Medi-O-Core Triathlon 2013

I’m just going to start off by saying this, this race is awesome! I had a lot of fun and on top of it all, I also got some pretty sweet swag.  With that being said, I feel like I’m letting the cat out of the bag by writing about this race, but I don’t care.  This race is so freakin’ awesome!

So what is a “Medi-O-Core” Triathlon? I’m glad you asked.  You can either participate as a team of three (with at least one female) or as an individual.  As a team the first person goes out and trail runs a 3.5 mile route that finishes with a climb up a rock wall.  Once that person’s feet hit the ground, the next person heads out for a 10 mile mountain bike that finishes with another climb up the same rock wall, but different route. Once that person’s feet hit the ground, it’s the last persons turn to trail run a 3 mile route that finishes with the last possible route on the rock wall.  If you’re an individual running the race then you do all of these things by yourself.  Oh and did I mention, it’s all in the dark too.

The race itself took place at Cedar Glades Park in Garland County, AR (near Hot Springs).  Check-in began at 4:30 pm on Saturday, February 9th.  My team, which included myself, Phil (my boyfriend), and our friend Chris, arrived on-site around 5 pm.  Almost immediately after getting out of the car I realize that I had under-dressed.  This is very much unlike me, but in my defense, I did check the weather when I was getting ready and it looked liked it was going to be hovering around 50 degrees all night. It was more like 45, which is only 5 degrees, but that 5 degrees is a big difference when you are only wearing capri tights and a tech tee.  I did have my puffy jacket and a knit hat to wear while we were standing around, but I was still cold.  Luckily, my friend Chrissy was racing too and she was smart enough to bring extra clothes.  So I was able to mooch a long sleeve Under Armor shirt from her (thanks again, Chrissy!)

A pre-race meeting was held a half-hour before the start and a lot of questions were answered.  After heading back to our car for last minute preparations, our first leg, Chris, lined up for the start at 6 pm.  After a few minutes of delay (due to cars driving up the road) the runners were off and their head lamps were on.

Phil and I weren’t sure exactly when Chris would be coming back, but estimated that it would probably be 30-35 minutes.  So, Phil got all of his gear ready and gave me instructions for some stuff that he wanted when we got back from the bike. As some runners started to trickle in Phil and tried to keep our eyes peeled for Chris.  This was difficult because all you could see were bright headlamps coming at you.  You couldn’t really tell who was who until they had just passed you.  Chris was the 5th runner overall to come in.  He hustled over to the check-in tent and then headed over to the wall and got a harness on.

There were three different routes climbing routes on the wall that were three different skill levels.  Each route had to be climbed once, but it didn’t matter which order you climbed them in.  So, when Chris came up to the wall it just so happened that the medium level route was open, so he went for it.  He climbed up it fairly easily, but he did get a little confused on how far he had to go up, but it wasn’t a big deal.  He came back down and when his feet hit the ground, Phil headed out for 10 miles on the mountain bike.

A little bit after Phil left, the organizers, thankfully, lit one of the bonfires they had set up.  I was very thankful, because I was pretty chilly and it was very, very warm.

At this point, it was pretty much a waiting game.  I knew that it would take Phil about an hour to complete the course.  So, Chris and I hung out at the bonfire trying to stay warm, while also chatting with the other teams.  At some point during this time, it started raining.  It wasn’t a very hard rain, but it was raining nonetheless.  I could only imagine what Phil was going through on the course. Later, Phil told me, “it was crazy!”

A little bit before an hour had passed, some bikes started coming in.  It was even more difficult to identify the rider than the runners earlier because it was a lot darker and the lights on the bikes were brighter.  As the riders started coming in, I started to wonder where Phil was.  It seemed like he should have been in already, but Phil came in and was the 6th overall, rider in.  There was a bit of confusion when he came up because he stopped short of the entrance to the check in tent.  He couldn’t see us and we weren’t sure if it was him, but we sorted it out fairly quickly.

Phil checked in at the tent and then I gave him his running shoes to change into.  He kept his helmet on because it also had a light which would make it easier to climb up the wall.  When Phil got to the wall the belayer for the hard side walked away so he only had one option, the easy side.  He stepped up and took it down.  When his feet hit the ground, it was finally my turn.

I set off into the dark with the rain still lightly coming down.  I felt so unsure of where I was going, but as I kept running into the dark I saw a sign in the middle of the road directing me the correct way.  My uneasiness subsided, but I still stayed on watch for any markers.  Pretty early into the run a guy came flying past me.  I wondered, “Should I try to keep up with him?” and then I thought better of it and decided, “Nope!” .  I continued on at my pace and came up to a strange section that wasn’t on a trail, even though the markers had directed me here.  I paused for a few seconds because I couldn’t see any makers reassuring me that I was heading in the right direction.  The last thing I wanted to do was to get lost in the woods at night.

I swung my head around pointing my head lamp in different directions to see if I could see any markers.  Finally, I spotted a marker and continued on.  Other than these few times, the trail was marked very well.  Some volunteers were even stationed at some of the turns directing us to the correct path.  By the way, thank you so much to them, they looked pretty cold out there.

A little before half-way I came up on another runner, it was my friend Emily who was on a team with Chrissy.  We gave each other a little bit of encouragement as I passed her and I continued on.  The week before this race Phil and I came out to the park and rode mountain bikes.  I’m really happy we did this, because I recognized a lot of the areas I was on and gave me even more confidence in where I was going.

Before I knew it, I was running up the road to the rock wall.  I heard Chris and Phil as I ran by them and they were surprised to see me.  I ran up to the tent and checked in and then Phil and Chris were right there to help me get into the harness and then it was my turn to tackle the hard side of the climbing wall. I had done this route the previous weekend and it wasn’t too difficult, but then again I didn’t have wet shoes and I hadn’t just run 3 miles.  So, it was a little, OK, a lot more difficult.  I had a hard time getting started and then getting up the wall the rest of the way was challenging.  I finally got to the top and when I got back to the ground and unhooked from the harness, we ran up to the tent for the final time and checked in.  We finished with a time of 2:17:59, which was good enough for 3rd place in the team division!

After we all finished we started to share stories about what happened on our legs.  As it turns out, Phil got a little lost on the bike course which is why it took a little longer than we expected for him to come in.  On my run, that the guy that came flying past me at the beginning of the run actually got lost (good thing I didn’t follow/try to keep up with him.)  So, that is how we ended up where we ended up.

We received cool pitons as medals and everyone also got some really sweet swag that was given away door prize style.  For our team, we each received a $110 gift certificate to Merrell along with some Merrell T-Shirts.  Pretty sweet, huh?

Piton Award for the Medi-O-Core Triathlon

My team, “What the…!?” finished 3rd in the team division.

So now you can see why I think this race is so freakin’ awesome.  Thanks so much to Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters for organizing this race and thanks to my teammates Phil Tanner and Chris Miller for doing this with me.   It was a blast!

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