Checkpoint Zero/Inov-8 Team Blog
presented by Inov-8

Sand in my shoes and a fungal infection?
posted Thursday, November 05, 2009 by Peter Jolles @ 1:53 PM - 0 comments

Having never raced in the desert before, I've little to no experience with racing in the sand. Sure, the creeks around Atlanta are filled with sand, and I've run through plenty of those, but there's a big difference between running for an hour, and going for a couple days.

Going on advice we received, we're trying out these top secret shoe covers in our quest to keep the sand out and our feet blister free. As for the fungal infection, that was a pre-existing condition.

Bit of hill training for Nationals
posted Monday, October 19, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 10:35 PM - 0 comments

Seeing as how the USARA Nationals race is being held in Texas this year, the team figured that a good old fashioned Georgia hill run would be excellent preparation. Or maybe we're just crazy.

This was also my first chance to test out the gps logging capabilities courtesy of MyTracks of my new HTC Hero phone. I must admit, I was quite impressed with the reception, even in the valleys. According to the log we did 32 km with about 1500 meters of climbing.

View Run At Jon's in a larger map

Wild time at the SE Wildwater Champs
posted Friday, October 02, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 9:35 PM - 0 comments

Allen took a break from his nearly non-stop adventure race schedule to race with me in an OC2 in the Southeastern Wildwater Championships Sept. 27.

He and I paddle mostly flat water, so we were really looking forward to hitting the fast water of the Nantahala River near Bryson City, N.C., and uncertain at how we'd do in the race. It rained a ton the day before, so we knew we were in for a great ride in our tandem open canoe, which we borrowed from world champion wildwater canoe paddler Jon Pinyerd.

We wrapped the bow and stern with a bunch of duct tape and stuffed the boat full of all the float bags we could find and borrow. Allen steered from the stern, while I took the job of guiding the boat from the bow.

Turns out we won with a time of 55:21 for the 8.2-mile course ... and it also turns out we were the only OC2 in the race! Hey, we can't help it if nobody else showed up in our division!

Hopefully, next year more folks will show up. We'll be there to defend our championship along with the other Wildwater canoes and kayaks. Wildwater's a great sport. Check here for more on races around the country.

- Paul

The snag in the road
posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 11:13 AM - 0 comments

Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 recently headed out to Washington state to race in the Trioba Adventure race, put on by our good friends nuun / Feed The Machine. This would be the first 24 hour race put on by the new Trioba owners, and they had promised a beautiful and challenging course.

The race started with a a short running prologue, followed by about an hour and a half bike ride to separate the teams before we hit the water. There were lots of route choices available on the bike ride, we decided to play a little conservative off the start and choose a slightly longer, but better looking trail on the map. Since we had never raced out west, we didn't know if the conditions and ages of the various roads and trails shown on the map would be similar to those in Georgia. As it turns out, we could have taken a more aggressive route, as the teams that did, beat us to the paddle by several minutes.

We started the paddle in a distant 5th place, which for us was comfortable, but we'd have preferred to be right in the mix with the other teams. Shrouded in darkness, we couldn't see all the teams ahead of us, even though the lake was calm. We never really hit our stride on the paddle, which was unusual, but we couldn't quite put a finger on what was holding us back. We ended up coming out of the water in 7th.

We made a quick transition to bikes, and started a massive climb, several hours grinding slowly upward. As the morning broke we were treated to spectacular colored clouds and sky, what a way to wake up. Along the climb we caught and passed MerGeo, and caught glimpses of Verve, two of the teams that we knew to look out for. As we pulled into the next TA, we had moved up into 4th.

On the ensuing trek, it was a back and forth battle between several teams. We would each reach a checkpoint within sight of each other, take off in different directions only to see each other again at the next point. This lasted until the last point, where we decided we should go for broke and try and put some distance between us and the other teams on an 800 foot climb out of one of the valleys.

We kicked into overdrive and made plans for a fast transition. We changed as many of our clothes as we could while running down the trail, and only had to put on our biking shoes and helmets once we got in.We got in and out in what seemed an instant, and didn't see anyone behind us as we rode off on the last 35 mile leg of the course.

We had been promised a little bit of climbing, and a lot of downhill, and for the first part of the ride, it was indeed true. We had a screaming downhill on fantastic trails and I was desperately wishing that my rear brake was working and that I hadn't been racing for the last 18+ hours. Still, we managed to make our way through the most technical portions of the trail during daylight. The lower section of this last leg was a completely different beast. Since the single track was paralleled by a road, the race directors placed 10 points along this section to force us to ride it. In theory, this was great, but as darkness fell the points were somewhat difficult to find, and we crept along trying to make sure we didn't blow by a point without seeing it.

Our method served us well, until we came to CP 28. The clue for this was a "snag in a clearing". My first question, what is a snag. Of course this came way to late in the game as we should have asked before the race started. Seems like reading the instructions seems to be the hardest part of the race for us. The team debated on the definition of a snag, and figured it was something overhanging the trail that might snag a rider. We found a log that did that, and searched. And searched. And searched.

We never found it. Of course, had any of us known that a snag was a standing dead tree, we'd have been up the trail a couple hundred meters, and wouldn't have had any issues. But, at the time, we didn't know that. Convinced that the point was missing, we headed towards the finish.

When we rolled across the line, we found Glen and asked about a snag, and instantly knew we had hosed ourselves. The only thing we could do was wait for the other teams to come in and hope that they had issues as well.

As it turned out, we were the only team that didn't know what a snag was, but only one team managed to find all the points. All of the other teams had issues with at least one of the last 4 checkpoints, which put us in second place overall. Ordinarily, we would have been thrilled with a 2nd place finish, but with the opportunity to lock up the Checkpoint Tracker Series with a win, we knew we had only one more chance at the Bushwhack AR in North Carolina.

Overall, this was a fantastic race put on by the Trioba / nuun / Feed the Machine folks and we are very happy we made the long journey out to Washington to race. For any of the mid west or east coast teams looking for an epic race, look no further than the Trioba AR. We're already hoping that we can make it out next year.

Checkpoint Zero is Strong
posted Tuesday, September 01, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 11:51 PM - 0 comments

Team Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 members Jenn Rinderle, Jon Barker, and Peter Jolles, lined up against some of the strongest teams in the southeast at the recent YMCA Strong Adventure Race, pulled off a win and captured a berth at the 2009 USARA National Championship race.
The rogaine style race started with the option of paddling, cycling, or a trek/swim combination. With the weather looking to hot, we opted to start with the paddle section and get off the water before the sun became a factor. Having procured one of the faster boats around, we made short work of the paddle and got off the water several minutes before CLXI. They turned out to be one of the few teams chosing to do the legs in the same order we did.

After a short transition to the bikes, we set out on what was to be the hottest leg of the race. With the sun beating down on us, our pace slowed considerably, and CXLI came by us less than halfway through the bike leg. Fearing a foot race to the finish, we concentrated on keeping our navigation sharp, and our down time to a minimum. As luck would have it, near the end of the bike leg we popped out on the road back to the transition area just behind CXLI, and rode in together.

Not wanting to play follow the leader on the last 6 mile trek/swim, we again made a fast transition and jumped in the water with our fins on and proceeded across the lake. As we looked back, we saw other teams getting in and out of the water, but really couldn't tell who was on what leg, and where they were headed. We had asked about the other top teams, including ROAM Inov-8, but no one could give a definitive answer as teams were all over the place.

We made a few small navigational errors while trekking, but managed to make decent time collecting all the checkpoints on the course. At the last one, we knew we had the option of turning back and swimming/trekking the same way we had just come, or running the roads back. Three miles vs six. Decisions like that win or lose races. Not knowing where the competition was we decided to swim for it and hope for the best.

As we waded out of the water and up onto the beach for the last time we were greeted by a small crowd of race fans cheering us in. We learned that we weren't the first team to finish, but we were the first to clear the course. The victory for Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 secured a spot for the team in the upcoming 2009 USARA National Championships where we will go head to head with the best teams in the country for the title of National Champion.

The Checkpoint Challenge Experience - Team Omega 1337
posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 3:28 PM - 0 comments

Team Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 Omega 1337 consisited of mentor Jon Barker and team mates Jamie Frazier and Greg Schnapp. Our mandated first leg was on the bike then we decided to paddle then trek. Jamie navigated on the bike and trek and Greg navigated on the paddle. The team experienced very few problems and worked their way steadily around the course. We had decided ahead of race start which points we would and would not try for during the legs and stuck to this very successfully until the last, trek leg when we only had an hour left to find the mandatory two points. We found our first point (T15) on the small island with no trouble then headed north to T16 which proved too tricky for us and after looking for 15 minutes pushed on to T12 with another bearing bushwack but, again, we were unsuccessful in locating this point. With time fast running out we took off at a near sprint for T1. Fortunately we had more success and picked this one up cleanly then took off for the finish line with about eight minutes to go. We finished within the five hours time limit with about 30 seconds to spare. I believe we picked up about 20 points.

Well done to Jamie & Greg for hanging tough on a scorching hot day and getting the job done!


Wild and Wonderful West Virginia
posted Thursday, June 04, 2009 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 2:58 PM - 0 comments

Last year's edition of the Wild Wonderful was a tough battle against Berlin Bike and EMS, but in the end we had come out on top. Subseqently, heading into the race this year the team had high hopes for another good finish.

Unique to this race, is the guided white water rafting segment which features two four person teams paired up in the same raft working together to get down the river as fast as possible. This was the third time that we have done this paddle leg in three different races, and for whatever reason, we always seem to get a slow boat, this time was no exception. Nevertheless, we soldiered on, knowing we'd have plenty of time to catch up later on.

After the paddle, we had a quick run up and out of the New River Gorge to our bikes. No Odyssey race would be complete without lots of elevation, and once on bike we were sent via old coal mine trails back down into the gorge. If one took the time to sight see along the white knuckle ride you got beautiful views of the lush greenery and sheer rock walls that make this area of the country so beautiful.

Dismounting the bikes, we set out on for for the meat of this course. A long foot rogain section. Before the race, we had asked the race director if the course was clearable, and the response was "one or two teams" might clear it. We figured we had a good shot at it and plotted out a route that would take us to all the points. We were taking a bit of a risk in that if we ran into time constraints, we didn't really have a good exit strategy.

As we started knocking off the points one by one, it seems as though we might beat our own expectations and get it done early. As we have come to learn, that's rarely the case. As darkness fell, we started to have problems finding some of the points. After giving up on one, we bumped into Berlin Bike and swapped tales of our adventures. We decided to give it one more combined effort, in the hopes that eight pairs of eyes would make the job easier. Fortunately, that's all it took and I marched right to the point. We had similar luck on one of the last points. We had given up and were on our way out of the woods when we came across the flag. I was fairly sure it wasn't where it was plotted on the map, but at that point I wasn't going to argue beacuse we needed to get out of there.

Getting close to our self imposed time limit, we started to descend off the plateau back to the river to get on our bikes. What should have been a short hike down, turned into an hour plus long slog down a creek. Just before we hit the road we happened upon a two man team that was looking rather defeated. When they saw us, they commented on how fast we were moving. I told them we weren't going to miss any cutoff and they were welcome to follow us out. I think the prospect of running down this creek was a little too much and they resigned themselves to missing the cutoff.

As we finally made it back to the transition area, we quickly jumped on our bikes and started the long road ride back to the finish. It's a tough thing to be under the gun for a time limit, but be at the darkest, hardest time of the race. I always have a hard time staying awake around 3 AM and from the wavering lines being ridden by my teammates, I knew they were sleepy as well. Digging into my pack I pulled out the caffeine and we all took the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee in a couple seconds and waited for it to kick in.

As the chemical rush started, we started passing teams and shouting encouragement as we went along. I envisioned a large Tour de France style peloton cruising to the finish, but many of our competitors didn't have the enthusiasm we did. As day broke, we came screaming into the last transition area 20 minutes before the time limit. Knowing we were safe was a huge boost, as we knew it was a short run to the finish line.

Although we were fairly confident that we were the only team to collect all the points on the course, you really aren't sure until you cross the finish line. When we did, we were pleased to learn that we were the only team to get them all, which meant a first place finish.

Relieved and exhausted, we spent the rest of the morning gorging ourselves on the wonderful feast put out for us by the race, and spent some well deserved time napping in the cool shade of some local trees before getting in the car and driving home.

More photos of our adventure can be seen here.