Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Berryman 36 Hour Adventure Race

This weekend was the 11th running of the Berryman Adventure Race. I entered the 36 hour co-ed "elite" division with teammates Luke Kuschmeader, Jesse Livingston and Sara Parrish as Kuat Unite.  Unite is a charity effort by Kuat Racks.  They were inspired to do something by the tragedy of the Joplin Tornado earlier this year.  The Unite mission is to help victims of catastrophes around the world.  

This was my 5th adventure race and first 36 hour.  I had gotten a lot of good advice from some exceptional and experienced people leading up to the race, but really didn't know what it was going to be like.   I've raced with Luke several times but it was the first with Sara and it was Jesse's first adventure race.

I could give a blow by blow account of the race but that would take a long time.  Instead I'll just highlight a few of the highs and lows from our 30 hour adventure.

Best Moment Mentally:  On the last trekking "O" section over 24 hours into the race, I was tired but was mentally in the game.  I was focused on getting checkpoints and even though we were climbing some insane hills I was having a great time. 

Best Moment Physically: Anytime on the bike.  It's my thing and I love riding.  Even though I lost my front brake due to worn pads in the pouring rain within the first 4 hours of the race, it didn't really effect my riding.  I felt strong on the bike and looked forward to each biking leg of he race.

Worst Moment Mentally:  The first trekking "O" course consisted of 16 checkpoints in the area around the Berryman Campground.  There was an 8 hour time limit and for every 5 minutes you went over the cutoff it would cost 1 checkpoint.  We started this section of the race in the dark at 3am and initially struggled to find many of the checkpoints.  We eventually got into a grove and as we neared the cutoff we decided to try to squeeze 1 more checkpoint in before heading back.  We were all running out of water and that last checkpoint took longer to find than we expected.  With about 20 minutes to go we took off on a run trying to get back in time.  During the run Jesse was cramping so Luke dropped back to give him a tow.  We ran as hard as we could but ended up getting back 3 minutes past the cutoff, costing us that last checkpoint we worked so hard to get.  As I sat at the transition area, getting ready for the next bike leg I was really down.  I was thirsty, tired and mentally exhausted.  I didn't know if I even wanted to continue.  I kept my mouth shut but if someone on the team had said they wanted to quit I probably would have gone along with them.  After about 3 miles of riding we came to a creek where we could restock on water.  At that point my outlook had changed and once again I was enjoying the experience and looking forward to continuing.  The lesson here is don't dwell on the bad feelings.  It will change.  Just keep moving and it will get better.

Worst Moment Physically:  Although I was tired many times during the race I can't really pin down anytime I felt bad physically.  No cramping, no chafing, no blisters.  Never got very cold and didn't bonk.  That was pretty cool.

Scariest Moment:  The 2am canoe leg was unreal.  The water was moving pretty quickly and there were lot of obstacles in the water.  Rootballs, downed trees, and other canoes.  To top it off there was a thick fog coming off the water that greatly limited visibility.  I was super nervous and Luke was nodding off in the back of the boat.  Eventually I calmed down when I realized we could paddle hard enough to avoid everything and actually enjoyed the float.

Biggest Surprise:  Jesse's and Luke's calmness under fire.  Navigating an adventure race that covers as much ground as the Berryman 36 hour is no easy task and it's easy to lose your bearing and get frustrated.  Each and every time there was any uncertainty about our location and where the next checkpoint was, they regrouped, determined the best course of action and got us where we needed to go.  I'd race with them anytime.  I also can't neglect to mention Sara's pure strength. She impressed me over and over with her prowess on the bike and positive attitude.  She's tough. 

Bottom Line:  Jason and Laura  are expert adventure race promoters.  They dot all their I's and cross all their T's.  My team had a great experience this weekend and we'll be back for another Bonk Hard race.  

Here's a link to the results


  1. You guys did a great job out there! My brother and I were at Berryman for the 12 hour, and our canoe leg was ridiculous, so I can only imagine how much trouble we'd have had in the dark. At least then we'd have had a little bit of an excuse. :)

  2. Nice riding and awesome job at Berryman, just to finish is hard enough.

  3. Really what changed your mind was me getting my back snapped by the log crossing while you had a front row seat. I think my swim might have snapped your minds wrist, and your Superior Attitude then Prevailed.

    Although I am sure that was damn funny for a second watching me turtle in that creek.
    Glad ya'll had fun! We did!

  4. Great job, and awesome riding at Berryman, Congratulations, you made it through !

  5. All of you did a great job. Congratulations!