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2012 Krista Griesacker: The Cliffs Notes Edition

This past Saturday, I teamed up with GOALS veterans Bruce and Jon for the 12-hour Krista Griesacker Memorial Adventure Race in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

I had grand ambitions to write a detailed report about our adventures, but I spent yesterday afternoon in the ER making sure I hadn’t cracked my shin and then spent this morning at my regular doctor, getting a prescription for an oral steroid for some kind of insect bite or sting-gone-wrong – and Brent and I are getting on a plane in five hours for Scotland.

So instead, a bulleted cliffs notes version of what transpired… luckily, those injuries aren’t a reflection of our day in the woods.

The Paddle

  • The race began on the water, with a several-kilometer paddle around a dammed lake.  After a short separator, we were the second team to shove off – and we went in the exact opposite direction of the first checkpoint.  We paddled all the way to the dam, left our boat, and then bushwhacked another half kilometer past the dam before realizing where we were on the map.

Another team portaging around the dam at the END of the paddle (the right way) – all photos c/o Tim Mundon

  • Thus began our Paddle of Shame.  We retraced our strokes all the way across the lake, crossing paths with every single other team on the way.
  • After collecting CPs 2 and 3 en route back to CP 1, we opted to pull off the water and portage our boat 800 meters along a railroad bed, cutting off roughly 4 kilometers of paddling.  Jon hoisted the canoe on his shoulders for about 750 of those meters.
  • We hit the first TA close to three hours after we began.  Though we’d made up upwards of 30 minutes with the portage, we were still the very last team off the water.

The Bike

  • Five minutes after we rolled out of the TA, my front brake cable spontaneously dislodged from its socket.  “Not to worry,” Jon told me.  “You won’t be needing your breaks for an hour or so.”
  • After a short stretch of roads, we turned off into the woods, reattached my brake, and began a 2-ish kilometer climb straight up to a ridgeline.  For the first 2/3, I found it easier to spin up in my granny gear than to hike-a-bike.  At one point, though, I got off to walk a particularly rocky turn, and when I tried to remount, the damp, slick ground and steep hill and too-low gear conspired against me, and I promptly fell over onto the side of the trail.  “Don’t worry – I didn’t see anything,” said Jon from behind me.  “You’d be surprised at how often I do that,” I told him.  And with that, I clipped into my pedals and fell right over again, this time nailing my shin on a large rock.  It swelled.  I resorted to hike-a-bike.
  • Atop the ridge we found some gloriously fast trails.  We flew through the next section, collecting all of the points en route to the next TA.

Ann Lombardi of Team GOALS II on the ridgeline trails

  • We arrived to see that about half of the field had already dropped their bikes and set off on foot.  Progress.

The Foot

  • From here we descended through the woods into a valley for a short foot section.  I was beginning to bonk as we pulled into TA, but a Philly soft pretzel saved the day.  A big, doughy ball of salt on a hot day – what more could you ask for?
  • We learned later that a number of teams struggled in here, but with Jon on the maps, we ran a smooth loop.  Less than 45 minutes after we set off, we started the sharp ascent back up to the bikes.
  • For the first time since the paddle, we crossed paths with Laurie and Val, who were out as the only all-female team on the course.  As folks commented throughout the day, they were doing great (for girls).

The Bike

  •  We transitioned back onto our bikes, and bombed down a series of gravel switchback en route to a road that would take us to the final foot section of the day.
  • It was a quiet, uneventful ride, save for Jon’s flat tire and the mid-day sun that began melting all the racers.  By the end of the ride, we found ourselves in a pack of teams.  Slowly but sure, we’d managed to sneak back into the race, though we still had no idea where we’d finish.

The Foot

  • This last section was the only repeat from previous versions of the Krista.  Once we ascended a couple kilometers up an exposed gravel road, we reached Pulpit Rock and the quintessential view from Hawk Mountain.

  • From here, we had just a few checkpoints to collect before bushwhacking down the mountain to the finish line at the Civil Air Patrol Base.
  • We moved well enough through the first two points and then found ourselves back with a gaggle of racers in search of CP 24, the final flag before the descent.  The clue read 50 meters north of the Appalachian Trail but the plot had the point on the south side of the trail, and wherever it was, there was no good point from which to attack.  We spent over an hour scouring the woods.  Finally, all of us cried uncle and began making our way down the trail when Ann Marie of Team Antiguan Monkey Hunt cried out, “There it is!” and darted into the woods.  We all quickly followed suit, nabbed the point, and began the long slog back.
  • This final descent took us through thick, rocky, brambled, spider-webbed woods, and though I felt like I was moving relatively well for me, Bruce and Jon began to open up a bit of a lead as we trudged along.  Two thirds of the way down, Bruce turned back and pointed urgently to our left, “there’s a coed-3 team right there.  Let’s move.”  It was all the motivation I needed to practice my footwork on the technical terrain.  I took off in a combo gallop/run and tried to match the guys the rest of the way.  I moved well for the most part, delayed briefly by a sharp pain in my left tricep – some kind of bee sting or spider bite – and when we reached the base, Bruce ran to grab our climbing gear and Jon and I sprinted toward the final section to suit up.
  • All that was left was an ascent up and rappel down a firetower and a quick run through an obstacle course.

  • Only one team member needed to ascend and we’d decided earlier that I would use the opportunity to practice for Scotland, but when it became clear that we were in a dash to the finish, Bruce clipped into the rope and scampered to the top before Jon and I even made it up the ladder.  Volunteers checked our gear and within seconds we were dropping down the other side.
  • Bruce’s speed on the climb was all we needed.  We pushed through the obstacle course and ran through the finish, good enough for third place overall and second in the coed-3 division, behind our friends on Team NYARA.  The guys from Team MOAT took the overall win as a male-2.

At the awards ceremony later that evening, race director and GOALS co-owner Bill Gibbons looked over at us as Anne called out the rankings.  “How the hell did you manage that?” he asked.

None of us had any idea.

That’s all for now – we’re off to the airport.  More from the other side of the pond!


3 responses to “2012 Krista Griesacker: The Cliffs Notes Edition

  1. Sarah S @RunningOnWords July 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Nice race! It sounds really tough, but you guys placed!

  2. Kristy (@RunTheLongRoad) July 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Ouch! Glad you are OK.

    Have fun in Scotland!

  3. Pingback: July Days « Team GOALS ARA

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