To The Edge plus 20 seconds

We knew going in that the day would end with us wet and muddy. We figured it would make for some challenging racing. We were determined to have fun along the way. All three conditions were met!

Four members of the club competed in the three-hour version of The Edge AR hosted by GOALS Adventure Racing Association at Core Creek Park in Langhorne, Pa. Three of us on a co-ed masters team – Kofi, Safiya and Monette – and one as a solo, Chas. We also met a racer named Sean who was participating in his very first Adventure Race.

Captain Kofi participated in the race prologue, running approximately a half mile to retrieve a piece of candy that he would run back to turn in for our passport. Because of a limited number of boats, teams started with different legs. We were assigned to paddle first. So after consulting on our checkpoints of choice, we set off to begin the trekking leg. Yep, we somehow began with the wrong activity. Guess we were a little excited …

Our pace was pretty good and we knocked off the first few checkpoints in good time. We bushwacked through thorny bushes to shorten routes and collected a decent amount of trash to earn the team trash point. It began to sprinkle, interfering with visibility and comfort. Then while looking at the passport during a pee break, “Um, we were supposed to paddle first.” Some chuckles, a few “How did that happen?” and a short conversation later, we decided to continue getting our designated checkpoints on the trekking leg. Our fingers were crossed for understanding from race officials at the transition check in.

We managed to snag 9 points before heading back. We claimed exuberance-fueled oversight in our bid for leniency in the race protocol. Granted! We might’ve even helped with the boat capacity issue after all by not showing up there first. Ok, onto the paddle leg.

It was a 15-minute bike ride to the water, which had us rethinking our approach to the paddle leg. There were only two paddle checkpoints to get, with a third having been stolen before the race began. We were thinking we probably wouldn’t go for all three, since we knew one was a ways off and time was ticking. Our strategy was approximately an hour per leg and we were already into the second hour before getting in the canoe.

We went to check in and… couldn’t find our passport. Bag checks, pocket checks, looking back up the trail. Nothing. All right, well, We Don’t Quit, right? We asked the volunteer to at least sign our map to prove we were there.

One of us is having a great time, the other two …….. providing security??

Then we hit the water. With Captain Kofi sitting at the stern checking the map and steering, Safiya and Monette began moving with a smooth, quick pace. After finding first a bike checkpoint off a pier, we steered to a paddle checkpoint. We lost some time resetting the checkpoint after it fell into the water. We decided to not go for the second checkpoint and head back to shore. We were looking at just over 30 minutes to do the bike leg and we still had to ride back to check in for it. Plus, would our lost passport be a penalty?

Again, race officials smiled in our favor. We were given a new passport in which to finish the race.

By now, it’s raining for real-for real. Trail conditions are deteriorating. We huddle up to talk strategy. How many checkpoints can we reasonably, somewhat safely collect? Having seen some of them while trekking, we ruled out those farther away from the finish line. Back into the woods, peddling fast and hoping for the best. Other teams were scrambling, too, and this sometimes made the search easier.

That checkpoint must be around here somewhere…

With only a few minutes left, we turned to the finish line after collecting and handful of bike points. Yet while checking in, we discovered that we had 10 more minutes left before the three-hour cut off. We wondered if it was worth it to try and find one more point. Yep!

Yet even after a valiant attempt by Captain Kofi, it just wasn’t to be. With two minutes left on the clock, we hustled back over the field to complete the race – in 3 hours and 20 secs, just 40 seconds short of a penalty. Because we were the only team in our category, we won!