Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wakarusa Off Road Challenge Race Report - 9/10/11

Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY going on for some Skin Strong and a couple of DVD’s HERE!

The fall is a special time of year, I think. Temperatures drop from the 100 degree range around Kansas City, but it’s not so cold you can’t be outside biking or running. It does mean the end of the triathlon season as the last tri in the area is Jackson County. Well, there was the SWAT Triathlon that just opened up to the public. If things go well, hopefully it’s back next year!

But, with the transition in seasons comes a transition in sports. I gravitate towards the trails where I originally started out with endurance racing.

My passion was born on the trails and I try to return to that when possible.

Last weekend was just that opportunity. I raced the Wakarusa Off Road Challenge (2nd year they held the race) in Lawrence, KS. I chose this race for a couple of reasons.

1. I know the trails and love Lawrence since I went to college there (go KU).
2. The trek from my house to the race would only be 25 minutes door to trail head.
3. It had mountain biking, trail running and paddling.
4. No orienteering or anything to do with maps. I like to just get out there and run/bike the course. Give me some directional signs and I’m good to go.
5. Good reason to stay in “competitive” shape and not just go fitness mode for the off-season.
6. Friends at Push Endurance partnered with Man Vs Triathlon to make it all happen!

Here’s how it went.

Leg 1 – 2.2 mile trail run
I loaded up on some new trail shoes 2 weeks before and tried to break them in wearing them out and about, but this was the first time on real trails. My goal was simple. Put as much distance between me and the questionable mountain bikers as possible. I knew I would go anaerobic trying to stay in the lead pack and I was ok with that for 2.2 miles. My mission was a success as the first mile was on a levee trail and I could pass people without issue and kept pace in the trails.

Leg 2 – 17.2 mile mountain biking
I figured from my 2 half ironmans and various triathlons I could save enough bike leg fitness to do fairly well on the bike course with minimal time on trails to train. It worked well as the trails are not very technical and fairly flat and fast. It was obvious on sharp corners and sandy spots that my technical skills were rusty as people I could hold off on the flats passed me on occasion at the turns. Overall it was a fast and fun bike ride through the trails.

Leg 3 – 4.2 mile paddling
This was the new adventure for me. I’d been canoeing before, but this was only the second time kayaking as the first was a crash course with Susan from She was great in showing me some pointers to get going and helping me secure a kayak for the race. I was passed, and I passed some people. All in all it was probably a wash as I kept my position and stayed afloat and off the low spots on the river. I did have my adversities keeping the thing pointed down river and not veering right and left. I’m sure I was not following Susan’s great coaching and advice for most of the paddling leg.

Leg 4 – 4.1 mile trail run
This was the best part. A lot of the crowd was more of a weekend or occasional mountain biking and a few runs type of athlete. More recreation than competitive, which is fine by me. It was interesting to hear one teammate say to the other when I passed them “I think I spent myself on the bike, we’re going to lose a lot of time on this run”. Ha. Ya think? That’s what happens when you kill the bike and leave nothing for that last 4.1 trudge through the woods. I don’t want to take pleasure in others’ pain, but it’s a nice ego boost to blow by people after a tough triathlon season. I won’t lie.

Overall I ended up 13th out of 33 male solo racers at a time of 3:02:20. Not bad for the first time running the race and first time kayaking.  I wish I would have had more time in the kayak for practice, but with a busy house, Wee Man turning 1 and life in general, you take what you can get.

Overall it was a fun race and a nice event to wind down the season. I might be looking to the KC Half Marathon in October and that would be mostly it for the race season in 2011. Already looking to 2012 so stay tuned!

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