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Saturday, March 31, 2001 - Sunday, April 1, 2001 -- Lynchburg, VA
The Odyssey (iPO Event Id#: 2768)
Supported PRO And Sport Classes Add New Element To Odyssey's Successful One-Day Adventure Race
Article by Dawn Taylor-Mann

[Details] [Coverage]

Check the Odyssey Adventure Racing web site for more information on extreme challenges.

Dry clothes and hot food... during the Odyssey's infamously tough One-Day Adventure Race? Competitors at last weekend's race were thankful for the decision to make the 7th edition of the Odyssey a supported race, as they switched out their poly-pro and fleece for Goretex and gaiters, and fueled up on hot soup and sandwiches. The forecast called for unseasonably cold, wet, snowy weather. In this case, the weatherman was right on target, except for forgetting to mention the 60 to 70-mph wind gusts that would make riding to the finish line of the Odyssey One-Day Adventure Race an even greater challenge.

In addition to making the Odyssey a supported race, event directors Don Mann and George Wortley designed both PRO and Sport courses so competitors would have a choice depending on their progress in the race. All 2 and 4-person teams and soloists started on Saturday, March 31 in the 95-mile PRO category, then had the opportunity during the race to switch a shorter 65- mile Sport class. The PRO category added mileage to the traditional Odyssey courses and the Sport class was roughly equivalent to past events. Adding a Sport class proved to be a successful decision, as 20 out of the 30 teams finished the Odyssey, which traditionally has a 25 - 40% finish rate. Odyssey is introducing the PRO and Sport classes in all of its 2001 adventure races, and is alternating supported and unsupported races for the Odyssey One-Day races and the 2-day Endorphin FIX.

Supported races were instituted to allow teams to train with a support crew in the smaller races to prepare for longer events in which support crews are required. Also, teams can race faster and more efficiently, while allowing for family members and friends to participate in the events. The atmosphere of comradery and support between racers and assistance crews at the ACPs was also a morale boost for competitors as they passed through.

High winds and even higher water levels cause the Odyssey race staff to shorten the canoe section of the race, avoiding the raging whitewater at Balcony Falls. Good thing too, just ask soloist Jeff Burton whose canoe was sliced longways down the middle after he bailed. Fortunately for Jeff, he was being trailed by soloist Tracey Buck who rescued him as he floated down the bloated James River. Jeff was uninjured and both men went on to be the only two soloists to complete the entire PRO course.

Finishing first in the PRO category was 4-person Team Peak, consisting of veteran adventure racers Shane Nachin and Mighty Mo Monaghan, along with newcomers Peter Buchner and Joe Desena. This team raced in the 24-hour Odyssey to get ready for next week's BEAST of the EAST, in which they'll be vying for first place to qualify for the Discovery Channel Adventure Racing World Championship race in the Swiss Alps in September. Also finishing in the PRO category were Buck and Burton, Team Go Dads, Old Dominion Express, and Tom Flummerfelt from Team Platoon. Tom was one of 5 former Odyssey Adventure Racing Academy students to finish the Odyssey, the other 4 in the Sport category.

Leading the pack in the Sport category was 21-year-old Travis Becker, first time racer and soloist, who said after the race, "This Odyssey was the toughest challenge I have ever encountered. I feel like I'm 89 years old. Every joint in my body screams at me to stop moving. I have never felt so great in my entire life." Next to finish the Sport category were Joe Amato, Team Rehab is for Quitters, and Mike Stratton. Amato and Stratton illustrate the diversity of racers at the Odyssey. Joe is 58 years old, and a long-time veteran of Odyssey events. He raced solo in this event, but also races with a close-knit community of racers from the Baltimore area.

He's also about the toughest guy we know. First time racer and soloist Mike Stratton, stated on his registration form that he was 18 years old. He was afraid if he said "17" that he would not be allowed to race solo. His mom, who was Mike's support crew, backed him in this decision, saying, "I mean his mom was going to be right there!" Mike said he learned about navigating in a geography class in high school, where he is a Junior, but that navigating through the night with his map and compass was a first for him. Mike finished in an impressive 20 hours, even after going 8 miles out of his way, 4 of which were back up a very steep bike climb. "It's all right here," he said with a huge smile as he pointed to his head. Good luck to Mike in his very promising adventure racing career!

Also, best wishes to Kirk Carraway from Rag Tag, who dislocated his shoulder on the treacherous mud-slicked bike ride down Skillern Mountain. Odyssey RN/EMT Dee Soyars transported Kirk to the hospital by after being treated by Dr. George Wortley. George's dual roles as heinous course designer and Odyssey medical director further demonstrates the company's ironic motto, "Your PAIN is our PLEASURE." (George was also seen chasing rattlers out of a narrow chimney cave before competitors slid through this unusual CP.)

Many thanks to our great sponsors: Outdoor Trails, Harry's Farmers Market, Rail Riders, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Carbboom, and Moletracks who provided prize backpacks awarded to the oldest and youngest competitors.