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Thread: 11th Annual AZ Undertakers Marathon

  1. #1
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    Default 11th Annual AZ Undertakers Marathon

    Mindblowing. I made up for six months of rock crawling in two day! LOL.

    The Marathon is a two day invitation only event each year. This year's event was also dedicated to Chuck Boyd, who passed away a few weeks ago. Those of you who have wheeled with Chuck know what a great guy he was. As far as the marathon itself, the Arizona Undertakers create two man teams and the goal is to run all the trails listed in two days - as a team - and the team with the fastest time wins bragging rights for the year. There were 23 teams this year (so 46 of the most awesome buggies I have ever seen) and only 6 teams finished all 14 trails. Um... we were not one of them. LOL. Day one was solid, but day two was so out of my league I was just happy to be there. EPIC wheeling with no breakage (even better), plus the new radiator from Griffin did GREAT. Zero cooling issues. I just need 42" sticky tires filled with water to be do this event next year. ;-)

    Day 1: Table Mesa
    Trails: Die Hard, Collateral Damage 1, Collateral Damage 2, Anaconda, Lower Terminator, Upper Terminator, Predator, and Annihilator. There is no particular order, so I just listed them in the order we ran them.

    Partner: I was partnered with Jay Eller as the other buggy. Super cool guy. We had never met before and I felt bad that he got stuck with me as his partner, but he was cool about it all and was mainly shaking down a new rig. Moon buggies are notoriously HORRIBLE for trail wheeling since they are so purpose built for cone dodging / rock crawling events. Jay built one from scratch with the intent of it being a trail rig. It was awesome.



    Ryan Frost (a.k.a. "Frosty", "The King", "Frosty Frickin' Gordon", etc...) was my co-driver. We're driving together at Hammers this year so it was a great two days in the car working together and getting seat time as a team. We spent the first day in helmets with window nets and full harness to get used to driving by feel instead of sight, so we did all the trails that way. This is Frosty. We're a good team. LOL.:



    How the day went: I love my buggy. It was great to be out at TM again on all the old familiar trails. It's amazing how much more in perspective Die Hard is now, having run Chocolate Thunder and Wrecking Ball. Truly had fun. In the last boulder field my skid plate came unwelded, so we strapped it to the top of the buggy and tried to not tear the Atlas out while finishing the trail. We dropped the skid plate off at camp on our way to CD and ran CD, Conda, LT and UT without a skid plate... I just made sure to not high center on anything. LOL. We knew Annihilator would kick my butt without a skid plate, so we went back to camp and used a Ready Welder to repair the skid plate. We then blew through Pred on the way to Annihilator.

    Annihilator is like a mini-KOH / chocolate thunder area lined with "fans". It's only two waterfalls in about a quarter mile section... but MAN are they serious waterfalls. There is a ton of room to spectate and access from the road is easy. There were 10 buggies in front of me waiting to run the trail and about 50 spectators (friends, wheelers, guys with broken junk who just wanted to drink beer and heckle). It was awesome. Andrew did a one-shot on the hero line, Army Mike (who co-drive the Ultra4 race in Sept with me) rolled his new buggy (Andrew Dees old white buggy) and retained the title of "Rollover Mike", tires were smoked, and Hummer rolled it in the upper notch after walking up the lower obstacle. LOL. Everyone was in good spirits and it was a great time.

    When my turn came, I flopped it on the side the first time up through the notch, but was able to back up and drive out of the flop. The second pass I was able to stay on the correct line and get my tires up over the first break over... while in "skinny pedal" mode trying to get to the top of the 2nd break over, the skid plate repair failed and I lost the skid plate again. After a quick meeting with Frosty, we decided the Atlas was worth more than my pride, so we called it a day. No winch and no strap all day. Pretty happy with that.

    Media: I got ZERO pictures on Saturday. Too focused on wheeling. I did, however, run my little cameras all day. I'll review the footage and post up a Day 1 vid when complete. Hopefully I got some good stuff. Everyone camped out at TM or a little further north and I went to church then home for a soft bed and warm shower. Good first day. Here are a couple of pics of some of the guys on Annihilator.

    Here is a small portion of the gallery watching Jeremy Hammer on the upper waterfall:



    Army Mike on the lower fall... "That's not the line" was heard all day:



    Chad Hummer demonstrating proper resting technique.


    Some CD lovin'



    This year's shirt:


    It's time to head home, so I will update the Day Two festivities later tonight... things got REALLY interesting on day two. I also got lots of pics. Here is a day 2 teaser video of one obstacle on one tiny part of one trail... but it was like this ALL DAY.

    Last edited by alanzona; 11-11-2013 at 04:12 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Ok. Day Two - I just thought I loved day 1... until I met day 2!

    It started bright and early with a great sunrise. We were a little further north so it was colder and higher elevation. I've never ran any of these trails so didn't know what was in store for me. As wordy as I am, I don't have enough words. I left the nest and entered "Big Boy Wheeling" world. Since each team had at least one vehicle miss a TM trail no one was technically "in" the Marathon race anymore, so we banded together for "recreational wheeling" instead of trying to hit all 7 stops on the Marathon list for day 2. Jay Eller and I connected with Andrew McLaughlin, Jay Hurst, Joe Pierce (from New England in the orange buggy below), Doug (another New Englander), Tom Jacobson, and Army Mike Bradley. Frosty was in the car (pronounced caaaa while asking for his clam chowda) with me again all day, but with 6 cars and 12 people just out to have a great time, we scrapped the race helmets. We DID, however, keep the window nets on and of course, full harness. Who knew they were so good at keeping tree limbs out of the car! hahaha. It also forced me to drive by feel.

    Sunrise was awesome.




    We headed out to the first trail (which won't be named in this review. Sorry) and it was a MOTHER! We got to practice our winching techniques right out of the gate. Water fall, water fall, mud pit, small ocean, water fall, bigger water fall, HUGE OCEAN, water fall, out. I developed perm grin IMMEDIATELY. Here is Tom Skarrett showing how to block the first obstacle:




    After you cleared two waterfalls like that, you dealt with a series of water holes like this that you had no idea how deep they were. I died in this one and had to winch out to get the car to a point it would start again.





    Here is an idea of the fourth set of waterfalls - the one that had the big lake in between the falls. Andrew was in the red buggy and schooled it. He became the winch anchor for everyone else after that. Hard but fun!













    The entry to first the waterfall was no slouch. Either one would be hard, but together, it was awesome! Brad from New England (with his rear steer and LS motor) found out the hard was about which line worked and which one didn't. Fortunately this time, I got to use my winch to recover someone else, not just pull myself up waterfalls. Seriously. Water in the tires and 40's is the way to go. I didn't stand much of a chance with 37" DOT tires, even though I do love my Pit Bulls, gravity and physics were at work on this day... Anyway, here's Brad. For reference, he's running 42" Pit Bull bias tires. They are huge.



    My adventure on this obstacle was the subject of the "Buddy System" video in post #1. Once we got Brad lined up, we hooked his line to Joe Pierce and my line to him and we both hit it together in sync. I am pretty sure Frank Munice captured it on his phone with video, so I'll post up when I get it!
    Last edited by alanzona; 11-11-2013 at 05:54 PM.
    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  3. #3
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    Day 2 - second trail

    I am proud to say I did not have to winch at all on the 2nd trail. It was hard, but more of washes and huge rocks, not stupid stupid waterfalls. There was a LOT of stuff like this that was pretty much "don't fall in" type material.




    Here is the same shot with the horizon adjusted for reference! Sick wheeling.




    Buggies came in all shapes and sizes. We stopped for a quick bite to eat around noon, plus I got a poser shot. LOL







    Not many pictures due to to full time froading on that one. We wrapped up and started on trail #3 and Jay Eller (very kindly) suggested maybe I drive around to the top of the trail and walk back in. After wheeling with him for two solid days, I didn't question him at all. It was WISE advice. I winched a lot on trail #1, but trail #3 would have been a trail plug all day. The gatekeeper alone kept eating people's lunch! I sped around to the end (with Army Mike who had snapped a rear drive shaft on the first trail) and we walked 1.5 miles in and watch the last 2/3 of the trail.
    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  4. #4
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    Here are some shots of the gatekeeper:

























    Joe Pierce lost a body panel, Andrew cut a tire (but plugged it), and I saw my first tarantula wild in the desert.




    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  5. #5
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    I made it down the trail and got to what THIS action!













    I had the best seat in the house!!!




    Obligatory feet shot in honor of Mr. D'Avy.

    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  6. #6
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    More coolness.




























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  7. #7
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    Joe Pierce on the Annihilator "hero line" on day one. Welcome to Arizona.

    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  8. #8
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    Just when your jeep starts to look like a badass buggy, you go and run with these guys.... just looks like a tiny jeep again. lol Love the pictures! That trail with the pools is incredible!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avis View Post
    Just when your jeep starts to look like a badass buggy, you go and run with these guys.... just looks like a tiny jeep again. lol Love the pictures! That trail with the pools is incredible!
    It was so much fun... and yeah, mine looks little again, but that's OK. It earned respect and I can beat any one of them (minus the actual Ultra4 buggies) in a race. LOL. Gotta build for both worlds - go fast and crawling. We have a good balance and I gained invaluable experience.
    The Dusty Gnome / White Collar Publishing
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  10. #10
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    Great recap Alan. Felt like I was right there with you guys.

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