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28 teams compete in amazing race

November 01, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

FAYETTEVILLE, PA. - For a race that covered approximately 25 miles over mountain trails, dirt roads and water, most of the 28 teams in Sunday's Michaux Team Challenge started slowly, huddling in circles to answer a series of questions, such as naming the Confederate general who ordered Caledonia Furnace burned in 1863.

Knowing that it was Jubal Early was of more than academic interest. For each of the 13 questions a team failed to answer, a one-minute penalty was assessed, meaning teams had to decide how many minutes to spend on the test before heading to the course.

Along the course, other challenges included tests of balance, hand-eye coordination and the ability to ride a bike at low speed without the rider putting a foot to the ground, according to Michele Sheppard, the race's co-director and assistant executive director of the Chambersburg YMCA, sponsor of the event.

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"We had a seven-minute penalty because one member's foot touched the ground," said Tommy Ausherman, one of the members of Team Spark Plug, made up of members of the Chambersburg High School cross country team and teacher Brian Storm. The team finished fourth overall and second among teen teams with a time of 4 hours, 13 minutes and 45 seconds, including nine penalty minutes.

"The course is longer and harder this year," Sheppard said. The winning time in last year's inaugural challenge was 2 hours and 28 minutes, but this year's winners, Team Go Sport of Gettysburg, Pa., finished with a time of 3:37:14.

More than 100 competitors, split between four-member open teams and five-member teen teams, set out at 10 a.m. on a trail run of about three miles. That was followed by about 16 miles of mountain biking, rafting a course on the lake at Long Pine Dam and another run of several miles in wet shoes to the parking lot of Caledonia State Park.

"The rafting was hard because we just kept swinging back and forth," said J.R. Rodkey of Team Spark Plug.

Ausherman said his team spent more than an hour on the water, trying to navigate a course by compass settings. Although most of them are mountain bikers, he said, "The biking part was hard, too. There was a lot of uphill."

"We were very happy to get off that water," said Steve Sheppard, captain of the Remax Attack teen team.

Cross country runners were on several teams, including the winning teen team, Sutliff Hummer Junior. That team consisted of three runners and a soccer player from high schools in Carlisle, Pa., and Boiling Springs, Pa., according to one member, Zach Adams of Carlisle.

While the individual abilities were important, Michele Sheppard said part of the challenge was learning to work as a team.

"A team is only as strong as its weakest link," she said.

One of the race rules was that teammates had to stay within 10 yards of each other throughout the race.

"There's adventure races all over America. The team aspect with this is different," said co-director Jim Nicklas.

While a few teams figured to be competitive in the race, Nicklas said it was more about people taking on the physical and mental challenge than competing for prizes, which in this case consisted of silk-screened rocks for division winners.

"People run this race for two reasons. One is to win. The other is to finish the challenge," Nicklas said.

Twenty-five of the 28 teams went the distance, the last finishing with a time of 6:55:30, Sheppard said.

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