Summerville teams set out on four-day adventure
Summerville teams set out on four-day adventure
By Roger Lee
The Journal Scene
Several Summerville adventure racers are putting themselves through their most grueling test yet.
Since 2008 coaches/teachers Joe Call, Preston Giet, Mike Greer and Eric Seitz have competed in adventure racing events that require teams to combine the skills of running, biking, canoeing, mountain climbing and navigating. Using only a map and compass teams race to various checkpoints until they reach a finish line.
The Summerville team has experienced success in races that covered between 50 and 100 miles and even set a course record of five hours and 42 minutes for a 50-mile event in North Carolina but this week it will take on its first multi-day race.
The athletes, under the banner Team TPC, will participate in the Pangea Sea 2 Sea Adventure Race Feb. 14-17. The race starts on the Atlantic Coast of Florida and takes participants approximately 400 miles to the finish line on the Gulf Coast. There is a 72-hour cutoff for the event.
“We have no idea what to expect,” Giet said. “After the shorter races we have been absolutely exhausted so while we are excited, we are approaching it with caution. This is probably the most ambitious thing any of us have taken on in our athletic career.”
Most of the team members were college athletes and they all are in good shape after years of training. But adventure racing requires participants to be both physically and mentally tough.
“The mental aspects of these races present the biggest challenge,” Seitz said. “When you race for 20 hours with no sleep and your physically spent turning around and doing it again is challenging but it's what you have to do. I think it's fair to say we are all a little scared because this is unlike anything we have ever done. We know that all of us at some time during the race will be down, but that's when you rely on your teammates to build you up and get you through those mental lows.”
Team TPC will compete against teams that race much more frequently. Some of them race twice a month.
But the Summerville team has put endless hours into training for the event. Individually, the athletes train everyday. They also typically train as a group three times a week.
That includes frequent early-morning workouts before work that help with their stamina and the sleep deprivation they face during longer races.
“Usually on Friday we meet at 3 a.m. and do some combination of running, biking, and stadium work,” Giet said. “Our last workout, for example, included an eight-mile run, 20-mile bike and an hour of running steps at Memorial Stadium. During races and training blisters, soreness, chaffing, and cramps all set in at some point. But, with the encouragement of the rest of the team, we all get through it.”
Orienting skills are a big part of the races. Teams are given the locations of checkpoints and it is left up to them to figure out what the best routes to those checkpoints are.
“The teams that win these things are the ones that make the best decisions when they map out where to go,” Giet said. “It's not really about being the fastest. It's about making good decisions. In a 350-mile race if you take a wrong turn you can end up travelling 450 miles. We've done that; we've made mistakes plotting points and made wrong turns so now we have the mindset that if we are going to make a mistake, we are going to do it going uphill. You don't want to go speeding two miles down a hill and then realize you made a mistake and have to go right back up that hill.”
The members of the team often split up responsibilities during races. Giet serves as the team captain and head organizer. Seitz serves as the team nutritionist. Greer is the head navigator. Call handles logistics and supplies and together with Giet sets the pace for the team.
Giet and Call have an official ranking with the United States Running Streak Association. The two of them haven't missed a day of running since Jan. 7, 2008.
Adventure races can take a toll on one's patience, but the team has worked through such challenges several times before. They can also take a toll one's wallet and family life.
The team members say they couldn't participate if it weren't for understanding wives and businesses that sponsor them. After all, they are missing Valentine's Day for this week's race.
“All the training and going out of town for races on the weekends cuts into your time with your family but our wives have all been very supportive,” Giet said. “Becoming competitive at this is really about experience so getting the funding to race more is an obstacle for us. As teachers and coaches we can't afford to race all the time so getting sponsors is key.”
Dr. Ed Nolan of Trident Pain Center is sponsoring the team for the Florida race and Phillips Industrial will sponsor them for a race this June.
Team TPC would like to eventually become competitive in the points race for the national adventure racing championship, but it will need to participate in more events to do so and that means additional costs.
The team will go up against a rival of sorts in Florida. With the help of its sponsors, Monte Crowder and Interior Specialists, the Summerville team of Comp McCurry, Jeff Cisar, Joe Bradley and Matt Halter will also compete in the 2013 Pangea Sea 2 Sea Adventure Race.
Members of Team Fat Boys have participated in adventure racers for more than 10 years so they have an experience advantage over Team TPC. In fact, some of that team's members founded the Santee Adventure Race that is now an annual event.
However, this is the longest race either team has taken on.
The only other time the teams have gone head-to-head was during a race in Virginia. The Fat Boys finished ahead of TPC.