Odyssey AR Enduringly Takes 30 Hour Sunshine

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DELAND, FL – The first annual Florida Sunshine AR took its toll on some of the best adventure racers in the nation this Memorial Day weekend but was ultimately conquered by Odyssey Adventure Racing in decisive fashion.

The Sunshine race rivaled its namesake; pouring heat onto the racers with little mercy. The 30 hour battle against dehydration & delirium through the Ocala National Forest was a true test for experienced racers.

“The heat was definitely a challenge,” said Odyssey AR team navigator Andy Bacon. “We pretty much drained our camelbaks (of water) on every section...plus a couple bottles.”

Bacon, along with teammates Jennifer Moos & Robert Yeske, cleared the course in 25 hours and 50 minutes. They bested Green Paw Adventure Sports, their in-race rivals and only other team to get all 41 control points, by two hours and 41 minutes.

For much of the first half, Green Paw and Odyssey were neck and neck.

“We were right behind them on the first bike leg,” Bacon said. “We paddled with them...we passed them probably three-quarters of the way through the (second) bike.”

By this time the heat was really becoming a factor.

“Anna (of Green Paw) we found out was sick,” Bacon said. “I think that's what slowed them down...and so we kept going but always thought they were (near)...cause you never know.”

Team Green Paw recovered well enough to press on and post an impressive time. However, this proved to be the portion of the race that separated the teams for good.

“We all felt nauseous at some point,” Bacon said. “When you get dehydrated the last thing you want to do is eat...and so if you don't...an hour or two hours later you're stopped, hunched over on the side.”

“At this level it's so easy to just accidentally not do one thing and it catches up with you,” said Yeske. “It's the simple things we have to remember...that matter most.”

“We controlled the pace,” Moos added referring to what they could handle. “Either that or we just suffer well.”

The winning trio races under the Odyssey Adventure Racing promotion headquartered in Salem, VA. This was the first time this specific threesome raced together and while Moos & Yeske are both Florida residents, Bacon traveled from Virginia to experience the local waters for the first time.

“I thought both paddles were pretty epic,” Bacon said. “I'd never seen an alligator before...and we saw lots of eyes at night.”

Alligators weren't the only creatures awake.

“We did have a fish in the boat...and two frogs,” Bacon said. “And our boat got attacked by a flying fish right?” he asked Yeske.

“It tried to drill a hole in the side of the Boat,” Yeske recounted.

“Imagine you're paddling along, tired at 2 o'clock in the morning or whenever it was, and you hear this 'thwoomp!' and you got (alligator) eyes all around you.”

When asked if that affected them, a humorous Bacon quipped “It just made us paddle faster." “We were very ready to get off the boats when we finished.”

Odyssey AR also competes to raise awareness for the On Point Foundation (ImONPoint.org) whose goal, which seems appropriate for the holiday, is to help disabled service members once again participate in several types of competitive events.

The Florida Sunshine AR is part of the nationwide Checkpoint Tracker adventure racing series for which the two aforementioned teams, along with local favorites Florida Xtreme, all currently rank in the top ten.

The promotion itself, Pangea Adventure Racing, impressed another first time participant in Bacon.

“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “I like the variety of the race...it was great.”

Moos, who raced Pangea events before, had a different take on why it is fun.

“See, how can you beat this?” she asked while Pangea founder Greg Owens comically went through the crowd.

“...the race director...demanding, with a stick, for you to get over to the award ceremony.”

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Comment by Alex Tabbe | June 2, 2011

That was a really great interview! I saw Odyssey on the course several times and was so surprised and imprssed with their stamina. Plus, they were always smiling and obviously enjoying the race. Amazing team!

Comment by Lauren Rocco | June 8, 2011

Great article and congrats to all the teams that participated! I have not met Andy, but Jen and Rob are very talented and work great together. Best of all, they enjoy what they do whether they win or lose :)

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