We spent part of the weekend of Patriot’s Day (April 16-18) in New Hampshire with our ski friends. We were there to act as ‘sherpas’ for the KSC’s team in the Friends of Tuckerman’s Inferno Pentathalon. The team event consists of an 8 mile run, a 5 mile kayak, an 8 mile bike, and a hike up Mt. Wahington to the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine where the final ski leg begins. Our team includes a sherpa crew responsible for getting racers and their gear to the assigned start positions, taking custody of extra clothing, and anything else that enables the racers to concentrate on the race. We arrived Friday night and received our marching orders. Our during race responsibilities amounted to cheering and photography. Our assignment was the after race pasta feast.
Everyone was to be up and out of the house by 6:15am to arrive at the start to cheer on Rambo, our runner. Departure from the KFFRC was delayed due to a clock in the bunkhouse which was still on daylight savings time. Once the runners headed off, we took off for a midway point. There we cheered on Rambo with signs and screams. Once Rambo passed our location we hopped back into the cars and headed to the run-kayak tag zone.
Upon arrival at the runner-kayak tag zone we discovered Kristen (no ski name yet) suited up and ready to paddle. After a short race Rambo was spotted coming up the path. Kristen got into place, the tag was made, and off she went – with Rambo right beside her. Our vantage point didn’t give us a view of the river, so we headed back to the cars.
Next stop was the covered bridge, partway down the kayak course. After a short wait, during which a major topic of conversation was what color kayak Kristen was in, and what color clothing she was wearing, Kristen appeared around the bend looking pretty smooth despite the fact that this was only her second run down a river. After cheering encouragement to Kristen, we headed for the kayak-bike tag zone.
The end of the kayak run was at a shallow point in the river. Each kayaker had to paddle in, climb out of their kayak, pull the kayak up onto the bank and then run across a field to the edge of the road. I was given biker notification duty – when we spied Kristen I headed to the road to let Fritz, our biker, know she was on her way. Then I picked a spot where I could get a picture of the tag. The tag zone was at the edge of the road, where the field was divided from the road by a row of 2 foot tall boulders. Most of the tags consisted of the kayaker leaning over the boulders to tag the biker. Kristen came up to the boulders at a full run, and instead of stopping leaped onto the top of a boulder, and launched herself off of it tagging Fritz while in mid-air.
After a quick stop for soda and water we headed toward the parking lot at the Wildcat ski area, taking time to cheer on the intrepid biker as we passed. We staked out a spot at the far end of the Wildcat parking lot for the post race BBQ. For the rest of the race our only communication with the racers and sherpas was by way of two way radios.
Artist, our hiker, hiked primarily in silence since his sherpa, Ober, had headed up the mountain earlier so that he’d have warm clothes to put on when he was done hiking. he wasn’t carrying his own radio, and most of the hike is out of radio range anyway. Once Ober got to the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine both Ober and Goat provided us with updates. Goat, our skier, finished his hike/ski leg in just over 30 minutes. (The ski leg requires that the skier hike from the bottom of Tuckerman’s Ravine to the top before skiing down.)
The temperature climbed as the day progressed by the time we were settled in the Wildcat parking lot we were down to t-shirts. Pete fired up the grill, and cooked burgers and sausages – the first round went to the runner, kayaker, biker, their sherpas and the cheering crew. A couple of hours later the second round went to the hiker skier and their sherpas.
Results from the race took a couple weeks to come in, but since it’s taken me even more to write this, here they are: Overall 18th, Team 13th, run 26th, kayak 28th, bike 14th, hike 18th, ski 14th.
Sunday, June 19, 2005