It took 27 hours of straight, no-sleep racing. But after battling heat, exhaustion, ceaselessly pestering North Woods bugs, swamps, long bike legs, an all-night paddle, and tough orienteering courses through deep woods, Team GearJunkie/WEDALI took the overall victory this past weekend at the annual Stubborn Mule Adventure Race.
The event, a regional marquee in the nationwide Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing series, drew teams from several states to bike, trek, and paddle an immense, 100+ mile course through the woods of northern Wisconsin.
Racers lined up at 6am on Saturday, June 30, ready to go non-stop for more than 24 hours. There would be map-work and major strategy decisions as each team plotted a choose-your-own-adventure route to conquer the long and difficult open course ahead.
GearJunkie/WEDALI for this race was comprised of myself (Stephen Regenold), Tom Puzak, Kelly Brinkman, and Justin Bakken. We were determined to “clear the course” or get all available checkpoints and complete all the race legs.
That challenge would entail running in the woods up to 30 miles on and off trail in multiple trek/orienteering sections, riding singletrack and roads on the bikes for 80+ miles, and paddling down-river for almost eight hours through the night.
In the end, Team GearJunkie/WEDALI managed a victory by finding all the checkpoints in about 27 hours. We were followed closely by Team Green Paws, Team Blind Squirrels, and another Team GearJunkie squad who raced independently (Andrei Karpov, Scott Erlandson, Michael Mortensen, and Dave Swanson). Congrats to all the teams who came out and raced hard. The Stubborn Mule this year was one tough s.o.b. of an adventure race!