The 2012 BOAR AR was a wild day with a lot of good mixed with a lot of bad. If you were new that day or would just like some race director insight about what happened, read on...
Pangea Adventure Racing events all have their own unique flavor. A lot of races become known for one particular aspect or challenge.
The BOAR AR in Christmas has become synonymous with a challenging paddle along the St. Johns River Floodplain every year.
The Elite course provides challenging navigation with the multiple channels, inlets, & ponds that fluctuate greatly with change in water levels. The proximity of the Sport course has always been close to the Boat TA. Usually a short paddle with mud, portaging and navigation all being in the mix.
Our target for both Sport and Elite events is to have the winning team finish about 20% prior to posted finishing time. This allows for a fair percentage of teams to clear the course while the remaining teams are forced to pick and choose which controls to skip in order to finish on time.
We are pretty good at dealing with the many variables that affect these times and have a good feel for designs that meet this criteria. With the windy conditions that roared in on Saturday morning, this target was blown away.
We like to have Elite courses interact with Sport courses and even have Elite teams timed on a Sport course when practical. With our largest showing ever in the Elite division at the BOAR, we had to figure out a way to break up the teams at the start of the Elite race before they headed to the Paddle.
Our solution was to let Elite teams choose to complete the Sport Trek or the Sport Bike before going off on their Paddle course. This would force Elite teams to make a strategic decision right off the bat and also vet the Trek and Bike Sport courses for race day conditions.
From that insight and comments about strong headwinds, we opted to drop CP 13 from the Sport Bike course.
Shorting the Sport Bike would hopefully open up a window for the winning Sport team to clear course without penalties. Knowing that the Paddle (with a Bike to and from and 1.75k Trek) would take well more than an hour under normal conditions, all the extra time we could find would be the way to go.
Dropping the CP should have shortened the Bike to about 30+ minutes. And with an average time on the Trek being just under 40 minutes, this should have allowed enough time for teams to take on the challenging conditions of the Paddle.
With the large number of Elite teams approaching that of the Sport teams, an opportunity to have a different start and ending location for Sport Paddle also presented itself. With the desire to keep our events new and challenging, we opted to take advantage of that opportunity.
With a service road that continued North from the Boat TA (which would make the paddle about 3k or 30 minutes in general) it looked like a reasonable Paddle course outline. Normally our 3hr event Paddles are just over 5k though they usually start near the Main TA. The Boar AR required an extra bike to and from the Boat TA and a 1.75k run to the launch location.
Having a launch location that is different than the end location always adds a logistical challenge. The Sport course usually allows for teams to shorten the segment, opting out of a control or more in order to return to the Boat TA quicker.
This Sport Paddle did not allow for that because all the teams had to go from point A to B. We were hoping that this unique touch would provide a memorable & rewarding course experience for the racers. And under normal conditions, it certainly would have.
We retrieved elite and sport paddle courses on the Tuesday after the race. Hoping for a nice calm day, we arrived at Hatbill Road boat launch (northeast of the actual course) with the same fierce wind gusting out of the East. Since the course was West of us, that meant the return trip would involve a hard headwind.
Not the best of paddling conditions but oh well you play the hand you're dealt.
With the wind, we were really moving along quickly. So quickly in fact that we overshot the first control forcing us to backtrack into the wind to get on course. With floating vegetation and us heading into the headwind, we opted to pull the boat and walk till we approached deeper water and the minor channel we overshot.
Frustrating to start off the retrieval this way but it reinforced the conditions faced by the teams on race day. The crosswinds were challenging but manageable. Tailwind really pushed us hard and fast. It was easy to lose focus on where we were moving at such a fast pace.
With the Elite course having a control well to the West of the Sport Boat launch and knowing we would have to paddle back East directly into serious wind, we opted to run to that control. We dropped our canoe and after two waste deep crossings and a few ankle to knee deep crossings later, we retrieved it and returned to canoe.
I have paddled here 10 - 15 times or more in last 5 years and pretty much know it by memory. Even still these extreme conditions had me confused as to where I was on the map at times. What we thought would be a routine day retrieving the paddle course was proving to be quite the challenge.
One reward, however, is the moments you stop and look around and enjoy the natural surrounding's. For many, a flock of various birds going airborne across the channel was a cool sight. Black ones, white ones and a few pink ones mixed in all using the gusty wind to get aloft.
Some other visual highlights were the beautiful bike sections on hard packed trails. Recent demucking of Lake Searcy
provided really cool views of the lake that some referred to as out of a Dr. Seuss book. Great single track running brought to us by recent trail rerouting by the Florida Trail Association
Teams raced hard and few cleared the courses. A solo and first place team (LMFD) in the Sport race did although both acquired penalties for overtime. Two teams in the elite race also cleared it with both tied for first place. Crazy race it was and when a course proves to be so challenging the atmosphere at post race is slightly dampened. Partially from the exhaustion of the competition and partially because many teams wish they could have accomplished more.
We did attempt our first ever post race activities, brought to you by the "Sheriff's Posse" with a Weenie Bike Toss and Log Pull. We will bring these back at future events as with the dampened spirits at post race the participation was limited. If you have some post race fun challenges please post or shoot us an email and we will consider for future post race activities.
My son Drew, who volunteered at the Sunshine Sea 2 Sea AR
supporting teams across the state, summarized it best at 21:00 on race day (night) as we had finished loading the last boat and were finally exiting the venue:
"Dad I have been looking forward to volunteering at the (6 hour) BOAR all week because I thought nothing could be as hard as the (72 hour) Sea 2 Sea. I was wrong. That paddle (getting boats in place to support the sport racers) kicked our butt. And we've been here all day hardly resting"
The 2012 BOAR was another wild day outdoors with Pangea Adventure Racing. We know some teams were limited in what they could accomplish and some first timers heads are probably spinning. I hope this race director report at least sheds some light on what happened from our side that day.
Our adventure is always to toe the line between keeping races competitive and keeping races fun. We don't want anyone to think they were cheated out of a challenging course but we also don't want to just kick eveyone's butt for the heck of it.
Somewhere in the middle there is usually a great event for people of all skill level.
And some days the conditions are such that having prior experience really helps. I would say this year's BOAR was definitley hard on the newbies.