Even with a change in team personnel less than two days before the race, Team Orange Triangle tackled their third visit to the annual Mid-America Xtreme (MAX) with a good finish and a satisfying performance.

 Hobbled from his climb of Mt. Rainer just a week earlier, team regular Randy Bauer had to bow out of the competition at MAX. Still he remained a critical part of the team, coordinating the support provided by Jerry Bauer and the newest members of the TOT clan, Barb Schwartz and Leah Carter. Thus the team for this race included captain John Chase and regular Ray Daniels with two new members, Nicole Miller and Karen Judge. Nicole and Karen had previously completed a Hi-Tec race and another sprint-distance AR event in southern Michigan together and their experience paid off in performance on the scenic and diverse MAX course.

As it has in the past, the race began at 2 am Saturday, this time with a two-mile run to spread out the teams. Knowing that no more than 5 minutes would separate the first and last teams after this short start leg, TOT focused on staying together and progressing at a pace that was comfortable for all team members. Coming off the run, we quickly transitioned to bikes for a 15-mile night ride over McCaslin mountain and through the trails around it. Although there were some tricky sections where sand, rock and hill conspired to slow our progress, we completed nearly all of this challenging bike leg in the saddle. As dawn began to break, we completed this first bike section and headed out on the orienteering part of the course.

While the orienteering consisted of only three check points, they were placed in such a way to require careful reading of the topographic map to follow the natural features of the land. Much of the terrain was covered by dense foliage and the rest was water or marsh. TOT showed excellent teamwork in this section with collaboration that allowed the group to move directly to each checkpoint without wandering or searching. During this leg, the team’s elapsed time was comparable to some of the top finishing teams, allowing us to move up eight to ten places in the standings, emerging 25th.

Following orienteering, we were back on the bikes for 10 to 15 miles and then had a short trek that delivered us to the start of the paddling section. This year’s water craft was an inflatable two-person Sevylor kayak—although an improved model from the unsteerable yellow monsters we encountered at Pathfinder last year. Paired up with the guys in one boat and the women in the other, we headed off down a 10-mile stretch of the Peshtigo river. The first and last portions were flat and slow requiring us to do all the work. The middle section was shallow and occasionally fast with several challenging chutes and drops. Still, we spent plenty of time in the center section scooting off of shallow rocks and both boats managed to dump the stern paddler on one particular drop.

Overall, the water section was the most challenge part of the course as it took us more than four hours to paddle and scoot our way through. Arms were tired, sure, but backs and legs were also cramped from the required sitting position. At the end, we were ready to get out of those boats!

After the paddling, there was another short bike section that took us to the rappelling and ascending. Both ropes exercises covered a 10 to 15 yard distance, making them challenging but enjoyable for the TOT squad and we moved through them without any delays.

After the ropes, we had a 5k run back to the base camp and the race finish line. We moved along the route walking up the hills and running the remaining sections to bring us home just a little over 14 hours after the race start. Between the boats, bikes and ropes, we had passed a few more teams and wound up finishing 22nd overall.

The weather for this race was delightful and that certainly contributed to making it easier to complete than many others we have run. It contrasted both with the cold we faced in races earlier this year and the heat of last summer’s MAX where dehydration hit hard. Finally while we saw a little mud and slogged through a good bit of marshland, the majority of the course was not wet and that certainly made for faster travel on the bikes, treks and ropes.

Unlike many races, this one required the support crew to move and meet the team every two to three hours. That helped to keep the racers happy and the crews busy. We want to extend a special thanks to Jerry Bauer, Barb Schwartz and Leah Carter for the great job they did keep us moving through this course.

-Ray Daniels

68 Responses to “Mid-America 2002”

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