Adventure Racing - 2000

Team Lemmings

When my good friend Greg Knoll asked me if I would run a "team triathalon" with him, I said "OK". I've known Greg Knoll for almost 7 years, so I figured he wouldn't get me into anything I couldn't handle. Also, while I knew, in general, he was in better shape than me, I figured that I wasn't that far behind him in terms of endurance and overall strength. He's a good 8" taller than me and maybe 50 lbs heavier, but we used to wrestle each other in high-school and I could hold my own, so I figured that as long as he could do it, I could do it.

So, with Greg and my other teammate, Chris, we arrived the day before the race, in Havre De Grace. It was at that time, while we were signing up, that I learned the event that I had signed up for was called The Dominator. After I inquired further, I found out that this was an "adventure race", which is a generic term for anything that puts its contestants in more danger than a typical foot race. It turns out our "team triathalon" included 7 miles of mountain biking, 4 miles of trail running and 2 miles of canoeing. In addition, there were a number of intermediate events that would challenge both the mind and body.

So, as we registered for "The Dominator", I wondered what sort of teams we were up against. The list included such obvious serious adventures as "Team W.A.R", "Hellbenders", and "No Fear". I was a little intimidated. Our team name was "Team Lemmings", we had the vision of following all the other team into some sort of mass-suicide. Now, I was beginning to believe that may be our future. Looking further, I found the teams "Hairless, Mareless, and lost", "Somebody Call 911" and "Mike Needs a Date". At that point, I figured that other teams had a sense of humor about this thing, and that maybe we wouldn't all be killed in the name of "Adventure Racing".

So, we arrived early in the morning and began the race. It started with a hazardous 7 mile mountain bike trail. For the most part, the entire trail was one bike wide. Which meant that it started with a mad dash towards the forest, then a long line of people pushing their bikes uphill. You see, as soon as someone in the line decided that it was too steep to ride up, they got off their bikes to push. Because the trail only allowed one bike to pass at a time, if the guy in front of you decided to walk, you had to get out and walk. You couldn't pass him. So for most of the mountain biking trail, we were pushing our bikes up-hill in a big long line of bikes and people. Of course, some of the hills were completely impossible to ride up. One of them, I swear, was a good mile straight up. There's wonderful video of us pushing our bikes for what seemed like hours and hours.

Team Lemmings on the trail

At some point, toward the end, Chris and I were making pretty good time. We were riding across open fields; we were recognizing terrain; we thought we were close to completing the first event. We rounded a corner, past an official who took down our time. Then, we noticed that Greg was not with us. This was strange, Greg, was outpacing us, by far, on the rest of the biking trail. It was odd that we would put him so far behind, here at the end. Well, since, you cannot complete an event without all three participants, we stopped and figured we would wait for him. We waited 10 minutes; a number of teams passed us; we wondered if he had been injured or something. Then, one of the teams that passed us, recognized our "Lemmings" T-shirts and said, "Oh, there's a guy wearing that shirt back there, he had a flat on his bike." Just then, we saw Greg, carrying his bike, running like a madman. It turns out he had got a flat a half-mile before and had carried his bike all that way on his shoulder.

Team Lemmings carrying their bikes

Greg approached with his bike, I knew that we were maybe a quarter mile from the finish of this leg of the race. So, I offered my bike to Greg, I picked up his bike on my shoulder. The three of us began to run for the finish of this leg of the race. When we were close, Greg decided to carry his bike, too. Just for the photo-finish of it all. As we finished, I realized that Chris was in pretty bad shape. He had been pushing his bike up all the hills hunched over his bike. Chris had little experience with mountain biking, and had made a mistake. As we rolled into the rest area, Chris's back was in bad shape. Greg had Chris lay down and he did a some chiropractic techniques on him. After that, Chris was still in considerable pain, but decided to continue.

The next event was the "Skittles Challenge". This was where one member of the team was blindfolded, given a cup full of multi-colored skittles and had to separate the skittles based only on the instructions of the other two team members. I was the blindfolded one. We used the "Clock method", which was to associate a color with a position on the clock. i.e. Something that a man with no sight could visualize in his mind. We passed the "Skittles Challenge" pretty well.

The next event was the "orientieering", which I later had to look up in the dictionary to see if they were just making it up. Apparently, orienteering is "a cross-country race in which each participant uses a map and compass to navigate between checkpoints along an unfamiliar course". So, we were given a map of the area, with clues about the location of the little slips of paper that we were supposed to retrieve before moving on the next leg of the race. This is where, I became a giant detriment to the team. One of the clues was something like "It rides on rails". I figured it must be train tracks! When we were dropping off the canoes in the morning, there was a train track that ran next to the river that we dropped our canoes off at. It must be there! So, I convinced our entire team to run down to the river. It was a mile and a half away! We were exhausted when we got there and were told that all the slips of paper were up in the pavilion. All of our clues were within 150 yards of our starting point and I had convinced our team to run a mile and half downhill and then turn around and go back to the pavilion. Basically, I suck!

As we were wandering back up to the pavilion, Chris and I almost completely out of gas, Greg was running around trying to find little slips of paper. He ended up finding a bunch of paper. We threw out the ones that weren't right and kept the rest. Greg, single-handledly, did most of the orientieering by himself. I was ready to throw in the towel, but we managed to finish the scavenger hunt for paper.

The next event was the trail running. After the wonderful trek down to the river and back, trail running was the last thing on my mind. But slowly, like the turtle that races the hare, we trudge on through the trail run. When we came back, hours later, we were told that the next event was the "Romper Stomper".

Team Lemmings Romper Stomping

The "Romper Stomper" was an event where you had to pass 100 yards of field based on certain instructions. The instructions basically stated that you had to pass the field without touching the ground. You were given four pieces of wood with holes drilled in them, along with four pieces of rope. The idea was that one person could pass using two pieces of wood and two pieces of rope. You slip the rope through the wood and grab the ends of the rope and put the wood under your feet. By maintaining pressure on the wood, you can walk (fairly) normally. But we had 3 people and only enough wood and rope for 2 people. So, my job was to leap from Chris to Greg at every step. So that they could walk normally, and I would piggy-back ride on them all the way across the field. We ended up doing this a number of times before we were successful.

Now we were running down to the river to do the canoeing. This was, by far, our best event. I don't know if it was because I was completely uninvolved with this event or not. You see, we had one canoe, two paddles and three passengers. Chris and Greg paddled and I sat in the bottom of the canoe and tried not to flip it. I did this event extremely well!

Part of the run back to the pavilion was to carry an egg. So, all three of us carried an egg the mile and a half back up to the pavilion for the final 3 events. When we got back to pavilion and got rid of the egg, our team became inspired. The last 3 events were; roll a cement-filled barrel through an obstacle course, go over a 12' wall, and crawl through some mud.

As the cement-filled barrels were toppled, I was given a long pole to help my team push the barrel through mud and sand. At no time did the pole come into use. Chris and Greg pushed the barrel through the entire obstacle course, without pausing, without stopping. I simply followed behind them as they pushed the 300 pound barrel through sand and mud, over 4 by 4's and around corners. They really crushed that course.

Then it was the 12' wall. We conquered the 12' wall as if it was a street curb. I jumped up, grabbed the ropes, threw them over, and climbed the wall. Chris and Greg climbed the ropes, threw them back on the far side, and completed the wall challenge in under a minute. The final challenge was a pretty easy crawl through the mud. I think the organizers of the event just wanted you to be dirty at the end.

Team Lemmings Crossing The Finish Line

So we finally finished. We ended up being the worst male-only team that finished the race without an injury. If you look at our standings, you'll notice that the only male-only finishers that were behind us lost a man due to a broken arm. Interestingly enough, the first 4 finishers of the race were all co-eds. I think that that is awesome, the first male-only group finished fifth overall. I guess we should've had a female on our team or something. BTW. We finished 33rd, out of 34.

In closing, I hope that me, Chris and Greg compete in next year's Dominator. We probably should spend a little more time training for it. And that maybe some more people should enter the race that aren't very serious about it. It'd be nice to not be the last place finisher in our division. But then again, when we started, our goal was only to finish, not to place.

Author: Lonnie Eastin,
Last Changed: February 25, 2001