2007/11/17 – 2007 Jail Break


Huntsville State Park

What Is It?

Adventure Race


  • Three Legged Race
  • Orienteering
  • Bike
  • Mystery Event(s)
  • Paddle

Team Name: Threesome in the Woods


  • Andrea Dahlke
  • Steve Mertz

Category: 2 Person Coed


  • Did Not Finish (DNF) Due to Injury

Copy of Results (Word)


Thanks to Andrea for racing with me again! You did awesome on those bike trails! Sorry I injured myself and we had to quit the race.

HUGE thanks to the gang that helped Andrea and myself load up my truck after the race. It was very greatly appreciated!

We get to the park and decide to setup a bit of our TA so that we can claim our spot before the area gets too crowded and we miss out on a good spot. We then head over to check-in. The Jail Break is the only race I have been in where they actually check to make sure you have the required gear. They do it right up front before you can even start racing. We didn’t have everything, so I ran back up to the truck to grab the couple of things I didn’t think they would really want see. Once we got through all that, we went to the boat drop to drop off the Necky and get it ready for the paddle section of the race.

Once that was all done, we headed back up to TA to finish setting up. When we got there, all of HFAR was setting up on the opposite side of where Andrea and I had started setting up. So we decided to move our stuff over to be with the crew. Once we get everything situated I start reading our instructions and plotting the points. Another cool thing about this race, we got all the instructions and CPs to plot at check in so we had several hours to plot the points and figure out how we wanted to attack them.

After plotting the points, I look over everything and decide on a plan of attack for us. I figure that after the three legged race, everyone will head straight to CP2. This will cause all kinds of backups at the CP. And since I am pretty much sure Andrea and I will be very close to last place coming off the three legged race, there will be a lot of people milling around there. So I decide that we should go the opposite direction and hit the CPs counter-clock wise, hitting CP5 firs

After that is all settled and I laminate the maps and instructions, Andrea and I go off to do a warm up run. Our compatriot from the last race (Alejandro) joins us and we go off for about 20 minutes.

Now it’s time. We get our carabiner and clip our shoes together and get ready for the race. I’m so not looking forward to this, as I have a tonne of problems with three-legged racing. Not sure why really, but it doesn’t matter who I race with, we struggle. But Andrea and I practiced a bit last week and we managed to get to a point where we can actually walk fairly quickly and be alright.

At the scream of “GO!” we are off! We are off and walking! There are a lot of people out there running and stumbling and such. But Andrea and I manage to keep chugging along without too many problems. This is my best three legged race ever! We didn’t tumble over or anything. We did stumble a couple of times, but for the most part we were pretty in sync for the walking. And we weren’t in last place when we got to CP1 Definitely my best three legged race ever! Now I just need to figure out how to up the speed and be able to run!

We undo the carabiner and head off to CP5. Just like I thought, everyone was heading off to CP2, so I feel good about this decision.

We get going, running the back trails to where CP5 should be. I find a point where we should start our bush whacking up to find CP, ask Andrea to count out 100m and off we go. We get up there, and I am not seeing anything. I also have a funny feeling that we are in the wrong spot. I look at the map and our surroundings and decide we need to go back to the trail and go back a ways from where we came from. We get back to the trails and run back up them to where there is a junction in them. I look at the maps and the surrounding areas. Things aren’t lining up like I first thought they did. After wasting several minutes looking at the maps and area, Andrea comes up with the brilliant idea of “What’s the clue for the CP?” and I look at the clue and realize that where we were the first time was very close to where we needed to be. Doh! I need to start paying more attention to those clues! We get back to where we were, the clue being “Dry Creek Bed” and there is the creek, 100 feet away from where we were. So we count the 100m up along the creek and there is the CP!

After that we head off to find CP4. I’m feeling a bit sheepish for flubbing up the first CP. Which seems to be par for my racing. But we head off down the trails around the lake. We start to see some of the leaders of the race who went the other way already. Jeepers! They are crushing us. At this point I start thinking that it was a bad idea coming this way around. And start to second guess my decisions up to this point.

I start to look at the map and try to figure out where exactly we need to go to find the CP. And we see several teams milling around and a shout out that they found it. So we race down the creek we happen to be at where I was thinking we needed to be and there it is. Thanks to the other teams that hollered out!

And we start running off to the spillway to find CP3. We get to the spill way and I determine where we need to go and how far, so I get Andrea to pace off 100m. As we go into the brush a team comes up behind us on the trail and says that the CP was under a bridge. I take a look at the map and don’t see any bridges around the area. So we continue with our going through the brush, which comes out on a trail. We get to Andrea’s 100m, and there is nothing around. The clue was “fox hole” We go up and down the trail a bit and just can’t figure out where the CP should be. The other team comes back down saying they didn’t see any bridges so came back. We compare notes, where we have the CP plotted and we both have it plotted in the same spot. We decide to help each other out, they go to one side of the trail and look and we go to the other side. After about 5 minutes of looking the other team hollers out that they found it. We run over to where they were and it was no where near where I had it plotted. Need to double check that point and the plotting of it to see what’s up.

Now it’s off to CP2! I decide we can probably get to the trails quicker just continuing through the brush. Another mistake on my part here. We get going through the brush and in a couple of minutes I come across a large log, and I go to step up over it, which had a branch sticking out. And I some how managed to step up and jab that branch up in the underside of my knee cap. Not the back of my knee, but through the skin to the knee cap. And when I did that there was a huge *CRACK* sound. And it hurt, a lot! And this will come back to haunt us later.

My leg is pretty sore now, but I hobble on. And we find our way back to the spill way, much longer route than if we had just gone back to the trail and run it. We walk a bit, as I figure out what is up with my leg, and find a path back to TA from where we are. Finally I decide we should be able to run and off we go. It doesn’t matter if I walk or run, it hurts the same, so running is best as that means we get done faster.

We get back into TA, and my leg is feeling quite sore at this point. But the next part of the race is biking so that should be easy on the legs. I decide we can probably cut a bunch of time off the bike leg, by going clockwise around the trails. We cut through one of the trails, that we just ran through which cuts out a big hill and about a mile or so of the trail. Then I also decide that we can cut another 2ish miles off if we run the bikes across the spill way instead of going around. It was tricky going down them since it is concrete and we are in bike shoes. But it is still faster than biking the hard hill that is along the trails.

Once on the other side we remount our bikes and on our way. Feeling really good about this decision of making up time we start hammering the trails. I’m quite impressed with Andrea’s progress on the trails she’s doing awesome out here, tackling stuff she hasn’t done before quite well. Good job girl! Then I make the mistake of not paying attention and we pass the CP by quite a bit as I was thinking the CP was at a different bridge. So we get to the bridge I thought it was at, and was “awe crap this is wrong. Very wrong.” So we had to turn around and go back to the bridge that it was at, which added more time to the bike, which kind of null and voided my short cut we took. We get the CP alright, and head back towards the spill way. Just before the spill way, my leg starts to slowly stop working correctly.

We get to the spill way and my leg seems to be holding up enough for me to go down, across and back up no problems. But shortly after we get on the bikes again, my leg stops working altogether and I’m having to pedal back with just my right leg (my weak leg at that!) This is where Andrea really starts to shine as she starts passing me on the hills with no problems and I notice that she’s doing really good on the technical stuff now.

We get to the really sandy road, and I can’t get all the way through it, so I stop and put my left leg down and it completely collapses on me. “OH F**K” This is going to be a problem, it can’t hold me up any more so I won’t be able to walk! And I know we have mystery events and paddling left. But if I can’t walk to those events we are screwed.

Once we hit the road back, Andrea mentions our options at this point. But all of it rides on the fact of if I can even get to the next events. The options are 1) continue on. 2) skip the mystery events. 3) DNF.

We get to the TA, and see that pretty much everyone from our crowd is finished the race already, which is rather disturbing for me. But whatever, we still have a race to finish. We get off the bike and I can’t put weight on my leg at all. Andrea goes over and checks in, while I decide if we can continue or not. And after a couple of minutes of trying to stand on it, I decide I can’t continue on. I let Andrea know, and she goes over to tell the officials and to get the medical help to come over and check my leg out. I feel like utter and complete crap now after having to DNF and for letting Andrea down for not being able to finish.

The medical guy comes over and looks at it. Not much we can do about it except Advil and ice. I have full range of motion, no swelling and no pain. I just can’t support me at all. The medical guy gives me a cold pack for it and I put it on my knee and in about 5-10 minutes it went warm. So I take it off and try to figure out how to pack things up. Thankfully we have a great group of people in our crew who helped us get everything loaded up on the truck. Thanks guys!

Multimedia and Maps

Final Thoughts

This race is hard for me to think about because of the mistakes I made in the navigation, and then the injury causing us to DNF the race. It makes me ill thinking about having to quit a race ending it for not only myself, but also my teammate.

I will definitely need to get more practice in navigation, I see trips to Bastrop in my near future. I can nav pretty decent in non-race situations, so I will need to start practicing naving quickly while up there. Start timing myself and racing the clock to get to the points quickly.

Days later… (2007/11/23)

So Sunday, I was feeling okay, my leg felt back to normal and I was able to walk and such again. I unloaded my truck and when I lifted my cooler and packed it, that was the only time I felt anything in my knee.

On Monday, I wasn’t able to put weight on my leg again. So it was a bunch of sitting around at work and chewing on Advil, and icing.

On Tuesday it was back to normal again. But it didn’t feel fully correct.

Wednesday it was feeling about 95% correct. So everything is feeling good and recovering nicely at least based on feel.

Thursday, it was feeling 100%, but still stayed off it so that it could get healed up nicely.

Friday: Went for a 3 mile run and it felt really great. So it is fully healed. The problem is the other knee which was taking some of the load was feeling a bit off now. So I will take a couple more days off and see how things go next week

So my injury is healed up nicely now and I’m feeling really good. Still quite bummed about having to DNF the race but it’s better to do that than to do more damage to the leg. Now to just take things easy as get healed up fully, get fully rested and then start working towards the next race!


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