2015 Happy Mutant Adventure Race Series, St. George, UT
Race Report by Ian Hoag.  Raced by Ian Hoag, Katie Ferrington, Fletcher Hamel, and Guest Racer Jason Brown. It was nice to be able to do a 72 hour race over a long weekend, which meant some of us only had to take two days off from work. It was also an opportunity for some […]

Race Report by Ian Hoag.  Raced by Ian Hoag, Katie Ferrington, Fletcher Hamel, and Guest Racer Jason Brown.

It was nice to be able to do a 72 hour race over a long weekend, which meant some of us only had to take two days off from work. It was also an opportunity for some great competition with our friends NYARA.

We started the race with a leisurely ride along mostly paved roads and a little bit of well graded dirt road, then a short hike-a-bike to CP1 in Warner Valley.  Luckily we were the only team to realize that the fastest route went off the maps provided, so we found ourselves in first place at CP1 and stayed there until CP5 where a minor mis-plot cost us about 15 minutes and allowed NYARA and the 2 person male team, Desert Rats to slip past us.  We soon caught up with the other teams and continued trekking together to CP7 which was nowhere to be found.  After searching for over an hour with NYARA and Desert Rats, we called the race director, searched a little more, then called the race director again and were told to continue on.  We chose a slightly different route, but arrived at CP8 at the same time as NYARA and continued together to CP9 which was the transition back to our bikes.  We transitioned quickly and headed out in first.  This bike leg involved three big climbs: first up a paved road to the top of the Flying Monkey trail near the Air Force base where monkeys were sent down a long zip-line as part of the space program, the second climb up a dirt road to the top of another mesa where there’s a trail called Guacamole just outside of Zion National Park, and the third climb up a double-black-diamond single track mountain bike trail onto Gooseberry Mesa.  We stayed ahead of NYARA until CP 12 by the Guacamole trail where they caught up to us just as we found the flag which was hidden behind some bushes.  

This is when things got ugly.  The dirt road which had been a little bit muddy on the way up had thawed and was now continuous sticky clay-mud which stuck to our wheels and bike frames until the wheels would not turn and the bikes seemed to weigh 100 pounds.  Somehow we managed to slog our way down the road slightly faster than NYARA and Desert Rats who chose a different route and found a nice family who let us use their hose to rinse our bikes.  A couple miles later I realized I was out of water and was lucky to find some people who gave me three bottles of water.  We had at least a few hours ahead of us before we would see water again, so the stop was worth it even though NYARA got a little ahead of us.  As we began our climb up the Grafton Mesa trail up onto Gooseberry Mesa, we immediately realized it was going to be a grueling climb.  It started with a spot where we had to lift our bikes up a significant drop where there was no walk-around followed by 1,400 feet of pushing our bikes up a steep rocky technical trail, wondering the whole time if it would have been faster to take the long way around up a road that may or may not have been a muddy mess.  Once on top of the mesa, we began a 4 mile slog along more muddy roads, where we reach an out-and-back loop to collect four CP’s.  We dropped our bikes since it was now easier to walk than to push our mud covered bikes.  Upon returning to our bikes a couple hours after sunset the temperature had dropped and the mud on our bikes had frozen solid.  We resorted to beating the mud off our bikes with sticks, like cave men.  I even pissed on my rear derailleur to melt the mud out of the chain and sprockets.  Toby had driven up to inform us that the next section would be a ROGAINE with a deadline of 6am.

When we arrived at the TA we found NYARA sleeping, but we felt ok, so decided to get the jump on them and made fairly quick work finding three checkpoints, at which point we thought we had time for one more.  Despite the challenges during the last hour on this trekking leg with sleepmonsters and nausea attacking the team, we made it back to the TA just before the 6am cutoff, transitioned to our bikes and rode down to the next TA for another orienteering course.

This was the highlight of the race for us.  This was the first foot section that felt like it mostly ought to be done on foot, at least at the beginning.  We crossed two canyons and climbed up to the top of a small peak called Molly’s Nipple from which we could look out over Hurricane Valley with snow capped mountains in the distance to the west and to the northeast in Zion beyond Gooseberry Mesa.  We made really great time through the rest of the orienteering course.  Then, we found out that due to a bout of poor judgement and sleepmonsters the team had split up well beyond what the rules allowed, we would serve a two hour penalty at the next TA before starting the final orienteering section.  A well-deserved and fair penalty that we learned a lot from and have taken actions to prevent in future races.  As we biked through Hurricane we picked up burritos to enjoy during our penalty, and arrived at the TA at the Sand Hollow OHV trailhead shortly before sunset.  We got ourselves ready for the 25+ mile trek, ate our burritos and slept for an hour before heading out on the final foot section.

The first CP of the trek was a short hike up the hill from the TA.  After taking a few minutes to figure which ATV track was the one we wanted to follow,  we soon saw the headlamps of NYARA off to our left on the wrong ATV track.  The sky was clear and the moon was bright, so we turned off our headlamps and picked up the pace to get away from NYARA.  After a couple hours of difficult navigation we reached the location where CP34 should be and spent over an hour looking for it with a team called Unplugged Adventure.  They were nice enough to share the clue sheet which we never received.  Unfortunately the clues did not help at all.  We never found the CP, but called Toby a few times and were told to continue.  We headed up to CP35 with Unplugged Adventure and spent over two hours scouring up and down the mountain but not finding the CP again.  Again, after calling Toby a few times were told to continue.  We headed off to CP 36 while Unplugged Adventure stayed behind.  At CP36, for the third time in a row we could not find the CP.  After searching for two hours we called Toby and our description of where we were matched his memory of where the CP was, but he suggested we look 20’ off the ATV track.  Then the phone died.  We spent another two hours looking for the CP and trying to decide what to do next. We were less than half way through the trek, and for several reasons we decided to turn around and head back to the TA, pretty much the way we came.  It was NYARA’s day.  As we put CP36 behind us, NYARA headed past us and would continue on to complete most of the trek.  We limped, stumbled, and carried each other back to the TA, got on our bikes for a quick ride to the finish line.

NYARA ran a good race and earned the win.  Nonetheless, Journey Racing can be proud of our 2nd place finish.  The intense competition between Journey and NYARA remains alive 🙂

Photo from Emma Gossett, HMARS