A group of Summerville educators hiked, biked, paddled and bushwhacked their way through a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains last month.
Oakbrook Middle School Principal Brion Rutherford, Beech Hill Elementary School teacher/coach Eric Seitz, Summerville High School administrator Preston Giet and SHS teacher/coach Joe Call are the members of the Trident Pain Center Adventure Racing Team that participates in a handful of adventure races each year. On July 19, the team won the 4 Person Male Division of the Odyssey Blue Ridge Bear Epic Adventure Race held in Buchanan, Va. With the win, the team qualified for the national championship adventure race to be held in Maryland in October.
Formerly known as the Blue Ridge One Day Adventure Race because teams compete for approximately 24 hours, the Bear Epic event requires participants to trek, bike and canoe through a course that covers approximately 90 miles. Participants have to use their navigation skills to reach as many checkpoints as they can and receive points for each checkpoint reached.
Team TPC team reached 20 of a possible 30 checkpoints to win its division.
“This race is widely regarded as one of the top adventure races in the country,” Rutherford said. “It was pretty challenging, but it felt good when we were done. Finding checkpoints in the dark adds to the challenge so our basic strategy was to push hard to reach as many as we could before the sun went down and that paid off.”
Obstacles between checkpoints for the race include sections of forest with heavy underbrush so participants have to determine if it would be faster to fight their way through such a section or trek on to take a less direct but easier route.
“Part of the fun is seeing how many shortcuts you can find,” Rutherford said. “You want to push straight through whenever possible but if you see a group ahead of you struggling or think a section will tangle you up then it might be best to find another way.”
The paddling section of the race includes approximately 15 miles of moving water in the Class 1 and Class 2 categories. Rutherford said that part of the race was a little harder than some of the canoeing his team has done at other events.
“We’ve paddled sections as long as that before, but for this race there was more continuous paddling,” he said. “There were only two stops and for half of the paddling we had our bike strapped to the canoe so balance was a problem.”
To stay in shape for races, the team trains year round, typically two to three times a week. Sometimes they train separately due to their hectic schedules, but they like to get together whenever possible, especially for some of their longer training sessions.
“The teamwork reminds us of when we were growing up and played on some of the same teams,” Rutherford said. “That’s mainly why we do it and you get a feeling of accomplishment when you complete a race. I can’t run as fast as I used to but I can do this and it motivates me to stay in shape.”
One of their more epic training days started with a five-mile run, transitioned into an hour in the weight room followed by another run and ended with a bike ride from Summerville to Sullivan’s Island. They took the back roads for the bike ride.
The members of Team TPC weren’t the only athletes from Summerville who participated in the Blue Ridge Bear Epic Adventure Race.
DuBose music teacher Mike Greer teamed up with A.J. Brumfiel to compete in the 2 Person Male Division and Summerville resident Jeff Cisar competed in the Solo Division.