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AMK’s Kyle Peter and Team Tecnu Race in the Swamp Stomp!

Below is a race recap from Kyle and Team Tecnu on the Swamp Stomp Adventure Race that took place over the weekend.  They completed the race and came in 3rd out of 28 teams (that is their third 3rd place finish in a row!). Up next…. the Endorphin Fix 2-day race in West Virginia in March.  Congratulation to Team Tecnu on another great race!

Team Tecnu

Team Tecnu

Swamp Stomp 2010
Team Tecnu Staphaseptic
Kyle Peter, Mari Chandler, Keith Bushaw, Leslie Reuter

The 2nd race of 2010 took team Tecnu to about one hour north of Tampa, FL to race in the Swamp Stomp.  Plotting the course Friday night near the banks of the Homosassa River proved that the race would live up to its name.  30 miles of  river-paddling in a maze of waterways cutting though the swamp and miles of  swamp travel ton foot and even bike (yes…I said bike) though thick wet swamp ooze!

Saturday morning we started with a 14 mile paddle on the Homosassa River Trail that we finished in around 4th place, but we transitioned quickly at the ‘Chaz’ Campground and headed out onto Bike #1 in first place. Biking mostly on paved roads we grabbed a few CP’s and cruised into the transition to Trek 1 holding our lead.

Paddling through the Fog

Paddling through the Fog

Trek 1 was a relatively straightforward rogaine in Withlacoochee State Forest.  After 5 hours of running we cleared the section.  Most points were 100-300 meters from a trail or road, but with no features in flat Florida, the team relied heavily on pace counts to get the CPs.

We took off on Bike # 2 still leading the pack, but with a local team hot on our heels.  We grabbed 3 CP’s or so on our way into the deep nasty swamp at the same the time the sun began to set.  The first point we went to in the swamp requited us to leave our bikes at the end of a trail and stomp through the swamp for 100 meters to find the flag.  It was cold, it was our first time moving in the swamp, and Leslie found a keeper spot that sucked her in deep.  Needless to say, we slowed a bit.  We started to bike back out the same trail we used to come in to the CP and saw the local FL team.  I estimated we had about 15 minutes on them.  We also saw Checkpoint Zero and some other teams on the out-and-back section.  Next up on our plan was a group of 4 CP’s that didn’t have a clear connecting route to get them all.  We tried to get them in a loop that appeared to be the most efficient according to the map.  But it turned out that trails in the swamp can easily be covered in 3 feet of water and near impossible to find.  We decided to bike an extra 15 kilometers on relatively fast trails to avoid a 750 meter swamp bushwack with our bikes over our shoulders.  Seemed like the safest smartest thing to do, but turns out the race directors designed the course so everybody had to carry there bikes through the swamp.  The marked trails on the map were really hunters’ bushwacking routes through the swamp than ride-able trails.  Long and short of it we were passed out there by the local team as well as Checkpoint Zero with all three of us getting all points on Bike 2.  We came into the start the Trek 2 30 minutes behind CP0 and 2 hours behind the local team.  Game over!  The intensity immediately dropped and my focus on the maps faded.  We pushed on adjusted our plan for the trek, got what points we could with Leslie navigating us through a 1 kilometer, pitch black, below freezing, thick swamp.

We returned to the TA to pick up our bikes to find out  Checkpoint Zero still in the TA but with 1 more CP than us (a point worth 2 points when most were worth only 1 point).  We also discovered that our bikes cassettes had frozen solid.  Hours of swamp biking, sandy road riding, and 28 degree temperatures are not the best conditions for bikes.  We put on our frozen solid bike shoes, and all of the clothes we had (none of it dry at this point) and set off on the final bike ride (Bike 3).  I have probably been heard saying a half dozen times or so, “This is the coldest I have ever been.”  I don’t think I said it this time because I was too cold to talk, but I truly believe this was the coldest I have been in my live.  All four of us had completely numb feet and hands.  At every CP, Keith would put his bare hands down his pants to warm his fingers, and Leslie would ride without her hands on the bars in order to put them up here shirt to keep them warm.

We pulled into the final TA and transitioned into our frozen solid paddling gear.  When I took my bike shoes off there was a layer of ice between my wet sock and my shoe.  I don’t think that has ever happened to me before.  Not to mention in FL?

We stated Paddle 2 early Sunday morning and preceded to get the mandatory CP’s  They were all located up channels that were feed by springs.  We usually had to wade the last few meters in 72 degree water from our boats up to the spring to reach the CP.  What a welcome change from the frozen socks and PFD we wearing!  Our final CP required one teammate to swim into a deep hole being fed by a spring. As the youngest on the team I won the chance to dive the 10 feet into the clear spring and get the CP!!  I was cold, but the finish line was only 200 meters away, and as a special treat we were greeted by a family of manetees swimming under our canoes as we left the spring.

Diving for the Checkpoint gold!

Diving for the Checkpoint gold!

CP Gold!

CP Gold!

Manatee

Manatee

The Swamp Stomp proved to be a very challenging race both physically and mentally.  Florida doesn’t have hills, but it sure has swamps!  All things considered we are happy with our third place finish, and impressed with Checkpoint Zero’s second place finish and the local teams win.  I won’t speak for the rest of the team, but I will be back.  I want another shot at those swamp ‘trails’ or lack-there-of.



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