I’m long overdue on this race report, but better late than never! Debbie and I did the Houston Urban Adventure Race on July 14 for the third year in a row, and it was a lot of fun. This was the first year we’ve done it that the race did not start on the field at Minute Maid Park (probably because the Astros were on the road), which was actually a nice thing because it meant we raced in the morning instead of the oppressive late afternoon heat. This was also the longest course of the three Houston urban races we’ve done.
The race started downtown at 9:00 a.m. with the entire group gathered in a bunch in the middle of the square. One racer from each team was sent back to the transition area and at the “GO!” yell, the remaining racer had to sprint to a corner of the block where a volunteer waited with maps and instructions. I headed to one corner only to discover that it was the one corner with a bogus volunteer — no maps! I quickly ran down the sidewalk to the next corner and secured our map and list of checkpoints. I ran back to transition where Debbie and I began to plan our route.
We first had to get to David Adickes’s studio (he’s the guy who made the Sam Houston statue and is now doing giant presidential busts) almost 2 miles away. The catch? One person had to run, while the other had to bike. And we had to stay together.
We started with Debbie running, me riding. It made sense, as she is the faster runner and doesn’t like biking as much. With her running along and me offering encouragement on two wheels, we made it to the studio 1.75 miles away. After gathering the washer to put on our bolt that we got in the bag at the beginning of the race (you usually have to carry something along and pick up an additional item at each checkpoint to prove you were there), we dropped the bike on the ground. We were both supposed to run to a specified street corner. We plotted our route and jogged there to find another washer in the bottom of a water-filled garbage can. With that in hand, we headed back to the bikes.
I assumed that I would have to tackle the run back to transition while Debbie biked, but she offered to run again! She’s always been a little crazy. I felt a little guilty, but I let her do it. She ended up running the entire way back to transition while I biked along next to her. Just before entering transition, Debbie stopped at the porta-potty and immediately after coming out, she realized she no longer had the bolt that we were supposed to be carrying. It fell out somewhere! We looked all around the porta-potty and finally decided that it must be in the porta-potty. Ewwwwww. So we continued without. We knew we might be disqualified, but hoped that the race organizers would have a good sense of humor about it.
We grabbed Debbie’s bike and headed out for the bike leg, riding all the way from downtown to the intersection of South Braeswood Blvd and Stella Link where Planetary Cycles has their store. That was a long way — much farther than the bike leg in previous years! When we finally arrived, we had to use a zip tie to link one person’s wrist to the other person’s ankle and walk around a short course. That was pretty funny. It turns out that the “easy” way to do this was for one person to carry the other on their back, but Debbie and I didn’t figure that one out. Instead we walked the course with me hunched over. Funny.
We rode our bikes all the way back downtown and dropped them in transition to being the last leg of the race, a run around downtown that included having to climb to the top of a 12-story parking deck. Oh man, that was tough!! We crossed the finish line in about 3:30 and the race organizers were nice enough not to disqualify us for losing our bolt. We finished in 9th place among female teams, and since the awards went 10 deep, we each got a medal! Woohoo!
Google pedometer produced the following distances for each leg of the race:
Run/bike to Adickes studio – 1.75 miles
Run to Oxford and back – 2.70 miles
Run/bike to transition studio – 1.75 miles
Bike – 16.5 miles
Run around downtown, up parking deck and back – 1.80 miles
So Debbie ended up running 8 miles and biking 16.5, while I ran 4.5 miles and biked 20. What can I say — Debbie rocks! I would’ve really struggled to make it 8 miles that day.
Of the three Houston Urban Adventure races we’ve now done, I struggle to say which was my favorite. I like the Minute Maid Park start, but I like being able to race in the morning instead of the afternoon heat. I think the first year may have been my favorite, primarily because it had more than 10 checkpoints. This year’s race only had 4 checkpoints — pretty disappointing. The checkpoints and mystery challenges are what make adventure racing really fun.