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Saturday, July 6, 2002 -- Parkersburg, WV
5th Annual Adventure Pursuit Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 4831)
Article by Dave Huffman with photos by Dave McKain

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]
Past Coverage: [1999] [2000]

Race Pic
The Extreme Torture of an 8-mile, flat water paddle
The Adventure Pursuit Triathlon promotional poster for their 5th annual race this past Saturday was about the coolest poster I've seen. "Run, Bike, Kayak - Vomit" signs with accompanying Olympic style icons were boldly displayed, daring all onlookers to accept the challenge of this three discipline race. (Check it out on their website www.AdventurePursuit.org.)

Event organizers offered three different distances for the day in addition to a school challenge as well. "Your darn right I finished a triathlon Triathlon" was the first option, with racers doing a one mile road run, a one mile paddle, and finishing with a three mile mountain bike ride. "Mud, Sweat, and Chaffed Buns" was the next offering. Racers started with a three mile cross country run, followed by a two mile paddle, and ended with a five mile mountain bike ride. Last, and for the most daring, was the "Extreme Torture Challenge". In this mini Eco-Challenge, racers started with a ten mile cross country run, followed by an eight mile paddle, and finished with a twenty mile mountain bike ride. "You guys are freakin nuts! Woohoo!" their website proclaimed to those who were brave enough.

Now I have to apologize because this story probably will not be exactly objective and all encompassing since me and a buddy, Mike Hines, participated in the Mud, Sweat, and Chaffed Buns race, but I'll do my best. We had briefly considered doing the Extreme distance, but my friend had a wedding to attend that evening. (This is what we told ourselves - but we really knew that we just weren't men enough.)

Race Pic
A beautiful day in the park
Race organizers were very excited this year as the event had moved from Blennerhassett Island to Mountwood Park, and I don't think they could have picked a better spot. The sun was out and it was a perfect day as participants attended a pre-race meeting just before ten o'clock. Soon thereafter, all three races lined up and started together before shortly splitting up and following their individual courses. Although each race had it's own unique course, there was some 'shared' road and bike trails and everyone paddled the same course around the lake.

I found myself heading into the woods after about a quarter mile run on a slight uphill road. The course varied from narrow trails with short quick descents and climbs to more rolling paths and dirt road as the very runable course circled the calm lake. We were told that our running path was going to be the same path as the beginner's bike leg so I was hoping that I'd be in my kayak before someone came and ran me over.

Just about an hour earlier (and minutes before race time), me and my partner barely averted a disaster. Thanks to his girlfriend, we realized that we had placed our kayaks at the wrong spot on the lake with the Extreme racer's boats - ours belonged about a half mile away on the other side of the lake. Thanks to a very kind couple in a big white truck who personally brought our boats and gear to where they belonged, we were spared from probably missing the start of the race. THANK YOU KIND STRANGERS!

Race Pic
Time for the race face
Once in the water, it was time for the upper body to do some work. The lake and its surrounding woods were very scenic and if it wasn't for the race, I wouldn't have minded just leisurely paddling around for a while. I settled into a rhythm and found myself behind Jodi Park, who happened to be the only female to finish the Extreme distance two years earlier. I actually tried 'drafting' her. I knew you could do it on a bike so I thought why not in a kayak? I have absolutely no idea if it helped or not.

Once out of the boat it was a short little run to the bike transition, which the Extreme distance also shared. I mounted up, crossed a road and immediately hit some tough climbs. Shortly again I found myself behind another adventuring female, none other than Adventure Pursuit volunteer/race organizer/racer Kim Clancy, known to all as 'Goddess Kim'. She had earlier passed me in the kayak leg and commented how I paddled like a girl (I took that as a compliment), so there was a little payback on the bike now as I passed her.

Halfway though the bike I kept waiting for my buddy to catch me because I knew he was a much stronger biker and sure enough, there he was. Mike was actually cool enough to stick with me as we biked through some very narrow single track, and one very wildly overgrown grassy area that made us feel like we had ended up in some jungle somehow. (What kind of grass was that?) The final descent and sprint to the finish was great as we sped through the park as people picnicking and enjoying the scenery cheered us on.

Race Pic
Sarah Crandell-Fletcher races to extremes
Adventure Pursuit, which is a completely non-profit organization, deserves a round of applause for putting on such a great event. Free massages, free chicken dinners, free use of a canoe or kayak to those who needed one, a very cool t-shirt and poster with the now famous saying, all the Gatorade you could stomach, nice prizes and friendly volunteers made the event a huge success. They were even nice enough to create a 'new' category for our race due to the fact that a few racers got a little off course on the paddle section and didn't go quite as far as they needed.

I wish I had gotten some names of the winners [you can find them all here] but to be honest, I was a little wiped out after the race and not thinking too clearly, I'm sorry! I do know that the first place female came in only around a minute after the first place male and that she also was on a first place team last weekend in the 24 Hours of Snowshoe! Now that's EXTREME!

[That would be Amy Tolliver with a "Mud, Sweat, and Chaffed Buns Tri" time of 1:43:49. The male winner in this class was Brian King at 1:42:17 who just edged Jacob Malcomb (1:42:18). Amy and the the extreme women's winner, Sarah Crandall-Fletcher (6:06:15) helped the "Charleston Angels" female expert team win their division at the 24 Hours of Snowshoe. The top two men in the extreme challenge, Amy's husband Kevin Fletcher (5:26:39) and Randy Gibbs (5:52:27) also raced in the 24 Hours.]

My last thought of the day was looking at the official timeclock as we were leaving - three hours, sixteen minutes and still ticking. I saw one Extreme racer just lacing up his bike shoes and getting on his bike, knowing that he still had twenty miles of trails to go. Passing the lake I could see other Extreme competitors still completing the paddling section. As fun and challenging as my race was, it pales in comparison to what those individuals were going through. I can only hope that I'll be there next year.