Day Two: Team Full Moon Debut
The next morning at breakfast we were given the first set of course maps with 13 checkpoints. Each checkpoint had a flag with a number and letter, which we had to write down as proof we'd hit them all.
"We'll have to go full out for like a mile, so I'll take your pack," said Mark as we looked over our maps. In another situation I would have taken his suggestion as an insult, but in adventure racing this is teamwork and crucial to winning.
From what we could gather, we were looking at a few miles of running total, which included scaling a rock-climbing wall and a trek through town, at least eight miles of biking and a short kayak across a river. Luckily, the course designers went easy on us and a good portion of the race was downhill.
An hour later as we stood at the start line, I felt the adrenaline pumping. The countdown began, "Five-four-three ..." and we were off. "Guys!" I whined to my teammates as we ran up the side of the ski area to the second checkpoint. They looked back at me unsympathetically and said, "Come on! We've got to get there first!"
Five minutes later we were the first team to the rock-climbing wall, and I forgot my misery as I slipped into a harness. We scrambled up one after another, cheering each other on. We didn't exactly look like pros, but we were a strong team, and the quick climb and then drop off on a zip line from the top of the wall further pumped our adrenaline.
Next came biking, and we charged in tight formation down the black diamond ski slopes of Beaver Creek. The light dusting of snow from previous days had mostly melted off, but the runs were still slick. Again, we didn't look pretty sliding around, but we were getting the job done, leading the race and having a great time doing it.
Then came trekking. As we ran through town searching for out next flag, checkpoint 11, I found myself loudly questioning my teammates orienteering skills. "I don't think this is right. Let's stop and look again," I called out to the guys ahead of me, while I wheezed along feeling like the weak link.
"This is it," Kris told me with a smile, reminding me that this was supposed to be fun. Just then Isaac Wilson, the Team Golite/Timberland racer who was shadowing us to make sure we stayed out of trouble, said to me with Yoda-like wisdom, "Trust your teammates." He was right. I shut my mouth and kept moving. Seconds later we found the road we were looking for and I learned my lesson.
The paddle turned out to be much easier than what we experienced in the pool the day before, more of a quick ferry across a creek barely deep enough to float us. As we pulled up to shore and carried the boat down the path to the finish line, we all had huge smiles on our faces. I had seen smiles like this on the athletes after finishing 24-hour races. We completed the race in one hour and 52 minutes, seven minutes ahead of the next team.
The win was great, but even better was how it felt. It seemed more like playing on the mountain with a couple of friends than competing in a race. I got so caught up in the adventure of it all.
"So guys," I said to my new mates, "When are we going to do this for real? You know, Team Full Moon?" This might have been the end of this race, but it felt like the beginning of a new team. Grinning from ear to ear as we posed for a picture, I had a feeling this wasn't the last we had seen of Team Full Moon.
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Shanti Sosienski covers women's action sports and has written for Outside, ESPN the Magazine, Shape and Hooked on the Outdoors, among other publications.