Share |

Thursday, May 25, 2000 - Sunday, May 28, 2000 -- Natural Bridge, VA

Odyssey Mega Dose 4-Day Adventure Race
Earns it's Name

Story by Dawn Taylor with photos by Colleen Laffey
[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]

A foggy morning
And so we conclude the most harrowing of Odyssey races as the last teams crossed the finish line of the Mega Dose 4-Day race on Monday. Odyssey, known for our tough races, really out did ourselves with this one by offering a 250-mile course with 76,400 feet in elevation gain and loss in just 4 days. The field of 55 teams (including solo racers) that lined up under Virginia's Natural Bridge on Thursday night was whittled away to 11 teams - or part thereof - left standing at the finish line on Monday. Despite the difficulty of the elevation, the discomfort of the stormy weather, and the aggressiveness of the time limits, the consensus among racers (both finishers and "almost" finishers) was that this race was a great challenge that tested their ultimate limits.

"The course was fantastic. FANTASTIC! All these long climbs, that's what we had come for. I love it when a race is insane!" said Francois LeSellier, whose team Bionic was the only 4-person team to finish the entire course as a whole. Bionic was the fourth team across the finish line on Monday after completing the entire 250-mile course. First in and the only team within the official time limit was Adventure Rats, a 2-person team consisting of Erik Grimm and Carl Johnston from New York. Erik and Carl had said earlier in the race, "We're just two 35-year-old guys out here having fun." Their low-key approach was evident along the course and through to the finish, where they calmly said that they enjoyed the course and enjoyed racing together. No end-zone antics from these guys! Adventure Rats are relatively new to adventure racing, as were many of the finishers in this race.

Canyon Hike
Next to finish was Chris Scott, a solo competitor who amused fellow racers and volunteers along the course with his high-energy ramblings. Upon finishing, he asked where he was because he couldn't believe he was still in Virginia. Chris said he kept forgetting where he was despite the fact that he experienced vivid deja vu all along the course and made only a few navigation errors. Chris also said he shivered at night instead of sleeping because "shivering is almost like sleeping." This unconventional technique could account for one of the best hallucinations reported in the race. While he was attempting to do a map study, Chris' family portrait kept appearing where the course was supposed to be. Guess that could account for not knowing where he was. Chris, who is one of the best mountain bike racers in the country, loved the course, especially the biking sections.

Two members of Team Stop Plate Tectonics were third to ride to the finish. New to adventure racing, teammates Keith Davids and Brad Rodi made an impressive debut in the Mega Dose as members of a 4-person team, then as a duo after losing two teammates. Luckily, Chris Scott's girlfriend, Jen, who is a geologist, was on hand to explain the quirky team name.

Beautiful Virginia Backcountry
Theresa Morningstar from Bionic was the only woman to finish the entire course. She said she was excited early in the race, knowing that the first bike leg would break many of the teams and give her team of strong riders a good advantage. An accurate insight for Theresa, as the bike leg between CP 3 and CP 8 did just that.

Dave Horton, an ultra runner well known for his run across America and his record for running the entire Appalachian Trail, was the final competitor to complete the full course in "91 hours/13 minutes." Which he exclaimed the moment he crossed the finish line (a true runner's trait). Dave, who just took up mountain biking 6 weeks ago, said the bike sections were fun, but that he could have done without the long paddle. Having completed his first adventure race, Dave said the sport is "not as painful" as running an ultra and that the Mega Dose was good training for the Hard Rock 100-miler next month. At one point during the race, Dave picked up pieces of candy he found on the trail, only to find out after he put them in his mouth that he was eating rocks! Another example of what happens during the throes of sleep deprivation after only 2 ½ hours sleep in "91 hours/13 minutes."

No rest for the Weary
Because of the attrition rate in this race, several competitors and observers asked race director, Don Mann, if the race will be made easier in the future. Those who know Don's reputation for putting on tough races can most likely guess the answer! Although consideration will be made to possibly shorten the course, or extend the cutoff time, there are no plans to make the course easier. "There is a demand for high-intensity, extreme races out there," Mann said. "We want to provide an experience for those racers who are looking for the ultimate challenge."

Well-known ultra runner and adventure racer, Cathy Tibbets said, "Please don't shorten the course! Keep it tough!" Cathy's team, Evolving Systems, was also one of the six teams that finished the shortened course on Sunday. Sami Al-Hussieni, a Kuwaiti on Canadian Team Ironbound, seconded this opinion. Sami, whose team was the first to finish the abbreviated course on Sunday said, "When you sign up for an adventure race, you can't complain about the course being too hard. The course is the course, and it's your job to get through it. It's supposed to be hard!" Our sentiments exactly, Sami! According to Don Mann, "This is Odyssey's toughest race. ALL of the athletes who attempted to finish, and those who did deserve a very hardy congratulations!"

Odyssey Racing Web Site
Click here to find out more
Odyssey Adventure Racing is a unique race promotion organization that specializes in premier ultra-distance & extreme sporting events. The mission is to create & produce competitive experiences that provide athletes with mental & physical challenges not found in more traditional sports. They strive to attract adventurous individuals, eager to escape their ordinary routines through bold and daring endurance competitions.

In addition to producing races, Odyssey offers an Adventure Racing Academy where a staff of professional athletes, experienced adventure racers and Navy SEALs train athletes from all backgrounds on how to successfully compete in this fastest-growing sport.