F.A.S.T. in Dallas
Dallas, Texas - Cedar Hill State Park
16 JUL 2000
Race Results | Race Photos
In typical fashion, adventure racers were given race instructions Saturday night before the race: the length and schedule of the mountain biking, kayaking and trail running events that have come to define a Hi-Tec adventure race. Team Hi-Tec then took the stage and spelled out an acronym aimed at helping racers focus and succeed the following day:
F = Flexibility: "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
A = Awareness: of your teammates and of the special tests.
S = Support: for yourself, for your teammates.
T = Transitions: quick, orderly, efficient.
Scriptwriters couldn't have done better foreshadowing the events to come...
A six-mile trail run, at a blistering pace, began the event, with temperatures rising into the high 90s by midmorning. As is true with all Hi-Tec races, special tests abounded. At the end of the run, with hearts pounding, the nearly 300 teams encountered the first test: "A Lesson in Following Directions." Line one told the racers to read all the instructions. A list of 20 tasks followed, ranging from pushups and situps to inane commands like writing the alphabet or the last words of the national anthem.
Task #20 thanked teams for reading all the instructions, informed teams nothing had to be done, at this test, and to proceed to the next event. (It was rumored that this was a rendition of a test given to prospective Lockheed employees. Fail this test as a Lockheed wannabe and you're told "Thank you, you can go home now." Fail this test as an adventure racer and you're found not only doing the list of tasks, but, more importantly, losing valuable time.)
Team Exide Batteries and Team Balance Bar, always first off the run, saw its commanding leads vaporize into the Dallas heat like a mirage, as they struggled through the tasks. It was noted that only two of the dozen or more elite/professional teams, Team Timex and Team Red Bull, successfully completed this test by reading all the directions and proceeding on to the next event. Even Team Hi-Tec, forgetting "A" of its beloved acronym, was seen writing the theory of gravitational pull.
|"There have been many last-second passes over the final special test recorded in the Hi-Tec annals, but never have there been three teams competing in the final two special tests side by side...." |
A 10-mile mountain bike course — created by the Dallas Off-Road Bicycling Association (DORBA) — was replete with all manner of technical terrain: rocks, roots, ruts and the ever-present cactus. As the mercury rose and topped the century mark, the "S" of our favored acronym came into play. Support and encouragement among the teams and from the large crowd of spectators, family and well wishers could be heard resonating through the still air.
A surprising change in the lead occurred among the cactus thorns as Team Hi-Tec rallied from 5th position, off the run, to take the lead — followed closely by Team Exide Batteries and Team Red Bull. The grueling terrain of the mountain bike course took its toll, as Team Balance Bar and Team Timex, among a slew of other teams, suffered technical difficulties that caused them to fall off the pace.
Dismounting and hustling through another quick transition, the racers were faced with a series of special tests. One of which dubbed the "Tarzan Swing" had racers swinging from rope to rope to cross an imaginary chasm reminiscent of strongman Johnny Weismueller of days gone by.
Only kayaking remained for our racers now, but first, back to our acronym, "F" for Flexibility was needed. Normally the racers are given three paddles and two boats. Not today. Organizers gave the three-person teams one boat and two paddles, allowing only two people in the boat with one team member left to swim. The mile-long kayak leg saw many teams employing various means to help swimming teammates. Some switched swimmers, some towed swimmers behind by ropes, making them look like drowning water skiers. The most innovative was Team Hi-Tec, opting to have its swimmer swing her legs onto the back deck of the boat and float behind safe in the boat's wake. A three-way race for the lead developed in the latter stages of the kayak leg and saw Team Hi-Tec, Team Exide Batteries and Team Red Bull emerge with only one minute separating 1st from 3rd. All that remained were two special tests: the "Teeter-totter," and the infamous "Wall" (a 13-foot high military obstacle).
Returning to our acronym, in my eyes, the "T" should be changed to Teamwork. Teamwork, the one aspect that truly combines the word "adventure" with the word "race." Nowhere was this more evident than in the final moments of one of the closest battles in the series' history. There have been many last-second passes over the final special test recorded in the Hi-Tec annals, but never have there been three teams competing in the final two special tests side by side.
A doctoral dissertation on methods of handling physical and emotional stress could have been written on the final moments of this race. Each team settled into the unseemly task of supporting three members on a seesaw, a.k.a. the teeter-totter, while trying to pass a 25-pound bucket of water from one end to the other, without having either side of the teeter-totter touch the ground. It was exasperating, frustrating, mentally and emotionally taxing, especially after over two hours of extreme competition.
||"Hats off to all racers, men and women alike, who found the energy, strong will, settled purpose and invincible determination to compete..."
Captained by Karen Lundgren, Team Hi-Tec prevailed in a nail-biter finish, which saw each team try and fail numerous attempts at the seesaw. Team Hi-Tec dashed to the military wall, scaling it with practiced ease and raced to the finish to post its first victory of the season in a time of 2:32:58. (Lundgren first came into prominence two years ago by posting her first ever Hi-Tec victory at this very same venue.)
Kudos to Team Red Bull and their girl, Jenny Wood, who overcame a bout of heat-related illness to post a 2nd place finish. Team Exide Batteries placed 3rd, while Team Balance Bar continued its reign on the podium with a 4th place finish. Rounding out the top-5 was Team dsports.com with its first podium finish of the year, and honorable mention goes to Team FogDog, placing 6th — boys (and girl) you were always in the hunt.
Special mention must be made to a new, all-female team on the circuit. Team xterraparts.com, the trio of Captain Mighty Mo Monaghan, Laura Roberts and Sharon Standley, blazed through its first race capturing top honors in the female division. First place in the all-male division went to The Darlin' Globe Twaters, while Team University Club at the Galleria captured the masters division and Team Noelle2k.com topped the corporate division.
Searching for inspiration to write this article, while taking a redeye home from the race, I fittingly read the following:
"The difference between men is in energy, in the strong will, in the settled purpose and in the invincible determination." — Vince Lombardi
Hats off to all racers, men and women alike, who found the energy, strong will, settled purpose and invincible determination to compete in this year's event. Next stop for the series is Sacramento, California, August 19th, the first night event of the year.
Tiger Mann, Captain Team Timex, MountainZone.com Correspondent
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