DART wins entry to the World Championships

DART wins entry to the World Championships

Headsweats is proud to sponsor Team DART with their headwear — helping them keep a cool head as their competition heats up. Read on for their full race report at Untamed New England and their photos! Congrats Team DART!!

Last week, the Untamed New England adventure race drew 49 of the best teams from North America and Europe to the heart of Maine. Team DART-nuunFeed The Machine was made up of Mari Chandler, Ryan Van Gorder, Matt Hayes, and Aaron Rinn.

The four day race started at the outlet of Moosehead Lake with a short run and packraft followed by a canoe across Indian Pond. The teams then paired up and, together with a professional guide, tackled the huge and seriously fun class IV whitewater of the Kennebec River.

From here, teams ran to Moxie Falls for a checkpoint and then transitioned to mountain biking. The riding was challenging and technical, but the trail was scenic. We were moving well until Mari’s bike frame broke clear across the seat tube. Our aluminum bikes are lightweight and we are pretty hard on them. The failure was due to accumulated wear over time, rather than one huge hit.

Many teams passed us as we tried to figure out how to cobble together a solution for the cracked frame. We still had 30 miles of biking to do on this leg.

We found a stick to place down the seat tube to prevent the two pieces from completely separating. Meanwhile “Matt-gyver” earned this new nickname by figuring out how to complete a trail repair using parts of a waterbottle cage, some sticks, and a hose clamp, that Mari was using to hold an extra waterbottle cage to her bike. Mari could only use her lowest gear in the front, and she had to ride carefully. But we started moving again, and eventually Matt found a great route on a road that avoided several miles of slow trails. Unbelievably, the seat tube on Aaron’s bike frame cracked in half just as we arrived at the ropes! The ropes course involved rappelling next to Grand Falls on the Dead River, pulling ourselves across the river in rafts, ascending up the other side, and taking a zip line back over the waterfall.

This repair to Aaron’s bike was going to be more difficult, because it cracked at the bottom bracket joint. However, thanks to the DW Link suspension, Aaron’s bike was still able to work if he stood up, so he had to stand and pedal for the next 15 miles to the next section. We wanted to keep moving, so we would have to deal with Aaron’s broken frame later.

We trekked to Flagstaff Lake, where we blew up our packrafts and paddled across. It was the middle of the night and an approaching lightning storm gave our paddling an added sense of urgency. Our progress was slowed when it took a while to find a checkpoint in the dark on the opposite shore. After more than an hour of searching, we finally found it. We chose to deflate our boats at this point and trek overland land for a few hours. The mosquitoes came out in force with the sunrise. We blew up our boats again to capture the last few water CPs.

We put our rafts in our packs for an off trail climb over a beautiful mountain. The route finding was tough and the bush was thick, but we nailed the navigation. We moved fast, and passed a couple of teams.

At the end of the trek we had devised a plan to repair the broken frames, helped out by a stop at the dump for some extra materials. But as soon as we got to the bike transition, at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, we learned of a bike shop with rental bikes. Mari and Aaron excitedly wheeled their broken bikes to this brand new bike shop. Half an hour later Team Dart was off on the mountain bike orienteering course, which we finished before dark. We had been racing for 34 hours and decided to take advantage of the Numa tents that were set up. The sleep dried us out, and we were reinvigorated as we headed out on an alpine trek. After climbing Burnt Mountain, we headed halfway back down in order to avoid a seemingly terrible bushwack along the ridge. We climbed back to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, arriving with a spectacular sunrise.

Next, we biked to an orienteering relay leg where each team member had to do a section. Each of us made a few mistakes on our sections, but overall we had the fastest time of all the teams. After the last bike section, we arrived back at Flagstaff Lake in second place.

Ahead was a 30 km canoe, which was broken up by two portages, and trekking to find several checkpoints along the way. Team Sole kept us company for this leg.

We finished the paddle at dusk and transitioned to the last leg of trekking and packrafting. Two teams were hot on our heals and came in from the paddle before we left the TA.

We tried packrafting on the Dead River and got passed by these two teams who were on foot next to the river. So we pulled out and put the rafts in our bags. We trekked to a cp where we received the last 8 checkpoints of the race. Those teams plus Team Sole left, but we slept for a half hour in the mosquitoes. We got up cold, plotted, and realized that we had 10-15 miles of packrafting on the same river that had proved so slow the night before. But the river in this section was awesome!! We started whitewater rafting at 3 am and more water was released starting at 5 am. The alpaca rafts ate up the whitewater. Rapid after rapid, we did our best to move downriver, picking off checkpoints along the way. We came up to the last river checkpoint around 9 am and saw a team from Montreal looking for the cp. They were a little early, so when they saw us, they got back in their rafts and followed us to the cp. That started a 2 hour sprint to the finish with 5 cps to go. The last hour, we decided to run the road while they packrafted. We traveled faster than them to the 2nd to find the last cp a few minutes ahead, but we had to blow up two boats to go across the river. We got the cp and their team arrived as we crossed back. From here it was 2k to the finish straight uphill and then straight down to the finish. We ran as hard as we could and finished 2 minutes ahead of the Montreal team.

In the end, with our time credit for our wait at the ropes, we ended up a half hour in front of the Danish team and Team Sole.

We ended up 2nd behind Thule, the reigning world champs. That gave both us and the Danish team a paid entry to the Raid in France in September!!

The team did great working together and having fun the whole time. We didn’t make any big mistakes, never got too sleepy, and just kept moving.

~ Written by Aaron Rinn


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