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Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - Monday, April 16, 2001 -- Dublin, VA
Beast of the East (iPO Event Id#: 2693)
Story by Dawn Taylor-Mann of Odyssey Adventure Racing

[Details] [Coverage]

This page thanks the sponsors, contains the whole story, and has the Team by Team Replay of the 2001 Beast of the East...

Special thanks to our Sponsors!!
We'd also like to thank ALL of our incredible sponsors! SealSkinz sponsored the BEAST by providing waterproof socks and gloves to all competitors. We received so many comments from competitors who used these products in various activities in the BEAST. Simon from Eastern Outdoors particularly liked the gloves for biking in the rain and for paddling. Don from Santa Fe said his whole team used them throughout the event and were so impressed that the socks didn't leak in the river crossing!

Additional thanks to: Carbboom, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Outdoor Trails, Harry's Farmers Market, and Blue Ridge Outdoors store for their generous support.

Special thanks to: Travis Overstreet from Outdoor Trails and his "Dirty Dozen" climbing crew who spend days and nights perched on cliffs and hillsides, and who hump hundreds of pounds of ropes to the top of climbs. This talented crew of professionals makes the ropes sections at ALL of Odyssey's adventure races the safest we've ever seen.

Thank you Medical Staff: We'd also like to recognize our medical staff, Dr. George Wortley, Tim Soyars NREMT, Dee, Greg, Eric and Steve who covered the entire 375-mile course providing a safety net that would ensure all competitors would receive professional and timely care in the event of an accident or illness. Fortunately, we had only a few minor medical needs, however, Tim and intern Eric valiantly rescued a horseback rider near Elk Garden. The rider fell from his horse, suffered a severe compound fracture of his arm, lost a great deal of blood and needed to be airlifted to a medical facility. Lucky for him, we had the most qualified medical personnel in the whole area at the scene of the accident.

Odyssey Staff & Volunteers -
Odyssey is a small organization with few staff members. There is no way we could produce safe, quality events without the selfless, devoted help of countless volunteers. These hard-working people take vacation from work, time away from families, and travel long distances to support the athletes who compete in Odyssey events. We had volunteers who came from as far away as Texas and Massachusetts to work at the BEAST. It is to the credit of all of these volunteers that we can call the 2001 BEAST of the East a great success.


Get more inforamtion about "The Beast of the East" in this [special article]

There is also more information on the Odyssey Adventure Racing web site


The Story of the 2001 Beast of the East

Tuesday, April 10th @ 9:00 PM

Teams converged on Claytor Lake State Park today under blue skis and budding trees. It was one of those warm early Spring days that typically make one want to lounge about in a hammock. Tensions ran a bit higher than that with the BEAST racers as they registered and had their gear checked. Race director, Don Mann did little to allay their tensions. He told them during the race brief that in order to make the BEAST course unique from previous races, it was now "longer, hillier and more difficult." Athletes familiar with Odyssey races expected nothing else.

After receiving their passports and maps, racers huddled together at campsites and local hotel rooms to plot their courses. Those at the campground were treated to a surprise lightning storm to make things just a little more interesting. Tensions continued to heighten as teams counted down the hours and minutes to the midnight start of the race.


Wednesday, April 11th @ 6:00 AM

Racers gathered at the beach shortly before midnight and hurriedly adjusted gear and tethered their packs into canoes. Don Mann started the 3rd edition BEAST of the East at midnight with a LeMans-style start, athletes raced to the water to begin the 20-mile lake paddle. With glow sticks lighting bow and stern, the boats quickly disappeared into the night.

BOUNDRY QUEST
At the mid-point, the first teams Eastern Outdoors.com, Subaru Outback, Boundary Quest, Navy and Jeff Westerfield arrived almost simultaneously at 2:15 AM. Over the next hour, the rest would follow with soloists Dale Blankenship and Keith Peterson bringing up the rear in a single canoe and towing another. Under a damp, full sky, the racers turned back to finish the lake paddle and move on to the canoe portage and 36-mile river paddle.

Wednesday, April 11th @ 8:00 PM

All teams finished the 20-mile lake paddle and navigated the 1-mile portage/bushwhack, mostly in the dark. Next was the river paddle on the New River, which was slower than expected due to low water levels. Slow water didn't keep the two lead teams, Santa Fe and Peak.com from making good time to the finish of the river paddle. Both teams are reported to have cut off more than 15 miles of river travel by finding a creative 5-mile portage option, which although allowed, surprised race organizers.

McCOY FALLS
"We're from the desert. We don't paddle," said Don Moden from Santa Fe explaining their decision to portage. This team was also heard shouting "Risk Management!!" as they portaged AROUND McCoy Falls. The Falls were raging, despite the water levels, and many teams opted to go around rather than run them.

Boundary Quest was next out of the water at this checkpoint, which lies directly below the awe-inspiring 200' fixed-rope ascent. The team who opted to also portage around McCoy Falls "swam three times" anyway. "No advance-level portage" for this team according to Chris Scott from Boundary Quest referring to the 5-mile option they decided NOT to take. The assisted checkpoint at the river takeout was bustling with activity as more teams began to arrive. Santa Fe's support area was particularly hectic, as their support crew arrived the same time as the team. Peak.com's assistance crew was seen not only providing food and coordinating gear, but also tying shoes, rubbing sore shoulders and hurrying the team out of the ACP. This was one very smoothly operating machine.

By 6:00 PM., all teams had finished the river paddle, with soloist Keith Peterson arriving with just 3 minutes left before the cut-off time.

After leaving the ACP, teams hiked directly to the bottom of the ascent. Peak.com and Santa Fe jockeyed for lead on the ropes with "Mighty Mo" Monaghan from Peak.com swiftly arriving at the "peak" of the ascent in the lead. The team obtained a 30-minute lead after hiking to and descending the magnificent rappel. Boundary Quest was on the ropes soon after, despite a minor sidetrack for Chris Scott during the hike to the rock quarry. Chris pulled a 4-inch crawdad from his pants to the amusement of his teammates. He had wondered what that strange feeling was as he ascended the ropes.

CAL ECO
Teams left the climb site and proceeded on to the 60-mile bike leg. Boundary Quest and Peak.com arrived on their bikes at CP 6 at the same time after taking turns in the lead. It's looking like it's going to be true competition at the front of the pack, which is not surprising given the quality of racers in this race.

Never before has such a strong field of athletes competed in the BEAST. All of this factors into the heightened intensity surrounding the race for victory for the 4-person coed category.

At stake is not only a win and the BEAST prize money, but also the opportunity to win $5000 from Discovery Channel and a paid entry in their Adventure Racing World Championship Race in the Swiss Alps in September. Additionally, the 4-person coed teams are vying for free entry in the AR World Series "EMA" race in Brazil and a chance to compete in the USARA Nationals for 2001. With so much riding on a victory for this category, it will be an exciting journey to the finish line back at Claytor Lake.

At last call, Peak.com was reported to have arrived at CP7, the bike/hike transition at 8:20 PM. No other teams in sight at this time.


Thursday, April 12th @ 9:00 AM Wednesday night saw the BEAST's first and only casualty so far. Audacity dropped from the race on the first bike leg between CP5 and CP6 when captain Bob O'Donnell called it quits after suffering the effects of nausea, dehydration and vomiting. Odyssey's staff doctor, George Wortley, suggested to Bob that he may have suffered from an overdose of testosterone and just went out too hard. Bob received international exposure in the recent television showing of the Borneo Eco-Challenge, when he was seen vomiting while on camera after several days in the event. BEAST director Don Mann, although sympathizing with Bob, noted that it only took 1 day to achieve the same effect in the BEAST.

TEAM RACING AHEAD
At this point we have all but soloist Keith Peterson through the bike-to-hike transition at CP7/ACP3 at Bear Creek's Lutheran Church of Atonement. After Peak.com arrived at 8:20 Wednesday night, Cal-Eco showed up at 9:15 after advancing in the rankings by several places. Boundary Quest bounded in just after 11:00, followed by Norm and Tracyn from RacingAhead.com.
Friday, April 13th @ 1:00 PM

Things have gotten really interesting at the front. At this writing, all teams have arrived at CP8/ACP at Bear Creek, ending their 55-mile hike. The 5 lead teams have all climbed the quad-burning bike leg to the summit of Whitetop Mountain and passed through CP11/ACP5 at Elk Garden. At Elk Garden, teams raced an 8-mile time trial on foot with a tempting carrot dangling in front of them. The team with the fastest time, wins an hour credit at the end of the race.

The first teams faced heavy fog, and cold rain as they attempted to navigate the muddy, rocky trail and avoid knee-high water. Subaru's David Zietsma concisely summed up his team's thoughts on this little excursion saying, "It was hard." After leaving Elk Garden, teams continued on their 95-mile bike. As of this writing, team Boundary Quest has the fastest time at 2:08.

On a humorous note, Team Boundary Quest described a group hallucination they experienced while climbing to Whitetop. At one point, these exceptional riders had to stop - not because of fatigue or burnt-out legs, but because they all thought they were no longer moving forward, but the trees that lined the road were moving TOWARD THEM. Experienced racer Cammy Ronchetto, who has won much praise from her Boundary Quest teammates, said this second day of the BEAST was the "hardest day" of her life. Teammate and expert mountain biker David Haag agreed saying "This is some hard core racing!"

Summing up the general standings: Flatlanders and accompanying soloist, Pat O'Hara chose to drop at CP8. The official's notes at this CP cite "team dynamics" as the attributing factor, but Pat and the team were not available for comment.

The intense competition between 4-person coed teams has suffered some blows. Team Cal-Eco has dropped from the race after being informed of penalties related to not following the proscribed course. According to Cal-Eco teammate, Ben Stefanski, the team decided to quit to maintain the integrity of the team and the race.

Team Peak.com who are currently in the front of the pack also has similar pending penalties for not following the specified course in two cases. Those penalties will be assessed by the Odyssey jury and deducted from the team's race time at the end of the competition. Teammate Joe Desena jokingly said the team had been "all over the place" trying to get back on track and were chased by "every dog in the state except for the one they saw on a leash."

Assessing penalties is one of the most difficult responsibilities of any race director, and can have a demoralizing effect on teams and the atmosphere of the entire race. From a racer's perspective, Mike Point from Team Fluid said as they left CP8, "When you sign up for a race, you're given a course to follow and that's what the race is about. If you just want to go out for your own ride, why sign up for a race?" He also commented that they were the 2nd to the last team out of Bear Creek because they're "just out there following the spirit of the race and following all the rules."

Latest news: Subaru, RacingAhead.com and Peak.com have arrived at CP13/ACP6 at Comer's Rock at 3:10 PM. Here they will drop their bikes with their support crews and begin a 27-mile hike over Hussy Mountain.


Reflections of the 2001 Beast of the East

After the checkpoints are closed down, and the racers are showered and rested there's time for reflection. Time to commiserate about the low points in the race, revel in the high points and laugh out loud about the zaniness that happens between people who have shared the extremes of emotional, physical and mental experiences. The bonds between teammates, support crews and fellow racers are ties that exceed those found in any other sport. One of the most rewarding aspects of producing races is to share in the stories, comradery and spirit that take place between athletes. Here are some reflections from the BEAST of the EAST 2001, so that you may join in also.


The Team by Team Replay...

RacingAhead - Norm and Tracyn
While Norm and Tracyn began the race at a moderate pace, they picked up the speed after saddling up next to fellow Subaru Outback. One of our fondest memories of this couple from North Carolina was their late night river crossing. Choosing to save their warm, dry clothes for later, Norm and Tracyn stripped down to hiking shoes and backpacks as they made their way across the frigid river. Those present commented that they looked like the Adam & Eve of Adventure Racing, or great models for a backpack advertisement. With one hour and 10 minutes of sleep during the whole race, these fellow race directors demonstrated what it takes to be first across the finish line.

Subaru Outback - David, Richard, Lawrence and Sarah
We were honored to welcome one of the top adventure racing teams in North America to the BEAST. The all-out competition between this team and RacingAhead represented the ideal of professionalism, comradery and talent in the sport of adventure racing. David shared a bit of his intensely focused race strategy as he discussed his team's efforts to overtake Peak during the 40-mile bike and 27-mile hike, "We wanted to catch Peak so we raced our guts out." One of the teammates was also overheard by a CP volunteer as saying, "My feet are starting to throb, let's start running so they'll go numb again." Listen up all you aspiring racers!

Boundary Quest - Chris, Cammy, Jack and Dave
As usual, Chris Scott and his crew provided much of the comic relief this week. Chris earned the moniker "Tea Party" for "taking just a few more minutes at the transitions" than his teammates. Maybe this could explain why in the throes of little sleep Chris called out his own name as if he were calling a teammate. Or as Dave explained, he was temporarily possessed by the devil. Cammy also joined in the name game when she asked Chris, "I know who you are, but who are those other guys?"

Dave described the "major trip sessions" he experienced while deluded by sleep deprivation. At one point, he was so excited when we found several $100 bills lying on the trail. He was disappointed when his teammates let him know the bills were only leaves. Cammy also provided some humor when she forgot her life jacket before the last river put in and flagged down a passing cyclist to borrow his bike to go back for it. She also raised some eyebrows when, after being used to squatting at any tree, she dropped drawers on the side of the river and glanced over to see two local fishermen quizzically watching. The team also caused a ruckus when they stopped at a local fishing shop during the last paddle. Dave, while frantically searching for NoDoz and Mountain Dew, knocked over a rack of candy spilling it's contents onto the floor before he made a quick escape. Chris Scott's mom Judy was one of two mom's out there working as a support crew. She looked over her 4 "kids" with the nurturing care only a mother can provide.

Navy - Dirk, Irena, Doug and Ben
This team rolled out of their canoes at the finish line in a whirlwind of hilarity describing their hallucinations and missteps. Doug, who was in his first adventure race, described how for long periods of time during the race he couldn't figure out where the 4th person on the team was, only to come the realization that HE was the 4th guy he'd been looking for. Irena, who's known for riding herd on the guys on her team, faltered a bit during the last paddle when she just couldn't understand why they couldn't get out and walk home. Ben, who was diagnosed by Doc Wortley with "4th degree monkey butt", also SAW monkeys on the trail. He saw them EVERYWHERE - in trees, on rocks, in the trail, etc. Captain Dirk, the squared-away Navy Lt. Commander had a great strategy for getting his team "found" while they were hopelessly lost in the woods. He insisted if he just sat on a particular rock that when his wife walked by to make coffee that SHE could tell them where they were. And if she didn't come by, they could catch his dad when he drove by on his way to work.

Eastern Outdoors - Jayme, Simon, Sara, Hazen This team of college students from New Brunswick was the youngest team of competitors, but by no means inexperienced. They've all raced in several adventure races and had a solid race here at the BEAST, despite teammate Simon's strep throat. With four feet of snow back home, the team has had only two days of training this season on dry land - the two days before the race here in Virginia. Many teams use towing lines to pull teammates who are not as strong during sections of the race. Eastern Outdoors used their line as a leash to keep Sara from straying when she began wandering from lack of sleep. Eastern Outdoors was one of two teams that had one of their dads as support.

Dale Blankenship -
Dale ensured his support crew was going to be prepared for the race. On the drive from Ohio, Dale coached his mom, Naomi. "Mom, there are going to be times when I'm cold and tired and might want to quit. Now let's practice what you're going to say..." The coaching appeared to be successful. When Dale was complaining about sore shoulders and numb hands after the first paddle, Naomi was overheard saying, "You've hurt worse than this before! You grew up on farm! Get out there!" At a later CP, when Naomi roused Dale after a short nap and gave him his wetsuit to put on, he had delirious memories of grade school. As she spoon-fed him oatmeal, the nostalgia became almost too surreal. When asked if he thought the course was hard enough, Dale responded that the first bike was the only part of race that wasn't "completely unreasonable." Dale's first words after crossing the finish line: "Tell me there are paintings on the wall at Foster's Falls."

Blacksheep - Ronny and Luther
It was a rough start for this duo. At the start of the race, Ronny' paddle broke on his first stroke. They quickly recovered due to fast-actions of their support person, Mark Coppedge, who found out he was going to support the team when he came to the BEAST as a volunteer. There were rumors circulating that PETA had issued an all-points bulletin for Ronny after he ran over a small, white dog on a 46-MPH downhill from Whitetop Mountain. There was some question about whether this was a hallucination or a true offense. All we can say is that another racer had a hallucination of seeing a small white dog lying on the road in the same area. Our sincere regrets to the owner. When the boys raced for miles sure that they were being chased on their bikes by a porch light, they knew it was time to sleep. Ronny and Luther traveled with Dale Blankenship for the majority of the race. We're not sure who was responsible for navigating, but someone needed some remedial training when they tried to find an elusive checkpoint on the state map at a tourist stop near Foster's Falls. "OK, here's VA and here's WV, we should be about here."

Santa Fe - Ries, Kim, Jan and Don
As the team crossed the finish line after a speedy last paddling leg, Don Moden said finishing an Odyssey event after 3 attempts was the "best birthday present" he could think of. With 12 hours of sleep and 15-minute naps, this team from New Mexico was the most coherent and fresh of all the teams we spoke to at the finish line. This team of medical professionals (except Don) demonstrated their analytical skills when they scouted the portage areas after receiving their maps before the race. The 5.5-mile portage they took was an allowed, but unexpected route in the race that they believed saved them more than an hour in the first paddling leg. Don said the team was also analytical about sleep, team resources, and other route choice. Describing how they used all resources to achieve common goals, he added: Reis is great at team dynamics and navigating; Don and Jan are back-up navigators and are work horses; Kim is good at all sports; and support person, Irene, can determine whose clothing belongs to whom by the smell. At one point in the race, Irene suggested that Kim "clean up a little" because she was beginning to smell like her husband, Jan. Kim laughed. She was wearing Jan's shirt. Happy Birthday, Don!

Keith Peterson -
A big fan of "airing out" according to several other racers and CP officials. Keith was reported to have stood around nude for 20 minutes at Bland before a volunteer mentioned to him that he might want to put some clothes on. Keith was later delayed on the horse trail during the 40-mile bike to Comer's Rock. He encountered a black bear that was apparently not going to move away from the trail. According to Keith, he waited nearly two hours before he worked up the courage to scare the bear away by lifting his bike over his head and yelling. Keith ended up being the only competitor to finish in the Sport category gliding through the finish line with just 15 seconds left before the midnight deadline.

Peak - Shane, Mighty Mo, Joe and Noel
The luck o' the Irish seemed to have skipped over this team who raced at the lead for most of the race then had to drop before the river crossing. Teammate Joe, who competed in the Odyssey One-Day race last week, and did a marathon the week before, seemed to be suffering from "overuse syndrome" according to Doc Wortley. His right knee just couldn't keep up. The team finished in solidarity and with good humor, with Noel impersonating Joe's limp and making jokes in his heavy Irish brogue. When they were told that Subaru was going hard to stay ahead of them, Joe, being the good sport he is, said, "Don't tell them we're out. Keep 'em pushing."

Fluid - Mike and Kevin
Voted as the guys with the best jokes at CPs, this duo illustrated a certain joie d'vivre with their laid-back, "live in the moment" race style. They were truly enjoying the spirit of the BEAST and digging the course when we ran into them during the race. Their good humor was apparent as they arrived at the top of Whitetop Mountain singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" when they saw volunteer Jon Judge's TX flag flying at the CP. Kevin and Mike were also said to have a endless stream of girls who came to support them throughout the race. Kevin smiled when he admitted, "Yeah, they were mostly my old girlfriends."

Jeff Westerfield -
Jeff, who dyed his hair blond for the BEAST provided much of the comic antics that kept Fluid in good spirits. This soloist traveled with the 2-man team throughout the majority of the race and was with them when they all decided to drop with just the 32-mile paddle left. They all said that they learned a lot, had a great time, but wanted to spend some time with their support crew (see above note regarding Fluid's support). By the way, has everyone seen Jeff's sexy butt?

Cal-Eco - Dan, Maria, Ben and Alan
We were sorry to see this team of talented athletes drop from the competition after CP9. Captain and ultra-running champion Dan Barger is race director from the successful Cal-Eco series on the West Coast, along with Maria Burton, who is also an ultra-runner. They are also the publishers of "Adventure World Magazine," one of the first magazines in the US to cover this burgeoning sport. Teammate Ben Stefanski is a Beast veteran who said the team "just made too many mistakes" to continue on. Credits go to Craig, their killer support person who appeared to have every amenity possible organized perfectly in their rented moving truck.

Flatlanders - Eric, Dale, Marie, Chriss and soloist Pat O'Hara
This 4-person team and soloist competed in the BEAST as a training race for the Raid Gauloises in Vietnam. They wanted to get some training in the mountains since, per their name, they don't get a lot that down there in Florida. Pat bonked at CP 8 and the whole team chose to stay with him and make it home to spend Easter with their families. Good luck to this promising team as they compete in the RAID next April!

Audacity - Bob, Sean, Andrew and Rob
An impressive father/son team with 49-year-old Bob, his son Sean and Sean's Recon Marine buddies. Bob was the first person to ever sign up for the BEAST back in 1998, and has been a competitor in several Odyssey races since. Bob is know to millions around the world as "the guy puking on camera" during the Eco-Challenge Borneo show. BEAST director, Don Mann is very proud that while the Eco-Challenge took several days to make Bob vomit, the BEAST did it in just one day. Sean and Andrew stayed after they dropped from the race and devoted the next few days to manning the island CP at the river crossing.