Krank Events Cascade 6 Hour AR
The Krank Events Cascade 6 Hour AR was a couple weeks ago, and as usual, it was an awesome event! The course had an incredible number of checkpoints for the length of race…57 CP’s and a 6 hour cutoff! This sort of checkpoint density is common in any Krank race, so we came prepared. Our physical training and fitness is much less of an advantage in a race where we are finding a CP every 5 minutes on average for the entire race. There is so much stopping and searching compared to many other races. Small efficiencies become MUCH more critical than top speed racing. We put a lot of extra energy and focus into spending as little time stopped at each CP as possible. This seems like common sense, but we’re often surprised to see how long some teams (our team as well when we first started out) spend collecting a CP.
Our system is this:
We raced with 3 people. I navigated, Emily managed the passport, and Jeff was essentially a jack of all trades, helping wherever needed.
Long before we even got near the CP, Emily would read the clue of what we were looking for.
As we approached each CP, if the location seemed very obvious (for example, the clue said double trunk tree outside of trail bend…and there was only one tree that matched that description) Jeff would go to the CP, (if we were on bike, someone would hold his bike) Emily would get a pen ready to circle the correct answer, and I would study the route to the next CP…if we were on bike, I’d try to memorize the next few turns, since map reading is tricky on technical singletrack.
If the CP location was not obvious (maybe there were multiple double trunk trees) or the CP was far enough off the trail that we’d break the “distance between teammates” rule, then all of us immediately dropped our bikes and searched until someone found it.
A CP is also a good place to flip the map, rather than going all the way to the map border to flip, since other teammates can find the CP in the time it takes to flip the map.
In either case, as soon as Emily circled the correct answer, she also read the clue for the next CP…and then we were off.
Most of the above probably seems obvious, but I think having an organized system, where everyone has something to do and little to no time is wasted, can easily save a few seconds at each CP, translating to several minutes saved over the course of the race.
Another thing we try really hard to do, especially on courses in relatively flat areas with generally easy off-trail travel, is to take the shortest route between CP’s…even if that involves some extra bushwhacking. Sure, if the race were a 5k trail race we’d easily move 2-3 times as fast on the trail as we would off trail, but in a race lasting several hours where we’re all wearing backpacks, on-trail vs off-trail moving speed isn’t always that much different, and we take shortcuts wherever possible…especially on foot. Going off trail with bikes is harder, but can still save time in some cases.
After reviewing Strava and averaging out GPS recorded distances, our team did about 1.5 fewer miles than 2nd place Krank-Tall…that’s about 6% of the race distance. After some more Strava research, I found that not all of our shortcuts saved us time (in fact 2 of them cost us quite a bit of time), but most of them did, and we made enough small gains to more than make up for the 2 shortcuts that didn’t pay off.
Below are a few examples of places we cut corners compared to most other teams. Our route is marked in black. Other teams’ routes are also shown for comparison.
We opted to take more direct routes between most CP’s rather than staying on trails and “going around.”
A small gain here, looks like about 20 seconds. Wading across the creek with bikes avoided having to do the out-and-back into the CP, and also saved us from having to climb back up the hill we’d just descended to reach CP 8.
This was one of our bigger gains. The forest was open and runnable, so we just took a straight line downhill from CP 39 to CP 37, which avoided climbing back uphill to the road, and then taking a longer route around on roads. Then, we crossed through the clear-cut to P44, which had debris to climb over, but was about 1/4 the distance vs taking the trail around…and probably only cut our moving speed in half.
There are a lot more route variations to take a closer look at. If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend checking out the Strava Flybys of the race, and seeing where your team might have made up or lost ground compared to others. It’s always good to do a little post-race analysis. As stated earlier, this was an awesome event, we had a great time, and are already looking forward to the next Krank race this Winter!