Wow! Another scorching, sunny race day. This was the third race in 3 weeks of back to back racing, so I was rather surprised that my ‘luck’ with the weather held up for yet another event! Where was I this time? Well, not too far from home. About one hour north of Gatineau in a little wilderness area near Denholm. And boy was it gorgeous out there! Definitely a spot I’d keep my eyes open for a little plot of land for a cabin/cottage. I was up there for the 5-8 hour Raid Pulse adventure race, a perennial favourite of mine that I’d once again be covering for Get Out There. As it stood, I was supposed to race this one solo, but two days before the event, I got a call from a friend of mine who was looking for a navigator / team-mate. I saw no reason to decline, so in a last minute twist, I was thrown onto a team. Would be fun to be put into that category and see how we did. Of course, I managed to snap some pics as well as get my video review done while on the race, but read on for a few more insights as to how the race went for us.
Pictures from Race
As mentioned, the day was bright and sunny, and since it was so close to home, I drove up the morning of the race. Of course, that meant being up at 5am, but the benefit and cost savings of sleeping in my own bed outweighed the early morning drive. My team-mate J-R was already on site, as he’d driven down the night before. We breezed through registration, and before we knew it, I was plotting the maps and we were getting through race briefing. There were a lot of familiar faces, and I could tell the competition would be stiff this day. All adds to the fun though, right? The course itself was no great surprise. Started with a long challenging bike, leading to an orienteeering-style trekking section, biking back to the water for the paddling section, which included an advanced section for those that made the time cutoffs. There was no doubt we’d be pushing to get that part done in this race. We were warned of the challenge of the opening bike leg, and that teams less comfortable on bikes and in trails would find it very tough. Given that J-R and I had both done the 7-day BC Bike race in the past, and had lots of experience, we weren’t too concerned.
We lined up on the dusty road with all the other competitors and awaited the start signal. We set ourselves up at the front, and when the flag dropped, we tore out of there with the leaders. We quickly got dust-blind and choked on dirt from all the racers. Luckily, we were soon in the woods speeding along the faint trails. Our pace was high, and I could already feel the strain. I should mention that J-R is a spinning instructor, and teaches 3+ times a week. He’s also about 6.5 feet tall. I was at a clear disadvantage here. I let him know that I knew what pace I could sustain, and had to dial him back a tad. Luckily, he’s experienced enough to take it in stride, and helped by pushing me a few times on some hills to keep the momentum up. We were in a comfortable position, somewhere in the top 3-5 teams, trading off with a couple other teams. We held on to that spot as best we could throughout the bike section. The heat was also starting to be a factor, as with the humidex it was well over 30. I feared that either he or I would crack later. Stay tuned for that…
Coming off the bikes at the transition, we could see we were still in good shape, as there weren’t too many bikes in the transition zone yet. We changed our shoes quickly and took off at a gentle trot into the trails. We had planned out our attack on the 5 CPs by making a few assumptions on the best way to bushwhack vs follow trails, hoping we had the most efficient routing. Our navs were very solid, and we found the checkpoints with very little difficulty. We crossed a few teams in the woods, heading various ways, but that’s never a cause for concern when you’re doing an o-style trek, as you can pick off the CPs in any order. At about 3/4s of the way through our trek, after having come out of the trickiest bushwhack section, we came out with one of the teams we were fighting hard with.
Kinetic had chosen a slightly different route, and although they’d generally be faster than us, our solid navigation put us neck and neck with them (so we thought). Sadly, not long after linking with them and jogging a trail together, I got afflicted with my traditional super-cramps in my hamstrings. DAMN! So much for a fight to the finish. We watched helplessly as they kept jogging along. We followed as best we could, but about a kilometer later, I really didn’t like the features I was seeing. Water on left made no sense, as we were supposed to be on a trail heading to CP5. I confirmed our mistake on the next bend, and we had to double back, and chose to bushwhack to grab it. We couldn’t believe they’d already gotten it and had headed out. They must have been a LOT faster than we thought. Luckily we saw no other teams, so the mistake hopefully didn’t cost us too much.
We finished the trek, hopped back on the bikes, and pedaled towards the paddle. Later, in the distance, we saw another team heading back towards us. Odd. Wait a second, that was Kinetic! Turns out they had totally missed CP5, got all the way to the paddle before realizing it, and had to double back. And just like that, we jumped up 2 spots (they were racing as 2 teams of 2)! Buoyed by this good fortune, we put on the jets and tore off for the paddle. At the put-in, we were told we were still in the top grouping, and were doing well. We also had lots of time for the advanced section, so we wasted no time.
Luckily, in the paddle, my cramping was somewhat alleviated, and there was no way either of us could be faster than the other as we were in the same boat :-). The paddle was pretty straightforward for navigating, and I hit every landmark dead on, which meant we didn’t waste any time. To do the advanced, we had to do a murderous portage up and over a very steep (but thankfully shortish) hill to reach another lake. That was a challenge, as there was no portage trail, and manhandling a big canoe is tough (they tend not to bend easily around trees). We cursed loudly and often, but put in on the other side in a fairly efficient manner. We grabbed the first advanced CP, and bee-lined for the next.
That was when we realized we were suddenly being shadowed by another male duo team. We kept the pressure on through the next CP, as well as another portage, and another 2 CPs. However, the eventually overtook us very slowly, and steadily starting putting distance on us. We had hoped to try to stay close and beat them on a foot race, but at the far end of the paddle, we knew it was a short 500m run up stairs to the finish line, so it looked doubtful. Our last chance was when they took a slightly longer route on one side of an island, and we hoped we’d pop out closer. No dice. We knew the game was up. We watched them pull out of the water, and slowly start making their way up the stairs. They were fully aware there was no need to run unless we got closer. It was a bit maddening, but the battle had been well fought, so I’ll take nothing from their victory over us :-).
In spite of all that, we still managed a nice little finish run, and were greeted with high fives from the co-director Annick who was there to record times. Best part of the finish? FREE BEER at the finish! I don’t think I’ve ever been in an adventure race that supplies beers at the finish. We treated ourselves to one, and milled about with other racers reflecting on the great day of racing. When all the results were tallied a few days later, we found out that we ended up 6th in our category, and a respectable 9th overall in a deep and talented field. Given our slight errors and my cramping, I’m pretty happy with that result. The race concluded, as always, with a great meal, and a chance to swap stories with all the other racers, as well as a lot of draw prizes and recognition of all the winners. At one point, there were calling us up as the 2nd place co-ed team, which we had to decline (J-R had originally been registered as duo-mixed!). Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that.
With the Raid Pulse race out of the way, and 3 hard races back to back, I was taking the next 2 weekends “off”. Meaning I was going to build a shed, build raised beds, create a foundation for, and install a hot tub, etc. etc. But that’s just my life. I don’t like standing still. Hope you are all staying active and busy as well, especially now that the good weather is truly upon us! Next up will be the Super Spartan race in Mont Tremblant, where I’m hoping for a good result! See you all then.