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Envirosport Multi-day Run : Interview

Envirosport Multi-day Run : Interview

It appears you two have a thing for adventure. Tell me about the Dave Horning challenge (An Envirosports Event).

It's a blast (adventure racing). It's totally fun. I think adventure racing might get big, especially for the weekend warriors.

It was supposed to be a four day race, starting in Tahoe and finishing in San Francisco. The first day was suposed to be an 18 mile run from Kenwood in Lake Tahoe to this place called Lake Loon, but due to poorly marked trails we ended up running at least 20 miles. It was quite an adventure, but probably the funniest part.

It was supposed to be an 18 mile run to Lake Loon and then we were supposed to get on our mountain bikes and do a 51 mile ride, but the course (for running) was not marked well at all so almost everyone ended up taking a wrong turn or missed a turn, which is why we never seemed to get to the 12 mile aid station. We were confused and eventually we wondered, "how can we still be out here? Shouldn't we be done by now?" People were just all over those trails. At the end of this one trail we could see a body of water. It was pretty far down, but we thought this must be Lake Loon and we decided to shoot down towards this body of water and that's where the adventure began. I don't know how far up we were or how far down this lake was.

2500 feet.

But we decided to weed-whack it. Part of us was convinced that it was Loon Lake, but another part was just the whole water thing. We had just run 20 miles and had no water and we were hot. It ended up being a 2 hour run to get to the bottom. We were bloody and dirty from all the zigzagging through all the brush. Michelle didn't talk the whole way down because she was so dehydrated and had nothing in her mouth to help her talk.

We kept taking wrong turns and got frustrated about how many minutes we lost and all we could think about was now we're chasing down the team in front of us! And then at that point we thought, well it's been two hours and all we've been doing is weed-whacking. We're way off course, this is a bummer, 'cuz we are totally out of the race.

We even thought we may be way out in front and found a short cut to the lake or that we were dead last, but at this point we were not going to give up. We were going to get to the lake. And we surely were not going to turn around and run back up the way we came down.

So you get to the lake. Is it Lake Loon?

We don't know yet, so we decide to take the rapids where they take us to the lake. But we get to the lake or what we thought was the lake. We look around. There's no one.

At Lake Loon supposedly the transition area was at the dam. We were at the end where the river came in, so we figured it would be fastest if we swam down to get to the transition area. I don't kkow how long we swam, maybe 2 hours.

Were you all excellent swimmers?

Yeah, pretty much. There was one guy who was not a very good swimmer. But we kept him going.

What time is it at this point?

It's about 4:30 p.m. and we get to a point where we're sitting on this rock in the middle of this body of water and we haven't seen anyone since the morning. We had no food and no water, though I did drink the lake water. As we (the team of 4) were trying to figure out our next move we decided it was time to split a GU (there were only two packets).

Where are your thoughts now?

We were starting to wonder, where are we? It's 4:30 (in the evening).

We pretty much knew we were going to spend the night out there. It was just a matter of where. Do we keep going, head back, or continue to stay on the rock and wait for someone to find us?

Were you concerned about getting food and staying warm?


But Michelle was great. She had taken these leadership classes about what you do when you're in an emergency and she said we have to stay together. One of the team members wanted to stay on the rock. I wanted to swim now because I don't want to be wet at 8:00 (at night).

OK. You started at 7:30 a.m. and now it's 4:30 p.m. Where does this nightmare or adventure go from here?

We started swimming back.

We thought we had seen a spot where we thought there might be campers. We hadn't seen people but there had been sleeping bags and stuff like that. We thought we'd swim to them and hopefully they'll give us food or something.

It was easier to go back because there was more room to walk on the other side.

And we didn't have to go very far because we saw someone out there in a little boat and so by 5:30 we had found these campers in their boat. We said to them "We're lost, where are we? Are we at Lake Loon?" They said, "No, you're at Hell Hole Reservoir." We thought, "How appropriate." We figured (after telling them what had happened) they'd take us in, they'll give us food and blankets, but instead they were totally mean.

These people had been coming to this spot for 30 years and they felt as if we've ruined their little solitude. They said we were stupid for being out without a map. Basically they gave us a lecture and then gave us the best trails to get out of there by. They also gave us some peanut butter and bread which Tory couldn't eat because her mouth was too dry. But I told her she had to eat it.

So they had nothing to drink for you?

They did give us this small bottle of water. But that went very quickly. They even had cokes that they were drinking in front of us, and so I asked them if we could have one. And they gave us one to split among the four of us.

Did they not understand the magnitude of what you had just gone through?

They didn't care at all.

They said, "We could take you out of here by boat to the boat launch, but if we do that then we wouldn't have enough gas to last us through the rest of our vacation."

They had us going on this 8 mile rough trail to lead us to a ranger station where there was a phone. They said, "If you're lucky maybe they'll let you use it." They ended up taking us across the lake to the other side where the trail was. When we get there we realize it's straight uphill, but we started going anyway until finally we could see the top. I began running ahead and lucky for me because right when I got there it started to downpour and hail and those guys got completely pelted. At 6:00 p.m. is when we took off. Michelle got to the ranger station at 7:10 p.m.

At 7:15 p.m. it started really hailing.

When it started to rain I was happy because then the mosquitoes would stop bugging me. But then it really started coming down and I was thinking, great, the matches are getting wet, I'm soaked, and when we get to the ranger station which I kept envisioning as a lookout tower wer're going to be huddled under the steps shivering together. Bit it has a phone inside. It was really big. We just couldn't get in. We were going to break in but we found this window that opened so we climbed in. As soon as we get there the fire guys come. They had been out on a call and they let us all in.

They knew who you were then?

No, actually we asked them if anyone was looking for us.

The called in and said, "Do you know there's a search party out for you? The whole damned race was lost!" So they gave us showers and food. From there on we didn't want to leave this place.

The whole day was how long and approximately how many hours?

20 miles of running, plus coming down 2500 feet, plus swimming several miles and walking alongside, and then finishing with a 5 mile run. We left the starting point at 7:00 in the morning and got back to where we were supposed to meet at midnight.

We were pretty happy! And then we got up to race the next day. We were in the worst condition, but at 7:00 the next morning we were on our bikes and ready.

So how did everything end?

They ended up throwing out the first day of results and started from the second day. We ended up finishing third.

Would you do a race like this again?

Both: Yes!

Right Of Reply

Since publishing this article, CoolRunning has been contacted by one of the campers mentioned in this article, and to tell both sides of the story, I have published his comments here :

I just finished reading "Envirosport multi-day Run Interview" on your website. I wonder if you'd be interested in the other side of the story...

I was one of the campers at the upper end of Hell Hole Reservoir the evening four totally lost and bedraggled runners appeared at our campsite. My recollection of the events that transpired is a bit different than theirs. I am dismayed by their total lack of gratitude for the assistance given, and by their characterization of us as "mean"!

By their own admission, we gave them something to eat, gave them a container filled with fresh water...and I do recall one of them asking for a soda, which we provided. We explained to them where they were, gave them very specific information regarding the alternative routes they could take to get back to "civilization", and I gave them a boat ride across the reservoir to the head of the jeep trail that goes to the ranger station. The jeep trail is not that bad (jeeps navigate it regularly), and to suggest that it was an 8 mile hike from where I let them off is a wee bit of an exaggeration. Apparently they still have not looked at a map.

I apologize that we were unable to take them in, offer them blankets, and perhaps a steak and lobster dinner, and a limo ride back to civilization. As for the "lecture", I would still strongly recommend, as we did then, that anyone undertaking an "adventure run" on poorly marked trails and heading into country as rough as they were in, be a bit better prepared. And if one chooses not to be prepared, one could at least be a bit more grateful when someone else helps one get his (or her) unprepared hiney out of a jam.

Frankly...I think they owe us an apology!

Fred Heltzel

There is even more on this particular incident on the El Dorado Search & Rescue site :

This page last updated: Saturday 20 March 2010

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