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  • Kellen Oetgen

Kranking it out

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

The third of four weeknight adventure races put on by Krank Events took place ar

ound northern Seattle. For this race the Quest Adventure Race Team divided into two teams: Brent/Annie, and Dusty/Emily/me. This marked my first adventure race and while I’ve been on hiking and mountain biking adventures with Dusty and Emily before, this was an entirely different animal! We arrived at the park just before 6pm, received our maps at 6:10pm and began racing at 6:30 sharp.

Time seemed to fly once we got our maps as we frantically planned our route. The amount of time to figure out and mark your route never seems like enough time, but you work fast and make do with what you have. Anything you can’t get down just gets left to be figured out on the fly during the race itself. This night’s race consisted of a short biking section from Gas Works Park to the UW boating center, a canoe section in Lake Washington, a longer biking section and ended with a short trekking section back at Gas Works. Luckily for me, I was quite familiar with the area having spent two years at the University of Washington so I was able to pitch in and help us plan an effective route. Dusty took over as the lead guiding us from checkpoint (CP) to CP and Emily had the passport letting us know what clue to look for at each CP.

To spread out the short biking section, the race began with a paper airplane challenge. Each team sent one member to form a circle where they had to successfully throw a paper airplane into a trashcan. Once your airplane landed within the can, you were free to leave the park. If you missed your shot, you had to wait a minute before throwing again so each miss is costly. I waited with the bikes and once Emily made the shot and ran back, we were off. Finally all that adrenaline and energy that was being wasted nervously waiting could get put to use.

The first biking section was short with just a few CP’s. With the map readable on his handlebars Dusty guided us along. It was very early in the race, but I was already impressed by his ability to ride and read at the same time as well as Emily calling out clues and marking the CP results while riding. We quickly made up time on other teams and were one of the earlier teams to arrive at the boat center.

Once we arrived at the UW boating center we were taken off the race clock until we were off and paddling in the lake (so teams weren’t penalized for having to wait in line for rentals). This also made it interesting that depending on boat rental transition times, each team had their own unique cutoff time they had to beat to avoid severe score penalties. The route took us out and around a nearby island with CP’s in the water and some on land so teams would drop off a runner on the island as the boat circled around collecting the water CP’s. Teams were allowed to group up for this section and share their answers so all of Quest reunited. We decided to drop Brent off to run around the island leaving Dusty and Emily in one boat and Annie and me in the other. Being mainly used to one person kayaks, it was pretty obvious I was not ready to steer for a two person canoe as it took a great deal of time to get our boat to track in a straight line. Eventually we got our steering figured out (mostly) with much better communication, but early on Dusty and Emily had a front row seat to watch and laugh as Annie and I would veer left, right, left, right, over and over and over again. Paddling through forests of lily pads and under short bridges, we found CP ribbons strung on branches with a word on it that matched the passport clue. Once we collected all the water CP’s we picked up Brent and headed back to return the boat.

The next biking section was much longer and took us around UW’s campus before exploring Ravenna Park, heading west to Green Lake and looping back to Gas Works. This section had many regular CP’s as well as a few pro (optional) CP’s that would deduct time from your overall score. The catch here was that while the pros could be obtained in any order, the regular CP’s in this section had to be gotten sequentially. Early on we had decided we were going to try and get everything so that’s what we set out to do. We rode around the UW athletic fields and through the quad collecting CP’s before heading north.

The biggest frustration we encountered was searching for a pro CP in Ravenna Park. Two pro CP passport clues were switched so the clue did not match the location. We were looking for a word in red graffiti on a dog leash sign, but there was only one dog leash sign around. We found some graffiti. But it wasn’t on the sign. And it wasn’t red. We looked everywhere and still, nothing. But being completists, we kept searching too long and ended up wasting too much time before giving up and moving on.

Aside from minor map difficulties (Dusty’s map started to tear and mine was soaked from the canoeing section) getting the rest of the regular CP’s wasn’t too bad. This race kept us mainly on roads so it was a little easier navigating than on curved trails. We yo-yo’ed a bit with one other team on the bikes, but for the majority rarely saw other teams, which was odd considering all the regular CP’s had to be collected in order (despite the occasional pro CP detour). Our biggest detour took us across an overpass on the west side of Aurora so we had to shoulder our bikes up several stairs before climbing a few short hills. Thankfully we chose our route so were able to get our wind back flying down some of Fremont’s ridiculously steep streets heading south for the final few biking CP’s.

Once we arrived back at Gas Works we threw our bikes down and took off running for the final few trekking CP’s without bothering to switch out of biking shoes to ensure finishing on time. At this point I was exhausted and running on fumes, but knew we were close to finishing and I just had to grit my teeth. Thankfully there were not too many left and we easily beat our 10:00pm cutoff time.

After finishing we were able to start refueling and chat with some of the other teams that had already finished. At this point we didn’t know where we stood because we didn’t know if the other teams that were done had collected every regular and pro CP. We had gotten every one except for one of the two that was switched on the passport so we felt good, but still clueless as to our actual place.

The next day we found out the results and both Quest teams placed well. Dusty, Emily and I finished in third place as the first team (behind two quick single racers). Brent and Annie were right behind in fifth place. Overall it was a great experience for my first race and one that’s left me eager to get back and race again! The last of the Krank weeknight series wraps up September 16th in Bellevue, WA.

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