TEAM VETERAN LEADER ...WASATCH ADVENTURE RACE



















 

 

TEAM VVNW Wins the Wasatch Adventure Race 

            Overshadowed by the majestic, snowy peaks of the Wasatch Range, teams milled about the starting line at Utah Lake State Park, anxiously awaiting the simple word that would launch them into a test of personal endurance and team dynamics at the willful hand of Mother Earth.  Each adventure racer knew that soon, as the moon crested Mount Timpanogos, they would find themselves deep in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains, struggling against fatigue and inner strength to overcome the challenges of the Wasatch Adventure Race 2002.

            In the second running of the Wasatch Adventure race, 29 teams of three, two, and solo competitors sought to race over and through Utah's rugged Wasatch Mountains, navigating nearly 80 miles in less than 36 hours while running, biking, hiking, climbing, rappeling, paddling, skating and enduring unique mystery events.  Among the highly competitive field, Team VVNW stood ready to represent the Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. (www.vvnw.org).  The team, consisting of Shelley Trujillo and Army Captains Marc Hoffmeister and Michael Tschanz, were eager to race in honor of the veterans of all the armed forces, especially on this Memorial Day weekend.  It seemed a fitting tribute to remember the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the nation by stoically enduring the physical and mental rigors of adventure racing and dedicating that race to the veterans.

At 3:00 pm on the 24th of May, the line was released and racers launched into the first section of the event, a canoe paddle along Utah Lake.  The pack remained close as boats were faced by calm conditions and easily reached the first transition to in-line skating at Lindon Beach.  As soon as the skaters took to the streets, it was clear that the field possessed a widely diverse talent pool.  Some teams sped through the course; others narrowly escaped determined traffic and precarious potholes.  By the third event transition, the field had begun to spread.  Teams grabbed mountain bikes and began the grind up Battle Creek Canyon.  Soon after leaving the urban surroundings of Provo, teams were confronted with a simple reality of the Wasatch Mountains:  they are all about elevation gain.  The section became a hike a bike as intense elevation and scree challenged even the best of riders.  Unfortunately, as soon as the trail became what was probably rideable a week prior, competitors were greeted with exceptionally muddy and snowy conditions, rivaling their ability to pedal and adding several pounds of undesired mud-laden hitch hikers to their bikes.  Following the Timpooneke Trail, teams greeted the night as they arrived into transition area 4, refueled, and completed a mystery event requiring them to engage targets with a pellet pistol in order to receive a time bonus.  Teams then continued on, moving higher into the mountains along Pine Hollow in search of Contol Point (CP) 5 and a long awaited transition to trekking.  As the full moon lit the trail for the determined racers, several teams opted unintentionally for the long route to CP 5, led astray by the fact that the trails shown on their map did not reflect the reality of the trail network on the ground.  Team Whole Foods/Colored Red and Team VVNW broke brush together, shot azimuth resections and matched terrain to the map as they struggled to pinpoint any navigation error. While both teams soon recovered, they would not be the only teams to face this challenge throughout the course.

            At CP5, appropriately named Mud Springs Top, teams dropped their now very heavy, mud encased bikes and stepped out to trek.  For six teams, this point marked the end of their race.  The course had claimed its first victims.  The remaining teams moved quickly, refreshed by the event change, cold air and a moonlit mountain range.  Heading north along Tibble Creek, they reached CP6 to learn of a sudden course change.  CP 6A had been added to the course and it was located well west of the maps provided to the racers.  Unruffled, teams continued on, following memorized directions to continue up the Mill Canyon Trail until finding the CP.  At CP6A, another verbal brief gave teams an inkling of the route to travel and the now tired, hungry racers picked up a general compass azimuth and sought out after the ridgeline that would lead them to CP7.  Picking up the ridgeline and moving southwest, teams followed a state trail to a trail intersection leading into CP7.  Several teams veered off the trail early and found themselves northwest of the CP.  Eight teams never found the checkpoint. 

The trek continued for several more hours and more checkpoints until teams transitioned back to their now frozen, mud encrusted bikes at CP10 for a wild descent down the mud slick they had summited the night prior.  The frozen mud claimed the derailleur of Team VVNWs Mike Tschanz. After quick repairs, six gears were recovered and the team was back on trail.  At CP 11, teams came to the realization that they had to progress back over Battle Creek Canyon Trail, the muddy, high altitude route they had faced yesterday.  Team VVNW opted for a slightly different route.  Already limited by bicycle mechanical problems, a quick map analysis identified that the road network, although adding a substantial amount of distance, could provide the team the speed and recovery time necessary to push them forward in the standings.  They opted for the extra distance and skirted around Mahogany Mountain following roads then back up Battle Creek Canyon to the required attack point and into CP12.  The route selection gained them nearly 45 minutes and pushed them into 2nd place in the 3 person mixed division.  At CP 12, the current 1st (Team Phoenix Gold/UPS) and 2nd (Team VVNW) place teams encountered each other for the first time.  It was evident that an entirely new race had begun as Phoenix Gold moved off the 250 ft rappel and VVNW rushed to get off the cliff and try and further reduce the time gap. 

            At CP13, a second course change authorized teams to skip two CPs and to trek directly to CP16, the start of the second inline skate section.  Phoenix Gold/UPS took to higher elevation, following the Great Western Trail into Glen Canyon Park and CP16.  VVNW came into CP13 only 27 minutes behind Phoenix Gold/UPS, transitioned and left, choosing to avoid elevation gains and contour the terrain, following the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The team dropped down into northwest Orem and moved back up the Provo River Parkway trail into Glen Canyon Park. Realizing their close proximity to the CP, VVNW put on their skates and moved northwest to CP16.  Phoenix Gold/UPS, now on the skate section, passed VVNW just prior to the team reaching the CP.  The time gap was now only 10 minutes.  VVNW hit CP 16 and shot back down the trail after Phoenix Gold/UPS.  Just past CP17, the hunter became the hunted as VVNW managed to pass Phoenix Gold/UPS on the skate section.  VVNW, now leading, quickly transitioned at CP18 to the short paddle section that would bring them to the finish line at Utah Lake State Park.  Team VVNW crossed the finish line with a final time of 25 hours and 34 minutes, a mere 19 minutes ahead of Team Phoenix Gold/UPS, to win the 2002 A Wasatch Adventure Race.  Of the 29 starting teams, only 15 teams completed the course ranked and 13 teams failed to complete the entire course.

           

For more information about the Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc., contact them at 1-800-VIETNAM or www.vvnw.org.  To find out about Team VVNW and their preparation for the Armed Forces Eco Challenge, go to www.theveteranscoalition.org/teamveteranleader.

 

 

 

 

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