Race recap by Jen Cechi:The course for the EX2 was “challenging” to say the least. Definitely some skill, or just plain guts, was required.
The swim: not too shabby. Water temperature was just about right. The wave start was nicely distanced. Buoys were nice and big so you really couldn’t miss them. We had to get out and run on the beach between the loops for some reason. Besides the two vines/seaweed things that tried to wrangle my arm, the swim couldn’t have been better.
But after the swim, it went downhill, well uphill forever and then downhill. The start of the bike was a nice, uphill on the road, and then things got technical. The first part of the trail starts up about 7 steps. Yes, up the steps. I am sure the experienced riders were able to ride up them with no problem, but myself, it was definitely a struggle to push/carry the bike up the steps. The trail continued onto a single track path with tons of tree roots, nice view of the lake, no elevation. Very pleasant besides the tree roots. After the rooted path, we continued up a rocky (which i thought was excessively rocky, until I got to the rest of the course) hill. It was doable for most, a slower pace for myself. We left that hill behind and headed on another winding single track path with lots of tree roots, not many rocks and following the lake. We had a nice stream crossing on a nice wooden bridge and then the nice-ness of the trail became a tad uglier. Up a smaller hill that was steeper in one spot but over all just a small hill, some roots, no rocks. On a bright side, at the top of this little hill there was a nice aid station with gel, water and first aid essentials and friendly volunteers. Looked at the GPS and realizing that was only about 2 miles into it (oh no!). Onto a paved camping road through nice campsites up a much longer hill. It could have been worse, it could have been rocky but it was paved (whoa!). Really steep. On my second loop, the runners actually were passing me up the hill, not a good thing. The road soon ended up a pretty steep climb, rocky but not as rocky as what was to come. Made a nice left onto what could have been an access road so easier riding. A I am not comfortable with down hills, there was a downhill that was somewhat rocky but not too bad, doable for me at a slow pace. Then at the bottom of the downhill you look up and see a big rocky, steep in several places, hill in front of you, I believe this was Evitts Revenge (who is Evitt and what did I do to him that he needed revenge was my thought after the hill!). I saw many bikers bike the hill and many bikers walk the hill. Half way up the hill there was another aid station with more great volunteers but stopping was not an option for me as the hill continued up and I was afraid starting again would not be an option. We went up the rocky climb that was hard to navigate and even harder to find a path that didn’t have so much as a pebble in your way. Up we went and just when things look good as you were at the top, bam, the downhill was even rockier and had more boulders and obstacles to close your eyes and hold on over. After your hands are cramping due to holding the brakes so much and hoping the brakes hold, you are at the bottom (whoa!) with volunteers telling you the hill is over (yeah, ok, it was more like YEAH). Up a small smooth hill to more campground access roads. You were able to bomb down the access roads, all downhill, all smooth and just glad as heck to be out of the woods. At the bottom of the paved hill, you turn back into the woods to ride around the lake some more. Minimal elevation, minimal roots, and my favorite, minimal rocks!! It was a single track windy curvy smooth, compared to the rest of the loop, trail. Over a couple of wooden bridges, down a concrete bank and back up a couple of times but nothing really technical in this portion. It was actually fun and quick. We were then popped out onto a grassy field which could have been a tad tricky with the children running around but it was well managed.
The Run: ugh, and double ugh. Couldn’t wait to get off the bike but … be careful what you wish for I guess. It was more of a mountain climb, gazelle hopping event. The first portion was on a single track trail, up a hill but nothing to climb over, jump over or scramble over. A nice trail. Then it went onto a portion of the bike trail, up the paved hill through the campsite and up the rocky hill. Then, oh then, it all changed. We were sent down a hill that had bigger rocks than expected and prime for ankle twisting. Some had moss on them. Then across a wooden bridge and up a steep hill that had tree roots as steps. You go back down a hill with more rocks to navigate and then, the wall of rocks/boulders/gargantuan stone that literally would have been easier with a boost from someone. Up we climbed and wondered if we were even on the correct path as the running was not nearly as well marked as the biking. When we finally crested the True Mountain there was a volunteer telling us the rocks were over and it was all downhill and downhill it was: partial trial, partial road, and then the finish line.