The first leg of the race started at 7am by running from the St. Helens park to the Sharp Rock Boat Ramp off HWY 52 in Beattyville. From here, racers launched their canoes and kayaks into the North Fork of the Kentucky River and paddled along the North, Middle, and South Fork Rivers to find checkpoints. Racers were faced with a big decision early on as they had to decide if two upstream paddle points were worth the time and effort to collect the two checkpoints. Once completed, the racers exited the river behind Jack’s IGA at the Three Forks Canoe/Kayak Launch. Once their team number was registered at the station, they were given a map of downtown Beattyville to start their running section of the race. The running “Urban Challenge” consisted of plotted locations on the Beattyville map where racers had to go and find answers to questions on the map. The Beattyville Urban Challenge took racer to the Art Factory Coffeehouse, the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the Lee County Memorial Park, and the Three Forks Historical Center.
At the Art Factory Coffeehouse, racers were given hot beverage as they searched the room to answer their checkpoint map question. “They are not use to being given coffee and hot chocolate during a race” said Shawn Lemaster of 361 Adventures. “It is awesome for them to get something hot to drink after being wet and cold from being in the river at daybreak this morning.”
At the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, racers had to find the church cornerstone and write down the year the church was built. This location was tricky because the date the congregation was formed was different than the date the church was built. After stopping in the yard to view the sign, racers then climbed up the stairs and searched around the base of the church then finally made their way to the front porch to find the date on the cornerstone.
“Good thing we came up to the door and found the date in the stone 1896.” said Mathieu, a racer from France. “If we just put the date on the sign in the yard then it would have been incorrect.” He and his team partner from Catalonia said that they did not get the race point if the answer is incorrect.
John Macintosh had the door open and greeted racers from the front porch of the Three Forks Historical Center. Racers went in the museum and explored the area before finding what they needed in order to continue. “We had a lot of people come by and everyone was so friendly and had smiles on their faces.”
After hitting the river checkpoints and Beattyville checkpoints, the racers ran up the hill to Happy Top Community Center where they had staged their mountain bikes the previous night. Once the racers turned in their answers, they could fill up their water bottles and grab their mountain bikes for the trek back to Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
Bikers flew down the road from Happy Top and turned onto White Ash Road toward HWY 399. Many racers stopped at the Conveniently Country Store in Yellow Rock before continuing on their way. They then turned north toward Beartrack and into the Bald Rock Area. From there they hit several more plotted points along the way and had the option to come up to HWY 11 then drop over to the east to the Miller Fork Recreational Area along Hell Creek Road and north into the Walker’s Creek area before they came out at Land of Arches Campground on HWY 715. Finally they made their way to the finish back at Natural Bridge State Resort Park where they celebrated with great food, awards, and rehashed the good and bad decisions of the day.
The winning team, No Complaints, consisted of Doug Ritzert, Jim Benton, and Eric Olsen who strategized correctly and skipped the two upstream paddle points early on in the race, but collected all the other points for the victory. This team was one of the favorites to win going in as all the teammates had recently raced the 6 day Adventure Racing World Championship which crossed a 400 mile course from Jackson Hole to Casper Wyoming.
This event was directed by 361 Adventures, a local company owned by two brothers from eastern Kentucky. This is their fifth year of putting on events ranging from short kid-friendly races to four day expedition races. If it sounds like fun, it is, and you can check out the FIG and several other events they have coming up next year at 361adventures.com.