Atchafalaya Adventure Race from F. Sunderman
Date: 18 May 1998 14:01:12 cst
From: [email protected]

Sent Via Fred Sunderman

ph: (318) 237-3409
fax: (318) 269-8954

Here’s my report on the Atchafalaya Adventure Race, held yesterday at
Lake Fausse Point State Park. It’s near Saint Martinville, but deep in
the swamp.

The race consists of three segments: 8 miles by canoe; 25 miles by
mountain bike; and 3.5 miles of trail running. Each squad had three
contestants plus a mandatory support person. Our team included me, my
wife Katie, and Chuck Rush. Chuck’s a recent returnee to Lafayette. He
grew up here, but spent 10+ years in Las Vegas. Chuck brought his
brother Jimmy along to support us.

You’re supposed to have at least one
female racer per squad. All-male teams were assessed a fifteen minute
handicap. I felt we had a good chance at a competitive finish, but I saw
a few teams which were sure to put up a good fight. Roseanne Simons, her
husband Rusty, and another teammate were there representing the NO roadie
scene. Darren Horne, a triathlete from BR had a squad that with a woman
who looked like she could hold her own. Rhett Harris, John Sanford, and
Griff were there too. John rode the bike course on his road
bike, which must have been a little nerve racking on the gravel levee top.

We picked up some serious time on the canoe leg, passing three or four
squads which had left at 4 minute intervals before us. The three of us
paddled like synchronized zombies. However you can’t blindly soldier on
like ‘normal’ races. One must continually check a map to determine where
the next checkpoint is. No course directions are given; you have to find
your own way through all three legs. There were two intermediary
checkpoints. In both places, the officials were pretty well hidden in
pontoon boats by the trees. We found them with very little trouble,
thanks to Katie’s flawless navigation. After the two checkpoints, we
sprinted three miles across the lake to Dauterive Landing, where Jimmy
was waiting with our bikes. He had our stuff waiting by the truck, so we
wasted little time in the transition.

We got on our bikes and began to hammer toward the next checkpoint, TTT
style! I didn’t realize beforhand how much of the bike leg would be on
pavement. A cyclocross bike would have been the perfect tool for the
job. It turned out I was the strongest biker of us three, so I spent the
entire 25 miles at the front with Katie and Chuck in my draft. I was a
bit of a Nazi with my teammates, since I wanted to go faster, but you
have to stay together.

We passed 4-5 squads on the bike leg. We got lots
of stares from the locals who are not used to such a bizarre display of
alien behavior in their quiet communities of fishing camps. We passed
Clifton Chenier’s zydeco club at one point. It wasn’t hard to find our
way with the map, we basically stayed on the main parish roads to wend
our way back to the Atchafalaya Basin levee. We rode up onto the levee
to the next checkpoint where we had to do the ‘mystery obstacle’. This
was no big deal: we had to hoist our bikes over the concrete flood wall,
get our ‘passport’ punched, and ride seven miles on the levee back to the
state park. It was getting pretty damn hot, over 90 degrees by then.

Thank God the wind was from the north, helping to blow the
Guatemalen/Mexican smoke out of the region. We managed to hold a
repectable paceline on the levee top, and I knew then that we were in
contention for a good finish. But the run still lay in front of us.

We got back to the park in good time, dropped our bikes, donned running
shoes, and sprinted into the woods to finish this swamp race. The
running course was perfectly suited to a running impaired cyclist: soft
and short. It was a dirt nature trail through the forest, with lots of
shade. All of us were pretty beaten up by then, but we slogged our way
to the finish in a time of 3:03:15. It was about two hours more before
all the 51 teams had finished or given up. When the dust settled (there
wa a lot of dust) we were second overall. We were the first coed team in
the ‘Serious’ division. There was boiled crawfish and drinks for
everyone afterward. We each received silver Louisiana Games medals,
which I added to the bronze one I won in the Team Time Trial a few weeks
ago. Darren’s team did pretty well. They won a division which had a
shorter canoe leg. The winner of the ‘Serious’ division, as it was
called, was Jay Stiller’s team. I don’t know those guys but they beat
everyone by twenty minutes. Roseanne told me they were all hardcore
triathletes. They had all done well at the half-Ironman last week in

So if you want to try something different, think about the Atchafalaya
Adventure race next year. It’s different from anything else going on
around here.

[ Home ] [ House Bill 1789 ] [ Powerman Alabama ] [ D’Woodville Loop ] [ USCF Time Trial ] [ TC ] [ Lance Armstrong ] [ cohen ] [ ‘98 FYF Pix ] [ Broken Foot ] [ Foot #2 ] [ Gulf Coast Tri Report ] [ June 13, 1998 ] [ July 18 Weekly Report ] [ Fittest Trucker ] [ MS-150 ] [ Minden Trail ] [ New Trail in N. LA ] [ USCF District Rep ] [ Official’s Corner: 10.1 ] [ Pointe Coupee Banner ] [ QR Show ] [ Road Rage ] [ Rouge ] [ Sunderman ] [ Tri Fever ] [ Tour d ] [ Tangipahoa Ordinance ] [ USCF Cycling and Triathletes ]