By Becky Killian
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Rain poured as teams pored over maps Saturday at a Laurel Lake Dam picnic shelter in preparation for the inaugural Sheltowee Extreme 5 Adventure Race.
Some team members stretched in anticipation of the race’s 12 hours of grueling nonstop physical challenges including mountain biking, paddling, swimming and trekking.
A fog settled over the dam when the race began and teams ran a “short foot race” from the shelter to the gazebo above the dam. Once there, each team got a “passport” that was punched along the course as the team finished a leg of the race.
Stephanie Ross, founder of Flying Squirrel Adventures — who co-hosted the race along with the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission — said the weather was a “surprise factor” in the race.
“It certainly slowed teams down a bit, as ‘map management’ becomes more complicated in the rain,” Ross said. “It’s also a lot more difficult to read a map through a map case with rain coming down. Some racers reported biking through hail. It was a wild one, considering we were expecting 82 and sunny all day!”
By the end of the day, Ross said veteran racer Mark Lattanzi, a solo racer from Blacksburg, Va., had visited all the race’s checkpoints with 11 minutes to spare. He then opted to include a swim in a life jacket from the Mouth of Laurel Boat Ramp across the Cumberland River to McCreary County, where he then trekked to a rock overhang and another checkpoint before swimming back to Laurel County.
Ross said Lattanzi was the only racer to visit every checkpoint during the race.
No racers were injured, but Ross said some suffered “bad blisters” due in part to the wet weather.
Adventure races require participants to combine orientating, navigation, athletic skill and endurance as they race against other teams to the finish line.
The races typically are held in forest and mountainous areas.
Saturday’s race, which wasn’t recommended for beginners, saw racers from six states who came to Laurel County.
Rodney Hendrickson, executive-director of the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission, was the honorary official race starter.