We are still alive and well after our most recent adventure race in Governor Dodge State Park. Team Soko went with great gear and good intentions but we didn’t bring home the gold. We loaded up Jeff’s trusty ol’ Honda Odyssey and headed up on Friday Sept 7 with plans to kick butt and take names.
Loaded up in the minivan. I love the back seat so no one can tell when I am “resting my eyes.”
Our first stop was Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ in Dodgeville. Yelp had about 5 restaurant reviews. This was first. Subway was 4th. So we thought we would splurge on some quite tasty BBQ and quite a few beers on tap. I still don’t know if it’s true but I think one of my college professors told me that as long as it’s 10% less of your calories, alcohol is actually a good pre-race fuel. I am not sure that I am calculating it correctly by thinking that if I have 2 beers, then I need to have an appetizer and if I have 3 beers, then I need to have desert. Regardless, brisket sandwhich was delicious.
After dinner we did our final gear check. Spare tubes, Gu and M&Ms (peanut of course) stuffed in all the little pockets. Compasses where we thought they were. Extra socks and plenty of mole skin for any early blisters. We were SET!!
Maps were handed out at 7:30 and we instantly had our winning strategy. We found a hidden farm road on the map and confirmed that it was indeed there on Google Earth (all very legal) realizing that the route everyone else had planned took them into the hilliest part of the race. We took a chance, hoping the road was still there and indeed, it was a pristine tractor road.
We were ¾ of the way down the road when Matt realized his rear tire had a flat. No big deal. We were pretty sure that we had shaved 30-40 minutes off of our route to the first water check point. All would have been well but the Presta adapter was missing from our tire pump and so we were only able to fill the tire about half way with some CO2 canisters we had. We only had 3-4 miles to go. I took over matt’s bike to save his legs for the run later. But the going was slow and by the time we got to the water check point, the tire was flat. Only then did we realize that our new tube was flat and the other tubes we had were not the same size as Matt’s.
Taking a chance, and without much choice, we used a 29inch tire out of my supply and put it on Matt’s rim, pumped it up and headed out on the water hoping it would still have air when we got back.
Out on the river we were met by quite a torrent. We learned that they were having the same kind of flooding we were having back in Cedar Rapids and they had to let the Dam out upstream. So an already high river became higher and faster. We knew that we were down at least an hour or two and the going was very slow getting the water points by fighting the current. We could see that several other racers were only going after 2-3 points before calling it quits. So we grabbed our two and headed back, hoping we could get just that many more bike and land navigation points instead of risking time on the water.
Fortunately, when we headed back the TIRE WAS STILL HOLDING AIR!! We knew we had a chance to place after that. So we slipped on our Salomons for the first time to do the first short land nav course. You can see the reviews below, but right away the Salomons were put to the test. Into the woods and two flooded check points later, our feet and socks were soaked. Down at the bottom of a cliff were knee deep in water with 2/3 of the race still to go.
At the bottom of a cliff was this cave. Interesting story of what it was used for. They used to drop molten lead from the top of the cliff through a cavern that was dug by hand. When the drops of molten lead got to the bottom, they were cool and hard and the correct size to make shot for muskets. We weren’t looking for shot, we were looking for our check point. It was deep inside the cave. In addition to the point, we did manage to find plenty of mosquito’s and thorns on the way down though.
Fortunately the tire was till holding by the time we got back to the transition area and we headed off on bikes. Dodge State Park sits on the (flooded) Wisconsin River. But it is also right by the House on the Rock designed by Frank Loyd Wright. We traveled right by the grounds and it was so interesting to see the influence FLW had on the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take in the sights. We did make good time however.
Back to Governor Dodge State Park and back to tromping through the woods. We slipped our Salomons back on our feet after a brief sock change. 19 points to go and we snatched a few right by race headquarters and then out on the trails to get as many as possible and try to make the top 5.
After a quick 4 points, it was off to the ropes course. 2 of the 3 of us had to do the ropes course. Jeff and I were both fighting a either a leg cramp (me) and a bit of a bubbly belly ( Jeff) and so we had to basically Rock Paper Scissor to see who was going up the telephone pole. I pulled the short straw and up I went. The course was a piece of cake but the leg cramp made shimmying up the pole quite fun.
We made it back with high hopes knowing we had made up a lot of time. But it was going to be close having to sacrifice an entire hour or more fixing the tire.
In the end, the first place team was able to get all 34 points. Second place 32 points. Third place got 30 and then there were 7 teams with 25 points. We had 24 for a (very) disappointing 11th. But all things considered, it was a ton of fun. It was Matt’s first race and we really got to the points about as fast as we could. We are confident we could have gotten about 3-5 more points with the hour plus we lost which would have put us in the running for 4th place. Wishful thinking maybe but definitely an incentive for the next race.
These bad boys covered a lot of miles, were covered in mud, soaked in water, and pressed to the limit. Not one blister on any of us. Not one. Great series of shoes. Amazing traction. Perfect selection for all of us. See the reviews to follow.
See if you can guess who’s legs these are. Hint on one of them: Ryan wore nylon gators through all the land navigation/running sections. I’m not just a pretty face.
Thanks to Medicus WRX for an amazing race. All the points were very doable…well, except all 6 water points. I am still flabbergasted that one team got every water point. That was some serious paddling. But the accommodations were great. The post race pizza and beer were perfect. The hosts were the most gracious and enthusiastic I have met yet. And Governor Dodge State Park and the surrounding areas are a true Adventureland. I understand there is some of the best rock climbing in the Midwest right there. And we can certainly attest to the great hiking, biking and scenic kayak at your disposal. All just two hours from SOKO Outfitters in Cedar Rapids. We will be sure to sign up next year and maybe come away with a win. Thanks Jeff Cater, St Lukes ER PA and long time racing partner of mine and thanks to Matt Neukirch, ultra runner and first time adventure racer who kicked butt. See you at the next race folks!!!