March 22, 2014
Fairy Stone State Park, Martinsville, Virginia
On March 22, 2014 Odyssey Adventure Racing held its first event at Fairy Stone State Park near Martinsville, Virginia. The park consists of 4,700 acres of wooded terrain surrounding the 170-acre Fairy Stone Lake, which is adjacent to the 2,800-acre Philpott Reservoir. Fairy Stone Lake is formed by an earthen dam across Goblintown Creek, which spills over into the reservoir on the Smith River. The undulating local topography results in lakes with innumerable twists, turns, coves, peninsulas, and islands providing plenty of opportunity for navigational quandary and scenic checkpoints.
For this race, Team Calleva was a 2-person single gender team of Nick Josties and Steve Hall. The 24-hour race consisted of 8 mandatory and 37 optional checkpoints, many of which were accessible from both the water and surrounding land, offering plenty of opportunity for strategy. The course was generally arranged in a cloverleaf pattern and other than a few logistical exceptions, the checkpoints could be obtained in any order and from any mode of travel. The three exceptions were:
- a trekking prologue with return to start area for additional CP coordinates and plotting
- a 6-1/2 hour open window to complete the paddling section
- a trekking o-course with bike drop area
Teams and solo racers in both the 6-hour sprint and the 24-hour race lined up together at 10 a.m. for a trekking start to collect one mandatory and 4 optional checkpoints in the first leg of the race. At the starting gun, racers sprinted in an adrenaline-fueled rush toward the far side of the lake. In true Ronny Angell fashion, the race maps immediately proved to be hilariously inaccurate as the entire column of running racers piled up at a former bridge location, now just abutments on a steep, overgrown hillside. Some racers immediately dove into the water and swam across, others began scrambling along the slope, and the rest stood around scratching their heads in confusion. Team Calleva was in the second group and managed to get around the end of the lake without too much delay. We grabbed all 5 prologue CP's and returned to the start to plot the remaining points and determine our strategy for the rest of the race.
Since the paddling window was now open we decided to get that done right away. There was only one mandatory CP on the paddling leg, approximately 5 miles of open water away on a peninsula in Philpott Reservoir. We paddled this section, including portaging the earthen dam, in a little over an hour of steady paddling with the wind at our backs. The return leg against the wind took a bit longer, and we stopped 3 times to jump out and pick up CP's, returning to the beach with 30 minutes of open paddling window to spare. Then a quick run back to the start area to drop our paddles, change into dry footwear, and pick up our bikes and we were back on the course.
The rest of the race consisted of biking for a while, then orienteering / trekking for a while, then biking some more, etc. Most of the CP's were relatively easy to find and on the trekking o-course we started to get a bit cocky when suddenly, at around daybreak, we discovered that we were not where we thought we were. Headscratching, looking around, "this has to be the trail" uttered several times, "we have to go east!", "is this a Fairy Stone?", "let's try this way", then finally, "oh yeah, we've been here before" and we made it back to the bike drop. Unfortunately, we left 6 of the 9 CP's undiscovered on the o-course, but got back to the bikes in time to pick up the remaining 3 mandatory CP's and had time to get 3 more optional CP's. In the end, we finished at 9:30 a.m. with all 8 mandatory points and 29 out of 37 optional points, putting us in a respectable 1st place in our division and 7th place overall.
Thanks to Ronny, his staff, all the volunteers, and Odyssey sponsors for putting on a fun race in great new location. We look forward to seeing Fairy Stone again in the coming years.