Racer reports and pictures

13 06 2009

Here are links to a few reports from racers who did the 2009 Impossible Panther:

TrailBlazer AR Club forum on the Panther

From Mims the Word (24hr); with maps

From Northern Lites (24hr); with pics

From Team ROC Gear/4LPH4 1337

Photos from race volunteers

(previous link  race volunteers -free registration required)

More photos here

Course cleaned

12 06 2009

The control flags from IPAR09 have all been cleaned now! I had to go back to the area to work on settling some matters and took the opportunity to try to retrieve the CP 33 flag. The dam was not releasing extra water in the overflow chute today, so I was able to get across to the peninsula on foot. I wondered whether the raging waters had washed it away, but I found the flag where I left it, albeit with some broken stiffener rods.


Knowing that the flag and punch together cost about as much as a cheap lunch, there was some discussion about just leaving it and not even looking for it. There was a chance that it would be gone anyway. But I couldn’t resist the challenge to go back and try to reach it from land (I set it from the water). Plus, it was like one of my babies. It was “CU”, and I couldn’t just let her go like that, not when there was a chance I could still get her back.

I parked at the nearest spot on the gravel road and dropped down the hillside to the river. The overflow channel was running with water, but most of it was only two or three feet deep. Crossing it was tricky mostly because it was lined with big, jagged, slick boulders. I got across without wetting my shorts and worked my way across the boulder covered peninsula to the CP location.

The main channel of the lake still had enough flow in it to have standing waves. I may not have been able to get to it from the lake if I’d tried.


The return trip across was going ok until I leaned on a desk-sized boulder in the water. It rolled over under the pressure from my hand and I had to take a jab step to keep my balance. The step landed in a hole and I cracked my shin on the rock. When I got stabilized, I looked down at my leg and saw a rectangular shape shining through my now-wet shorts pants leg. Uh-oh. Guess I didn’t get the cellphone put away before I started on this little trek.

I managed to finish the crossing without further incident and return to the road with only minor bloodloss, but with control flag in hand. The rationale of whether this rescue mission was worth it is leaning heavily towards the negative. One battered but repairable flag/punch for a busted shin and a fried cellphone. Hmmm.


Fortunately, I’m an adventure racer and we follow a different rationale for why we do the things we do. Meeting the challenge, enjoying the adventure, having a story to tell and some pics to show will always be worth it. Even if I didn’t find the flag. The shin will heal and quit hurting in a few days, and the phone still works after I got it dried out good.

Now we have one more flag to put out in September for the Bushwhack AR!!

Race results!

8 06 2009

Results in table form – https://ipar09.wordpress.com/results/

Wow! The 2009 Impossible Panther certainly brought some “adventure” to adventure racing! I need to send a big thank you out to all of the teams who came out to race this 3rd annual event!

The 24 hour teams were guinea pigs for the first Bushwhack Adventures 24 hour course. A threatening rainy forecast during the week prior had us all worried, but that didn’t keep anyone away. Friday’s weather broke clear about mid-day and the teams enjoyed a water-free sky as they started the race Friday evening. A local drum circle provided some acoustic excitement to the final minutes of race preparation.

During the surprise prologue O-course, Team CORE took an early lead ahead of Checkpoint Zero/Inov8, but just by one minute.  CP0/Inov8 quickly took the lead from there and kept the race volunteers hopping to get in place in time. CP0/Inov8 kept the lead for the rest of the race and cleared the course for all practical purposes. CP 35 was literally underwater in a temporary Class III rapid that could only be approached from below, so we’ll consider it “impossible”. CP0/Inov8 was the only team to get all the “possible” CP’s, ending with a point total of 2320 out of 2400 points.  They only left 37 minutes on the clock.

Team ROC Gear/4lph4 1337 kept close behind CP0/Inov8 and ended up with 2080 points. Several other coed teams turned in strong performances as well – Northern Lites, Mims the Word, Shake-A-Leg Miami, and Team GLR. The point spread across the 2nd through 6th place coed teams was only 400 points.

24 hour Open teams Action-Learning.com, Makit Bros, and M&M did well too, making key strategic decisions to play to their strengths on the rogaine style sections.

In the 12 hour race, teams were presented with a fairly obvious portage down around a dam to get to the O-course section. The water release from the dam made the return trip very difficult. A few teams learned of this and took an alternate approach involving much more foot travel but no portage.

Most of the 12 hour coed teams either fought their way to the O-course and skipped most of the biking points, or vice-versa. Team Mishmash managed to get most of the O-course and save time to attack a few of the high value bike points, putting themselves on top with 720 of a possible 1200 points. Beer and Whine also got most of the O-course and a few bike points to take second with 680 points. Team Diesel distinguished themselves on the bike points and skipped the O-course, which was enough to put them in third with 520 points.

The 12 hour Male teams were led by The Lost Boyz, who along with Team Osprey and Thirsty Turtles cleaned the O-course CP’s. The Lost Boyz grabbed more higher value bike points to put themselves on top with 890 points.

In the 6 hour course, coed team Never Late cleaned the 600 point course with a wide margin over Number Two’s 440 points. Number Two squeaked by Team ER to take second with an earlier finish time tie-breaker.

Male team Chocolate Covered Cream Filled Krispy Kreme Research Team also cleaned the 6 hour course, but only held a 20 point lead over second and third place teams Where’s My Sherpa? and Team Yombika, who also had to go to a finish time tie-breaker.

After the finish, teams cleaned up with a shower at the group camp and enjoyed a slideshow of over 300 pictures taken during the race by race volunteers while a live garage band played some favorite classic rock tunes. A catered BBQ dinner was served, followed by the awards ceremony and some much needed and well deserved rest!

Notes on Checkpoint Tracker results

8 06 2009


As we get results data plugged into the Checkpoint Tracker website, I thought I’d post some notes that will help you understand what you’re seeing there.

First of all, Bushwhack Adventures scores it’s races on points first,with finish time as a tie-breaker. I’ll put the finish time into CPT, but that’s not the whole story. CPT does not have a way to indicate points. It simply lists finishers by finish time.

Checkpoint Tracker isn’t able to handle the three course lengths we run. So the Course Map and Leaderboard contain the manned checkpoints for the longest course. CP numbers were slightly different between the courses, therefore all I am entering into CPT for the 12 and 6 hour teams are the start and finish times. These will be found under the mouseover for the Start/Finish on the Leaderboard. The finish times for the 24 hour teams can be found under the mouseover for CP 44.

As soon as the detail results are proofed, I’ll be posting them as PDF and XLS files on the IPAR.wordpress.com race website. I’ll post a note about it here as well.

Quick update

7 06 2009


I apologize to everyone who was trying to follow the race online. The solution we had for providing race updates to the rest of the world from the remote location we were playing in turned out to be inadequate. We attempted to keep updates flowing at first, but eventually had to focus on managing the race and chose to let the online updates slide.

The high water that flash-flooded the Uwharrie River also prompted releases of water from the dams on the Yadkin River. That just happened to be where the 24 and 12 hour teams were trying to race. Their routes included a upstream portage past the Narrows Dam. Although there is a portage trail around the dam, the impressive water flow from the release made getting to the portage trail nearly impossible. Ok, it probably was impossible. (Great tie in to the race name!) Fortunately the teams on the course did what adventure racers do – they assessed their situation and came up with an alternate plan. By the time race mgmt got good details on the situation, teams were already successfully executing their Plan B’s.

I’ve heard reports that many teams were helping each other out on the difficult alternate portage, and that’s exactly the kind of “team spirit” that we talk about in AR but don’t get a chance to see in action all that often. A common “impossible” challenge (not planned by race mgmt) brought out the best in this community of racers that I’m proud to be a part of.

Despite the water woes, the race went on. By 8pm, only two teams had withdrawn themselves from the event, and all but one team had returned to their finish line by the cutoff time. One 12 hour team missed it by 10 minutes. Preliminary results were shared with the racers at the post-race dinner. I believe Reporter Jack with Team ROC Gear posted these somewhere online within minutes of the announcement. (They may have to surgically remove that Crackberry from his hand!)

I’ll get the full results verified and posted here by the end of the day on Monday. Pictures will be following shortly.

A special thanks to all the volunteers and racers who gave some time on Sunday to pick up the CP flags. There is only one flag still out on the course – CP 35. It’s the one that is still in the midst of a Class III rapid.

CP35 location

Fast water

6 06 2009

The RD’s estimated the Uwharrie River section to take about 3.5 hours based on yesterday’s water level. With the flash flood, Checkpoint Zero/Inov8 made it through the section in about 1.5 hours. Woohooo!!!

River surprise

6 06 2009

During the night, at about 11:30 pm, the Uwharrie RIver began rising from it’s previous level of about 1.5 feet deep at the crossing the teams were using, to almost 4 feet in less than an hour. Several teams had trouble getting across the flash flood, but managed safely. The last team, Team CORE, arrived at the crossing at midnight and found the crossing too unsafe. The volunteers directed the team to go back and around by a road bridge. At the next TA, they debated for a while and then decided to withdraw from the race.

Prologue surprise

5 06 2009


The 24 hr teams were presented with a surprise prologue event just minutes before the race start at 8pm. They were given a small orienteering map with two sets of controls marked on it. They had to choose either the A set or the B set and go find the three flags in that set. upon returning they were given their passports for the rest of the race. Team CORE returned first in just 21 minutes, with Checkpoint Zero/Inov8 right on their heels at 22 minutes. Mim’s the Word came in at 28 minutes, with Northern Lites right behind them at 29 minutes.

After the prologue, 24 hr teams started off on bikes. There were three CP’s in the Badin Area that they had UTM’s for, then two manned CP’s, followed by 6 CP’s in the Wood Run Trail area. Teams could choose to go for the first three CP’s or save them until the final bike section of race on Saturday evening. The first manned CP was a crossing of the Uwharrie River. On Wed, the crossing was about a foot deep. Early reports from team Hustle and Flow had it ranging from a foot and half to mid-thigh deep tonight.

The second manned CP was at a gate along Dusty Level Road. There was some confusion on race staff’s part and the crew was not at the right gate to begin with. Fortunately the first few teams through realized that and continued along the road as they should have. Race staff got into the correct position just after the first team, Checkpoint Zero/Inov8, had apparently turned onto the gated road, but was able to make sure the next teams turned properly. This was a manned CP in order to direct racers through a specific piece of property that we had obtained permission for them to use.

Checkpoint Zero/Inov8 was followed by Hustle and Flow, Team ROC GEAR/4lph4 1337, Northern Lites, and Team GLR. Hustle and Flow reported that they did not find any of the first three CP’s on the way.

Race staff in place

5 06 2009

We’ve got the course set, the volunteers in place, the rain has stopped (for now), and racers are arriving!

Updates to Rules, Gear

31 05 2009


After another day of thinking and talking through our race management plan, we’ve made a few tweaks to the Rules and Gear lists. Nothing major, just a few simplifications to keep things in line with our goals of providing a fun, fair, and challenging event. But you should read through them again anyway. Its always good to know the rules going into a race.

One of Bushwhack’s race philosophies is to keep the rules as simple as possible. You’ll notice that most of our rules are safety related. When it comes to where you can go on the course, we like to use intelligent course design to let geography control your route and mode of travel as much as possible. There are always a few trail-use rules to follow, as set by the land owner, but we’ve managed to mesh those into our course design in a sensible way.

For the 6 and 12 hour courses, the 2009 Impossible Panther will come pretty close to a pure rogaine format. You show up at the start with your team, your bikes and boat, your required gear, and your spirit of adventure. We’ll give you the maps, the UTM coordinates, and 6 or 12 hours on the clock. Geography will tell you not to trek to the points out on the water, not to bike through the woods where there are no trails, and not to paddle up a trail to a summit. Should you bike or trek to get points on all-use trails? Excellent question! Don’t be late for dinner.

For the 24 hour course, it’s a little harder to stick to a pure rogaine format. We’ve come up with what we feel is a good compromise – a series of rogaine sections. A few sections are fairly linear, where we’re basically getting teams from one area to another, but the other sections are scattered with CP’s and teams will have a number of route options to pick from. These sections are where strong navigation and route strategy skills come into play and distinguish adventure racing from other types of racing. We’ve chosen the CP placements to allow geography to control the mode of travel where we wanted teams to travel a certain way, but for the most part we’ve tried to leave it up to the teams to make their own decisions. That’s why I adjusted the Gear list to say “while biking” instead of “during the biking legs”, etc. The transitions where you meet your support crew and pick up or drop off gear offers us another point of control for the race flow. When they take your bike, then you don’t have the option to bike again until you meet them at a TA where you can get it back. Same for the boats.

Sounds fairly simple and straightforward, right? We hope it is. You’ll have your hands full enough with navigation and time management. Another change to the rules was to increase the point penalties for the 12 and 24 hour teams. We increased them to 20 points each for the four infractions listed, one of which is being late for dinner. It’s really a points-per-minute penalty for finishing past the course cutoff. Dinner won’t be served until a little later, but we want time to process your results so we won’t be late for dinner either!

There are a few rules that result in a DQ, but we’ve tried really hard to avoid having to give any team a DQ or DNF. If you’ve gone to the effort of coming out to race, we want you to race and will consider you a winner even if your point total is lower than all the other teams. As long as you give it your best shot and find your way back to the finish line, you should be able to avoid a DQ or DNF. We’re not using “mandatory” CP’s. Instead we have weighted the ones we really want you to visit with enough point value that you’ll want to get them too.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m sure you’re wondering if any teams can clean the courses. We’ve got some pretty strong teams in the field this time, so I think a few teams will be able to clean the courses. The RD’s are still negotiating a wager amongst themselves on just how fast the top team will get through the 24 hour course.

We thought about setting intermediate cutoff’s but chose to simply provide the 24 hour teams with an estimated time for each section and put the time management in your hands. These estimates total 24 hours, so if you see that your team is falling behind you’ll either need to crank it up a notch or start thinking about skipping some CP’s. You’ll get these estimates at check-in, along with some of the UTM’s. We’re holding back some of the UTM’s until mid-race in order to control the race with less rules. That also gives teams a chance to plot under the influence of endorphins – always a fun thing to watch!

I hope everyone is looking forward to the Impossible Panther as much as we are. It’s gonna be fun!