T.A.C.O.M.A.-(Thin Air Challenge Over
The Highest Adventure Race in North America!!!
This was my first stab at putting on an Adventure Race. Instead of
starting out easy with a short one, I figured I'd jump right into organizing a
24-hour race. Not like I had the time to do it, but it was fun and I'd
definitely do it again.
In a nutshell, I started the teams out at 6pm in Cheyenne Canon, sent them all
the way to Cripple Creek, then up and over Pikes Peak, and back to Cheyenne
Below is the gear list, course description, results, feedback, and a
Pikes Peak Atlas w/ CP's
Water filter or tablets
First Aid Kit
2 locking biners
Rear bike light
Whew, what a lloonngg weekend!!! After lots of debate, team shuffling, and last
minute course changes…TACOMA began. First and foremost: a huge hats off, good
karma, and big thanks to all volunteers! Thanks to Peggy for helping me set the
CP’s, putting up with my cursing of Helen talking me into doing this race,
checking in gear, manning one of the rappels, and seeing the teams finish, oh
and searching for Guy and Eric with me (more on that later!!). Thanks to Susan
and Sarah for freezing their butts off and waking up in the wee hours of the
morning to record teams coming into a transition, giving them the skills test,
and waiting at the finish line with us. Thanks to Stinger for manning a windy
and cold rappel with me, and keeping the beer un-lonely.
During check-in eyes were frequently looking to the sky at the dark clouds and
occasional thunder. At 6pm the six teams were off into the mountains for
approximately 4000 feet of vertical gain to the CP’s and first transition
miles and miles away. Apparently there was some serious bushwhacking taking
place on the way to a CP in the middle of St. Mary’s Falls and the fog and
strange occurrence of spinning compass needles didn’t help either. Team
Chinook was the first team to the transition to bikes with the other teams
filing in soon after between 4.5 and 6 hours from the start. Next was a 30 mile
mountain bike along 4x4 roads, highway, and single track. The gambling folks
speeding from Cripple Creek proved to be an unexpected challenge along the
winding road to the next transition. After CP7 decisions were made by different
teams to either head back into the woods to find the Crags campground via the
numerous single track trails heading in all directions, or head back to the road
for a few extra miles but easier route finding. Chinook was able to pick their
way through the trails by finding a couple key landmarks and made it to the next
transition with time to spare before the mandatory hold for a few hours of rest.
Cactus Patch and Team Golden opted to take the long steep road but were right on
Chinooks heels coming into the campground. At 6:30am the three teams that made
it in were off again on their way up the west side of Pikes Peak with myself and
the other volunteers wondering where the heck the other three teams were?!?!?!
Knowing that Horsethief Park was easy to get lost in we figured they were
somewhere in there, not far from the campground. Once daybreak hit the landmarks
were in sight and the trails appeared leading the teams to the Crags for no
rest, but only a brief refuel before starting on the 4000 foot climb up Pikes.
Around 13,000 feet at the top of the Bottomless Pit we waited at the rappel
spots watching the teams slowly appear over the ridge testing their lungs and
legs to make their way over the boulders and scree to the summit for the next
CP. The rappels were high, long, and dropped the teams into some shaky ground
for a 2000 foot decent/foot-ski back to trails. The first rappel was the entire
length of the 200 foot rope leading right to the second rappel of 125 feet.
Teams seemed psyched to be on their way to thicker air but most were plenty
pooped at this point. Only about 25 miles to go!!! We got all the teams through
and not even 10 minutes after taking the ropes down black clouds moved in to
welcome us with snow and strong winds (like it wasn’t cold and windy enough up
there already). We gave Cactus Patch a complementary ride down to Manitou
Springs from mile marker 18 of the Pikes Peak highway after a shortcut gone
wrong. Teams made their way all the way down Barr Trail and into Manitou for the
final bike leg along the awesome Intemann Trail to the finish. Team Colored Red
decided to break away from the trail and take the scenic route all the way west
to the town of Cascade for bushwhacking, stream crossing, highway jogging, and
who knows what else!! Despite a broken derailer hanger only after a couple
miles, Team Chinook was the first team to the finish with all CP’s at pennies
over 19.5 hours. Team Motrin was the only other team to finish with all CP’s
at just under 23 hours.
Hats off to all the teams, a fantastic job by everyone of you and your wonderful
and friendly support persons!! Thanks for racing TACOMA/BYCIV and being a part
of the Highest Adventure Race in North America. Lets hear your stories of
triumphs, tragedies, night-time fog-filled navigation findings, sleepless
delusions, and 4-letter words directed towards me!!
Team Colored Red-please bless us with your story of how in the heck you ended up
where you did?!?!
Results are in the following order: team, time in 1st trans, time out
1st trans, time in 2nd trans, time out 2nd
trans, time in rappel, finish time.
Chinook, 10:37pm, 10:55pm, 3:00am, 6:30am, 10:15am, 5:03pm.
Motrin, 11:21pm, 11:41pm, 3:44am, 6:30am, 10:59am, 7:16pm.
Colored Red, 11:40pm, 12:02am, 6:50am, 6:50am, 11:33am, -----.
Project CURE, 11:49pm, 12:09am, 7:20am, 7:20am, 12:21pm, -----.
Cactus Patch, 11:21pm, 11:53pm, 3:05am, 6:30am, -----, -----.
No X-cuses, 11:21pm, 11:46pm, 6:30am, -----, -----, -----.
Backyard Challenge - the TACOMA.
It was a long race and a cheap($) test of one's AR abilities, fitness, and
Kudos to Jeff Kunkle, even tough I think his overall time frame was somewhat
I do not know the final stats, but I think the first time was about 22 1/2
hours. Congrats to team Chinook on that one. Enjoyed crossing paths with you on
What was the event? A start at 630 pm Sat, still light. Teams went out in two
different directions right from there. Even though paths were on the maps there
was still some navigational discerning to be done. We nabbed CP 1 without
incident, but came upon team CHINOOK a little further down the trail searching
in the trees. We, uh, failed to help them find it. Darkness fell. Over hills for
4 1/2 hours, with cold and mist settling in and a halo of a diffused light ring
framing our worlds. A confusion over trails that petered out a couple times.
CHINOOK leapfrogged us. Into a TA we were glad to see and on to the bikes. We
followed a forest service road with a downhill tilt for a while, but it was not
to last. Out on the highway we were white knuckled as we had to contend with
lots of traffic pouring out of Cripple Creek at the casino closings. To be fair,
the drivers were respectful, they swung wide and safe, and there were no curses
or beer cans hurled at us. CP 7 was up two switchbacks off this busy road. Some
teams opted to continue on the singletrack of that CP, but our team (team
GOLDEN, as in the town, not referring to our age) decided to get back on the
road and take, ostensibly, the longer way on the road. Well, as luck would have
it, all the traffic was gone by now, and it was almost all a swooping downhill
until we turned onto a dirtroad to take us to the next TA. This turned out to be
the wiser decision, as some of the singletrack teams did not show up at that TA
until 0700 plus the next AM. We rode in about 0330. This was Jeff's forced bivvy
TA until 0630. We caught a couple hours sleep. Up and ready to go. Out knot
skill test was done. We passed.
At the allowed time of 0630, both team GOLDEN and team CHINOOK were out of the
gates and headed for the top of Pike's Peak. There was only one other team in
the TA and all others were no show at the TA off the previous night's mountain
bike at this time. We tramped close by CHINOOK for a short while and then they
disappeared somewhere. We had better things to do anyway, like breathe. Huff and
puff up, up, up, up. Which is what it is climbing a 14er, and more so after the
long night before. Coming out of treeline, we saw CHINOOK up ahead. We were not
going to catch them, not soon anyway. After the navigation up to the saddle the
incline eased off, the Pike's Peak road hailed into view and we made our way
along the trail over the moonscape. You were not allowed to be walking on the
road, which was longer anyway. We passed by the rappel point and Jeff and Peggy,
to which we would return. Then it became steep again as we clambered over the
last rock field and the summit of Pike's PEAK. Back down. The rappel gave us a
good elevation drop. Two rappels (200' - 100') took us into the Bottomless Pit.
Still, it was a tedious, loose, steep, hazardous journey down to the trail. Then
it was a looong haul down into Manitou Springs. One of those can't wait to stop
walking, one foot in front of the other, where the hell is the end, sorts of
One last bike section, with the next night's darkness looming only a couple
hours away. But, Jeff had said this was only a little uphill, and mostly flat
after that. He lied. It was ruthless to our tired legs. It was very rocky and on
my best days I would have walked some. if not for the hills, then definitely for
the technical aspects of many sections. Maybe if I was a trials rider, but just
now, no way, too exposed. A short fall onto those rocks would have been all too
easy. So our impression of the bike was deceiving and we took Jeff's name in
vain many times. Still, his timeframe of about two hours for that bike section
was correct. It seemed like much longer. We made it in to the sound of one
person clapping, and just at dark. We learned we were the second team in, beaten
by the fast wind CHINOOK. Congrats CHINOOK, and congrats (and thank you) to team
GOLDEN, who graciously let me race with them at the last minute since the others
of my team could not come after the terrible events of the week. Too tell, we
never once, in all those hours on the trail, ever once spoke about the WTC and
NY and the Pentagon. Maybe we needed that respite after the saturation and
emotional drain of the previous days.
Team GOLDEN - Dan Hendricksen -Tom Urban- Wayne Dorband- Ken Lotze
We want to say a big THANK YOU to all the support crews who waited so long, and
to all the volunteers who helped.
Greetings from another team member of Team Golden/Motrin
I will keep this brief as my esteemed teammate Ken has aptly described the
details of our journey in the previous post. What I wanted to most express is my
thanks to all the race organizers and volunteers. There is a tremendous amount
of work expended in putting on a race that lasts over 24 hours. Also, much
thanks to my teammates (Ken, Tom and Dan) for letting me race with them on this
adventure. Finally, congratulations to all the teams that participated and
especially to Team Chinook who must have got their compasses working again after
we left them in the fog and mist on the "iron mountain" ridge. The
race was outstanding.
Just a couple of reflections. In a 24 hour or longer format, adventure racing is
very much like ultra-running in the way that your body responds to the effort. I
experienced several periods of significant mental/physical down times, and also
some intermittent periods of physical/mental up times. For example, I was
probably the the weakest mentally in the race during the 3-4th hours and
possibly close to the strongest in the last 3 hours of the race. The last
mountain biking section was above my head in terms of technical difficulty, but
I felt very strong physically and mentally during that time. It is very
interesting how the body works. I tried to eat and drink very consistently
during the entire race, and I think our bodies are just not ready to be
physically active for as long as we push them, and our systems need to regulate
themselves and it takes time to complete that process.
Lastly, Dan, I think I have the answer to the light bulb brain teaser.
Thanks again to all involved.
To Jeff, Peggy and all the volunteers and support crews,
Thanks so much for the great race! Even though I DNFd, I learned a lot and had a
great time. The rappel was awesome. And to be standing on the very inspiration
for "America the Beautiful" was the perfect place to be this weekend.
It was really helpful getting that night practice in, especially as dark and
cold as it was. As the solo solo racer, it was a wonderful time for total
reflection---or to worry about the bears and the mountain lions.
I know a lot of the hard work that you did never shows up in the box scores, but
know that we all appreciate it! The knot test was a great idea.
Thanks again, and see you at the next one.
Jeff , all the wonderful volunteers and other racers,
thanks for an absolutely fantastic weekend of racing! What a blast! Was even
more fun once we found civilization and realized there was a chance that we
weren't going to spend the night on the peak. I would like to share the story on
how we ended up in Cascade coming off the peak, but we just can't be sharing ALL
of our navigation secrets. Perhaps we'll share a little bit at our up-coming
navigation clinic. If you take our nav class I highly recommend taking our
"advanced bushwacking" course as well which we are far more qualified
I understand and respect those of you who chose not to race in light of the
recent events. I truly hope that I did not offend anyone in my previous e-mail
where I stated why I felt so strongly on doing this race. I was just trying to
express how I wanted to deal with the situation, and understand well that others
may chose to do so differently. Nevertheless, you did miss a spectacular race.
Alos, hats off to Allison who started the race solo. You are inspiration for the
These BYC are absolutely fantastic and we have to keep them going. I sat the
first one out to volunteer and am getting ready to volunteer for another, but
know my schedule won't allow for it to after the first of the year at best.
Anyone out there want to try and top the previous races? Fact of the matter is
you will get more nav practice and training in setting the course than you will
racing it. (the other nice thing about setting the course is if you get really
lost less people know about it)
Thanks again Jeff and crew.
To all BYCIV race organziers and participants:
First, thanks to Jeff and all volunteers for their hard work and making a
fantastic course possible. When you see the stats below on elevation gain it may
just amaze you a little bit. Jeff put us through some steep ass shit (excuse my
French please). Anyway, we had a great time, got to bag a 14er that we had never
done and got some totally invaluable experience in night navigation, testing our
endurance and our ability to deal with sleep deprivation.
Second, being a bit of a numbers junkie (i.e., geek), I (Steve) compiled the
following course stats using some topo software (see below). I would guess the
numbers to have no more than a 500 ft margin of error in the total elevation and
no more than a 3 mile margin of error in the total distance traveled. These
numbers of course reflect the routes that we chose to take (e.g., we went
through Horsethief Park rather than around).
I also want to say good work to all those who competed and that we enjoyed
meeting, crossing paths and competing with all of you. The FROG is truly a cool
and down to earth group not to mention an awesome bang for your buck. Team
Golden/Motrin (or should that be Geriatric, Ken ;-)), I don't know whether to
call you guys crafty, wiley, or shady. Regardless, we enjoyed the competition
and crossing paths with you. As for CP1, we thank a very friendly and honest
Allison in helping us find it (practically the hardest one for us to find if you
can believe that).
Here are the stats: