The SAVAGE 2008

April 2008

Sunday marked my second year of participation in the SAVAGE adventure race. Put on by the Gibbons Outdoor Leadership Adventure School, this year’s event was held in Brandywine Creek State Park near Wilmington, Delaware. The race involves five miles of canoeing, five miles of trekking/orienteering/trail running, ten miles of mountain biking, and, of course, “fun team challenges.”

The order of these events is determined by your team’s passport, which also functions as the way that your team marks off each checkpoint found. There’s always an interesting way for the teams to get their passport - last year involved the passports being thrown from a canoe in a lake. This year wasn’t quite as interesting, as the passports were simply being held at a point, almost a mile away from the transition area, that one chosen team member had to run/navigate their way to, but I am proud to say that I was the first one out of the entire race to snag a passport for my team, thanks to a decisive choice about which way to go at a trail junction (in adventure races, the answer is always “down the trail marked as closed”).

I (unintentionally) wound up picking a very good passport. We had the “fun team challenges” first, so I was able to recover while my teammates carried me in a stretcher through a course of orange cones. Next it was on to the blindfolded scooter course. By this time I had recovered enough to be on point as one of the guiders for this activity. After hitting up the knots section we were back to the transition and on our way out to the real course…

The first section was on foot, which was good because it helped us get the lay of the land without zooming past trails and checkpoints on bikes first. After completing all the checkpoints we made a decision to bushwhack part of the way back to the transition area, which ultimately proved to be a time-saver.

From there it was on to the bike section. While it was not nearly as tough as last year’s course, there were definitely some pretty brutal stretches. Thanks to a slight navigational mistake by yours truly, there was an additional very tough stretch that really didn’t need to be in there. Oh well :-) Nevertheless, we hit all the checkpoints (including the adventure racing trivia/jeopardy!) and made our way…

…to the canoe. Again, this was another reason that we lucked out with our passport order - the canoe was last. We were battling an extremely tough current on the river and at times would even get out and have one person push/steer the canoe while the other two paddled. We headed upstream first and kept hearing from the teams coming back down that we still had a long way to go. We pressed on - until it started lightning and the rumbles of thunder started to get pretty close by. Now, I’m no expert, but a metal canoe in the middle of a river is not my favorite place to be in a thunderstorm, so we broke out the emergency phone to ask the race directors what to do. We were told to head back downstream to the canoe transition and we’d be credited with the checkpoints due to the lightning. Probably the best news we’d heard all day.

After that it was a simple but soggy run to the finish! Results and pictures to be posted shortly are now posted.

Results (we are Team 12, in the co-ed three division).