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Berryman Adventure
, Missouri
September 26-27, 2003
report by Johnathan Bubalo


This is merely the afterthoughts of one mind numbed racer. The events that occurred during and around the race may or may not have happened in these time frames or in this order. Basically you are getting the race as it happened from my perspective.

Training or Lack of

To begin let me say that I did not train as much as I normally have for a race of this distance. In fact afterwards I think I figured that I had only been on my bike 3 times in the last 5 months. These rides were supplemented with a 25 mile hike 2 months before the race and about 3 short hour runs a week. So now that you understand how I weighed in at almost 15 pounds more than I did for the race last year it’s time for race details.


Jason, Aaron, Brandi and I all left KC around 10 am Friday morning which put us at the Bass Resort in ample time to erect our miniature city which we called camp. After putting up the tents, tarps, getting out the mini fridge and recliners Casey and Deron showed up just in time to enjoy a few minutes of chit chat and then we were off to a few meetings. After the meetings we began the always arduous task of plotting 24 UTM coordinates. For those of you who don’t know what UTM coordinates are here is the short explanation. Basically it’s a number that means absolutely nothing without another number but when combine these give you the area in which the race director has put a checkpoint for you to wonder around searching aimlessly in the woods for. So Casey and I plot those and then it is to bed. Here is where the fun begins. I set my alarm for 5:00 am which should give us ample time for a 6:45 start. When I wake at 5:00am though I realize that my watch is still on East Coast time so I set the alarm for six. Problem is now I have the right time but don’t turn the alarm back on and almost instantly I’m asleep. Flash forward to Jason and I going berserk because it is 6:08 am and the 4-person long course starts in a 22 minutes. Everyone made the start but it was a little hectic to say the least.

Bike, Canoe & Mt Dew

The race starts with a little prep from Keith, the race director, and then he says ok you can go now. Interesting way to start a race but Casey and I were both thinking the same thing; you don’t really have a big start to a 36 hour race. Everyone who has ever done one knows that the race is not won or lost in the first mile. Casey and I both take off at a pretty easy pace and after about a mile we realize that no one is really with us. This is really weird because we aren’t pushing it at all in fact we are riding next to each other talking. We get to the 2nd right turn and it is off down some double track to the river. At this point there is one team with us now but we still don’t see anyone else. We get to the river and see Gravity Matters 4 person team floating down the river already. I’m think we must have a ways to ride still if they started 15 minutes ahead of us but in no time though we approached the river with two other 2 person teams. The canoes are on the other side of the river and it seems obvious to me that we are going to have to cross so as the other two teams look on, Casey and I go straight in bikes over head. Casey punches us in and by the time he is back I have most of both our bikes in the canoe by taking off the front tires. We are off in the canoe now and have passed a couple of 4 person teams. Casey is working the front of the canoe with a kayak paddle and I’m holding the back down with a regular canoe paddle. After a few miles we drop off our bikes at a check point and then continue on in the canoe. After a few more miles we have to canoe upstream. If anyone was watching us for the first minute we were going upstream I’m sure they got a good laugh because we paddle like madmen to stay in the exact same place until we finally realized that getting out and pulling the boat upstream was the way to go. Casey and I seemed to be out front still which was mind boggling because the last time we canoed together I distinctly remember saying that we had to look like two monkeys trying to hump a football. I attribute our success on this section to all the training. Anyway after a little more canoeing we had to get out of the canoe and hit a checkpoint in a little store just off the river. I snagged a Mountain Dew here and took about half of it down with some Hammer Gel. I highly recommend the banana and orange flavors. Should you choose to try some E-Caps also has a great selection of endurance drinks. Casey pretty much did the whole race on Hammer Gel. Ok enough of the gratuitous sponsors plug. Seriously though, this stuff is the bomb.

3 Trekking Checkpoints & Nettle

Not much exciting happened in this section. We made it to the first checkpoint no problem and then knocked the other two out fairly quickly but the real confidence booster here was that we navigated straight to every CP. The fact that this section seemed to go so well comes back into play later. On the way back to our bikes we did go through a bunch of stinging nettle, if you don’t know what stinging nettle is think white hot needles poking you everywhere the leaves of this plant touch. Nature’s little way of saying stay the hell away from here. I immediately went to the river for some nice soothing water on the legs.

Several Biking CP’s, A Toll & A Baked Potato

It seemed like a lot of the biking section was on roads except for that really large section of single track. The first checkpoint we had to go to was several miles away and we took mostly roads there. We were going to take the Berryman trail to the checkpoint but missed it. Actually I think the conversation went something like this "Wasn’t that the Berryman Trail?"…."Yeah I think so" and we kept riding. It didn’t really matter since we got there in about the same time we figured. On the next checkpoint we road this great down hill from the "toll" to a campground and then we had to take the trail on to the next CP. The rule was that you could only use the "toll" road once, up there road or down, and after flying down that road at 38 miles an hour we decided we made the right decision. On to the Artesian well. We knew this spot oh to well after having trekked there two years ago in the first Berryman Race. When we got there we refilled our Camelbacks and I took down some food plus a few Endurolytes, another great E-Caps product. Then it was off again. From there I think we hit another checkpoint but may have gone straight to the Berryman Camp ground which was the transition area. I kinda left that part of the pre race out but basically we could put whatever we wanted in a 20 gallon container that was transported to the TA. Once we got here we changed into some dry clothes, it had been raining off and on all day, and trail shoes. Then it was time for some grub. I had a little bit of a chicken burrito, some beef jerky, combos and few other things but don’t really recall. Basically I was starving and it felt good to eat real food. Your stomach gets that empty feeling from all the gel and drinks. At this point I think Casey had a little bit of a baked potato…damn that baked potato. From here we would have CP 13 through 19 to hit before coming back to the TA. We left this checkpoint around 6:00 pm maybe…At this point we were 3rd out of the 2 person teams but another team was also in the TA

Night Time Nav, Open Water Rafting, That Damn Baked Potato & Beer Cans

It was still light out and we figured since we had done so well in the first trek we could hit 13 and 14 before dark. We did make it to 13 just before dark and were off to 14. I’m not really sure what happened, other than it got dark, but before you know it we were on some trail going west that didn’t seem to be on the map. During an adventure race going the wrong direction and not really know where you are at tends to be a bad thing. After looking around and retracing our path we found 14. Just down the road a way and we were at 15. The guys at that checkpoint seemed to be having a blast. There was a special little challenge where you had to put a raft in the lake and then paddle down the lake and back and pull the raft out. Sounds easy but at this point you we were really tired and that boat seemed to weigh at least a ton. Of course not a cloud in the sky and as soon as Casey and I get on the lake it starts raining. We complete the challenge and there is another 2 person team hot on our heals. We opt to take the road to 16 after our little mishap at 14 we aren’t messing with bushwhacking all the way there. Back up the hill from 15 and we have what seems like about a mile to a T in the road and then we are going to head right. At the T the baked potato decides to wreak havoc on Casey’s stomach. He has had this problem before so he knows that he just needs to rest. We decided to hunker down on the other side of a down tree right on the road. I’m on my back and snoring within 2 minutes. Casey estimates that he needs about 20 mins. Some time passes and I wake up really really cold. I’m talking other side of the pillow cold. Casey still isn’t well so I grab the ole moon man emergency blanket and curl back up on the road. The next time I wake up to voices. I’m pretty startled and don’t really remember what was said but apparently Gravity Matters 4 person was coming up the road and was spot lighting me in my moon blanket. At one point Aaron thought I was a big pile of beer cans. You can only image how startled they were when I popped up. After another 10 minutes of sitting there and Casey and I get up and start the trek to 16 again. At this time I feel like a Popsicle and it won’t be until 17 that I actually start warming up. We find 16 without much problem and also run into 2 Bum Wheels who are also from KC. At this point we both head to 17. We have some problems finding 17 but after a brief search we get it and off to 18. At this point I’m starting to feel the effects of racing for +18 hours. Once we get to where 18 is we have a really hard time finding it. Two other 2 person teams catch us here and after about 40 minutes of searching on top of the ridge we find the CP like you so often do right where it is supposed to be. On the way to 19 I realize that I’m starting to fall apart. We decide to sit down and both fall asleep for about 5 minutes and then we begin walking back to 19 again. We get 19 no problem. Now we have to get back to the TA and can only cross highway 8 at the Ozark Trail. Instead of taking the trails back Casey and I decide that some bushwhacking will cut off a significant amount of time. Two hours and 35 F-Bombs later we finally hit the crossing. I’m pretty sure that we found the thickest foliage in the entire state of Missouri on that section of the trek. Once we get across highway 8 it is just a short mile and some change back to the TA. This must have taken us at least a half hour because I could barely walk; I was literally taking baby steps the whole way to the TA. Once we got to the TA it was a whole new ballgame. I had half a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew and half a can of Pringles. Popped a few Endurolytes, an ibuprophen and we changed into some dry clothes. Knowing that we had just a short ride left Casey and I dumped just about everything from our packs but required gear.

MTB CPs & Finish

We made great time or what seemed like it once we got on the bike. In the races that I have done I have noticed that once the daybreaks even though you haven’t slept and are tired the sunlight is oddly rejuvenating. This was definitely the case on this ride. We didn’t have any problems finding the CPs as they were all right on the trails. Somehow we also managed to catch up and pass a few other teams all within the last 8 miles of the ride. Casey and I crossed the finish line somewhere around 11:00 am at about 28 hours or so. On our 3rd try we completed the Berryman!!!!

The Gravity Matters Two was: Casey Caughron and Johnathan Bubalo

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