Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dixie Challenge Sport AR

Dixie got off with a twist.  Jeff Leininger once again designed the course.  Last year, it was an interesting tower-sighting feature.  This year, the prologue to the race included an easter egg hunt!  The stakes were raised as there was only enough eggs for each team to find their four.. and finding the last egg will be a real challenge!

Teams were given their choice of segment order.  We selected Foot-Boat-Bike, it is one of our favorites since we prefer to not finish with either boat or run.

Assembling at the start

Eggcellent, found one
Back at 'cha Kevin


Foot started out fast, in an attempt to regain time after the picture taking.  There were a number of similar looking fire breaks and paths -- we took several quick conferences to ensure we knew our location along these trails.
Left turn at Albuquerque?

Muckity muck

A key time saver that Ben "the Nav" devised was regarding CP4: "From Observation Tower (T) on map 300m, 282 degMN Along fire break."  By plotting this out on the map beforehand, we could attempt to locate the CP directly and avoiding the run out to the tower.  Once sighted, we used a compass bearing to verify we were close.

Spotting the tower


The canoeing was mostly straightforward.  CP 11, furthest away, was worth 2 points.  On the way to "Up a creek" we bumped into a tree, and poof! there was a two foot snake in our canoe!  A tail grab and a oar was enough to clear it from and move on for our two point CP.

Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey fighting snakes on this Monday through Friday canoe!


Immediately after the first CP, we came across Coconutz/Sheriffs Posse finishing their bike portion.  So we knew it would be between their run time and our remaining bike portion.  Despite overshooting one checkpoint, we were able to maintain our pace and complete the race to claim first place with a time of 2:34:01.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Boar AR with Canyoneros Crossover

One of our mantras during raceday is "Race our own race."  Often, this means avoiding group think and making sure our navigator makes the calls.  Other times, it's about pace management when you don't know where other teams are.

Case in point:  Canyoneros were all out speed-demons on this Boar AR, and when Hien graciously gave me their gps data, I knew I had to dissect their routes.  While we were proud of our second place finish in elite, these guys came in 16 minutes before us!

A quick overview of the race.  The Boat section (typically not our best discipline) put us ahead by 22 minutes that Canyoneros ate away at over the next several sections.  Our team optioned to do the Foot 2 and finish with the Bike 2, whereas Canyoneros did the opposite.  Orange times indicate where Cow Tipping Dwarfs were ahead.

CanyonerosCow TipDeltaCumulative
Bike 10:53:000:59:000:06:000:06:00
Bike to Foot10:09:000:06:000:03:000:21:00
Foot 10:31:000:44:000:13:000:08:00
Bike to TA0:11:000:12:000:01:000:07:00
Bike 20:43:000:50:000:07:000:00:00
Foot 20:41:000:55:000:14:000:14:00

Bike 1

The first section was a run over the bumpy cow pastures to Ron Eaglin hidden behind some trees where each team member had to give him a high five and return to the staging point and grab our bikes.  Looking at the replay, Canyoneros got back first but had a much longer pit stop.  But their speed allowed them to quickly catch up and pass.  Unfortunately our course ran us into an unexpected fence.  By CP 3 Canyoneros had a sizeable lead.  At some point they ran into some bike troubles according to their blog, but it didn't seem to slow them much.

Takin' bumps like a boss

Boat 1

At some point I think Canyoneros had more bike trouble on the way to the Boat TA.  We about 4 minutes behind them, but were able to transition in a little over 2 minutes.  Their transition time was almost 4 minutes and this got us just two minutes behind them.  At this point Mugwumps and an M2 team we didn't recognize were right with us.

A good deal must be said of our Navigator, Ben, as he was able to leverage his previous experience in the boat section, including some repeat points that Greg indicated were on the maps.  Perhaps most importantly, Ben picked a key portage that got us ahead of both Mugwumps and Canyoneros.  From the Canyoneros blog:

For CP7, we took a shorter route, but I'm not 100% sure it was the fastest route.  Even though we were first out on the boat, a couple teams mysteriously hopped ahead of us at this control.
Key Portage approach from 6 to 7
The key portage from CP 6 to 7 gave us the lead for the first time in the race.  We took CP 8, which was furthest south, and headed to CP 9.  We ran into several teams that appeared to portage across from CP 7 to CP 9 and continue north?  We were confused as it seemed like they had to have skipped CP 8, and the Mugwumps who had caught up with us again, agreed.

Now, with the Mugwumps nearby, and several other teams slightly in front, we rode a wave of other teams that helped verify CP locations on 9 and 10.  By 11 they were ahead but clearly confused with the exception of the Mugwumps, and we grabbed CP 11 and continued on without much delay.  CP 12 followed, and then on to CP 13 where we got turned around a bit and actually happened on CP 14 first and then CP 13.  Well, it was more like: stinging nettles, CP 14, more nettles, then CP 13.  Mugwumps were on the southern side of all this and had the lead on us.  That M2 team also appeared at this point, although I don't know where else they had been up til then.  Back to the Boat to head on bike to the Foot 1 section!

First (and last?) time I've seen felt these in Florida

Foot 1

"Race our own race".  Right behind the Mugwumps, we made a conscious decision to take a clockwise route instead of following the Mugwumps.  We opted to cut a corner but that put us going thru high grass or parts of the forest.  We lost time there, but not so much.  Notably on the opposite direction, Canyoneros were faster in almost the same area.  Well they were faster overall on this section.

Passing between CPs 17 and 18
This course bearing portion was the funnest portion for me.  We might have been faster but we were taking careful bearings so as to not miss any CP's.  Once we got out of the forest, there were the Mugwumps again, having just turned in their card.  We followed them back to the Main TA.  We were leaning toward finishing on bike, and taking the Foot 2 next... when the Mugwumps heading out on bike, it was clear we would do Foot 2 and race our own race.

Foot 2

Our first interaction was with actual cows... and they weren't in the mood for tipping.  They stood their ground and looked on as we wisely veered off our course.  Foot 2 was fairly straight forward although it took some careful consideration to find the white hash line to CP 29.

Note to self: don't be the red shirt

Bike 2

For this leg, a number of other teams were alongside us for the the first half, although they may have been the sport teams.  At this point, we hadn't seen the Canyoneros since early in the boat section, but we knew the Mugwumps were ahead at the start of the Bike2/Foot2 portion.  We definitely didn't have the stamina for the 6 hour races like other seasoned elites, but we pushed on knowing that Mugwumps were likely on slightly ahead.  The bike CP's weren't hard to locate, but the wind and distance made this challenging.  Everyone at this point had suffered cramps, except maybe Josh, and the promise of the finish being close kept us going.

The Finish

By the time we came in, I noticed Hien was already comfortable in post race clothes.  Well, we were surprised because we expected to be behind Mugwumps, so we anticipated maybe a third place finish.  The story afterward was a bad nav error held up the Mugwumps, giving us the second best time and our first top-three finish in an Elite!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas in Christmas AR Report

The Cow Tippers aren't known for their Elitism, but a 3.5 hour Elite race?  That we can get behind.

What we didn't get behind were the ACTUAL COWS that blocked the area early that morning, according to Greg.  Sorry we weren't handy to assist.

Finally recuperated from our sicknesses/laziness from last race, we were looking to make our mark on our favorite of all Elite races.

This race looked to be a bit more substantial with several key decisions required that would affect our efficiency and speed.  Our sequence was pre-determined:  BOAT, BIKE, and FOOT.


Some of our considerations:

Which direction to head out on the boat would be a race-time decision, based on how many groups were ahead of us.  Racers were given the heads up that CP 14 and 15 would be in a narrow part; so we didn't want to end up clustered in canoes.

Always the question -- should we take the hardpack or the trail.  Often the hardpack road is more reliable to gauge condition than the trail... unless the hardpack turns into sugar sand!  Also, we saw an opportunity to grab a CP by bushwacking a short segment between hardpack and trail, cutting out a lot of slow stuff.  But it would be a racetime decision based on how thick the ground cover was.

Not surprisingly, if you are good with course bearings you can cut a lot of time off by avoiding the longer trails and going straight to the site.  This can backfire if you miss your bearing/distance, but often you can hit the trail if you overshoot, and reorient from there.  CP's 2, 3, and 5 were great opportunities here.  The downside?  Late race bushwacking can often lead to cramping in our experience.


a.k.a. where the plan falls apart.  Its always fun to discuss where things go really well or not so hot, right?

We got off to a fast start, hoping to overtake some teams and avoid a canoe jam.  But once we got there, we divided to grab two canoes, two team members each.  There was some confusion, and we ended up portaging the canoes on separate sides of the waterway.  One side was definitely faster, and we lost about 5 minutes here.  We ended up jogging with the canoes on our shoulders to catch up!

Full Beast Mode!

Which way did he go, George?

Next on the bike section we made a decision to bushwack with the bikes... again... after our experience at Lighter Knot this maybe was foolhardy.  But it worked.  From CP 7 we took at shot out to hit the bike trail.  Shortly thereafter we were well on our way to CP 8.  It remains to be seen whether or not coming back down to the main road inbetween CP's 7 and 8 would have been faster, would be interested to know other teams' experiences on that.  Overall, going this route from CP 7 to 8 took ~10 minutes this way.

On the run, we hit some more interesting issues.  Again we planned to make a series of bearing shots on the lower parts of the course to cut some extra distances off the route.  We ran CP 1,4,5,3,2.  We were fairly good on the bearings.  We lost time taking about 10 minutes to locate CP 3 after getting there.  Vegetation Boundary clues are always tricky for us.  Only bearing with errors was from CP3 to CP2, where we were off and came up on the trail north of our target.  CP 2 was indicated as close only 30 m off the trail, so we looked for the telltale bend in the trail, and reshot.  Time to get back to Main TA!  But we assumed the direction other teams were coming were from the Main TA, and went out opposite their direction.  That was determined to be wrong, as we found ourselves headed south -- time to turn around.  That mistake cost us about 5 minutes.  We got in to find we were third to turn in... but others may still arrive and beat us.

Summary of lost time:

Canoe direction -- 5-6 minutes
Locate CP3 -- 10 minutes
CP2 misshot -- 4 minutes
Wrong Direction to MTA -- 5 minutes

Excluding any potential time savings from CP 7 to CP 8 on bike (assuming not) then our total time lost due to errors totaled 25 minutes.  A perfect race would have put us in medal contention.  But it wouldn't have been enough to win!  We completed the course within 2:42:55 to claim 4th place.  Elite win continues to elude us!

UCF Turkey Burn AR Race Report

During our pre-race texts we all positioned to claim the anchor position:
"Dude, I only ran twice since last race, you'll have to pull me"
"Hah joke is on you I haven't run either"
"I'm sick as hell and not running either, sounds like we're primed to win!"
"Uh guys, I'm at the Dr's office trying to get meds for Montezuma's revenge... just got back from Cabo and haven't run for 3 weeks... so I will be the anchor."

An auspicious prelude to the Turkey Burn AR race, this year being held on the UCF Campus.  We also did a lot of theorizing what might be in store for the race.  I personally thought we'd be looking on multiple parking garage floors for the CP's.  Other team members were scouting for water features for the canoe portion.  We arrived with a wide open mind ready for anything, not certain how an 'urban' adventure race might be run.

Being a Sport level 4 hour race, we knew that the bulk of the CP's would not be too difficult, and that the race would hinge on good speed and smart decisions.  This was especially true this race, looking at the results a large portion of racers completed the course making it a very competitive field.

An oversize course map with the UCF Campus got us started.  Our UCF alumnus quickly took to labeling key landmarks, streets and building names to ensure we didn't lose our orientation. Having a former student was key in knowing exactly where we were and best routes to get places.

Luck of the draw gave us the Bike-Run-Boat order, not our favorite, and we would start in the fourth wave at 12:03.

The bike portion was entirely on the campus, and we were able to stick mainly to the roads to get the best overall speed, even in some cases where shorter routes were available by trails.  Some of the CP's like 18 near the retaining ponds would be audibles, based on ground condition... whether to head back to the road or just slug it out on softer ground.  These kind of in-race decisions can sometimes make or break the race.

The bike portion was straightforward, and we were able to quickly clear this portion in a tidy 30 minutes.   Now off to the run.

We hadn't run much, and we felt it, using CP's as an excuse to catch our breaths.  We did another straightforward clearing, although the CP's locations were a bit more difficult to optimize.  Our run completed in 35 minutes.

At this point we returned to the Main TA to head out to the boat portion.  It was stated that the canoes were in short supply with the ongoing Elite race, and that if needed they would credit waiting time.  But this made it very hard to gauge our progress, as both the bike and run were fairly quick, and the unknown of waiting times for other teams meant we didn't know how hard boat would be, or where other teams were.  It's not unusual to be in the dark, and frankly we go as fast as we can regardless.  But that waiting time through in some added uncertainty!

The biking to the Boat TA was windy of course, and made for a long trek out.  Some things we know about our team:
1) Boat is our most inconsistent discipline
2) We either win or lose on boat

The water levels were a big low, and made for some interesting obstacles in the way.  It was strange looking up ten feet to see the top of the river bank.  That's a lot of elevation change for Florida.  Again, apart from the difficult maneuvering (especially with oncoming canoes!) the CP's were largely on the creek, and as long as you kept the clues in mind the locating of the CP's was logical.

A quick ride back against the wind and into the Main TA and we completed the course in good time, placing second to the Rum Runners, 5 minutes off first place pace with 02:36:57.

Our hats go off to Team Zackless, who placed third on their first-ever AR.  Congrats guys, we're sure that Zack regrets not getting a medal!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Luminescent Sport AR Report

Marking team members second anniversary at Pangea, the Cow Tipping Dwarfs headed to Mims FL for the Luminescent Sport AR challenge.

For those not familiar with the race, the Luminescent is held during the nighttime, avoiding the heat of Florida summer.  The side effect is you get the unusual aspect of adventure racing in the dark.

This race brought me to my first nighttime race, and another teammate to his first adventure race overall.  As luck would have it, his hybrid bike was perfectly suited for the bike portion which was predominately on roads between the main TA and the boat TA.

At the onset we were told it would be a fairly lengthy race, but could be cleared in time.  The race would be split into two sections, bike/boat, and foot.  Overall, the course looked straightforward, but some unexpected mishaps would push our team into recovery mode early.


We were lucky to get the early 2am start, and took off early skipping most bike CP's to keep a lead into the water.  This apparently confused some as they didn't see us stop for CP 8 which was close to the start, and drew them past the CP.  Although mostly road, it was approximately 6 miles and took us about 30 minutes to reach the TA.

Bike/Boat markup

Our plan was to hit CP in the order 6,5,3,4.  Initally we landed a little off on the island for 6, but quickly reoriented and got the CP.  By the time we got back into the boats, the next team was already coming to shore.

CP 5 was attempted as a 60° bearing from CP 6.  Unfortunately, we did not seem to take the current into account, and although we kept a constant bearing, we were swept further downstream.  We ended up on the south side of the jetty sticking into the intercoastal!  One thing about nighttime orineteering during paddling without moonlight -- you can't make out the shoreline features or distance.  During they day we could have easily maintained a direct path; in the night you are only able to use your compass.  Imagine my surprise when, confused and disoriented on the jetty, that the bearing back to the boat TA was east of south when expecting it to be west of south!  I thought my compass was broke until we realized our error.

Until we realized this, we had a couple of wrong attempts to find the clue.  My hand got personally acquainted with some cacti thorns when I fell into some shrubs.

Checking the GPS, this error cost us about 20 minutes to correct and locate CP 5.  Unfortunately, as in previous boat disciplines, at least one other group got pulled into our direction, perhaps by group think.  It can be very hard to avoid group think when you see others out ahead, but you have to race your race.  I find it is better to assume other teams are going for completely different CP's than to be drawn in.

Broken Compass?  No, wrong place!

We could easily tell by the error at CP 5, and the number of canoes at the boat TA that we were well behind the lead.  Our only good feeling was the knowledge we completed the boat course, and perhaps not all ahead of us had done this.  But our work was cut out for us, and we'd need to be on our toes if we would have any chance to recover.

The bike return was fast, averaging over 26km/hr between CP's.  We made one error missing the turnoff to the road around the airport.  We successfully overtook several teams on the ride back, and this enthused the team.


The foot was a straightforward trek, with only a a few wrinkles.  Our plan was CP's in the order 9,10,11,12,13.

Trek markup

As important in night treks, following tree lines and trails are the best option.  Nonetheless, we settled on a bearing bushwhack from CP 11 to 12.  This bushwhack turned from difficult to downright nasty with thickets, bugs, and spiders.  We couldn't breathe without getting so many bugs in our mouth.  The barbs went so high they were scratching arms.  And the spiders... wow the spiders.

The new Luna Protein bar

Once we got thru, we went on our way, but it took a few moments before we determined we didn't break out where we intended.  At this point, our navigator Ben proposed a new solution, using our new location as a direct trail path to 13, then shoot another bearing to get the pesky CP 12.  This worked extremely well as it turned our problems into a reliable path to 13 and a more straightforward bushwhack to 12.

After 12, it was just a matter of returning to the main TA... with 6 minutes left.  We missed a westward trail back to the main north/south trail, and with the time left had to simply barrel thru the woods until we broke out into it.  Fortunately, what we thought was a 1.5 km run was only about 500-600 m, which we completed with 3 minutes to spare despite the massive cramping I encountered on the last leg of our trek.

Completing the course, with a time of 3:56:55, was good enough to claim second place.  We were pleased with our significant recovery, and look forward to the next evening race!

Monday, June 17, 2013

SCAR Elite Race Report

We headed up north of Orlando to Wekiva Lower for the second Elite race for the team and my first (excluding 3hour Xmas in Xmas races).  After the good experience at Atomic, our spirits were cautiously optimistic.  Our other six hour Elite race experience, Myakka, resulted in an OT and has been recounted on numerous occasions, especially when discussing Elite race registrations.

Little did we know what a race was in store for us.  We soon learned that this years race, compared to last year's SCAR, would be more difficult to complete the course.  And how!  

To get everyone started, a small prologue race was needed to unclog the teams during the canoe deploying.  We ran to several checkpoints around the parking lot area.  Our particular order was A,C,E,D,B.

Cow Canoe Tipping Dwarfs

Canoe Tipping Dwarfs might have been a more appropriate team name after some humorous balance issues and poor choice of locations for boat exits/entries.  Our boat section was longer than many of our Sport races, and we were discouraged as we prepared to transition to trek.

Most checkpoints were straightforward and in reverse numerical order, and the ones labeled as "along secondary channel" gave us the most issues.  We initially took the wrong secondary looking for CP 3 and lost 5-10 minutes thinking it might be deeper in.  Unfortunately we may have caused other teams into group thinking and probably cost them some time too.  But the biggest confusion revolved around CP 1 and 2, and group think may have caused us time here.

Through thick -- or thin

Our entire line of thinking led us to believe we were on the "A" branch when in fact we were on "B".  The 'thick' black dotted line on the topo map made us think that this was the wider creek.  As we paddled downstream, we passed team after team coming from further downstream, leading us to believe we hadn't gone far enough, and of course the map features didn't match our expectations.  We ended up too far north and...

Uncharacteristically, we decided to give up on both checkpoints and start the long trip back, already at about the 2 hr mark.  But on the way back we lucked onto the secondary containing CP 1... which was odd because we were expecting CP 2 on this branch.  Once we hit CP 1 though we got our bearings straight and were able to regroup to find CP 2.  Then it was back to the Main TA.

But we lost our punchcard on the way back and had to start punching our map on the return trip.  After attempting to locate the card, punching points going back, and calculating the remaining time for both the Trek and Bike portions, team morale was suffering but we determined to complete what we could and see this race through.  We had already slugged off some of the frustration as both boats fought to be the first to shore, a recurring source of inner team rivalry.


After some refueling and reloading our camelbacks, we were off to the trek portion.  

Just a few moments on the trail made it clear it was going to be sandy for bike, and dry.  None of the rain in the area the day before would wet these trails and make them manageable.

Our plan was CP's 10, 9, 11, 13, 14 and 12.  From there we would blaze north to the return trail.  Overall the trek was fairly easy.  We spent a few minutes trying to find CP 10 in the deep thicket of palmettos.  This stuff is sharp, and can easily cause you to lose your balance.  We actually loitered about a moment, not even sure where to break into it.  Seriously. Deep. Thicket.  

The approach to CP 10

For CP 14, we went too far south and overshot, ending up on the orange trail instead of the yellow (we did not know which color was which on the map, something we'll need to remember for next year.)

The heat kept us from an all out run, and we took frequent breaks to maintain temperatures and hydrate.
just... one... more... cp


At this point, it was clear that we would not have enough time to finish up the course, and would have to drastically cut out CP's.  Since the grouping of CP's way up in the northeast corner would take us up to 20-30 minutes just to get there, we cut them out and planned to hit what ever we could in the closer areas.  We would monitor our time closely and ensure we could make it back without incurring any time penalties.
The overcast sky now was a great help.  We made it to CP's 21 quickly.  CP 19 was a bit trickier, difficulty figuring where the second mentioned marsh was to locate the small pine tree.  Once again it was deep into the bush to grab the punch!  Next year, we add a machete to our gear.

Tiring, and running low on time, we followed up with CP's 18, 17, 20.  

Fearlessly leading on-the-fly
Much to credit to Ben, our Navigator, with his excellent improvisational navigation skills that gave us as many CP's we could get with time to return.

Post Race

A quick jump the the river, and a sudden downpour of rain cooled of the teams.  Unique to this race was the numerous penalty points awarded.  Since we typically clear courses in our Sport events, we didn't know what to expect, and were satisfied in the effort we put in.  We were pleasantly surprised that we did as well as we did, and enthused over our 4th place finish.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Atomic AR Report

First off a big thanks to Greg and the guys & gals at Pangea for another great event!  Despite the rainy weather they managed to host another challenging race for the Sport groups!

We headed up to Georgia early for a part man-cation/part race weekend.  Got ourselves a nice cabin on the hills west of Blue Ridge.  A big part of our race prep included lounging around and team building/puzzle piecing.

The Team that puzzles together

The Dwarfs team was greeted early in the morning with lightning, thunder, and severe raining pounding on the tin roof of our cabin.  Our thoughts collectively were for the Elite teams already out on the course, running though the night towards their 30 hour course.  Come the morning, the rain abated a bit but the weather was still ominous.

The TA was up and running when we arrived.  Rain came and went, clearing up in time for the AR 101.  

We then learned that our courses would be adjusted, entirely scrapping the bike course at Deep Gap and the Flat Creek Loop due to significant wetness and potential to harm the trails.  Instead, we were given a number of additional CP's, some new and some would be repeated on the run portion.  Since we would be doing the bike discipline first, we would have to remember these CP's for the run later.

During our planning before the race, we hatched a plan to take a bike trek thru an open field to avoid traveling back the way we came after CP14.  Our plan was to head directly east from CP14 and try to hit the trail to CP9.  Little did we know this course was directly thru some fields with horses, and we steered clear as we had to hop some fences to make our plan.  One gate and three barbed wire fences later, we hit the trail and continued on our way, meeting up with several bikers that had gone around the long way on the roads… so not much time gained there.

We didn't realize the trail to CP9 was readily available to continue out, and instead followed our original plan to follow the waterline to the next CP, leaving our bikes behind.  Once we found the trail, we saw our lead erode as teams continued on by bike, passing us as we ran this portion of the course.

Cow Tipping Dwarfs realize they brought jogging shoes to a biking match

After claiming CP7 we headed back on foot to CP9 to get our bikes, dejected most the way based on our early faltering and missed opportunities.  We would have to double down on our more chancy plans on the canoe/foot discipline to make up time.  We decided to take some more risky bearing shots rather than depending on visual locations to cut some distance off our course.

The Elusive CP6
Part of the novelty this race was the introduction of topography.  Coming from Florida, we aren't used to more than a 30m elevation change in a race.  Sitting at the top of a saddle, well off any trail, sat CP6.  Greg from Pangea advised everyone that the trail on the map was incorrect, and did not run past the checkpoint.  Checking the trail map, it wasn't possible to overlay the two to get an idea of where the trail was respective to CP6.  Our plan was then to drop straight south from the lake finger… but we got the wrong finger to start from.  300 meters later we realized the the wrong lake finger was used and recalibrated.  We were still having trouble, following the isolines around the hill, until we understood what we were looking for.  The epiphany came once we made the connection -- a saddle looks like a pringle chip.  After that, we just keep following around between hills until we hit the saddle.

Saddle is Pringle, Pringle is Saddle!
Plan versus Reality

Spirits were high, and enthused us to continue with our more difficult, time-saving orienteering.  After hitting CP5 we had to make a decision.  The safer trek back to the CP9, which we could easily find along the water, would require a descent and ascent back to get CP4.  We rolled the dice and took a cut across to CP4 to save time and energy.  At this point the team was already feeling the legs.  Maintaining a decent bearing thru up-and-down hills, we nailed the CP4 and made our descent to CP9 and back to the boats to return to the TA.  From there,  we would have a short run to get the remaining CP's, some we already visited on bike.

Immediately following the last checkpoint claim at CP8, we saw a fresh-looking two-person team headed to the same CP.  At this point, all confidence was lost looking at how fast they were running.  Fearing being overtaken, we really pounded the ground ignoring cramping pains hoping to maintain our lead.  We barreled down the last hill to the TA risking complete wipeouts on the wet asphalt, to check-in and complete the course.