This year was the 10th Anniversary of the All Out Adventures Dawn to Dusk race, and race director Yishai Horowitz wanted to make it count. We’d been trying to do this course for a few years, but because of weird, contradictory laws about our hometown’s city open space on the books, it took a couple visits to city hall and making friends with the right people to help us carve out something that wouldn’t be problematic to the area’s land managers.
We’d previously done a race that finished in downtown SLO – which was billed in a book and by Oprah as the Happiest City in America – and racers loved it. No windy, cold nights eating BBQ in the middle of nowhere, no . . . this was a thing! And we knew it would be a highlight for racers this year. Bringing it to our hometown made it both a little more urban than what we’d consider a true adventure race, and also a bit more epic because we were able to take people to places they couldn’t normally access without us.
We had to start the race extra early to try to stave off the season’s winds. We figured that the less wind racers encountered on their open ocean paddle, the better.
We handed out maps at 4:45 and gave everyone a chance to plot the first set of points before loading them into busses.
After about an hour’s ride down to the tip of Santa Barbara County, we dropped them off at Oso Flaco lake for the first run section. Dawn broke and it was time to race!
It wasn’t just running, though. It was dunes, and SO MUCH sand. The first part took them away from the hard pack, but people had the option to skip some check points and just head to the next transition area. This gives pro teams a full race while giving amateur teams a chance at finishing – all at the same time.
Next they picked up kayaks at Oceano – an area famous for being able to drive your car onto the beach and into the dunes.
But the early start wasn’t helpful. It was pretty much a yard sale once the majority of the pack got in the water. 18 people were not allowed to continue to try to go out because the State Parks lifeguards didn’t feel they were adequately prepared for the conditions. We rescued quite a few teams off the water, which the agencies out there with us enjoyed very much.
In fact, so did the racers, who reported it as their favorite part in our survey:
“Being pulled in by life guard, then coast guard, then harbor patrol…quite an adventure. Great support all around!”
“As miserable as the kayak was, I would say getting through the waves without tipping! The kayak conditions pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone but I made it back to dry land!”
Of course, we did give people the option of skipping the kayak. Some of them took better advantage of this than others.
It was an 8 mile kayak in open, choppy water to the safe harbors of Avila Beach. But they couldn’t just drop their boats, they had to carry them through a long culvert, that went under the road flanking the coast, to their bikes.
From there we landed in an area that’s been in the news a bit lately, Wild Cherry Canyon. The public isn’t allowed access to this amazing place, but HomeFed, the company that owns the property, along with other land owners along the way, agreed to allow us passage through it. For the locals racing, it was extra exciting to find a new place . . . and this wasn’t the last time that would happen.
Take the verdant rolling hills of California and set them against a backdrop of the sea – and there you are. Racers rode fire roads and cattle trails to checkpoints, ending up at the top of Perfumo Creek Road – a fun and challenging road ride for locals – and a whole lot of WEE after a morning of work.
This dumped teams out into the city of San Luis Obispo, where they skirted Cerro San Luis and head into Poly Canyon for more biking.
Dropping off the established trails, they were able to pass through the gorgeous La Cuesta Ranch, another property closed to the public.
And, for those of you who get around, they were greeted by professional race volunteer: King Richard Milburn.
Now it was time to head around town, gathering checkpoints for the home stretch . . .
And a finish with a pint glass waiting!
Adventure racers were treated to a Santa Maria style BBQ and beer provided by Central Coast Brewing and Sunset Honda. Racers took over the plaza area, making passers by wonder what these incredibly fit, spandex-clad, sweatstained nutters were up to.
Was it a good event? Our race director thought so.
And so did the racers.
“You are great at putting a hook in just after the roughest part of the race. 2 yrs ago it was the zip line after the 104 degree mosquito ridden fire road bike climb. This year it was unseen land after a hellish kayak. Each time I thought, ” I could totally quit right now but I’d miss out on …”
“I’ve done 4 Dawn-to-Dusk events previously so I knew when you said “epic” that you meant it!”
“The course was beautiful, brutally hard and awesome, except for that drainage ditch, which just screwed up my kayak.” (Sorry, Dave)
“I must say, this years DNF was way more fun than last year’s DNF. Ridding in the back of the coast guard boat was way more fun than riding in the back of Yshai’s truck.”
We’ll see you June 6/7 for the All Out 24 in the High Sierra!
You can find the complete photo collection, along with results, but clicking here!