Kodiak Daily Mirror - One punishing race
One punishing race
by Derek Clarkston / sports@kodiakdailymirror.com
Aug 16, 2011 | 121 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An Eco Challenge team attempts to raft down the Buskin River during the Coast Guard’s Eco Challenge race Saturday. 
(Derek Clarkston photo)
view slideshow (5 images)
A week’s worth of excruciating outdoor activities jammed into half a day.

That’s what 44 athletes, spread over 11 teams, did Saturday under the warm Kodiak sun as part of the Coast Guard’s Eco Challenge.

Teams scaled Pyramid Mountain, biked to the Salonie Creek Rifle Range, attempted to raft a shallow Buskin River and traversed Sargent Creek.

Those were just a few of the many obstacles the athletes encountered.

The team that emerged as champions not only conquered what was thrown their way, they devoured the course.

The foursome of Jason McGrath, Shanna Moeder, James Bogert and Meg Inokuma outpaced 10 other teams to win in an astonishing 6 hours, 45 minutes. No other team finished in less than

8 hours.

“Going into it, I didn’t think we were going to win,” McGrath said. “I was hoping not to get last and just go and have fun. We had a solid team and were just able to move quickly and be efficient where we needed to be.”

The team dubbed themselves “Island Time,” and judging by the name, they did not expect to win.

“I purposely wanted it like that, because if we did well, great, if not, fine,” Bogert said.

Bogert and Inokuma were holdovers from last year’s team that finished fifth. Moeder and McGrath were new to the team as rookie Eco Challengers.

McGrath, a recent Coast Guard transfer from Sacramento, Calif., knew Bogert from California and filled the last spot on the roster. Moeder, friends with all three, said she wanted to try the event.

“I have done all kinds of things with Meg and I know she performs at a very high level, and I wasn’t sure with Jason and Shanna, but they did great,” Bogert said.

The start of the race was staggered and Island Time was the last team to begin. That didn’t matter. By the middle of the race, they had passed every team and were setting the pace.

Bogert said several teams were stumped by the first task.

“They give you a heading and a distance and you have to find a letter,” he said. “A lot of people struggled with that, and we have experience with that.”

Teams had to clear nine checkpoints and at each checkpoint had to map out their next destination. Also, at checkpoints they had to show all their supplies. If something was missing, the team received a time penalty.

Moeder said she likes to mentally prepare for a race, but she wasn’t able to for this one.

“You have no idea what you are doing,” she said. “It is a total secret until each checkpoint. That is really hard and something pretty challenging to overcome.”

The first checkpoint was on top of Pyramid Mountain. From there they went down the side of Pyramid and hit a golf ball, from the hillside, onto the

No. 7 green at the Bear Valley Golf Course.

The team then raced to the Buskin River Weir, where rafts were waiting for their trip down the river.

The raft ride didn’t turn out to be much of a ride — teams had to pull their rafts because the river was too shallow.

When teams reached the end of Anton Larsen Road, they exchanged rafts for bikes and cycled Brimmer Road until reaching a traverse over Sargent Creek. Both athletes and bikes were sent across the creek.

Once the entire team was over the creek, they biked to the Salonie Creek Rifle Range, then headed up Kashevaroff Mountain before finishing at the Rendezvous Bar and Grill.

The hike up Kashevaroff proved the most difficult.

“I was in front the whole time just bushwhacking. That was tough for me,” Bogert said. “It wasn’t that long of a distance, but there wasn’t a trail.”

Everybody on the winning team said getting first wouldn’t have been possible without the support team.

“We had an incredible support team,” Moeder said. “They had everything ready for us and we were able to just focus on ourselves and get our changeover and go.”

This was the final Eco Challenge for race organizer Rachel Dyer, athletic director for the Coast Guard’s Morale, Well-Being, Recreation (MWR) department. Dyer received a job promotion as the MWR business section chief.

Dyer has been organizing the race for nine years and said she has the most fun creating and checking out the course. It takes three months to hammer out the details.

“It takes a lot of volunteers and that is my most thankful thing, is having so many volunteers coming out helping me,” she said.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiak

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