Team North/South Tactel Ispira AKA Team Stray Dogs (a
three man category D team) completed the first ever Adrenalin Rush 2000
Adventure race Friday June 7:44 a.m. Friday the 2nd of
June. The team consisted
of Peter James, from Great Britain; Noel Hanna, from Northern Ireland; and
Marshall Ulrich, from the United States. DuPont, who has invented a new
miracle stretch fiber, called Tactel Ispira, sponsors it. The event included Bicycling, climbing, canoeing, and
horseback riding over an abbreviated course of an estimated 200 miles.
The team individuals arrived May 22nd,
Saturday, for the pre race testing. Armed
with the certificates of proficiency, and credit due to Brian Elliott the
race founder and director of the race organization, it took us just over a
half day to complete the testing. The
race organization provided tents for each team
to stay in, and an abundance of food to make things even more
convenient. This was very well
organized, and teams handled it quickly and easily.
The next day a banquet ensued with a race briefing and
handing out of the maps. After
looking at the maps, it became apparent that the race would include a lot of
climbing (on the off track Mountains of Mourne), and that potentially, cut
offs would be hard to make even for the leaders.
About half of the Checkpoints were manned and the other half letter
boards that included a letter, or letters, that had to be recorded to
progress through the course.
Race day dawned with 23 teams with three
categories: four person mixed, three person mixed, and three person man.
We were, of course, entered in the three-person man ďCategory
DĒ race. At approximately
noon on Monday, May 29th, we were off on our bikes.
We were required through more than two thirds of the race to
carry all of our equipment (climbing equipment, PFDís etc.), so our
packs were heavier than usual, and made the going a bit slower.
We ascended many hills the first day on our way to the bike drop
in Tollymore Forest, dropping down hillsides that were trackless and
boggy. Many a time my front
wheel would stick into an unforeseen bog hole, and propel me over the
handlebars. The beauty of
the mountains was indescribably beautiful, as the clouds and mist would
roll in and out over the stone fence laden hills and valleys.
Coming from the bicycle leg we ascended into the
Mountains of Mourne with a climb to the summit of Slieve Donard,
approximately 3000 feet high, from sea level.
Over the course of the night, we would climb up eleven summits,
only to drop down to approximate sea level and up again.
Over the approximate 36 miles we would climb about 17,000 feet
total. A canyoneering
portion was included and a coastering section, made for a slow go
throughout the night. The
thought that teams would be hard pressed to make the cutoffs, became a
reality, as only three were able to make the original cutoffs, that had
been revised to accommodate the difficulty of the course.
We moved up into second place, and continued our quest jumaring
twice up significant cliffs and once up the face of the Ben Crom Dam,
trekking, and picking our way through the day and night.
We exchanged leads with the leaders early on the
second morning of the race, only to loose it shortly after. Team Parrot, the now leaders, was composed world class fell
runners, with record ascents and descents to their credits.
Our team was comprised of Peter, who is a superb navigator (we
didnít take one false step), and accomplished adventure racer; Noel, a
world class runner and adventure racer, that is as tough as I have seen;
and myself, a ultra runner and adventure racer.
We arrived at the range of hills known as The
Kingdom of Mourne to pick up our horse, two would run, and one rode
through the night south towards the Republic of Ireland.
By now the course had been shortened, cutting out a second trek,
enabling some teams to marginally make the progress that would allow
them to meet the cut offs along the way.
The weather would be sunny for short periods of time, but for the
most part, it would be cloudy, rainy, and at one point a storm rolled in
that would pelt us with hail. Nights
up high in the mountains would dip below freezing temperatures, with
daytime temps in the 60ís at best.
Back on the bikes we progressed to Water Castle
where a hand line haul platform raft was provided to transport our bikes
a quarter of a mile across the water.
Loading our bikes into the 17foot canoes, we pushed forward to
Lough Neagh. The Lough is
the only UK inland water to have its own marine charts, and because of
its vastness, it was much like being in the open sea.
As we paddled out of the waterway into the Lough it became
slightly rougher. By
nightfall it became more treacherous, and the leaders, Team Parrot
pulled out a couple of kilometers from the first and only re-supply, The
Red Bull Village.
We were content to paddle in through the night,
however, Brian Elliott, along with the other race organizers, knew of
impending swells up to five feet high, coupled with high winds, that
would make it impossible to carry on.
Wisely so, assist boats were summoned to tow us across the rest
of the way to the village, where we waited until dawn for the Lough to
Our team set off first at dawn of the third morning
into slightly calmer water, only to clear two PCís and then have one
of our boats swamped and capsized merely a few hundred yards from PC 27.
Another course alteration was made as we cycled around to PC 30,
as additional alterations were being made for all other teams except for
Team Parrott and ourselves. Safety became the guiding force, and it is much to Brian
Elliottís credit to take note of the dangerous conditions and rethink
the direction of the course.
Biking became the mode of travel as we continued on
throughout the entire day cycling up and down the hills of the
about a third of the way through this mountain biking, Team Parrot
passed us going up one of the numerous major hills that we would
encounter. As dusk settled
in and the finish was nearing, we arrived at the last canoe portion.
Up the same channel we went, that the day before we went down,
and into a system of drainage ditch cannels we paddled.
The last three kilometers took us close to five hours, as the
banks were overgrown with branches we would have to chop, push, and
portage, our way through. Then
on to the bikes, and a 20-mile push to the finish.
A wonderful ceremony, complete with food drink and
live indigenous band took place on Saturday the 3rd of June.
Local crystal engraved award goblets and vases were given to all
finishing teams, professional photos were there for review, new friends
were made, and exaggerated stories were told.
RACE IMPRESSIONS AND EVALUATION
The Adrenalin Rush 2000 Adventure Race, in my opinion,
was extremely well organized. An
enormous amount of time and effort was obviously spent, putting together the
logistics, planning the course, and organizing the event.
Not withstanding this was a first time event, my impression was that
it will evolve into a major event in the world.
This was a competitorís event, and Brian Elliott had the maturity
and common sense to make adjustments within the course, to make sure that
every opportunity was given to teams who had the fortitude, to finish.
The fact that only ten out of twenty three teams
finished the race, spoke to the difficulty of the course. The entire course, if left as it was, would have made an
eight to ten day adventure race. I hesitate to compare, as each event and
course is unique, but The Adrenalin Rush 2000, would rival the Eco
Challenge, Beast of the East, or the Raid Gauloises.
Rumor had it that the next race would take place
possibly in Europe, Scotland, or possibly Iceland.
Wherever it may be, itís not one I would want to miss.