January 24, 2021

Pack rafting on the Rock draws comments

One challenge during the Thunder Rolls Adventure Race was pack rafting on the Rock River.

During the race, numerous teams commented about the challenge faced during this section of the course.

The racers were challenged to use an inflatable raft and make their way from Boy Scout Camp Lowden on the east side of the river to the Castle Rock scenic overlook on the west side of the river and north of the camp.

"The racers' suffering is my pleasure," joked race organizer Gerry Voelliger after hearing some of the comments made by the racers. "It is part of the experience of adventure racing."

Voelliger said teams were able to talk about all the challenges after the race and learn from them for future races.

Most of the 24-hour teams did not begin the pack rafting section until the 13th hour of the race.

At this point, the racers were tired from a long race which made this section of the course

more challenging than if they did it near the beginning of the race.

As the racers came to shore at Castle Rock they made comments about their rafts and the race.

"That was ridiculous.  Purely and utterly ridiculous," said Team Iron Men member Jeremy Huisman.  "I think Chief Black Hawk probably had a better quality inflatable raft."

"We need to tell Gerry (Voeliger) that this is not good," said teammate Tony Oberman.  "Pack rafts are pack rafts, they are not upstream rafts."

Both teammates said they should have fun going back down river.

They then went on to compare adventure racing to a triathlon.

Another team, Alpine Shop, Jeff Sona, Carrie Sona, and David Frei; was surprisingly quiet during this section of the race.  They were all business and focused on making it to the next checkpoint.

Their comments were only about where to head next to complete the course.

On team Midwest Mountaineering, Paula Waite was paddling while laying on her stomach.

"Yeah, I don't know what the best way is to paddle a pack raft," Waite said.  "Hopefully down stream will be more fun."

When team Orion, Molly Cochran, Bryan Cochran, and Matt Hansen; arrived at Castle Rock, one team mate arrived wet.

"Next time bigger boats. The water inside was completely flush with the top.  Back to my sinking raft."

"I think I will sit back and sunbathe for a while," Molly joked.

After the race, competitors were still talking about the pack rafting.

When asked what was the hardest part of the race, pack rafting was the answer from every member of team Marshall County Brush Hogs, Paul Pdhajsky, Kim Hurley, and Steve Fulton, all from Marshalltown, Iowa.

"It took about an hour and a half up and 17 minutes back," said Podhajsky.  "The zip line, prairie, and biking was good though."

On Team Angus Rules, Chad McInnis, Parkview, Iowa, thought the rafting took a lot of time.

"My least favorite part of the race was rafting," said McInnis.  "Paddling upstream takes forever.  The view was wonderful.  This is a beautiful area.   The canoeing was fun, it was nice."

McInnis plans on competing again in future races.

"I will do this again," he said.  "This was a perfect day to race."

Team Angus finished the race with seconds to spare in the 12 hour race.

When asked if his team got lost McInnis said "Nooooo, never."

"Yeah, we got lost a couple of times," said McInnis.