Before you had even poured your first cup of coffee this morning a group of around 100 people converged on McClellanville for 3rd Annual Palmetto Swamp Fox Adventure Race. Similar to the Amazing Race television show, competitors race through a series of checkpoints completing a variety of adventures and obstacles testing their mental and physical abilities along the way. The Palmetto Swamp Fox Adventure Race is organized by Kando Adventures and is 2008 USARA Regional Qualifier event. It incorporates kayaking, bicycling, and running (through various terrains) in addition to orienteering and other skills needed to complete obstacles. Where the Amazing Race show is geared more at showing off the local culture of exotic destinations, the Palmetto Swamp Fox Adventure Race is about using our local creeks, forests and swamps to expose (and punish) competitors to all the elements of Mother Nature.The race route started at the town hall in McClellanville where racers had to locate a series of clues (a scavenger hunt of sorts) hidden throughout the historic district and decode a message using those clues back at the town hall. From there the original course plan was to travel from the McClellanville boat landing out Jeremy Creek to the Intracoastal Waterway and down to South Tibwin Trail via kayak. There they would complete various checkpoints and obstacles before paddling further south to Buck Hall Recreation Area for more tasks and then return to McClellanville. The total trip length would cover 55 to 60 miles and take an estimated 7 to 10 hours to complete. Mother nature had other plans and despite Kandos motto “Theres no such thing as cant”, rough and stormy seas and a strong constant headwind made event coordinator, Steve Morrone, make a last minute change to the course, completely eliminating the kayaking section. South Tibwin was also excluded from the race due to safety concerns about crossing highway 17 numerous times.
The changes had racers traveling via bicycle on back roads from McClellanville to Buck Hall and then returning the same route. This was a much more simple race, but added over 10 miles extra to the race route and no chance to rest your legs while paddling. One by one, they returned scratched, battered, and beaten, but never defeated. The fastest team, Intel Outside, finished in just under 7 hours. For most first place wasnt what it was about though. Its simply facing the adversities and overcoming them. Some raced alone, some raced with one or two friends, but the comradery I witnessed among them all was amazing. Applause was given as each team crossed the final finish line. Some people knew each other from previous races, but you could also tell that they shared this experience together and probably crossed paths a few times throughout the day and formed an unbreakable bond with one another.
I had a chance to speak with Steve Morrone after most competitors had arrived safely back. He said that everything went great and graciously thanked the Town of McClellanville for opening its doors to the event. He added that it wouldnt have been possible with out the town and the volunteers and that he looked forward to holding the event in McClellanville as long as possible.