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Racers preview national championship course in epic fashion

Posted: November 11, 2015 - 12:09am
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Eric Mantooth gets in his kayak for the lake portion of the 24-hour Epic Race at Wildwood Park Saturday.   Photo by Scott Rouch
Photo by Scott Rouch
Eric Mantooth gets in his kayak for the lake portion of the 24-hour Epic Race at Wildwood Park Saturday.

The dress rehearsal for a national championship went off without a hitch Saturday morning at Wildwood Park.

Those participating in the Epic Race portion of Bartram’s Wildwood Epic Adventure Weekend, sponsored by Rev3 Adventure, made their way out of the starting chute at 9 a.m. to begin their 24-hour competition. An hour later the eight-to-12 hour Strong racers broke out followed by the Tenderfoot racers at 11 a.m.

“The Epic Race is a national qualifying race so a lot of people are coming from other states to qualify for nationals which will take place here next year so they get to preview the national course,” said Mike Spiller, Rev3 Adventure director of operations. “The top 10 teams go to nationals and nationals are here (Wildwood Park) next year.”

All races have trekking/navigation, mountain biking and paddling, which was to take place at Wildwood Park, on the Bartram Trail and Mistletoe State Park and Clarks Hill Lake among other locations. It was the combination of events that attracted some competitors.

“It’s the thrill of mixing orienteering with fitness,” said “Checkpoint 19’s” Joe Lanning from Athens, Ga., who was there with teammates Annie MacFadyen and Brent Vickers.

Just a few of the 165 racers who signed up came from nearby.

“We wish the local turnout was better. We have over 100 people from over 100 miles away,” Spiller said. “Locally we only have about 40 people from a 40-mile radius.”

While the Epic Race was a national qualifier for the national championship to be held at Wildwood Park next year, there were different motivations among the individuals and teams who were competing.

Elliott Giddens, 24, from Myrtle Beach, S.C., was at Wildwood Park competing with his 15-year-old brother Noah and father Eugene.

“It is something they have done a couple times before, this is my first one so I’m pretty excited about it, pretty nervous at the same time,” said Giddens, adding that he was encouraged to do it by his father.

Matt Halter from South Carolina was there with three friends he used to work with from South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland on the team they named “The Fat Boys.”

”Other people get together and have a golf weekend, we get together and do these,” Halter said. “There’s no real hard part for us, we just have a good time together, that’s all.”

While the Epic Race will be a national championship next year, racing will still be accessible to others.

“For people who are just interested in coming out and doing an adventure race for the first time or at maybe an intermediate level they’ll be able to compete as well,” said Randy DuTeau, Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.

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