Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pangea - Sea to Sea AR, 72hr Expedition (prep)

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Just when people were finally starting to grasp what it is that Canyoneros do for 8, 12, 30hrs at a time, we tell them we're going away for 72hrs--starting from one end of Florida and ending up on the other side.  We will touch the ocean on each side of Florida.  They chuckle at first, not fully realizing if we are joking.  It took them a while to figure out how long 12hrs of physical activity was.  Some were inspired, others were squirmish.  72hrs, on the other hand, is just not in anyone's dictionary.  Hell, not even in ours.  We may not fully comprehend it until we go through it.  But it's this exact unknown that excites the Canyoneros!

We Blame Pangea
Throughout last season, we had become friends with members of team We Blame Javan and even trained and raced a few races alongside with them.  This highly athletic team put some stability in our guns blazing days of training, of needing to set a record every time...like we needed to increase numbers until someone blew a knee out.  They likely halted our own inevitable path of breaking down by steering us in the right direction.  They had us training smartly.  Fortunately for them, they live to race beyond their own near-career ending injuries and are able pass that wisdom onto us.  Together, we are We Blame Pangea!  For without Pangea Adventure Racing, our lives would go on without the excitement that we would never have discovered had it not been for Pangea.

How do you know what gear you need?  How much food do you eat?  Where do you sleep?  How long does a pair of socks last?  My guess is as good as yours.  We won't know until race day.  We spoke to a number of experienced individuals and the strategy was all over the place.  We're even racing with a team who has done this race before.  Luckily there were a few common answers to key points, which made our planning a little easier.

Number one was food...make sure you bring "meals" as well as the typical gels and race food.  No one can muster eating a clif bar on day two, for example.  In fact, our teammates have even said they cannot even look at one to this day without having flashbacks or startling the gag reflexes.

Nate's nutrition

Number two centered around having ample clothing, notably for the feet.  Bring lots of socks and as many pairs of shoes as you have.  Make sure the socks are made of wool and not cotton, so they wick moisture.  They get a pounding with every step you take and once your feet blister up, they will degrade from there on out.  I actually did not own very many pairs of racing socks and shoes so I had to go out and buy many more, including another two pairs of Asics running shoes.  Better safe than sorry.

This was the first race Nate and I would have that required sleeping.  We bought sleeping bags and in February, temps can get pretty cold (for us).  We bought bags rated to allow you to survive through 20 degree F temps.

Lights also sparked a heavy debate.  We needed several batteries that could last 3 nights.  For me, that meant 6 lithium batteries for my headlamp and a pack of a dozen CR123A's for my handheld flashlight.  Others bought powerful flashlights that could scorch the earth or light up the sky.  I guess you can never have enough light while traversing technical biking trails in the middle of the night, looking for a control.

Without further ado, here's my list of gear (most of it, at least):
  • 8 pairs of shirts
  • 5 pairs of UnderAmour underwear
  • 2 pairs of waterproof bushwhacking pants
  • 1 pair of biking shorts
  • 1 pair of triathlon shorts
  • 6 pairs of wool socks
  • 3 pairs of running shoes
  • 1 pair of biking shoes
  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • 1 running sweater
  • 2 pairs of arm sleeves
  • 4 pairs of gloves
  • 20,000+ calories of food (chunk soups, ravioli cans, cans of chili, gels, waffles, energy chews, almond peanut butter, fruit bars, protein powder, electrolyte tabs, salt pills, various vitamin supplements, chips)
  • bike headlamp with 6 lithium batteries (each lasts 3.5hrs on full strength, up to 7 if you're conservative)
  • handheld flashlight with lots of CR123 batteries
  • headlamp with aaa batteries
  • glow sticks
  • camelbak hydration backpack
  • 2 compasses, 2 map cases, UTM ruler, paper, sticky tack
  • bike with tools, spare tubes, co2 pump and cartridges, spare chain link, tire levers, helmet, pedometer, map board
  • paddles, dry bag, seat cushion
  • pens, carabiners, swiss army knife, ruler, watch, first aid kit, storage bags
  • credit card, cash, driver's license
  • duct tape, moleskin, lube, toothbrushes, floss, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, deoderant
  • sleeping bag, duffle bag
  • tons of other misc. items

The Team
We spent about a full week packing our bins and gathering last minute items.  The team was in great spirits, anxious, excited, and at times a little intimidated for what is to follow.  Facebook become our number one means of communication.  We joked around about sleep deprivation, hallucinations, and signs of when the navigator is falling apart.  For this race, we will be switching navigators depending on whoever has the most focusing power at the moment.  Signs included making stupid navigational errors, becoming mute, and having manic rages.

The Strategy
The strategy is to clear the course.  It sounds bold and simple, but this is coming from two teams who have had brushes with success in the rankings before.  We're putting all of our knowledge and experience into this one race.  We know we have the capability, we just need to apply it to 72hrs.  How we pace ourselves, how we tend to problems that arise, and how we cope with sleep deprivation will be new to us in vast length of a race.

However, we know very well that every race is different, and on this one, there will be cutoff times penalizing you mid race, if you do not reach a certain point within a certain time frame.  We'll react accordingly as see fit during the race.  The beauty of adventure racing is that you usually do not get a course map until the morning of.  It keeps you on your toes.  It levels the playing field to a certain extent, as everyone is just as clueless as you.  Heck, every team is going to plan a unique route to the finish.

In the weeks leading up to the Sea 2 Sea adventure race, we have had training sessions 6 days a week, topped with a 4-6hr long endurance session on Saturdays.  We hope that's enough to allow us to last 72.


  1. What pack are you using for the Sea 2 Sea? Would love to see a gear list once you've gathered your race kit. Great bloopers :)

    1. They allowed us 35 gallon bins to pack whatever we wanted in there. The gear list is extensive, as none of us wanted to forget anything, not even super glue or extra pairs of contact lenses. I'll post my main ones up soon, but this race wasn't cheap, that's for sure!