Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pinnacle Challenge VII

Heading out to loop the Pinnacle for aR-WHITE
at the Pinnacle Challenge VII
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]
 "Teamwork is essential.  It allows you to blame someone else."  -Anonymous

Newport, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Growing up playing and loving team sports I find it incredibly special now as a adult to get the chance experience it from time to time.  For the most part endurance sports are individual pursuits but every once in a while I get the chance to contribute my effort to the collective success of a team.  This weekend was a fantastic example of that as I once again raced the Pinnacle Challenge VII in Newport, NH hosted by the folks at Team Pinnacle.  This incredibly unique double duathlon has quickly become a showcase for acidotic RACING as we now send as many as eight teams with a scattering of solos.  This year 32 aR athletes made the trip to RACE acidotic at the Pinnacle.  My team (aR-WHITE) figured to be competitive in the highly contested 4-person male category with our brothers from aR-BLACK being one of the favorites.  Arriving around 8:00 am for a 9:30 am start there were already a dozen or more aR athletes already on site.  It was awesome to see so many friends and all of them wearing the aR colors.  Dan Dion would lead us off on the 5 mile road run putting down an impressive 28:17 and sending me out in the top 5 overall.  As my trail runner Rich Lavers worked to remove the timing anklet from Dan's leg he, in haste, removed the timing chip mechanism and then became all thumbs as he tried to thread it back on the sweaty velcro strap.  With precious seconds ticking away we fumbled for nearly a minute in the TA before finally approximating it close enough to send me away.  Although they immediately began to worry about it staying on, I never thought about it again.  Having raced this course for the past five years I was pretty familiar with the layout...or so I thought.  When I did the Pinnacle mountain bike race earlier this year (and DNF'd) we actually rode to the high point of the trail network (or "Pinnacle") but in years past the double duathalon followed a slightly different course avoiding 100+ feet of climbing.  Because I never looked at the course map I didn't see that the Pinnacle Challenge mountain bike course would be the same as the 2nd lap on the Pinnacle mountain bike race.  By the time I realized we were racing to the top of the Pinnacle I was so focused on keeping the rubber down on the slippery, muddy course that I forgot about my pathetic DNF on Father's Day weekend.  I was passed by at least 7 stronger riders during my 5.4 mile loop but I stayed on the bike, dabbed a handful or times, and only ran-a-bike for 5-10 seconds when I yielded to a faster rider on some singeltrack and put my front wheel in a bad spot.  The new "playground" pumptrack was once again worth the 3+ miles of ascending as I whipped around the 6 foot high berms on the descent to the finish.  I entered the TA in 41:39 and handed off to our road cyclist Jay Myers.  I knew I had given up a number of spots but I was hopeful I hadn't given up the podium spot Dan had handed me.  By the time Rich tore out the TA for the last leg of the race we were in 4th place in the 4-person male category trailing the 3rd place team by less than a minute.  Running with his sights fixed on third place he caught and passed the guy with less than a mile to go and held him off for the podium finish.  As a team we finished in 2:21:14 just 6 seconds from a overall team podium finish.  I was clearly the weakest link for my group of four but me + mtbing = not always stellar.  I feel like I'm giving a solid effort but I'm a very weak downhiller and not much of a risk taker.  Perhaps I can't get the "survive to race another day" mantra out of my brain?  Nonetheless I have a tremendous amount of fun particularly when I'm racing for a team. 

3rd Place 4-person Male
R-L Me, Rich Lavers, Dan Dion, Jay Myers
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]

NEXT UP: Grog & Dog Jog

Post-script:  A big "THANK YOU" goes out directly to RD PJ Lovely and his teammates and volunteers who put together a fabulous event.  It's by far the biggest aR team turnout of any event we race all year.  And what a turnout it was; 32 athletes and podium finishes for aR-BLACK (1st 4M), aR-PINK (1st 4F), aR-DUO (1st 2M), aR-CLASSIC (3rd 4CE), Jay Massa (2nd AG-solo), and Steve Wolfe (3rd AG-solo). 

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