Sunday, August 6, 2006

Raid the North 36 hr Adventure Race - Kamloops, BC

Just back from Kamloops and the Raid the North 36hr adventure race.. what an epic adventure we had. DART-nuun comprised of Ryan Fleming, Patricia Williams (from team Mighty Dogs), Glenn Rogers and myself placed 2nd in a time of 19:05 - the first two teams scorched the course that the race directors said would take the winning teams 24-26hrs.

RACE START: Midnight Friday Aug 4th after a two hour drive from Sun Peaks resort to a remote lake. We started at midnight sharp and running straight into impenetrable bush. We had to find the corner of the lake and follow it around to the South West. It was bushwhacking insanity. We followed the couple of teams that managed to get in front of us at first, then grew impatient with their lack of speed through the brush and broke off on our own. I was watching the compass and they were off bearing anyway. From there it was madness.. charging through the overgrown forest with no path whatsoever. When you move at that speed while breaking through shrubs, trees, branches, etc there is a good deal of falling/slipping/struggling. You trip, get caught in branches or fall in holes that are covered by the overgrowth. It's crazy, and fun, and your shins take a beating. After every adventure race I will have gashes on my legs for weeks. You sort of just cross your fingers that you don't twist an ankle or hurt yourself. I still have cuts healing today from the race. I caught a couple in the eye, if you forget your glasses watch out.
Once we found the lake it was hardcore coasteering. Which basically means running the coast. We could run the shore in spots, on baby head sized boulders.
However at times we would have to wade out into the water to get around boulders or little cliffs you could not climb over. It was cold! I hyperventilated every time we went swimming, and every time the strange noises I made caused Fleming to laugh. Like I said it was cold, and the middle of the night. We kept a good pace with Fleming and myself taking turns pushing the pace up front. We could see the wet footprints of one team in front of us as we traveled the shore. When we got to the CP it turned out to be Tom Zidek's team Banf Construction Co .com. From CP1 we headed straight up! A few thousand feet of steep bushwhacking uphill to a road we had some trouble finding. We arrived at CP2 in 3rd place, just after another team. Once through that CP however we passed and dropped that team as we ran downhill at breakneck speeds and arrived at the TA for the bike section in 2nd place, about 34 mins behind 1st.

As we left the TA on our bikes the sun started to come up. With so many dirt roads we got a bit confused at first, but were then able to figure out where exactly we were going.
We started out hot, towing Patricia up the long dirt road climb. Glenn did a good job navigating the maze of roads. I got a flat and changed it very quickly (Matthew Noell I'm getting fast buddy!). Damn stan's notube system keeps failing on me. After all the effort to get them setup I don't even think they are lighter or less likely to puncture. Back to the race - After hammering up and flying down we ended up at the TA where our lovely support crew was waiting for us with PB&J sammies, chips and all sorts of junk I knew I shouldn't be eating.. but did anyway.

Running out of this TA we had to run with our PFDs, paddles and climbing gear. This weighed the team down a bit. With Patricia charging we now had to help Fleming out a bit. I started by pushing him from behind. Then I took Glenn's paddle and he stepped up and grabbed Flemings pack. We didn't move very fast but when we arrived at the rappell we could see the 1st place team pushing off in their canoes.

The rappell was about 150' straight down to a five foot ledge on the waters edge. I went first and we moved as quick as I could on the slow rope, pushing the rope through my ATC. Patricia came next.
Then we waited and waited and waited for Fleming. He finally showed up. Apparently he had his prusik get stuck in the ATC, and the ropes guy came down and cut it off for him! Crazy.

It must have been 12 hours into the race, noon the next day when we started our coasteering to the canoes. We had the most amazing 25 mile paddle down Lake Adams to the next TA. We started out sloppy, but then Glenn and I put Patrica and Fleming's canoe on tow. This made it far more difficult for Glenn to keep our canoe straight, but he did a great job (even though I was constantly badgering him with "more left!", "hard right!"). After getting into a groove and really feeling like we were picking up time, we just HAD to stop. I protested stopping but it had to be done apparently, and.. we.. well.. I'll spare you the details but we all made a syncrinized deposit on the shore. Now much lighter we were able to cruise towards the end of the lake and the TA. The last few miles were not without drama though as things started to come off the hinges a bit. Teammates were running out of water, bonking, yelling at each other and everyone just generally wanting out of the boats!

I hit the shore running and I see the first place team, Banf Construction Co. com. Tom doesn't look happy realizing we gained 15 minutes on them in the water. But he's a good sport and gives me a low five as I cheer them on with "way to race guys!". Now it's on. We know we have a 4,000 + foot climb ahead of us and I am giddy like a school kid to chase them down. After another slow TA where we give too much time back, we head out. Up up up we go, taking turns towing Patricia we all look pretty good. After a couple hundred feet Fleming and I are now sort of rotating between towning Glenn and Patricia up the climb, but we are still moving fast. Around every corner I think to myself "I can't believe we haven't caught them yet!".

Finally as we are almost to the top of the climb we see them. Then Glenn starts to fall back. I put him on tow again and we are slowly closing the gap. Glenn is hurting and as I tow him he says "I have to get off, I have to walk". Walking a bike up hill is at least 4 times slower than riding it in granny gear. I thought to myself "if he gets off we will never catch them". So I started to yell at Glenn, "Don't get off your fucking bike! Do not walk, stay on that fucking bike!". That bought me about one more minute, then he got off, and they slowly pulled away again. As the terrain flattens out we chased them down and finally pass them, then they pass us down the next hill. As we chase I'm getting frustrated with our lack of speed. The other team starts to pull away on the downhill! I'm not impressed with our team. On the next downhill I follow them as they take a left hand turn and Glenn yells for me to stop. "It's the next turn" he says. He's right as we arrive in 1st place at the Lake Mickilveray CP.

Now we're off on the advanced course trying to get out of the area before the other team sees which way we went. It's getting exciting. We make a couple wrong turns and my excitement turns to anguish, and I'm nervious that they are catching up. We stop short of a CP and for the next 30 minutes preceed to look for the checkpoint... when - ah damn! Banf Construction has caught up. We continue to look to early on this road for the CP, they continue on, find it and speed downhill as we figure out what we are doing. Eventually we're on the right track again and flying downhill. We catch them again at the bottom, at the next CP. We all start up the final climb on the bikes. I'll be honest, I felt great and we had been making time on them the whole race. I felt as though they had been beating us on navigation and now that there really wasn't too much more, I thought for sure we had them. We just had 2,000+ feet to climb on bikes to the TA, then a few thousand feet running to the top of the ski resort and down to the finish in the village. Easy.

As we started up this hill it got steep and very challenging with loose rock all over the place. It became a game for me to stay on my bike and ride it as team members from both teams started to fall off. I think Patricia and I rode the whole thing, passing the 1st place team in the process. Glenn and Fleming weren't too far behind and before long we were now leading again. This is when we came to an intersection that I knew was a left hand turn. Glenn wanted to wait there, and see if the other team would pass it. Didn't make much sense to me, and in hindsight I think this was a way for him to take a break. It didn't work either, after all that work they just passed us as we stood there (well actually Fleming was laying down on the side of the trail).

Once we gave them the lead back we started up again after them on this never ending climb. Glenn slowed and even with tows had to walk again. It was a heart breaker to watch them ever so slowly disappear.
In the TA they were gone in seconds and we took waaaay longer than we should have again. Tom told me later that he just sort of got lucky finding the CP at the top of the mountain. After hitting the top we headed down to the finish. I felt my teammates slowing as they realized that we were not going to win this one.. so I pushed even harder on the downhill, trying to will them to move faster - we might not win but I wanted to make it as close as possible and push to the end. After all was said and done we finished just 13 minutes behind them. Great race, frustrating finish.

Thanks to Ryan's Dad, Glenn's Mom and Daughter Laura for being great support!

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