soda and candy before leaving.

4 PM

Road Biking race 7:10:00 49.9 mi +2000ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101077992

This was the second half of the bike leg. Some of us struggled a bit running low on food. Fortunately we made it to a convenience store in the town near TA before it closed. We bought whatever warm food they had and devoured it. Made sure we had enough to make it to TA and continued on.

Brian took the nav to the TA which was probably a bad choice as it took him a second to get familiar with the scale and added a mile of road riding. Also the last 6 miles before TA were on an unmapped gravel path. We passed the trail map (no contours) before we got to the points but had no clue how difficult the CPs would be to find. Two were easy, one was not. We lost a good bit of time here. In hindsight might have been better to spend more time transposing the trail but truthfully the map wasn't that great. Would have been nice if they had just supplied us with one.

11 PM

TA 1:05:00

Got to TA shortly before the paddle cutoff. We knew no other teams would be able to leave on the paddle and that it would potentially jeopardize our chance of clearing the course. Additionally there were only 3 additional CPs available and we were running on no sleep. Even if we took the time to sleep in TA we likely would have been fighting sleep monsters (in addition to a wicked head wind) on the paddle. Therefore we opted to get back on our bikes and bike around the lake as all other teams would be forced to do.

Sunday May 29

12 AM

Road Biking race 8:35:00 [4] 52.0 mi (6.1 mph) +1360ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101081334

Left TA with the intention of stopping to sleep at the first good resting point. As we passed through a small town just outside of the TA we saw a bunkie for sale. We decided to check it out and see how well it worked. It was great for sleeping but a bit too expensive and without any way of moving it we decided to pass on purchasing it.

Continued on the bike into the morning hours. As the sun rose and our energy increased we encountered our next significant B road. This was a long one. We started carrying our bikes and once we realized the length we tried to cut through some fields to reach better roads faster. This may not have saved much time but maybe some morale. Unfortunately we picked up 3 flat tires from the start of the B road to the end, one due to a barbed wire fence.

We approached the rest of the bike with all intentions to try and ensure the best road surface possible by spotting houses mapped along the roads. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.

8 AM

TA 1:00:00

Plotted the trekking leg

9 AM

Orienteering race 5:56:00 10.16 mi +600ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101083612

This trek was broken into an East and West section on either side of the TA which allowed us the refill water at the TA halfway through. Also we were able to pick up a rough trail map that helped us move around some of the area. Additionally mapped clearings were a major feature used for navigation. Unfortunately although they were often fairly accurate, this was not always the case and could not be relied on.

Halfway through the W loop we identified a misplotted CP just in time but then second guessed our actual location and wasted time attacking the wrong reentrants. Searched for a bit and then searched the right reentrant but not far enough. Finally spotted it after probably 20-30 mins. Turns out we had our location right at the start.

At the end of the W loop we had to search a reentrant for a control (reentrant junction) that was placed 50m up a spur instead and a bit S of the plot.

Clean nav on the E loop.

3 PM

TA 1:57:00

Prepared for the rest of the race. Plotted all the remaining CPs as we would not see our boxes at the next TA and wanted to ensure we would have enough time to complete the rest of the course.

5 PM

Road Biking 3:28:00 [4] 29.1 mi +750ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101084310

Started this leg real strong but halfway through Greg became unable to pedal at all with his right leg. Brian towed him into the town of Chariton (good size) on a cinder trail.

We had planned to get some good food but we ended up having to brainstorm options for easing some of Greg's pain and getting him to the next TA and the finish. Picked up some pain meds at the grocery store and filled up at THE GRAND BUFFET. As we finished eating the pain meds started kicking in and we took off at an easier pace to TA. We biked the rest of this section with Silent Chasers who were about 10 CPs behind us at this point.

9 PM

TA 18:00

Quick change of shoes and gear drop.

Orienteering 12:01:00 18.55 mi +1100ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101086624

This was the only point to point trek (although some teams decided to make it a loop and add to the biking). Jason Brown who started on Rev3 but had to drop due to stomach issues on the first day joined us for this leg and his company was very much appreciated. We started the trek just at sunset.

The first control we attacked was misplotted/misplaced. We double checked where it should have been then punched the CP and on our way to the next CP were informed that it was the RDs mistake.

Brian began having trouble identifying north on the map. This was due to how he labeled the controls, the map labels, not holding the map, and some growing sleep monsters (along with Alex) despite physically feeling awake. We therefore attacked the second control almost dead-on and had to search both directions on a creek to find the CP. We then lost our location on the way to the next CP and searched 3 spurs for the CP (the last of which was the right one) without any luck. We decided to drop the control to eliminate any other lost time and move forward with the goal of getting some sleep ASAP. We found a nice shed shortly after and did so.

It took until finding the next CP for us to feel really confident again but then we started moving with purpose again and started checking off the CPs. Greg's knee started acting up a bit so we were unable to move quickly but at least we were able to move.

As we approached the TA we searched a large river bed for a control that apparently was swept away. A 24hr team was searching at the same time without any luck either. We moved on after about 15 min. When we got to TA there were 5 trekking CPs beyond it that we decided to drop. We easily had enough CPs for the win and were expecting about a 7 hour bike back (given Greg's leg) and at this point only had 8 hours. That being said we had no idea how much longer it COULD take.

Monday May 30

9 AM

TA 30:00

Final TA

10 AM

Road Biking 5:25:00 57.0 mi +1880ft

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1101088134

RD informed us of another B road right off the bat so we opted to ride around. Turns out this B road was actually rideable. WTF? Anyway it only added about 5 mi.

Greg's leg was hit or miss. Unusable at times and others fine. It mostly had some impact thought requiring tows from Alex (while navigating) and pushes from Denise and I. We tried to keep him moving constantly by stopping for punches and the like and then catching up. He needed the occasional breaks as well. It was also another hot day.

Greg suffered a lot but kept on pushing and was able to keep the pain to a minimum if he didn't push too hard. This just meant moving at a slower pace. Brian started slowing to this pace at the end of this ride anyway.

With 1 CP to go we opted for a longer (3-4 mi) route to ensure pavement and a flatter ride. Turns out the bridge was moved and added another mile. Still probably a nicer/safer option on Greg's leg and with the win secured as long as we finished it made more sense to take care of the leg than concern ourselves with a mile here or there.

Finished right alongside the rockstar female team of 2 doing the 24 hour race.