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My First Sprint Eco-Challenge Race

or... Where Do We Go From Here?

Craig O'Neal
Beach Endurance Sports Team member, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
The October 10th(1998) Sprint Eco Challenge was worthy of its name.  Located
in the Ocala National Forest at Camp Ocala our three person co-ed team
learned of the first event at 7am.  The only information that we were
given is that the first leg of the event was a trail bike event and it
would start in 5 minutes -- that's it -- no distance or sequence of events
were made available to the racers.

The start was on pavement which quickly turned into a large trail with
plenty of water on it.  About 50+ teams took off together making the
start a bit tricky but no one was hurt.

After only 6 minutes on the trail our team member Mark Cook blew the
chain off his bike and this cost us a 20 minute delay repairing his
bike. We kept our cool and reminded ourselves that this is what the
race is all about: it is meant to be a challenge.

The trail biking led us through the forest into several different
terrains that took us about an hour, including the delay.  Water and
deep sand made up much of the trail with one water hole at least waist high.

We caught up with some other teams at the end of what we would learn
was a 12 mile ride and quickly entered the transition area. There we
were given a map of the lake and a canoe with one paddle and told to
follow the buoys to the other side of the lake.  However, the lake was
fogged in and finding the buoys was yet another challenge as well as
paddling a canoe with three members and only one paddle. We crossed
the lake and navigated through a swamp to the next leg of the event,
the run.

We then ran a 5k in deep sand and were rewarded at 1.5 miles with
another paddle.We continued running with the paddle to the finish
where our canoe was waiting for us.  We passed several more teams at
this point.  After jumping back into the canoe it was back across the
lake and by keeping our eyes on the teams ahead, the real motivation
kicked in. 

Just before returning to the shoreline, we were told to jump out
of the canoe into the water and swim to a roped wall.  There we would
have to climb over the 25 foot wall back into the water and make our
way to the bank. 

Just when we thought that the race was over and we could see the
finish line, we were stopped and asked to remember 10 items that were
attached to the event markers that we had passed during the race.  We
could not remember even one item.  The penalty for that was a wheel
barrow event about a 1/4 mile. While holding the legs of a team member
the other two would push while the one member would use their hands
along the ground.

Finally the finish: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

The next event is on November 7th at a different location in the
Ocala National Forest.  This event promises to be longer with a 3 hour

For information on these events please feel free to call B.E.S.T.
member Craig O'Neal (904/285-9097) or visit the Eco series web site at
If you are a multisport athlete of any age or ability and live in the Beaches area of Northeast Florida, consider joining Beach Endurance Sports Team, the First Coast's multisport organization for cycling, running, swimming, mountain biking, walking, triathlon, inline skating... well, you get the idea.

For events coming up in the North Florida area, check out our Events Calendar. If you have ideas for additional Adventure Racing links and resources, please contact us with your suggestion and Website address.

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