Spring Sting 2018 as Told By Mark Sky
Spring Sting, my first adventure race of 2018, was outstanding!
STOKED MARK PRE-REPEL / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
The race started on foot, but two teams, including us, started with a tree climbing challenge (which the other teams would have to complete at some other point in the race but for now, they got to start running ahead of us).
We wasted no time as Chelsey threw on her harness and tied-in while I slipped my harness on and put her on belay. She was flying up that tree like a bear was hot on her tail. She grabbed the checkpoint at the top and I belayed her down ‘rocket speed.’
CHELSEY ROCKING UP THE TREE CLIMB / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
Boom! Within 10 seconds we had our harnesses off and we were running – lightning speed!
We ran hard for 5 minutes before starting to power-hike up the mountain. Dan’s navigation was spot on. When we popped onto a trail, and he said, “It should be close to here,” we looked around and the CP was literally within 3 feet of us. Respect, Dan!
We started running for CP2. We got to where Dan said it should be on the map, but it wasn’t there.
Within minutes, all the teams had arrived and we were all searching for it. After 15-20 minutes of us and every other team in the race, searching for it, we all decided someone outside the race must have stolen it. We decided to stop looking and continue onto CP3.
All the teams started running down a gravel road, but Dan took us off trail again and we were flying through manzanita that was ripping my knees open. I was partly crying but had a huge smile on my face. James was in the lead running so fast that if any trees were in his way he would have ripped them out of the ground and just kept going. He was on a mission!
The bushwhacking got us to CP3 ahead of all the other teams. I ran to the top of a massive ‘burn pile’ and found CP3. Before I started down, my teammates took off running, and I played catch up.
At this point we were headed for CP4.
We were now at the front of the pack with one solo athlete moving right along with us – Charles Triponez, a veteran adventure racer out of Switzerland who primarily races with Team Bones.
CHARLES TRIPONEZ AND RACE DIRECTOR JASON MAGNESS / PHOTO BY BRUCE CARTER
At this point, we were running in the snow and in some areas it was so deep that Dan and I (the heavy dudes on the team) would float on top and other times sink in well past our knees. Chelsey and James were not affected, as their lighter frames floated on top of the snow like they were wearing snowshoes.
Dan’s navigation was flawless as we found the last handful of CPs. Charles was still hot on our tails, and at times, even ahead of us.
On the run back to the transition area, we took a different route than Charles. We ran the longer trail while he opted for a ‘shortcut’ through the manzanita. While running the trail, we found a perfect clearing that we quickly took advantage of and scurried down the steep slope. Within a few more minutes, we reached the main trail again which connected to the few hundred meters of road separating us and the transition area.
At the TA, we were switching into our biking gear, eating food, and refilling water. We were there, no more than 5 minutes before hopping onto our Ellsworth bikes and flying out of there full speed.
Charles was at the TA when we left and this would be the last time we see him until the finish line. For some reason, even though we had just ran for 2 hours, I could not wipe the smile off my face that stretched from ear to ear. I felt great, and it’s always a good feeling to be leading the pack.
We hammered it up the first hill and found a very faint trail we were all looking for. We dropped our bikes and headed up this old trail to find a cave. Chelsey ran in the cave and found the first bike CP.
After this we rode up to the top of the cliff, partly riding on wet soil, partly on loose gravel, and partly through deep snow (which required some hike-a-bike). It wasn’t long before we reached the top and started bushwhacking through the snow with bikes on our shoulders. We walked along the cliff edge over rocky outcroppings looking for the next CP.
Boom, as usual, Dan was spot on with his navigation.
We worked as a team carrying each others packs and bikes as needed for our team to move as fast as possible. Before we knew it, we were back on the bikes pedaling for the last few CP’s of the race.
We got to a section where we had to pull out our harnesses from our packs and prepare for a rappel. One by one, each member of the team, hooked themselves up to the rope and rappelled down the cliff towards a river.
DAN ON THE REPEL / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
We were fast and within a few minutes, we were all running back towards our bikes, but after the rappel, we forgot to run down to the river to get the CP. Thankfully James said, “Did anyone get the CP?”
I think we all just laughed because no one even thought about it. The only thing on my mind was, “Wow, every adventure race should have a ropes section – that was awesome!”
We ran back, James in the lead to get the ‘forgotten’ CP.
Next, a steep power-hike up to our bikes and within minutes we were flying down some super-fun single-track towards the finish line. We reached the ‘finish line’ but the race wasn’t quite over yet.
We had to drop our bikes and run to the ice-cold river nearby. At this point, all 4 of us were instructed to get into the ice-cold river with only our heads sticking out and stay in the freezing water for 1 full-minute before we could continue on. If anyone was to get out before the 1 minute was up, we would have to start the clock again.
The 1 minute felt like 1 hour as we laid in the river, shaking uncontrollably. After 30 seconds, it actually felt nice for approximately 10 seconds. Then each second felt like a minute, and I just wanted to die. We held it, and after the minute we all got up and sprinted to the finish-line.
We were stoked to win the race!!! We were also rewarded with a hot tub at the finish line (after being hosed off before entering the tub-- see photo below!) and cold beers for the team (and a cold carbonated drink for me).
COURSE DIRECTOR STEPHEN HOSING DOWN MARK BEFORE ENTERING STEPHEN'S HOT TUB / PHOTO BY CHIP FIEBERG
TEAM BEND RACING RELAXING IN THE HOT TUB POST-RACE / PHOTO BY DIRTYLITTLERUNNERGIRL
POST-RACE GRIMY TEAM PHOTO / PHOTO BY CHIP FIEBERG
Thanks very much to Chelsey Marie Magness, Dan Staudigel and James Galipeau for being awesome teammates and helping me push the pace the entire race. You guys are awesome to race with and look forward to our next race!
A giant thank you to our sponsors Leki and Paleo Eats and our training and gear partners Ellsworth Bikes, Inov-8, Recharge Sport, Rebound Physical Therapy, 2XU, Joshua Tree Skincare, and Sunday Afternoons.
Here are some more of our favorites from our race... (and check out the full race gallery here!)
MARK BELAYING CHELSEY ON THE EPIC TREE CLIMB / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
STOKED MARK PRE-REPEL #2 / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
CHELSEY ON THE REPEL / PHOTO BY DAVE LUKE
MARK POST-RACE / PHOTO BY CHIP FIEBERG
A 1st Place Finish is a great start to the season for Team Bend Racing, and I hope we have many more podiums this year!
Peace and Love!