(Photos coming soon!) Teams and solo adventure racers gathered on what was a day of unknown weather to compete in the Rock2Rock Adventure race from Monument, CO to Colorado Springs. The racers knew it would be a chilly Spring day, but no one knew whether to expect rain, snow, or sunshine. Throughout the day they experienced all in addition to some treacherous sleet and wind. However, the smiles, laughs, and camaraderie that maintained showed that the weather didn’t slow the racers’ adventurous spirit.
The event started bright and early (well, overcast and early anyway) at 6AM at the Colorado Sports Center in Monument. After a pre-race meeting racers began practicing for 2 special challenges that would determine their starting positions for the race: a rock climbing wall traverse and an ice hockey goal challenge. The ice hockey challenge invited racers out on the ice to complete 2 or more out of 4 attempts to land a goal. The rock climbing traverse challenged racers to use their forearm muscles to complete a 40ft traverse. Some racers elected for some last minute orienteering instruction before completing the challenges.
The course started between 9 and 9:40AM with 3 heats to spread out racers on the Santa Fe Trail. Racers headed south through the beautiful Air Force Academy stopping for their first checkpoint at the south exit gate leading to Woodmen road. While heading down the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, some racers elected to stop at Criterium Bike Shop to resolve some bike issues. Due to a serious malfunction – one racer had to even rent a new bike to continue on the course!
The second checkpoint signified the turn to one of the highlights of the race – the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) land navigation and ropes challenges. After a bike drop transition area, including a check for safety gear needed for ropes challenges, racers tested out their map and compass skills in the breathtaking UCCS owned land adjacent to Pulpit Rock Park. This off trail course had racers climbing up and down the ridges and valleys in this not-widely known area. Even the race organizers were excited to discover new awesome trails in this area before planning the race. Amidst the challenging navigation, racers had to decide which one of two ropes challenges to complete in this area: a cable zipline or a rappel. The rappel was the faster choice for many competitive racers due to its favorable placement on the course, but the zipline was the undisputed adrenaline booster for many racers. The screaming fast zipline gave the sense of flying to racers who chose this 500ft challenge from the top of a ridge down into a valley. Some teams enjoyed it so much they hiked back uphill to do the zipline twice. Some teams even chose to do both the zipline and the rappel, highlighting one of the most important aspects of adventure racing – having fun!
Afterwards, racers jumped back on their bikes and continued heading south on the Pikes Peak Greenway trail to Sondermannn Park for a foot orienteering course. This course used a Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club map and had racers following topographical clues to gain checkpoints to finish the course and get back on their bikes. Sometime during this transition Team Muffin Tops was unlucky enough to acquire goat head thorns in their bike tires. Eventually, all four of Muffin Tops’ tires popped, leading to a long push-bike trip to a bike shop to obtain more tubes…this time attempting to try the ones with the green jelly inside.
The next stop was at Monument Valley Park for special challenges that exercised racers’ balance, coordination, and ability to work together. Teams had to choose two of three challenges in which to prevail: a slack line, a ropes descent to and ascent from Fountain Creek, and a raised checkpoint in a tree. The slack line is nylon webbing tensioned between two anchor points similar to a tight rope, except that it is not as tight and is more like a skinny trampoline. While a balance challenge about 30 miles into the race was somewhat daunting, many racers completed and enjoyed this challenge! The ropes ascent and descent gave a bit up upper body muscle challenge to slightly balance out the long miles of leg work, while the raised checkpoint in a tree forced teams to work together. There was no possibility of climbing the tree so racers were on top of each others’ shoulders or standing on interlaced hands to hoist their teammate to reach the checkpoint.
Upon completion of the Monument challenges the final course leg awaited racers which was, for some, the most difficult section of the course. Fatigued racers tackled orienteering while biking at Bear Creek Park. An established trail system provided plenty of opportunity for route finding choices to pedal their way to the checkpoints. Racers’ reward for their perseverance was some nice double track and single track mountain biking on what was otherwise a mostly urban course.
After biking in the shadows of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain, racers headed to the finish, where the final challenge waited racers: a 43ft indoor rock climb at the CityRock climbing gym in order to stop the race clock. Racers used their last bit of muscle reserves and conquered the final challenge that stood in the way of snagging some beer and brats! Phantom Canyon Brewery graciously provided the well deserved post race beer for the racers and the amazing Whole Foods brought and prepared the brats. The post race party included prizes for race winners and a swag raffle for all racers. All in all it was an incredibly fun time with a great community of racers!
The Big Mountain Adventure Racing for the Environment (BMARE) competition was also well received. Racers collected about 6 full trash bags worth of trash and a whole box of recyclables. Team Milky Mamas took first place with the most amount of trash collected by weight and Team Nord Vrai took second place with the most creative display of trash with their themed ‘vices’ trash collected: poker chips, cigarette packs, golf balls, and empty beer bottles.
The race attracted numerous first time adventure racers which helped reach one of Big Mountain Adventure’s goals of introducing this fun sport to new people. Veteran teams and racers came as well, placing some impressive finishing times! The race included a large number of local racers, as well as racers representing 5 different states. Course times ranged from 4:39 to 9:20. Big Mountain Adventure received a gamut of positive feedback from racers. The common themes were appreciation of organization, variety in the race, and course design. Thanks everyone! We really enjoyed putting on the race and hope to provide our community of racers with fun and challenging races to come. We also hope to promote the use of our beautiful parks and trails in an environmentally friendly manner.
Thanks to all the racers and volunteers who made the event happen. And BIG congratulations to all for showing your enthusiasm and amazing endurance, especially through the grueling weather. We certainly head some hearty and strong racers…the snow, bike malfunctions, map oversights, getting lost and other mishaps did not deter any of the racers from finishing the course. There were winners with the fastest times, and there those un-announced winners too, who despite pushing bikes, getting lost, and other such mishaps never gave up and finished the course. Awesome!! We hope we’ll see you again at Rampart RAGE on July 16th!
Big Mountain Adventure
Robert Villena Photography
Pikes Peak Sports Adventure Racing Group (Join today!!!)
Sunday April 24th Front page of the newspaper, front page of the sports section, rear page of the sports section!
1st Nord Vrai 5:32
2nd Spider Monkeys 6:33
3rd Crossfit 5280 7:07
1st Who Plotted 6:00
2nd Team Timex 7:20
1st Beer Nuts 5:55
2nd Milky Mamas 5:58
1st Ryan Ognibene 4:39
1st Laurien Moes 5:42
1st Last but not Least 6:51