Pangea Community Forum

Posts: 9
February 21, 2014
If you didn’t race the Sea2Sea this February, you missed a truly great Florida Style Adventure Race. Crystal River on the Gulf Coast to Ormond Beach on the Atlantic. I only wish the SPOT Tracker that team mate Jeanette purchased had worked a little better because you only get to see part of the story on the Pangea website.

This whole thing started when I heard that Gareth and Eric were planning on doing the Sea2Sea and were looking to round out a team. I had no plans on doing it until I heard them talking about it and decided to go ahead and throw my worn out hat in the ring with these two figuring they would find a suitable 4th person. Well it turns out Gareth had to drop out for family reasons which left just me and Eric. Eric pulls in Jeanette and another female which I know little about. The other female drops out with only two days before the race, leaving the three of us to do the event. And I hate paddling a canoe with three people in it.

Other than one race I did with Jeanette I have never raced with my two team mates (Eric “The Mule” Wise and Jeanette “Never Give Up” Ceisla) before. Eric and Jeanette are both young compared to me but have a fair amount of experience in shorter races. We actually did only one training session together before the race and that made me just a little more than apprehensive about the race given how little I knew about how they raced. In any case I was hoping they were getting in a lot of training on their own. I actually trained far less for this race than some 12 hour races I have done and was concerned about possible blisters on my feet and hands from not getting in the appropriate miles. However, I decided it is what it is and we would just go along at a nice slow pace, get as many controls as we could, dropping a point here or there as we moved along the way, to finish the event before the final cut off time.

We were supposed to start the race with a paddle on the Gulf of Mexico at the end of County Road 40 off of the Yankee Town Boat Launch ramp with two CP’s out in the Gulf and then continue the paddle up the Withlacoochee River to Ingles Lock and Dam. However, with white caps rolling in on the Gulf, Greg decided to move the start of the race to the Ingles Lock and Dam where we did a short two mile run over to the canoe launch; and then an out and back paddle on the Withlacoochee River; and then a short O-Course type event at the Ingles Park. From Ingles Park we picked up one CP on our bikes over to KP Hole on the Rainbow River where we did a short paddle up to the Rainbow River State Park, for then a short 3 CP stroll through the truly amazing Park with some spectacular Florida Waterfalls ( I did not know that)!

From Rainbow River State Park it was a short paddle down to State Road 484 where we did a quick transition over to bikes followed by a short bike ride over to Pruitt Trail head. This is where I realized what the bike sections of the race were going to be like. Eric had a huge back pack full of all of his stuff and most of Jeanette’s stuff. He towed Jeanette, as well, while I read the maps and kept track of where we were. You know I like to fly on the bike, but this was not going to be the case for this race as a few teams passed us on the roads over to Pruitt…...Budone.. But slow and steady was going to be the order of business for our race.

At the Ross Prairie Trail Head we would transition to bikes again for a long CP filled night of Mountain Biking through the Ocala Mtn Bike Trails to Santos. The CP’s along the Santos Bike Trails were very challenging in the dark because you cannot really see much so you are stuck with trying to check the mileage on the map and compare that to your cycle odometer along the twisting turning trails. We were lucky along this route and only dropped one CP. Actually the one we dropped I thought was going to be one of the easier ones. However the two maps provided for the race did not match up and they had us looking in two different areas with more than half of the teams. After spending around an hour and a half looking for this CP with no luck in what felt like freezing temperatures we decided to move on. By now my hands and feet felt like they were frozen despite four layers on my torso, nice full finger gloves, and two layers on my legs. But to tell the truth this was a far better feeling than the 95 degree plus heat of past races and trying to balance fluids, electrolytes and food to keep from throwing up.

When we finished Santos we rode east through part of Bellview and the paved sections of the Cross-Fla Greenway picking up another CP and then on through Marshall Swamp and hit a full TA with Gear Bins at the Marshall Swamp Trail Head on County Road 484.. Most of you remember on past races we had to walk or bikes or hike through Marshall Swamp but for this event we got to ride our bike through it. ?!?!?

TA’s: At some TA’s you had access to your full Gear Bin and others you did not have access to your Gear Bin at all. You had to read the passport and figure out what you needed to pack for sections between TA’s with NO Gear Bin access. So, you might have to bike, paddle and hike before getting to your Gear Bin again or you might just have to bike before getting to the Gear Bin again. The best clue here is to “Pay attention to the Program”.

After Marshall Swamp it was a trek up to the Silver River State Park for a paddle on the Silver RIver. It was night with a full moon and we picked up a half dozen or so CP’s along the way to Silver River TA. We dropped the very 1st one right off the bat because we had just gotten in our gear bins, eaten and re-clothed from the freezing bike ride and had nice warm dry clothes on. A note at the Check In indicated that at the 1st CP you would get wet feet. Well, all looked at each other and decided to skip it opting to stay warm on what was going to be the coldest night of the race especially after just getting warm and dry.

After the trek up to Silver River State Park we hit the transition to Boats for a spectacular paddle down the Silver River and then south along the Oklawaha River. The canoes, life jackets and paddling gear all had ice on them in the wee hours of the morning from the long cold night. The early morning paddle had a thick fog on the river but you could still see the large old growth cypress and their massive root systems along the bank. Monkeys in the trees marked our progress along the Silver River on our way to the Oklawaha River TA where we dropped what appeared to be another simple CP in a side canal. Jeanette was navigating from the center seat and we were all looking for what appeared to be a rather large side canal indicated on the map. We never saw the side canal and by the time Jeanette double checked her time we were long past it. So, we went on and hit the Oklawaha TA where we were supposed to switch to Bikes. However when we got there our bikes and gear were not there and we had to wait an hour before they showed up before we could make the transition and continue on with our race. Greg gave us a one hour credit at the end of the race and you can see that result in the final standings.

After being delayed a the Oklawaha TA we biked from the Oklawaha River Restoration area north and east picking up several CPs along the way through Electra, the Ocala National Forest, areas near the Navy Bombing Range and on to Farles Lake TA. This was a typical Florida AR Bike Section with areas of ankle deep soft sand you had to push your bike through and some areas of hard packed lime rock or clay for fast riding. All the CP’s in this area fell fairly easily as I went back to keeping meticulous detail to time, distance and direction.

From Farles TA we had a great afternoon and early evening hike highlighted by a full moon night hike along the Florida Trail over to Alexander Springs State Park. The trek was great and the CP’s all fell easily with a minor bobble here or there.

At Alexander Springs we had a 3 CP paddle on the crystal clear river via a full moon, a light fog and a river half choked of aquatic weeds. Jeanette did a great job of nailing all the CP’s on the River via the center seat. After exiting the river around 12:30 AM or so on the 2nd night we were all shaking from the cold. Lucky there was a fire at the TA and we had full access to our Gear Bins. There was also some cold Ziti left at the TA thanks to Pangea. We all change clothes, got some warmth by the fire, ate and decided to get some sleep before starting on the 20 CP Orienteering Section to follow. I tried to sleep and after about an hour of shaking in a sleeping bag Jeanette let me borrow I decided to get up and heated up a can of soup from my Gear Bin with my pocket stove to warm up my core. I ate my soup and dried my shoes and arm warmers by the fire. Finally after getting warm I went back to sleep around 4 AM and slept till about 5:30. I got up and woke up Eric and Jeanette and we finally tackled the O-Course around 7AM, a lot later than we planned but at least it was light and warmer. However as we set out on the course an early morning rain shower decided to get us good and soaked on our hike over to the O-Course.

The Course was a typical 20 CP O-Course with O-Course Map but we heard it was taking teams 10-12+ hours to complete and I was concerned with the amount of race left and whether we should try for all the CP’s or blow off some of the more distance controls and get a move on. After a few of the CP’s fell rather easily Jeanette was insistent on getting them all ( Miss Never Give Up) even though we were low on water. Her insistence to have us go for all of the Points was a good choice. We analyzed the map and tried to figure the shortest distance between CP’s, not taking them in order and bush whacking for almost ever CP. This worked well as we finished all the CP’s and got back in time to hit the TA and get back on the Bikes before it was dark. (At the end of the race we found out our 20 CP O-Course was the fastest time for all the teams  )

From Alexander Springs TA we biked south and east picking up a few more CPs just as it was getting dark and cold again for the 3rd night. Riding across the St. Johns River on State Road 42/44 we hit a 7/11 with a Subway and split a sub and analyzed the map for the next sections. There was an up coming paddle out of Highland Park Fish Camp up the Norris Dead River, across Lake Woodruff, through Spring Garden Creek and ending at Spring Garden Lake. The paddle was worth 3 points with NO CPS to get. All you had to do was do the paddle and get 3 points. Jeanette was concerned with the reported one foot swells, white-caps and “rough seas” on Lake Woodruff. Several teams had been reported as aborting the paddle or starting the paddle and turning around because of the conditions. It was late and the winds appeared to have died down and I did not want to pass up an easy 3 points so we attempted the paddle. The paddle along Norris Dead River was a spectacular full moon paddle with glassy conditions until we hit Lake Woodruff. Conditions on the lake were rough and ”seas” were just below white-cap conditions. There were probably 10 mph winds but still a lot of chop on the water for a 3 person canoe but we made the paddle out of the lake and finished off with glassy full moon conditions on Spring Garden Creek.

We arrived via canoe at Burt’s TA at DeLeon Springs and this was to be our last TA as we loaded up bikes; put on nice dry cloths we had in our back packs; and headed north on State Road 17 and then east through the SJRWMD Hart Preservation area. We picked up another half dozen or so CP’s there, working our way over to State Road 11. The trails in the Hart Preservation area were mostly hard packed sand shell road. Keeping track of time, distance and direction again we moved easily through this area but I kept noting that the distances were a bit off, which came into play on a couple of the CP’s. The CP mark location on the map did not match up to the distance measure on the map when compared to the distance on my cycle odometer We had to review the map closer for road turns and swamp signatures to accurately locate the CPs. The 2nd to last CP was situated in the edge of a swamp and the clue was “calf high in forest”. We decided after finding the control that “calf high” meant the water depth because we all had wet feet for the final long cold night ride to Ormond.

After hitting State Road 11, it was a long dark cold ride up State Road 11, over to U.S 1, and on to Ormond Beach for the final 6+ mile trek down the Beach to the end at the Host Hotel. The night was lit with another full moon as we slowly rode north along State Road 11 trying to stay awake and stay warm. We stopped a few times to try and warm up, wake up and adjust gear. Our hands and feet felt frozen and stiff and we could barley bend our toes. We passed one team sleeping on the pavement and thought that it was just a little more than crazy. Just before Ormond Beach and about an hour or so before sunrise we found a store open and decided to stop and buy some hot coffee and a warm snack before the final push into the finish.

We finished the race in the morning on Sunday with a nice walk part way up the beach and then switched over to a sidewalk adjacent to U.S. A1A to the finish line where we ended up I think 7 out of 24 teams, which is great for our team! Jeanette and Eric are both great Adventure Racers and have a real positive upbeat never-say-die attitude which is exactly what you need for these types of races.

Well I am not too good at writing up stuff so don’t critique the spelling and or grammar. Maybe it will inspire you to do next years race. And always keep a positive attitude.

Later.. JC