Manhattan, Kansas—slang Man Happenin’—college town, AKA “The Little Apple--Home of K-State and Tuttle Creek Lake. The course was part urban and part outback, heavy on the trek and brutal on the bike (dirt roads) but rewarded racers at the end with some fast, flowy single track on the River Trails. Breakdown on the long course was: 29 bike, 14.5 trek and 2.5 canoe (46 miles). Breakdown on the short was: 17 bike, 6.5 trek and 2 canoe (25.5 miles). Those distances assume a course of travel that may or may not have been taken, given the freedom teams had to choose.
As a race director, concerns were the high amount of traffic in town & too easy navigation (worried teams would be disappointed). Turns out traffic in town was a non-issue. All the different activities around Manhattan on Sat provided a new appreciation for this college community in the Flint Hills . . . the Little Apple had a huge variety of outdoor events going on and wide range of people outside EVERYWHERE. City Park felt like Central Park in a great way. And Tuttle Creek State Park was the PERFECT heart of this race, great terrain, facilities, canoe area, trails, etc—thanks Todd & crew!
However, sounds like there was a difference of opinion on the “easy navigation”. There were only 4 points not directly associated with evident man made features. In order for the points that were “easy” (by the bathroom, 200m in from pkg lot, 1st big tree after RR bridge) to be found, teams would need to match up their updated Tuttle Creek Park/Linear/River Trail maps printout provided to their outdated USGS topo maps—then they could fly from flag to flag given a backdrop that would be hard to miss even at 25mph. For those other 4 points, compass work & terrain association were helpful. Many teams put a lot of focus on their topo maps only & experienced some frustration. We’ve all been there & probably will be again. It didn’t help that flags were not hanging out in big open spaces (if they had they would likely be a beer bong accessory at a fraternity house by Sat morning). The good news though is that all flags were found by most teams. 4 teams cleared the long course almost 2 hrs before anticipated—Wild Hares, Dave Ashley, Remington Mountain Khaki’s and 3 Builders & a Shocker. You guys really killed the course—congratulations!
There were also some teams that have raced other LA ARs in the past that really put their experience/winter training to work for them, resulting in their best races yet-- the Blake Invasion, Off Road Rage, Starsky & Hutch, Westside Market Pansies. Several AR 1st timers turned out great races too. For some, the 1st time realization that performing well and enjoying an Adventure Race has as much to do with using your mind as using your body (while still working well as a team after several hrs) can be a make or break deal. Those that continue to push all those limits & fully engage are some of most remarkable people I’ve ever met and probably rarely meet a challenge they can’t overcome.
A huge thanks goes out to the title sponsor, “Big Poppi Bicycle Co”. This shop is my favorite place to go in Aggieville—they like people and love bikes. The guys/gals down there actually have their own bike(s), do road/mtb events, put on clinics, send out trail updates, lobby congress for bike safety, you name it. Big Poppi’s not only donated 2 bikes to be given away as prizes at the post award dinner (the 3rd was purchased by Lake Adventures), they also were there to welcome racers at race check in, give support at the race start/finish & they sponsored two teams (solo & 3 person division). The other big prize that was given out by Lake Adventures was the $400 towards entry into the USARA Nationals—congratulations to Remington Mountain Khaki’s—Trakkers! Though the prizes were few, they were big and totalled $1800 in prizes given out at the post award ceremony ($900 from Lake Adventures).
What’s next for LA events? The Twister MTB race in April, Duathlon in May, Women’s Retreat in August, Trail Race in September—and the big one . . . the Heartland Series Championship in November. The big race in November is going to be everything a championship level race should be—and I’ve got just the place(s) . . . all my favorites in JC, Randolph (time to get Fancy) Milford and Manhattan . The combined terrain, water and MTB trails will leave teams with a renewed appreciation of the Kansas Flint Hills—it will be the best of the best. In the meantime, next in the Heartland Series is the Smithville 8 hr. Hope to see you there!