|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
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 VVNW’s 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.vvnw.org/teamvvnw.