2011's LBL Challenge (set in Kentucky's beautiful
Land Between the Lakes rec area) started out with a short
navigation section with three checkpoints. The team (Leslie Reuter,
Kyle Peter, Marco Rossini, Brian Schmitz) were off to a very fast
start and nailed our first CP. The second and third took a little
bit more time but we were still trying to get a feel for the
terrain. Coming in to the TA we were in 4th or 5th place. We were
OK with that since it was so early in the race.
The next leg was a bike on some of the sweet Kentucky single
track. I felt like a kid in a candy store. After spending three
months on the trainer, it felt good to fly through the woods again.
Most of the points were on trails and easy to spot. Unlike last
year when it took us a while to figure out that the punchers were
only a punch with chain and no obvious flags. We made up some time
on the bike and came into the next TA only 6 minutes behind the
The next orienteering section was one of the most brutal I've
had in racing. The thorns were everywhere and constantly biting
into our legs. We had chosen not to wear trekking pants at the
beginning of the section since the thorns were not that bad last
year. That was a mistake as the thorns slowed our speed. At least
we were all wearing Zensa compression sleeves to keep the thorns
off the lower part of the legs. We eventually stopped to put on
pants but that only added to the heat of the day. We soon ran out
of water and stopped to fill up bottles in some very clear but
algae filled water. I could see our new Brazilian teammate
hesitantly filling his bladder and trying to keep the algae from
going in. Between the thorns and dirty water I could only imagine
how different this race must be from one in his home country. We
teased him and welcomed him to the Kentucky jungle.
As we were heading to our last couple
of checkpoints, we saw Team WEDALI race past us on their bikes. No
one had to say a thing, we knew that meant we they had a least 45
minutes on our team. WEDALI has been racing so well over the last
few years and it would be extremely difficult to make up that kind
of time. We had 7 hours to complete this section and we came into
the TA in 6 hours and 30 minutes. Only 7 teams were able to get all
points in the 7 hours.
It was time to get back on the bikes but Marco was starting to
cramp. We gave him a few minutes to rest as we filled our
water bottles again in the lake. The water was a little muddy
looking but at least there was no algae.
Back on the bikes, we started off a little slow as we need to
still get more fluids and food in Marco. We got the
pace going and made it through this section with Brian and Kyle
helping tow and push Marco up the rolling hills until he could get
back his strength. When we arrived back to the first TA we learned
we were now in 4th place with Checkpoint Tracker still in the TA.
We made a quick transition grabbing our paddles and running to the
boats. As we got to the boats, we learned that Alpine Shop was only
minutes ahead. We hit all the points perfectly including the one
hidden far back in the bay. As were paddling to this point we had
seen Alpine Shop searching around for that point up ahead but then
turn around and leave to a different cover. I was pretty sure the
first cove Alpine was looking in was the right spot and
guessed the puncher was probably further back than they had looked.
I got out of the boat and trekked through the mud to find the
checkpoint hanging from a tree way back in the cove. As we
were leaving the cove, CP tracker was now coming in and Alpine was
heading back was again.
It was now a short paddle to the get out of the boats. We knew
when we once we would stopped paddling and get out of the boats at
the transition area we would be really cold. The temps had dropped
and we were soaking wet. As much as we wanted to take the
time to put on warm dry clothes, we had to do a mandatory gear
check and get out of the TA before CP and Alpine arrived. We
quickly showed all the required safety gear and then took off
running fast and hard in order to warm up our bodies.
The last trek would pose a problem for the team. The clue for
the checkpoint was hill top but could not find it at first. We
spent several minutes searching the area we were sure the point was
located. Twice we had to find known points and restart our search.
We FINALLY found it on the smallest hill top in Kentucky and
started racing to our bikes. We arrived at our bikes to find Alpine
shop had passed us in the woods. We only had a short ride back to
the finish line. Arriving at the finish line we learned we finished
4th behind WEDALI, Bushwaker, and Alpine Shop. Congratulations to
all of the other teams who also finished this very tough race. LBL
is always a challenge and this year was by far the toughest.
We're now looking forward to our next race, the Central Coast
Adventure Challenge in May in our backyard of central
And as always, this race would not be possible without the
support from the team's title sponsor, Tecnu Extreme. Their support
has been tremendous! And their product kicks butt too! Plus,
support from Rudy Project and Leki have been very very helpful.
Rudy's helmet's and glasses are super stylin' and Leki's poles are
bomber! Also, Light & Motion has been especially helpful. Their
Stella and Seca lights light up the trails like nobody's
Above all else, the team also wouldn't be able to do what we do
without the love and support from our family and friends. Thank
Leslie Reuter, Team Tecnu Extreme