Swamp Fox Adventure Race

Swamp Fox Adventure Race

Workout Date:





Too many to list without missing a few!

The Thang:

The 2018 edition of the Palmetto Swamp Fox Adventure race was held St. Patrick’s Day. There was a fine showing of F3, with our members comprising almost 20% of the field. With those numbers, and hopefully more next year- WE WANT OUR OWN CHECK IN LINE! Steve Morrone is a fine race director, and this years edition was as challenging as ever, If you have never done an adventure race, here is the basic gist of it. The basic description I tell people is it is an off-road triathlon using map and compass to find points. Of course, as soon as I say map and compass, many people bail there and leave the conversation. That was why we split teams up this year and brought in several new racers. There was an experienced navigator on each team, so the learning curve was not steep, as the experience prevented the mistake of plotting a point in the middle of Bull’s Bay or somewhere in Georgetown by mistake. OUCH!!!

The teams started showing up on 3/16 to check in, get their maps- which really starts fueling the discussion of where are we going, where are the points likely at, what’s the strategy going to be? All of this is nervous energy wasted as we really never know until Saturday. We received one point to plot with instructions to drop our boats and related gear there. Steve has a wonderful volunteer base, and the local boy scout troop watched our stuff overnight.

A quick bite to eat, and back for the MANDATORY race briefing at 2000 hours. Yes, I hate this meeting, as thereĀ are so little choices in McLellanville, SC to eat and sleep, and this briefing creates stress to check-in, eat, unload gear at some T/A (transition area), and then bed down.

Saturday morning arrived quite rudely as we had to go get our UTM’s and drop our bikes and related gear at 0500 hours. I made the run for my team, dropped our gear and got the plots. My team mate, Etch-a-Sketch, was ready. We finally found a place to plot, as every table, counter, and flat surface was in use by the multiple teams we had entered. He called them out, I plotted them, and we looked over our handiwork. I was fortunate enough to remember to bring glasses- getting old sucks, and old eyes are even worse. I really zeroed in on my plots with an exceptionally fine point marker. This proved a good move as I probably have never plotted as precisely as I did this year. We hit all of our points spot on with no drift in either direction. Except 17, which was a different story for all teams.

We finished, double checked our fueling and clothing strategy, and prepared to move to the start line. I can’t believe how many clothing options I considered as the morning was about 47 degrees and climbing up close to 70, but rain was coming too. Panic set in for about five minutes as I covered up my keys, and was certain they were gone. I few deep breaths, some frantic searching, shaking out some items and they were found. We drove to the start/finish line and got ready! A very nice ball-of-man for us to pray together to start the day and the race.

Step 1 was a small spot map given to the team captain to go collect a letter/number for a matrix. The other team member(s) had a 7 word puzzle. Take a letter from each of their words, combine it with mine, and say the magic word- BLARNEYSTONE- and get your passport. I consider myself a mid-pack runner, but was shocked to see us getting out in the last quarter of the teams! I guess saving myself from blowing up on the run would have to mean a stronger finish to overcome the hole I started us in.

We knew from the plots there was a T/A at CP 8 (checkpoint) and CP-9 through CP-12 would be plotted there, since their UTM’s were missing. We pulled out on the bike, and I am not going to lie, the first 7 points to get to the T/A were like a sprint and we were on the edge of the redline. We made excellent time and started picking off a few teams, but when we got to the T/A, goodness, bikes laying everywhere! I heard tomahawks striking wood, and Steve had revived an old school element of sticking a tomahawk before you could move on.

Etch-a-Sketch stuck it quickly, and we got the 4 new points. 3 were triangulation- UGH- 1 is fine, but 3 were too many for my liking. We had one flyer of a point, and I realized I had turned my protractor 90 degrees while plotting. The mistake was caught quickly, and we scooted out for CP-9. We took it easily, but going to CP-10 made a mistake to bushwhack and should have simply re-ran the route in and then use theĀ  road to it. We did make it back to the road, found the CP and took off for CP-11. We were feeling good, and made most of the long haul running. We passed a few more teams, and kept going. We all regrouped to hit CP-11 and left together. We made a tactical decision to bushwhack to CP-12 as it was much shorter than by road, but always uncertain as to what you will encounter. We made a beautiful choice, hit CP-12, re-routed back and were OTW back to the T/A and we met several of the teams we had been neck and neck with. We started meeting bikes going out, so we knew we still had much ground to gain. We got to the T/A and punched out and learned the fantastic news- we were sitting in 2nd place as we were the only other team to check out with all 4 CP’s. That puts juice in your legs, and we moved on.

We hit CP-13 and saw a long line waiting to cross the slack line to hit the point. NOT US! I swam across and passed several teams in the process. This is one of the things about AR you never know- who was the other team that had punched all the points, were they here, or had they already gone??? Everything else went as planned, and we did well passing a few more teams until CP-17. Simple, easy, straightforward. Run the Palmetto Trail to the service road, dump the bikes, 150 meters in punch and go- RIGHT??? No, WRONG WRONG WRONG! This was the one point in probably 10 races of Steve’s when I questioned my plot. No terrain features. No backstops, no hand rails, no catching points. We arrived there in second place, and before we left, it took a group of 5 teams saturating the area to find the flag. Point punched we headed out in a pack now- again, are these guys all punched on their cards, who is ahead of us? Good stuff to make the ride to Hwy 17 interesting.

We crossed over to the Buck Hall side and easily hit 18, we peeled out and were again in 2nd place. We hit a catching point I was looking for to go to CP-19 and regrouped with the team in the lead. We got to CP-19 slightly ahead and were rewarded with a leprechaun! We punched the point, snagged the new team member we called Lucky Charm, and headed out. We got to the boat T/A slightly in 1st place, but the 3 man team transitioned quicker and headed out 4 minutes ahead by the check out time. BAD LUCK for us, we had to retreat to the T/A for a item we needed, so the team in front probably had 6-7 minutes on us.

This was the first time Steve had the paddle last. We took off after plotting the last 2 points, which would be a word on a flag. We found the both easily enough, but low tide forced us to pull up out-flowing creeks to get close enough to read the word. We could see the lead team the entire paddle, and made up just a couple of the minutes we gave away at the T/A. We arrived at the finish line in 2nd place by 4 minutes- exactly what we lost to their faster T/A.

We finished 2nd overall to a good team, and first in the 2-man division. The other F3 teams competed well, we won the 4-man division too, and had good placing’s all across the board. I believe all F3 teams cleared the course, which is a remarkable achievement for quite a few first time racers.

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