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Raid the Ridge
Loess Hills near Mapleton, Iowa

September 13, 2003
report by Brandi Resa

This race came together thanks to Jason’s persistence. Our goal was to use it as a much needed primer for Berryman. The trip was shorter than we expected so we arrived in plenty of time for check in. Luckily my teammates recommended taking bike lights even though they weren’t on the required gear list – we certainly needed them! The pre-race meeting was uneventful but each of us did win some swag. We had about 30 minutes to get our gear together after seeing the racecourse. At 10:30pm, there was a leisurely bike to the start. The 11PM start began with a 4 mile or so trail run. We did not start out in front but finished the leg in first place. Because I needed some Pepto (not a good way to start the race!), we took out of transition in 2nd place on the 35-mile bike leg. The first part of the bike was on fairly steep ATV trails. There were many ruts and some mud. I had a difficult time pushing up the hills because of my stomach as well as my new cleats (ie I kept falling over). My teammates, especially Aaron, did a great job of getting my bike up the hills everyone walked. The bike ride to the canoe was fairly uneventful. As we pulled into the canoe area, we could see the lead team heading down the water. Or shall I say, up the water since they were going in the wrong direction! This gave us some extra energy and we headed to the canoe drop in. Aaron & I started to dump our canoe over the 10-foot drop closest to the pick up but the race director was yelling we had to go to the sandbar. We opted to push it back up and head down a ways. This was the same amount of drop. Jason jumped down and Aaron/Deron got him the canoes over the edge.

The canoe itself was boring! 12-15 miles or so of the same scenery with mini naps in between, as it was hard to stay awake during this leg of the race. We did occasionally have to get out as we got stuck in various sandbars. One checkpoint was also upstream so because of the low water, we beached and walked up the river barefoot. At the end of the canoe, we had to get the canoe up the bank – also about a 10-12 foot cliff. Three of us (not Deron) opted to not put our shoes back on and ended up with clay mud covering our feet.

From the canoe, we had what we thought as about a 2-mile trek to the bike transition. It turned out to be much longer but we kept a good pace. As we came into the campground, we again saw Team Witness getting their stuff together. We had made up about 15 minutes on them, which was again uplifting. Here, one member (Jason) had to do a short traverse and read I LOVE MY MOUNDS that was written on duct tape on a tree. After that, each team got 1 gallon of water and 8 donuts. These really hit the spot!

Next was about a 25-mile bike back to camp. It was fairly uneventful. There was one checkpoint that required thinking! There were two questions that we had to answer by going to the local park. There was some confusion over one of the questions as we interpreted it different than the race director intended but luckily that didn’t change the outcome.

As we approached the bike to trek transition, we saw the lead team heading out. We took a longer transition than desired (about 25 minutes) and began heading out on the trek. We made a quick mistake but recovered. This costs us another 15-20 minutes in total. Heading out, I think each of us (although we didn’t mention it) was resigned to 2nd place (there was no other team in sight behind us). We overshot the first checkpoint. As we approached the second checkpoint, we were amazed to see the lead team there. They had been searching for the checkpoint for about 1 hour and were out of ideas. Deron/Aaron talked to them about it and we each began searching again. This went on for about 20 minutes when Deron/Aaron went back to the previous checkpoint to reevaluate things. We (Jason!) soon found the checkpoint and did a horrible job of keeping it from Team Witness. We tried to lie but they could tell we had found it. They were not happy about us lying but come on, IT’S A RACE! I am not sure what it makes me but I would lie every time in the same situation if teams were battling for first. I mean, IT’S A RACE!

After running into the race director in the woods (he then got up to go check on Witness and why they were lost), we headed to the next checkpoint #17, the traverse. Getting a team picture was part of it and then Aaron was off. Next was Deron with both his pack and mine (I think he was dangling with about 50 pounds of pack and a bum shoulder!), as I knew I would have difficulty with the traverse. I was up next and it took forever for me to get across (Jason crossed in the meantime). Team Witness had arrived just a minute or two after us and went much faster as a team (there were 3 of them). So we were in second place again! Finally after too much time, I made it across with 1 socket remaining (Aaron ripped my other arm socket out trying to get me across). Next was checkpoint #18, which was in the middle of a lagoon pond type thing. Jason volunteered and stripped down to go get the checkpoint. It took him a few minutes to get all the gunk off his feet and then we were off again. To our amazement, we saw Team Witness looking for checkpoint #19 (we spotted it easily from the road). Unfortunately they were kind of close to the area and we couldn’t sneak up on them. We then opted to take the road around versus going in the woods towards checkpoint #20. Once again they pulled out of the woods ahead of us about 75 yards up. They ran, we ran, we ran, they ran. They beat us to the next turn and we made a small mistake on the navigation, which left Team Witness nowhere in sight. However at the next checkpoint, we saw two of their members, one of which was in the water going after the point. Aaron volunteered this time and both teams headed towards checkpoint #22 together. We stayed together for the next checkpoint. They pulled ahead by running for the last checkpoint and we didn’t make a move to keep up. So once again, it was to our amazement that they were over the hill unable to locate the final checkpoint. We all spread out looking for it. I spotted it on the ground (they were in the right place but had missed it). Not being able to hide it from them, we both got it. They went left, we went right to get across to the zip line. Unfortunately our choice of routes got us stuck in bean fields that were illegal to cross through. Hitting a dead end, we turned back and watched Witness head towards the zip line in first place. Arriving about 12 minutes after them, we found out the race had been shortened and it was over after the zip line. Although they had given us numerous opportunities to win the race, we just did not get it done. We do think if we had had to find the remaining points, we would have caught them as they were struggling with most of them it seemed.

Deron did a great job for his first navigation experience and I thought Aaron was the workhorse (even though Deron/Jason helped too!) with helping my a$$ get through the bike. Aaron did a good job letting Deron navigate. Overall, it was disappointing in that we couldn’t get the job done (ie win) given the numerous chances but at the same time, I think it turned out to be exactly what we wanted – a primer for Berryman. We finished at 4:30pm in 2nd place overall with a time of 17 hours, 30 minutes covering approximately 85 miles.

Click here for an online article about this race from the Mapleton Press.

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