By Kevin Searls and the Searls Family

Our family decided to take on something different than a road race or XC race. We competed at the Angel Island Adventure Race, in the middle of the SF Bay. Think Amazing Race and Survivor put together. 

We competed in the Family Division (2 adults and 2 kids--age 15 or younger--2 bikes allowed) last year without strategy or experience, and placed 8th or 9th overall. This year, with experience under our belts, we knew what to expect and strategized to race smarter. 

This race consists of running and biking all around the island, while covering approximately 7 miles. All racers are given a map and the hint of the challenge names on the 20 minute boat ride to Angel Island. This amount of time is all you get to plan race strategy, direction to go on the Island, and how to split up "the challenges". There are 10 mandatory stops throughout the race with various challenges at each station, such as knot tying, puzzle building, a word challenge, a maze ball, and a slingshot course. Some of these challenges can be done by one teammate, some require two, and some require all four team members to complete the challenge. Once the gun goes off, racers can go any direction they choose, which makes the strategy more fun. Upon completing each challenge, we collected a clue that allowed us to solve the last challenge. The 10th challenge is the last challenge, for which all four team members must be together. 

Our plan for the race was to have Nolin head counter-clockwise on the bike (the hilly part for the direction-poor kid!) in one direction to complete two of the solo challenges, while myself and Renae started by running the other direction to get to the first three individual challenges. Noreen would ride the bike to pass us and get to her solo challenge. We would then all meet to complete the whole team challenge, at the beach, before we started heading back towards the finish. 

Nolin and I stopped for a two person maze ball station, as Noreen and Renae moved ahead to a tricky 2 person obstacle. This strategy to not wait and cheer each other on served to our advantage. We collected all of our clues and raced to the finish line where they announced that we were the first team to arrive. We used our clues to solve the last task, and crossed the finish line in just under an hour and a half as the overall winners of the race! It was a great day on Angel Island and fun to learn that our strategy paid off!


Quote from Renae:
"It was a fun day racing with mom, dad, and my brother Nolin, enjoying all the views and working on the challenges together throughout the race!"


Quote from Nolin:
"Our strategies worked, and I had fun doing all of the very creative challenges. It was a fun trip, and it made it even better to win."



Quote from Noreen:
"Nolin did a fantastic job on the first part of the race. He peddled mostly uphill for his solo challenges, left his bike for me to jump on, and headed back to the finish... mostly downhill! Renae ended up running more than she did last year, which meant our leap-frog plan for getting to the earlier challenges got us to the family challenges and finish line quicker."