Published on August 1st, 2012 | by Phyl Newbeck0
Murky Excursion | Race Recap August 2012
The Murky Excursion is an eight-hour overnight adventure race for teams of two or three, which is run under the auspices of the Green Mountain Adventure Racing Association. The race requires navigation skills and includes trekking, mountain biking, “plus a few surprises along the way.” Kit Vreeland, a 29-year-old from Winooski who works as clinical assistant professor at the University of Vermont had an adjusted time of 7:49 for her team, Night Riders. She and her teammate, Liz Brownlee, were the only two-person women’s team.
VS: Was this your first time doing the Murky Excursion?
KV: It was my first time for the race and my first time doing an adventure race at night. It was awesome. I love having new little tricks and challenges. Everything you’re looking at must be within range of your headlamp, and you have to be extra careful on your feet and on the bike. I thought it was a really cool challenge, and I’d love to do it again.
VS: How did you feel about your finish?
KV: My original teammate couldn’t take part, so I went with someone who was doing her first adventure race. That meant we had to approach it a little differently, and I went in looking for a fun experience, not for a fast time.
VS: Can you explain how the race works?
KV: These are multidisciplinary events so you never really know what you’ll be doing. This race had biking and running but no paddling or swimming since it was at night. The race started at 10 p.m., and we got the maps at 9:45. We only knew we would start on foot for the first hour or so and then switch to our mountain bikes and then back to trekking. Murky Excursion is an apt name because we were in a swamp for a few hours. Every 10 minutes or so I had to pull my boot out of the mud to make sure I didn’t lose it. The rest was either on unmaintained trails or just out in the middle of the forest. Our biggest challenge was finding the checkpoints in the swamp. We ended up in the wrong swamp, so we didn’t get any of the checkpoints from the middle of the race. I like to study the maps afterward, and I realize now where we made a wrong turn.
VS: Do you participate in other adventure races?
KV: I’ve done seven of these races and really enjoy them. I had to warn my teammate that she would have to remind me to eat because, generally, I’m having such a big endorphin rush that I forget to eat, and then I mentally check out for a while. I also warned her that I’d talk a lot because generally these races are the best days of the year for me. I really love the eight- or 12-hour mental, physical, and emotional challenge of having to find your way without a path (and in the Murky, without any sunlight!), through streams and thickly wooded and nettled forests, enjoying the dark, quiet hours with only your teammates and the forest plants, animals, and if you’re lucky, the stars above. I love feeling the weight of my pack on my shoulders, feeling confident and prepared, but asking my teammate to help me remember to eat and drink in order to stay energized and mentally competent. I love the challenge of the 2-D map, and having to bring it alive by studying the contour lines, the streams, the swamps, and the distances. I absolutely love Vermont, and the GMARA affords me the opportunities to explore and experience it in ways and during hours that very few people get to. I love the gear, the people I race with, the directors and volunteers, the problem-solving, the muddy shoes, the moment when you decide to step into the flowing stream and let go of the inhibitions, enjoying the sunrise from a mountain bike, the post-race food and that first beer. … I could go on for hours.
VS: What did you like best about the course?
KV: There’s a real rush when you find the checkpoints. They are boxes with orange and white triangles with tweezers underneath for you to clip your passports. When I see one of them I get the biggest rush. It’s kind of like hitting the finish line, but then you need to prepare for the next one, which might be through a stream or over a mountain. I’m famous for always wanting to go up something. When everyone is tired, I still want to go up.
VS: If you were in charge of the race, would you do anything differently?
KV: There are other races for which I’d suggest changing the layout but not for this one. It was really well done. I just wish we could get more people doing it, but I think a lot of people don’t want to race at night. GMARA does a really good job of being inclusive and making the race easier for first-timers. If you get to a checkpoint, and you’re lagging behind, they might suggest that you skip one and point you toward another. This is really a personal competition more than a traditional one competing against others.