We Support Our Troops (By Running Them Ragged)

Welcome, soldiers and Wilderness Challenge racers.

My blog post yesterday covered details of the race for today. The racers will need a good night’s rest after today, because day two is going to push the teams beyond their limits!In the past, the race was set up in sections, but not at ACE. We are going to run the event tomorrow as one continuous event. Our private 1,500-acre facility allows us to do things that no one else can.

The first leg of the race Saturday will be a 10-mile mountain bike race, and it’s going to be tough. The race course is entirely on ACE property. Starting out at around 2,000 feet, it will twist and turn up and down the mountain on some of the most technical trails in the east. We are going to throw everything at the racers — rocks, roots and ruts, off-cambers, single-track, killer ascents, scary descents and long technical sections with only a few moderate sections in between to let them rest a little. These aren’t your normal groomed National Park Trails. Pro racers use these trails to train for the Xterra races all year round, and the military teams better be ready.

With no break in between, the racers will transition straight into the second leg for Saturday, the 7-mile Duckie Race. Leaving from our private beach, the teams will breakup into two, 2-man duckies, and race toward Cunard, 7 miles downstream. At least the racers will be able to rest their rubber legs — they are going to need them later.

If you have never tried a duckie before, you should put it on your bucket list. They are a blast! Inflatable kayaks that are light-weight and highly maneuverable, they make even the smallest rapids into an adventure.

After the teams survive Surprise, a Class III rapid, and Big Baloney, a tricky three-drop Class II-III rapid, and everything else on the river, they will end up at Cunard River Access.

Now for Saturday’s final leg, the Mountain “Hike.” Yeah, right — 13-plus miles of arduous, backbreaking “hiking.” For the “normal” person, just this element would kick butt; we’ll see how the pros do.

The course will start off like the past events up Cunard Road. More than 600 feet in 1.3 miles! Then the hike changes. The racers will turn left onto the National Park Trail, Brooklyn Mine Access, and head back upstream towards ACE. This trail has a steady uphill pitch until it ends on private property where the character will change dramatically from past events.

Now they will be very old trails and roadbeds. The trails aren’t really physically demanding yet, but it will be more of a mental exercise of maintaining a strong pace while negotiating mud holes (some can be really big depending on the weather), creek crossings, washes and other difficult elements.

Just past mile 10, the racers will reach ACE property and start down the river road, all the way to the bottom of the gorge to the Southside Junction Trail (NPS). They will follow this trail for a short distance and turn onto Arbuckle Trail and up the mountain again (ouch!). But first they have to cross Arbuckle Creek — it’s a big watershed, and with just a little rain, it could prove very difficult (we will have ropes set up to help). Once they cross the creek and back onto ACE property, it’s straight up the gorge to the finish line (another 600 plus feet of elevation on difficult terrain).

It’s going to be a great event. We’ll see if the Coast Guard can win it again. I know one thing for sure, I’m not going to try it! But if this is your kind of thing, ACE can customize any kind of Adventure Race you want — just give us a call.

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