Monday, April 23, 2018

Event Review: Tuckfest 2018

If you've read some of my other blogs, you've probably figured out I like to do shit. 
It's not necessarily because I get bored easy, it's because I like being outside when ever I can. 
Who doesn't?  Well, nobody I wanna know anyway...

So here's a review on an Outdoor Festival. And I'm calling it this not just because it's held outside, but also because so much of it is about Sports!
Not stupid "Ball" or "Team" sports, but outdoor sports like running, cycling, paddling, climbing, etc. 
And I guess there's some music thrown in here and there too. (There's actually a lot of live music, I'm just not a live music fan.)

Here is my review on Tuckfest!

And of course, what's a review without a little bit of history?
Last year three of us went up. My wife, my bud Daniel and myself. 
It's about a three or four drive from Myrtle to the Charlotte NC area where we had ourselves a campsite at McDowell Nature Preserve. Our camp was about a thirty minute drive to the venue. 
Tuckfest is held yearly at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (which I shall now call USNWC).

And this place will blow you away. Goddamn. I hope I can get some pictures...

After parking your car, I think it was a six dollar fee, you walk up a set of stairs past a couple of buildings and see this:


(Just go to the website

How to compare the sensation of looking over this...I've been to Heavenly, Stratton, Vail and Beaver Creek. I've seen what they do with their landscapes and pedestrian areas. It's amazing. But when you crest the stairs and below you can see the whitewater rafts and the playboats hauling down man-made Class 4s, when you can look up and see people zip-lining above you, when you can look out past the park and see the terrain of miles of trails...Long story short, USNWC is tucking amazing. Disney can kiss my ass, this is the Happiest Place on Earth.

Back to Tuckfest itself.
For 35 American you get yourself entry into ANY of the races you want. You want to run a Trail Half Marathon? Okay. You want to do a MTB Short Track too? Okay. You want to do a Sprint Adventure Race? How about a Kayak Race? Okay.
You get where I'm going. For $35 dollars you can do it all. 
Of course, you will need your own equipment for most of it. Duh. (Contact them in regard to rentals, I have no idea what, if any gear they may actually rent.)

Last year we got there on Friday night. I think it started Friday last year? This year it starts on Thursday. Regardless...the first event we did was the Twilight Adventure Race.
This wasn't your standard kind of AR, but we were still issued a map and told we had to find as many Checkpoints (CPs) as possible and be back by..whatever the hell time it was.
Our map took us on foot through many of the trails at the USNWC, gorgeous, hilly, un-carpeted singletrack. And all of our CPs were at different Obstacles stashed throughout the park. Hopefully I can get some pictures?
This race was really fun and different for the three of us. Our bud Daniel is lightning fast, but we still had to utilize the map to get from point to point. I'm still amazed they let me Navigate...

The next morning's' event was a Trail Half Marathon. I'm not going to get into too much detail except I heard they ran outta water (I had my own) and the race was 15 instead of 13. But who cares? The trails were awesome and I sure as shit wasn't going to win anyway.

After getting owned on the trails we spent the rest of the day drinking amazing beer and watching Daniel, who at the time was a pretty burly dude, try to hang with the skinny little guys at the bouldering area.

That's a pretty quick review of last years event. 2018 will be even better.  Unless noted, all pics are Lori's, mine or my wifes at Relentless Forward Commotion. I'm also feeling kind of Metal Head today, so expect sporadic links to tunes I like.

Hey whaddya know? Its still a three or four hour drive. Only this time its my wife, Daniel, Felicia, our buddy Lori coming all the way in from Boston and me making our way to McDowell, where I just barely secured us a campsite for this year. (Note: book sites early)

Tuckfest Day #1, Thursday.
The five of us had conversed over what exactly to do this first night. There was a Night Trail Race which was part of the Marathon Challenge, or there was the Twilight Obstacle Race. After a quick deliberation, we figured we can do a regular Trail Run any time and that Obstacle Race was really damn fun last year, so...Twilight Obstacle Race it was! 

We had a scheduled start time for 6:30 at the Ridge Pavillion. This is where most of our events would start and end. Hope I can find a picture...
We get to the race a little early, as you do, and were told that at 6:30 we could open our maps. MAPS!!! 
See, this isn't an OCR in the normal sense, this is half Adventure Race/half Obstacle Course Race. So you need to find your way to each Obstacle/Checkpoint and complete the obstacle before moving on to the next Checkpoint. And, there is no designated route. It's a Pick Your Own Adventure kind of thing. (As long as you were on foot, no bikes.) The winner of the race would be the team that collected the most CP's, thats Checkpoints, in the least amount of time.
As team captain, I really should have made my team call me "Cappy", I headed up to the start line to get my map and punch card, which is how race officials confirm you made it to the Checkpoints.

This post may be as long as my TransRockies Run review. Get a cup of coffee and settle in.

The 6:30 gun sounds and....we all gather around the map. Ya, you need to strategize how you're going to run your race. If you just randomly run from CP to CP, you end up with a bunch of wasted miles.

Where the hell is the wife? She must be over there.

As three of us had done the race before, we decided to go after some of the CPs we had missed the previous year.

All the Stars are CPs

Our first CP was at the Flat Water Dock. There was no obstacle here, just a quick punch, which Daniel took care of, then off to Jacobs Bridge.

I'm not the best Navigator and I need glasses to read. But the team decided I should be Nav and off we go running, water on our left side all the way to Jacobs Bridge. I wish I had a picture of that. Oh, I do. Thanks Heather.

Running more than one at a time made for a very bouncy time.

From there we wanted to hit the Obstacle Challenge. And your's truly found a great trail to bushwack right up to the CP, completely by accident.

This CP was really damn fun and quite challenging. It's technically a little kid Obstacle Course, but stuff designed for 4 foot kids weighing 80lbs is hard when your 190# Six Footer.
Here's a picture or two:

That's Felicia in the forefront, Lori to the right and me in the background.

Short Shorts often equal a rope burned crotch.

This could take all day. So let me just post a few more pictures of some the obstacles we did, and mention that I got us lost, then Heather got us lost and we probably added 2 extra miles to our legs. But who cares, we were having fun and we're training for a 50k, we need those miles. Here's those pics in no particular order:

Traverse Wall. We spent an hour in the dark last year trying to find this.

I call this the Ankle Smasher.

Night Time Obstacles are the bomb.

We had to be back to the Start/Finish by 9pm. We hit our last CP, a realllllyyyy sketchy Cargo Net at maybe 8:20  and decided we didn't have enough time for another CP. 
When we got back to the Start/Finish at 8:40we were pleasantly surprised to be told we were currently in Second Place! Hey!! Neat! We certainly didn't expect that. The hometeam guys have a huge advantage on this race!
We spent the next 20 minutes trying not to shiver too much, the temp really dipped when the sun went down, and trying not to get our hopes up.
But 9pm eventually came and hey! Here we are on the podium in a solid Second Place. 

We're on the left. The emcee said we smelled good. She lied.

We went back to camp shortly after getting our medals, it was pretty damn chilly at night. In fact, it hit a low of 39 that night.

Tuckfest Day #2, Friday.
I'm not going to remember everything. Tuckfest is awesome and there is soooo much going on. But I'll try to keep this in some semblance of order.

Four of us are doing the Half Marathon Trail Race. It doesn't start until noon so we spend the morning bumbling around the venue. Here's a picture of the Deep Water Solo Trials. I'm having hard time with words today, dehydrated probably. 

Always a crowd favorite. Bet that water was right cold at 10am.

Did I mention we had a 12 noon start? Kind of a weird time to start a race. We didn't wanna eat too much beforehand, but man, that's lunchtime.
Before the race actually started, La Sportiva put on a quick contest where the winners could get a new pair of shoes. This was a Last Man Standing kind of thing:

We didn't win.

This was a pretty cut and dry trail race. It was incredibly well marked as you'd expect a big operation to be. Although I did run with my Nathan VaporKrar there were two aid stations on trail with water and Powerade, no food.

This event was two loops of beautiful singletrack with great switchbacks, short climbs and plenty of roots.

You can't really see a lot of roots in this picture. Use your imagination though. They're there.

Long story short on this race: Like 95% of my races, I have a damn good time. I don't place, I'm not fast and I'm not competitive. And I don't care.
Here's another trail pic. Can you tell I really like these trails? They're not sandy and they're not carpeted. They're godamn awesome is what they are.


After finishing this event we had a pow-wow on what to do next. 
Well, we decided to have beer and lunch. And this my friends, this is where the USNWC gets their money from you.
They have a shit-ton of good beer, draft and cans, and you're looking at six to nine bucks for a beer. Then if you want a veggie burger, add on another niner, then tax that shit and now a lunch for two is costing you forty bucks. 
All the racing may only cost you 35 bones, but if you wanna eat there for 2 or 3 days, you'd better start saving now.

Wife and Beer.

At this point the weather is perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, high sixties, no wind. Thank you Tuckfest for bribing Mother Nature for this weekend.

What's next for today?  I ran a 5k with Lori! This was to be her first "Trail Race" not first Trail, or first Race mind you, but first Trail Race. I was stoked to run with her, and I could almost immediately tell she runs in New England not Myrtle Beach as she'd put distance on me climbing all the damn hills!!

Why do my feet hurt after all this. Big deal, I've got about 23miles for the weekend so far, but my arches....hope I'm not injured. Gotta Swamp Stomp soon.

I think we went back to camp after this? But on the way we got a killer Salad Bar (Salad Bah is the right way to say it) at the local Harris Teeter. And yes, Harris Teeter is a grocery store, not a Hi-Fi Audio store, that'd be Harris Tweeter.

Tuckfest Day #3, Saturday.
Guess what I did? I sat around and drank beer. I leaned against a rock for hours on end with Lori just drinking beer and watching stuff. 
But my other friends all did shit!
Heather and Fe ran a Quarter Marathon Trail Race, and Daniel went to Bouldering lessons.
After my overachieving wife and Fe were done, the four of us hung out to watch Daniel try some White Water Paddle Boarding. Kudos to him, it's a beautiful day out, but I certainly don't want to get soaked and freeze my balls off.

He said it was pretty hard but quite fun. I believed him! That shit looked hard.

I want him to fall because he's good at everything.

We also watched this madman do crazy trials stuff on his seatless bicycle.

Another big crowd attraction, very impressive stuff!!

Eventually we all settled in one place where a couple of the rivers converge. This was a great place to watch the Bakers Dozen Kayak Race (Paddle Boards too!)
I don't know the full set of rules behind this race, but I think kayakers had to do 13 loops around the center while dodging other kayakers, SUPpers, and the White Water Rafts who must have had very clear instructions to fuck with the racers whenever they had the opportunity. It was really, really, really damn funny to watch rafts purposely bump into kayaks ( Disclaimer: I don't really know for sure the the Rafts were told to do this, but they did!!)

Some really great formatting with those pictures huh?

Do I have a video too?  
 Some of these pics/vids are from Lori who was kind enough to share a file drive with Heather and me. My camera sucks so I need any help I can get.

We spend the rest of the day watching various White Water Races and some of the Short Track Mountain Bike Race. I also made sure to get thoroughly sunburned.

We left the venue earlier this day, maybe five or six o'clock to get back to camp. And I gotta tell ya, there were thousands of people trying to get in to the USNWC to see the bands playing that night! Traffic was backed up for miles. I have no idea who was playing. I've determined that I really don't care for Bluegrass or Folk music or anything like that, but it seems to go hand in foot with this kind of scene. Which is actually a drag as I think Faith No More would really appreciate some stage time.

We went to a different Harris Tweeter for Salad Bah! I should have Fod Blooged that salad.

Tuckfest Day #4, Sunday.
8:30 AM Trail 5k!
I didn't do it.
My feet are now taped, and still hurting. Hell, I'm even limping a wee bit, so no 5k for me, but all my friends did it!

PRing a Pr!

After the 5k, Heather and I demo'd some bikes. We demo'd some multi-thousand dollar carbon fiber full boing Specialized bikes in fact. For FREE! We originally were going to go hit some of the easy trails...but ended up on some of the gnarlier shit where Heather still rode over everything in her way.

I'll get her racing one day.

Daniel did a Bouldering Competition. No pics for you.

Lori did some White Water Rafting and some of the Zip Lines, which cost a little extra but I was told is worth it.

That's quality photo right there.

Soooooo close to flipping!

Fukkin long innit?

Heather and I also went to an Outdoor Survival 101 Class, which was pretty damn cool. Did you know chapstick is flammable? Now you do, and we owe that knowledge to Eric at USNWC. We hope to get back there and take a Two Day Wilderness Safety Course.

Ugh, my traps hurt from typing and I think I have a blister on my right butt cheek from sitting. I should probably wrap this up and actually get some paying work done.

But allow me to conclude thusly: Tuckfest is tucking awesome.
For 35 bones you can race Trail Running, MTB and Kayaking, as much as you want. You can demo some kickass gear, you can take educational classes, you can buy gear at the pretty impressive Vendor Ave, you can watch those nuts get worked in the White Water or do some Yoga.
If you wanted to drop a little extra you can White Water Raft, Zipline, Flatwater Kayak etc. (Contact USNWC for more in depth deets.)
Plan on sinking some scratch in food and beverage and it's $6 per car, per day. UNLESS YOU HAVE A SUBARU! Yep, Subarus are free to park for Tuckfest.

I'm writing this on Monday, the day after getting back from Tuckfest. I've already hassled USNWC to see when next years event is. Its the weekend of 4-22. 
Hope to see you there doing some kind of awesomeness.

Tired, smelly, sunburnt and happy.

Thanks for reading!



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