|Hunting Island Lagoon|
|The beautiful trail through the jungle of Hunting Island|
The Biathlon's distance was a 5 mile paddle and a 4.5 mile trail run. The run section of the race scared no one. However, the 5 mile paddle was a bit daunting. For one, the race is in March, so we were unable to train by actually paddling since chunks of ice were floating in our rivers here in WV for the months prior to the race. But, I have a kayak and have some experience paddling. Plus, our swimming training should help our upper body strength to help us be strong enough to paddle the distance. Vance and Lindsey had kayaking race experience in the Capital City Classic Triathlon.
The race offered a unique setup of relay options, which made for lots more fun for the participants. Entrants could register as a single/solo, or as a relay team or a tandem team. Relay teams required one person paddle and one person run. Tandem teams, however, required two people to paddle together on a tandem kayak, and then run the trail race together and cross the finish line together. Technically, the last of the tandem runners would register the finish time for the team. Because our paddling experience was spotty, and because the opportunity to race on a tandem team sounded like so much fun, both Jay and I, as well as Vance and Lindsey registered as mixed tandem teams. Most importantly, however, the race t-shirt is awesome. I loved it so much I wore it during the race! It was perfect!
|Vance's 6'7" frame barely fits|
Because it was a trail race, we decided to wear our trail shoes, although we saw many participants wearing Vibrams, Keens, and Teva sandals. If they were wearing sandals, they had to slip on their running shoes at transition to hit the trail. However, I saw more Vibrams than ever, and they really would have been the perfect footwear for this race if you were used to running in them. We wore quick-drying shorts, no-show socks, and performance wicking tees. This was a must, since we got soaked during the paddle portion of the race. I was most thankful for the visor and sunglasses I wore, not only to stave off the glare but also to keep the splashes out of my face. We also wore bike gloves, which was a smart move, since our hands were fatigued by the end of the race, and the padded gloves saved our palms.
|The well-marked road into the park|
Participants in the Biathlon drove into the main entrance and, after paying the park's $5.00 user fee, were directed through a stunning canopy of palms, live oaks, and pine. Vehicles were parked near the beach, and a short walk brought participants to the race start/finish line and launch site. Vance, Lindsey and Marshall, not to be outdone in total fitness mileage, rode beach cruiser bikes from adjacent Fripp Island 5 1/2 miles to the race start. We brought our kids, and Lindsey's parents most graciously offered to watch them while we raced. It was a beautiful venue in which to play with kids, they spent the race time on the beach with Lindsey's mom Jackie while the race supporter, Marshall, watched and coached our transitions. He also took some great pictures in the process! One challenge of the race venue was the frenzied swarms of noseeums that met visitors with a riot of bites. Everyone was swatting the air, and standing still invited a brutal onslaught. Fortunately, the wind picked up later in the day and the bugs abated. Thankfully we brought serious bug spray! We doused ourselves and our visors. I also soaked two bandanas in bug spray and tied them around the kids' necks. This effectively kept the bugs out of their faces.
The race was extremely well-run, with volunteers at every turn ready to help and direct. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and was much appreciated. A prerace meeting informed racers on all the rules and transition instructions. Rescue boats were ready and waiting to help any kayakers in distress. After the meeting, we settled the kids and climbed into our boat. We were a little late getting into the water so we had to paddle all the way to the back of the pack to get turned around just in time for the race start. Vance and Lindsey confidently lined up near the front and were poised and ready to dominate. The race start sounded, and we were off. A flailing frenzy of paddlers ensued, and many collisions and cussing were heard around us as we picked through the crowd. Because I was so scared of turning over in the shark-infested lagoon (hint of sarcasm and drama), we were probably a little less aggressive than we probably needed to be to overtake other, slower boats. The view from our boat of all the other colorful kayaks and paddlers was breathtaking and exciting.
The first 1/3 of the paddle was in the lagoon, where marsh grasses and trees blocked the wind and waves, making for nice flat water. However, my paddling technique was less than smooth, so water was splashed and slapped by my paddles until I got the rhythm down. I banged my thumbs on the boat, as well as my paddle shaft. Jay, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber, expertly working the rudder pedals and steering us through the lagoon. The wide variety of paddling expertise made for a fun challenge, seeing some cut through the water like they had a motor, and others clumsily zig zagging through the lagoon, unable to steer effectively. Cussing all the way. It was hilarious.
The last 1/3 of the paddle portion returned us to the flat lagoon, and the paddling seemed easier. An hour and some minutes after race start, Vance and Lindsey beached their boat and took off on the run. We saw them running the trail as we got close to the transition area. Volunteers waited for us to pull in, and they helped by stabilizing the boat as we got out. I looked up and saw Marshall there, cheering us on and taking pictures. Bless him, it was so nice to see his face and hear his support as we took off. Jay unfortunately had to wade to get out, soaking his shoes and socks. He also lost his timex watch during transition. This would have ruined my day. Jay took it in stride. Literally. After a few seconds of fumbling around with our gear, we started off the run.
|Vance and Lindsey's finish|
|Jay & Shannon's finish|
Vance and Lindsey walked away with first place in the Mixed Tandem relay category! They received a very nice gift bag with lots of goodies from Higher Ground. To celebrate, they rode another 6 miles back to Fripp Island on their beach cruisers. Big congratulations!
|Race support: The Adkinses|
|The Roberts Family Post Race|