Saturday, November 3, 2012

My First (and definitely not last) Adventure Race

And now for an update about another highlight of the fall! Many other amazing things have happened, like bouldering in Fontaine Bleau, France, teaching the introduction to climbing course and checking out Oktoberfest in Munich, but this is one of the most ridiculous things I've done. 

The BOTS. (Battle of the SACs; SAC=Student Alpine Club. 

A 21 hour adventure race beginning at 10pm on Friday night. An awesome kind of racing involving not only biking, running and canoeing but also navigating your way to various check points and change points using only the coordinates and maps given to your team. Oh, and also no sleeping. The change points are where to get your next assignment/set of coordinates. Between change points, you must go to at least 1 checkpoint but you were given usually 3 or 4 options. The more checkpoints you made it to, the more points you get. Also, there were deadlines to make it to each of the change points and you lost a point for every 5 minutes that you were late… Oh, and you have to carry EVERYTHING you need with you for the whole race. Including water and food. Basically this: 

Our first look at the maps. And the last time we would get to be indoors for the next 21 hours...

We started with all 108 participants biking together to the ferry that takes you across the river outside Wageningen, where we were given our first task – a “connect-the-dots” puzzle on a small map with clues as to where the points were. The picture was an Ibex! (A type of mountain goat and also the name of our climbing association) Once we finished, we handed it in and received our first round of checkpoints. It’s already quite cold so we were looking forward to getting moving! Most of the race has now become a blur…but I’ll try to tell the main highlights. Through the night we first biked relatively far and then had a “run-bike” stage, where 2 teammates had to bike while the other 2 ran. In this phase, we learned that letting the runners go start running while the bikers read the map was a terrible idea…we completely lost each other. Luckily both parties eventually decided to go back to the change point where we found each other again….around 2am, I believe. In the next biking phase we made a wrong turn and ended up somewhere off the map, but we eventually found a checkpoint we needed and made it to the next change point by a lake (a bit late). Then after some more biking we got to the side of a lake, where they were serving pea soup at the change point! Here we read our maps and realized that it was RIDICULOUSLY cold (we heard later is was -4°C (24 F)…and then were happy to start some running. Actually, I think this was the moment in my life in which I appreciated/loved running the most…  Around 6am we were in the canoeing phase, where we decided to wrap ourselves in our aluminum emergency blankets in the canoe to keep warm while paddling along. Joost, my teammate who was in the front of my canoe, was falling asleep a bit….I guess the slow rocking of the boat as we went was enough…when we were stopped at a checkpoint, he actually completely fell asleep! I think I did a bit of extra paddling in that phase….luckily he never fell asleep and fell out while we were moving. The best part of the canoeing was the amazing sunrise that came on our way back! Finally it would start to get warmer! I think I have never appreciated a sunrise as much as this one. Back on shore, we had to use “lawine pieps” (the things you use to find people in avalanches) to find things buried in the sand, but none of us knew how to use the device, so it was more a bit of aimless shoveling . When out of time there, it was back to the change point to get the next set of coordinates. We were off to a mountain biking trail! First I let Milou do some map reading…but she got us quite lost in the woods….so eventually I took over and we made it through the forest to the next change point. It was a beautiful mountain bike ride, though, with the sun shining bright and the beautiful autumn colors! At the change point they were even serving coffee…I think the caffiene enetered my bloodstream in a very fast and effective way, because I became completely wired and even more excited than before. Then we had a beautiful run in a nice nature preserve, followed by a slacklining challenge. (Its a kind of thick tight-rope between trees that climbers often do, I only managed to balance on it for 5 seconds…). Then some more nice bike riding, climbing a fire watch tower to get to a check point, climbing a tree to get to another check point and even a challenge at a change point of sack racing!! Finally, around 5:30 pm we got our last set of checkpoints. The rest of my team was completely exhausted, but luckily I had some energy still to plot the last coordinates and we found our way to our last check point and made it back the Wageningen to end our race at 6:34pm. 26 minutes before the final deadline of 7 p.m. They served us an amazing dinner, announced the winners and then I went home, had a Duvel with a friend, and slept for an amazingly long amount of time.

That was one of the most AMAZING experiences of my life. As crazy as it sounds, I can’t wait to do another one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The free t-shirt ;)
Some pictures: