On Saturday I participated in a DINO (Do INdiana Offroad) Mission Adventure race. The main idea of the competition is to navigate to as many “checkpoints” as possible in 18 hours (6am-midnight). Participants are given only a map of the area and a list of UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates, which consist of two 6-digit numbers, corresponding to map locations. There were several divisions for the competition including male solo, female solo, 2 man, 2 co-ed, 3 man, and 3 co-ed. I was in the 3-man division with the two other Devastators: Nick Alexander and Greg Ernest, both friends from Rose-Hulman.
We arrived at the camp site on Friday afternoon giving us time to set up camp and figure out how the competition would work, as well as getting a simple crash course in proper rope safety and techniques for possible climbing segments of the competition. The other participants drizzled in slowly throughout the day and were altogether a very pleasant group of people who were excited to participate and friendly to talk to. To our knowledge we were the only team with no previous Adventure-race experience, a fact which prompted several past participants to mention that an 18-hour race is rather long for the first time (although we talked to one man who had done a 24-hour in 5 degree weather for his first).
The first segment of the race consisted of 7 checkpoints, was primarily concerned with orienteering on foot since bikes were prohibited, and took us 6.5 hours to complete and return to camp. This segment was spent almost exclusively in thickly wooded areas with some very intense vegetation that practically shredded our legs off (a bit of advice we recieved in the first moments of the race was to wear long pants which none of us had packed…). The second segment traced out a loop around the entire map and was the primary contributor to our 38.86 mile biking distance for the day. This segment led directly into another bikeless orienteering segment and eventually led us back to camp, arriving at about 10:30 pm to face the last special challenge which Nick alone quickly finished, ending the competition for The Devastators at 10:55 pm.
The end result of the day was 17 points for the Devastators as well as a 3rd place finish in the 3-man division. We were quite surprised by our finish; the best picture of the day would have been of Nick’s face when our team was announced at the awards ceremony. This is definitely something that I would like to participate in again, and with the knowledge we now have and some very trivial preparation, the Devastators are confident of a significant improvement next time around.