With a course designed by Gravity Play Sports, and a venue in and around the Martian wonderland of Moab, Utah, the inaugural Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing National Championship wrapped up last weekend, on October 30, 2010. The endurance-sports freakshow featured 178 competitors divvied up as solo racers and on about 50 teams. Kayaking, riverboarding, trekking, mountain biking, climbing, and navigating were all part of a 110-mile multisport course through the desert, across Moab’s famous slickrock domes, and into the mountainous terrain above the town.
A $10,000 cash prize purse was split among the top three teams, which were not officially announced by the race organization until a few days after the race ended, on November 3rd. The winners — and most competitors in the event — braved a 350-foot Tyrolean traverse, whitewater “swimming” (on riverboards), and a nonstop, sleepless course that had a time cutoff of 28 hours.
The four-person Team Odyssey Adventure Racing-IMONPoint.org, including racers Shane Hagarman, Mark Lattanzi, Jennifer Moos and Charlie Roberts, were crowned the winners of the Checkpoint Tracker race, which was billed as an alternative National Championship event for the sport of adventure racing this year. (The competing, and traditional, National Championship race, the USARA Adventure Race National Championship, was in Hidden Valley, Penn., in mid-October. Gear Junkie covered that race here: https://gearjunkie.com/usara2010.)
The winners of the Checkpoint Tracker event received $5,000 in cash and a load of gear from Hi-Tec, Tech4o, SOG Knives & Tools, and MyTopo.com. The second- and third-place teams — Team DART-nuun-SportMulti and Team Gore-Tex — respectively won $3,000 and $2,000 plus custom gear packages.
First place Team Odyssey Adventure Racing-IMONPoint.org crossed the finish line at 5:19am last Saturday after 21 hours and 19 minutes of race time. Two other squads — Team Osprey Packs and Team YogaSlackers — had actually blazed through the finish line more than two hours earlier that morning, completing the entire course and believing they had handily taken first (Osprey Packs) and second (YogaSlackers) in the race. But an interpretation of the rules during one section of the race resulted in significant penalties to Osprey Packs and YogaSlackers, eventually sending the teams back to 7th and 10th places overall.
“We were dumbfounded with the penalty,” said Jason Magness, captain of Team YogaSlackers. Magness’ team, as well as Team Osprey, took an alternate (though not shorter) route through one section of the race course. “We had clarified the strategy with a race volunteer on an ambiguous rule about the order to obtain checkpoints, but we got punished for our interpretation in the end,” Magness said.
“After careful consideration of several written protests, the Checkpoint Tracker Advisory Panel deliberated and made a final decision in accordance with the official rules of the course,” said Paul Angell, president of Checkpoint Tracker. “All penalties were assessed in accordance with the official rules, which were written to convey our intent as to how the course was to be run, regardless of which teams were affected and to what extent.”
Despite the disagreements — and disappointment over the penalized ranking — Magness said he “loved the race course.” “It was a beautiful, epic venue, one of the best we’ve raced.” He continued: “The course was almost perfect except for the bottlenecks [long lines] that formed at the ropes.”
Several teams were not happy with the bottlenecks on the course, as the teams were forced to stand and wait as the clock ticked. “It was perhaps not the best idea to have a rogaine section so early in the race lead into a ropes section that had a cutoff,” said Justin Bakken, captain of Team WEDALI, which won the USARA National Championship race in October, but placed 9th in Moab.
But Bakken had more positive than negative points overall. “I think the race as a whole was pretty epic — lots of fun things to do packed into a short, 24+ hour race, including great scenery, ropes, and riding slickrock at night.”
Top 10: Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing National Championship
1. IMONPoint.org-Odyssey Adventure Racing
3. Team Gore-Tex
4. Checkpoint Zero
5. Tecnu Extreme/StaphAseptic
7. Osprey Packs
Congrats to all the teams that pulled through. Moab is a tough venue, and the field of competition at the Checkpoint Tracker National Championship was among the toughest ever assembled in one spot to race. Full results from the event are here (PDF document): https://www.checkpointtracker.com/2010-Final-Results.xlsx.pdf
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. He wrote recently on the state of adventure racing in the article “An Open Letter To: Adventure Race Directors.”