July 21, 2001 – The race started at 2 am with a tubing trip down the Peshtigo River. One-hundred seventy-six racers floating, yelling each other’s names, smashing rocks with butts, it was a wild ride. As the race started, we all
instantly lost each other, as did nearly every other team. The frantic search brought most of us back together quickly for a group float, still searching for Cindy! Especially unnerving for Cindy, she hopped in her tube at the beginning and instantly had her shoe ripped off (accidentally) by another competitor. In the search for the shoe, her helmet and headlamp also fell off and it was decision time…find the shoe or the helmet and headlamp. She went for the helmet and headlamp and finished the tubing section with one shoe. Thanks to Now and Zen for your help on the tubing section!!

A 3 1/2 mile hike followed the tubing over mostly flat and sandy terrain where we met Jerry, our Support Crew. We arrived in 37th place out of 44 starting teams. Having completed the hike with only one shoe, Cindy focused on picking up her bike shoes, we picked up some food and backpacks, and off we went for another 17 1/2 mile hike. Throughout the night, the temperature stayed steadily in the 80s and climbed brutally high during the day. The long hike, combined with a tough land nav section and intense heat, brought the team to a crawl. John was getting anxious as the day wore on, prodding the team to pick off a few more competitors. (We’re going to have to add some weight to his pack for the hiking sections). We began running out of water, with dehydration hitting Ray hard with over 4 hours left to hike before the next transition area. (Stupid us, we walked through a stream and forgot to fill Ray’s water bladder). Mixed in with the land nav we had a rappel, ascent, and a Tyrolean traverse. We were steadily moving through the ranks, arriving at the rappel in 28th place, and up to 18th by the end of the hike. Smart decision making and constant movement win again.

At about 3:30 pm, we picked up bikes for a 23 mile ride over rolling roads and two track trails. It felt good to get off our feet and onto the bikes. Ray was feeling better and we were moving at a blistering pace. Each time we’d see a team, we decided that there was another one we had to obliterate. Five miles remain on the bike and Randy’s bike starting making horrible noises and he’s skidding all over the road. Our first thought: a flat. Reality: his chain jumped the rear cog and ate up a few spokes,
stopping him in his tracks. Randy yanked the chain out of the rear wheel, winds the broken spokes around the good ones, opens up the brakes, and we’re off again. Riding what appeared to be the shape of a potato chip, Randy led the charge for the next 5 miles to the boats.

We arrived at the boats with another team breathing down our necks. We jumped in the boats or the wild ride down the Peshtigo. The rapids were crazy, the rocks hard, the water the perfect temperature for a hot day. John couldn’t seem to figure out how to stay in the boat, flying out at two sets of rapids with Ray joining him for a swim in the last whitewater section. We pulled up to shore with the 13th place team right on us. A dash to the finish and a signed passport later, we were the official 12th place finishers!

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