by Amy Stabins
TUCARD- Maine’s most Terrifically (& Unnecessarily) Complicated Adventure Race and Duathalon. The race announcement came across my Strider’s FaceBook feed late last December and something inspired me to click through to see what they meant by ‘complicated’- and I was not disappointed. In that post, interested participants were provided with a map that had the ‘Shadow of the Sparkle Pony’ laid across it, and told that the race would take place within that shadowed area- there is no official route. The rules were this- racers must use at least two forms of transportation, and time adjustments would be made based on the mode chosen and whether or not the racers were on pavement or gravel/trail. In the months leading up to the race, GPS coordinates for the start and stop points would be released. And shortly before race day the GPS coordinates for three way points would be sent out.
I am not super competitive, but I enjoy a challenge. TUCARD is a race, a puzzle, and a scavenger hunt all in one. My first challenge was getting to know the area- I had never been to that part of Maine before. In the months leading up to the race I made five trips up to Orono and ran or biked most of the conservation areas and pocket parks within the Pony’s shadow. Thirteen hours before the start time I received the email with the way points, and one additional rule- The boglands running through the race area were designated The Bog of Despair. Every minute spent in the BOD would add ten minutes to the official time. I planned out what seemed like the logical course to follow, loaded up the bike, and headed up to the race.
At the starting line it quickly became apparent either my fellow racers were planning some epically misguided routes, or that I had missed scouting some crucial areas. It was too late to re-think my plan, so I forged ahead. My route took me across the BOD three times…
I arrived at the finish line in 1 hour 29 minutes, more or less in the middle of the pack. However, my adjusted time was 9 hours and 20 minutes, almost 5 hours behind the next ‘slowest’ racer! Crossing the BOD three times really hurt me. And I won the title of ‘Lost Dog’, the racer who covers the most miles (10.32)!
This might have been the most fun I’ve ever had racing- I can’t wait for next year!
Check out the TUCARD website for more information-