One team has withdrawn from the course due to injury, Team Onyx, but all team members are okay. One team, Third Coast AR, was disqualified after procuring a ride back to Lakewoods from Clam Lake, which it turns out is not Cable, but rather the opposite direction. The team gives a shout out to the tanning salon guy named Steve, who was not only super nice, but also had a truck big enough to hold three tired racers and their bikes. One team, Flow State Racing, continued as an unofficial two-person team after a teammate withdrew due to illness, but the remaining two subsequently procured a ride back to the finish. One team, Mad S, is continuing as an unofficial two-person team after losing a teammate to illness.
WEDALI and Quest are going in opposing directions on the last navigation leg, with WEDALI opting to go clockwise and Quest counterclockwise. WEDALI's decision to approach CP 29 from the southeast looks really ambitious, with such ambiguous terrain and no great attack points in the dark, but navigator Justin Bakken, who is from Minnesota and experienced with this kettle moraine terrain, nailed it. Quest's counterclockwise choice gives them the advantage of starting with an easy road run while the sun continues to rise, allowing them to tackle the more technical terrain with the advantage of daylight. It's a nail-biter. . .!
WEDALI and Quest selected different routes to CP 23, with WEDALI approaching from the southeast and Quest from the northwest. We all gasped in the TA when we saw WEDALI's tracker show them northwest of the CP, overshooting it, while Quest's tracker showed them southeast of the CP. We assumed Quest had punched the CP and continued southeast toward TA 4. What a surprise when we found Quest also backtracking, having overshot the CP in the other direction! Both teams had a trail intersection as a backstop and so the mistake only cost each of them a few minutes (WEDALI seems to have turned around more quickly), but it would have been a tremendous opportunity for one of them to capitalize on the other's mistake. Instead, they're almost neck and neck again heading into the last navigation leg. The teams obviously crossed each other as they overshot the CP in different directions, and we can't wait to hear what was going through Quest's head when they saw WEDALI still traveling northwest on the trail.
Quest indeed closed the gap on WEDALI, coming into TA 3 just in time to find the leaders refilling their water supply before heading out. After exchanging some friendly banter while at the water jugs, WEDALI set off on bike toward TA 4, and Quest left the TA just two minutes behind. Word has it that Quest moved a little quicker through the O after being charged by a porcupine. According to Brian M of WEDALI, its because "porcupines like green" (Quest's kit color). It looks like the top spot in this race is going to come down to the last nav section. . . stay tuned.
The link below will take you to the standings after Stage 1. A lot has happened since then but it will give you an idea of who is in contention to clear the course by obtaining all the points. All teams with a score of 27, left Stage 1 with a chance to clear.
Stage 1 Standings*
*- Note that any team with a blank in the "Last Seen" column has finished their race. They will show as ranked higher than they should compared to other active teams until those active teams reach the finish.
Within the next couple of hours we'll have a much clearer picture of 3rd-8th as those teams complete the Stage 3 orienteering course.
We also just received word that Team Onyx is unfortunately pulling from the race with an injured teammate. It doesn't sound like it's too serious, but it's serious enough to prevent them from continuing.
WEDALI and Quest are almost neck and neck coming into TA3. At times it's appeared they are separated by less than half a kilometer. Incredible move by QUEST! Here they are moving into TA3.
And a few minutes later we see this. You have to think that they're going to cross paths in TA3!
Meanwhile, Rib Mtn seems to be holding in 3rd, but 4th - 8th is so hard to call with all those teams being within an hour of each other and most taking different routes on this big trek. The teams we know are in the running include:
And literally before pressing post on this update, we get this photo and video from TA3. That's Quest and WEDALI filling water together then exchanging pleasantries before getting serious with the race to the finish. WEDALI left TA3 2 minutes ahead of QUEST.
WE HAVE A HECK OF A RACE FOR FIRST!!!
Going into the O course, WEDALI (106) seemed to be pulling away from the other leaders, but it looks like Quest (1) is closing the gap. You can see from the screen shots here that Quest grabbed CP 14 earlier in their loop and is closing in. After they hit CP 12, they've got a fast road run around to 13, while WEDALI will still need to navigate cross-country to CP 14. We expect that gap to be even narrower at the end of this huge O course.
3rd Coast AR took a wrong turn out of the Lakewoods TA and has biked 18 km the wrong direction. They've undoubtedly figured it out now that they've arrived in Clam Lake. The bed icon on their dot signifies a stop of longer than 20 minutes, and doesn't necessarily mean they intend to rent a room at the motel there. That's a tough break for a team that's been moving well all day.
Stage 1 of the 2021 USARA National Championship was a long stage. Or really it was a 5-stage, 12-hour adventure race. Teams only had one hour to read the rules, figure out what was going on, and what they were going to do first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. As Stephanie Ross explains in the video below, the teams needed time to plan out the next half of the race. But be careful, sit too long and the body won't want to get back up!