“If not now, then when?”

After my first 12hr virtual adventure race in September 2020. I was itching for more. So what do I do, I sign up for Sea to Sea 72 hour race in Florida. However, the ‘Rona” ruined our teams plans and had to cancel. I knew I needed some orienteering practice and so I figured the best way to challenge myself and learn some navigation skills was by signing up for my first solo race. If not now, then when Conrad? May 16th, 2021, I found myself at Dorey Park Richmond, VA amped and ready to go.

I arrived at the park at 7 30am, picked up my packet and like everyone else stared looking at our mountain biking route. I had watched countless YouTube videos, read articles, etc. on how to use your compass and mark your route so I felt confident. However, that morning nothing made sense. I couldn’t even scale the map, but I was still excited and ready to go.

30 mins before the start of the race we gathered at the start point and the race officials gave us the run down.  5-hour race, paddle 3miles, bike 15-18 miles, and trek 9-10 miles. While they were giving us the rundown, I noticed the misrepresentation of BIPOC. I was the only person of color and noticed the surprised looks of other participants when I pulled up. In addition, I noticed that I might have not packed my backpack correctly compared to the rest. For example, I did not have a small portable bike pump, so I brought my regular size Walmart pump that was sticking out of my pack. I did not have a bike repair kit, so I just put together some tools from my toolbox and tossed it in my backpack (you can laugh at me). I was still excited and ready to go.

Official counts down “5,4,3,2,1 GO!” Everyone stats running and I just flow frantically. I had no idea where I was going. I get to a check point and quickly realize that the checkpoints aren’t numbered (Duh). I slowed down and tried to use my compass and of course my little cheap amazon compass decides it’s not going to show me the way. You know what, I was still excited and ready to go. 

I tell myself to slow down and remembered Kofi telling me “if your ever lost just use landmarks to find your bearing.” I said “forget the compass” and boom I started knocking off checkpoints. Made it back to the transition area 5min before the allotted time to move on and guess what? I was still excited and ready to go!

I made it through the first portion of MTB surprisingly well and was on my way to the paddle section of the race. As I arrive to the TA my bike peddles falls of and I realize I dropped my master checkpoint passport. They give me a new passport and I get my kayak into the water. Things are going well till I reach checkpoint 10 where I must get out of the kayak due to shallow water and  trek in ankle high mud to the checkpoint. I go to stamp my passport and of course my map and passport are not where I placed them. I get back to the kayak start heading back to TA. As turn a corner I notice my map floating so I grab it  and quickly head back to check point 10, stamp it and head back. Arms are on fire right now, but I was still having a good time. 

I am the last person to TA to get back on MTB section. That is when I remember that my peddle had come off and my makeshift repair kit was useless. I ran over to a guy with a big ford truck and ask if he has any tools and he didn’t.  I try fastening the bolt with my figures and start walking up the hill to get back on the route. Once I get up the hill I try to get on my bike and the pedal falls off. At this time, I had about an 1hr to get to a passport check point TA before I can go to the finish line and about 2hrs before the race was over. Put the pedal back on and finally get the bolt on tight enough for me to get on the bike and book it to the TA. I made a pit stop at checkpoint to see if my original master passport was there and there it was. 

With 45min left before the last TA closes, I try to get a few more checkpoints. I waste time trying to find one and realize I have about 25min to get going. I book it, pedaling awkwardly so I my pedal doesn’t fall off. I arrive at the checkpoint as the official is getting in the car. He marks my passport and I book it to the finish line with about 15min. 

I am second to last (that’s a win for me) and 5 minutes late so I was docked points. I was super proud of myself because with all the mishaps I was still able to finish. I knew I wasn’t going to be in the top percent but I for sure had a lot of fun learning on the go, learning about myself and being able to say I finished my first solo race. 

If you have made it this far into the report, I leave you with this. You will never know your physical and mental capabilities until you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You will be proud of the person you become at the end of it.