Category Archives: Race Review Videos

Snowy start to Mad Trapper Night Race

i2P Link

Hello friends! I figured I had better get cracking on my latest race report. After all, another race is looming large in a day or so, and every weekend until March is booked with races, so I’m in peril of starting to fall behind once again! We can’t let that happen, so here I am to fill you all in on the Bushtukah Mad Trapper Night Race. This is one of the funnest, social, yet hard races of the winter season that I always look forward to. As you have probably pieced together using your powers of deduction, this race takes place under the cover of darkness. As with all Mad Trapper races, we find ourselves out at the Ark. However, to pick our way along the race course, we all wear headlamps. Race start is slated for 6:30pm, and that’s pitch black! As a result, this is one of the first races in a long time where I have absolutely no pictures or videos. Gets to be a lot of work to do that, so this race I was focusing on just racing hard. If you’d care to hear how that went for me (no spoilers this time in my teaser), click on past the link and read the full post.

First, let’s address the weather. Conditions were PERFECT. Probably the best they’ve ever been out there for a snowshoe race. Older snow had been long-ago packed, and on top, there was a huge amount of fresh powder, since we were in the middle of a heavy snowfall day! The snow was heavy, but not super wet, so it had just enough ‘give’ without being sticky either. The weather was half the problem for the day, as many people had problems just driving out to the Ark and getting up the big hills for the race. Some cars got stuck, others tried the ‘long way around’, and still others just turned tail and went home. In spite of that, there was still a great turnout, and a competitive crew out to challenge the course. Lucky for us, James Galipeau went around the whole course twice before the race, to make sure things were a bit packed, and that direction markers were clear. However, there was still a fair bit of snow to work through at the front of the race for the first lap.

As usual, I lined up at the front and planned to push hard to stay with the leaders. However, with the blistering pace newcomer Derrick St John has been setting at the front (leading to solid wins), the front pack trailed out faster than normal. I found myself in a happy little group of 4 pretty early on, with the 4 main leaders ahead of us. Our group of 4 eventually thinned to 2, Mike Abraham (aka, my shadow) and me. The other two had pulled ahead. Whenever Mike and I race together, we always seem to be pretty evenly matched. Whoever seems to feel better that day takes it. We’ve seen it at UXC, trail runs, and snowshoe races. This time, I wanted it just a little more than him, and although he stuck very close to me the whole first lap, I decided to try and pull away on lap number 2.

The course was the same as our first race of the season, which is to say the ‘flatter’ course, but still has a lot of nasty climbs. The two loops were supposed to be different, but with the volume of snow, Mike had opted to just set the single loop. This created an interesting 2nd lap. Whereas the first lap had a lot of snow and even ‘steps’ carved out on the hills from single sets of tracks, lap 2 was a completely different beast. Upon starting the 2nd lap, the trail now looked like someone had literally pushed a snowblower the entire way! Perfectly carved and packed the whole way, it was a superhighway to the finish. As to the rest of the scenery? Well, let’s just say it was out of this world. The snow on the trees, occasionally lit by headlamps with some swirling snow as well, was absolutely gorgeous. Too bad I couldn’t spend more time gawking. But I had a race to finish. I slowly pulled away from Mike meter by meter, eventually beating him to the finish by almost a minute. Final time for me was 1:08:35, whereas the winner finished in just under an hour! It may have only netted me a 6th place finish, but the effort was huge. According to Mr. Garmin, my average HR was 214, with a max of 245! I’m rather dubious about that, but expect my average was around 185.

Race Stats


Post-race feast for this race was Chili! I love post-race Chili. Especially with sour cream and shredded cheese. Deeee-licious! All participants seemed equally happy with that, as well as the cookies, chips, bananas, BROWNIES, etc. The snow had kept flying all evening, and the joke was that we were all going to have to crash at the Ark for the night unless the plow went by on these back country roads (luckily they did!). But to make the night even more special, we were hosting an auction / fundraiser for impossible2Possible, Ray Zahab’s not-for-profit organization. As a small group, we managed to raise over $1000 for this worthy cause. I walked away the proud owner of a new team jersey for Team SpiderTech, Canada’s up and coming pro cycling team. All in all, this was a magical, awesome night with a great race, great post-race meal, and fun auction benefiting a worthy organization. I can’t think of a better way I could have possibly spent my Saturday night. To cap the whole thing off, it was great to have Deanna with me the whole time, having completed her 2nd race of the season, sporting her fancy new headlamp, shiny snowshoes, and a big grin from a great performance she put on in the snow. It’s just awesome to watch her get more involved in these things and take an interest in even the …gasp!… training aspects of this crazy lifestyle I (we) live! Next up: Winterlude Tri, where I’ll be back with a full video review and pictures to share. Stay tuned!

Heading to the Land of the Hip for a Race

Starting Gun Sounds

Another week, and another race report for my loyal readers! This past weekend, I headed off towards Kingston (home of the Tragically Hip, in case you didn’t get the title reference), for what I think was my shortest race ever, but a great time nonetheless. I was there to do a video race review for Get Out There Magazine of the Dion Snowshoes Frontenac Park Snowshoe Race. A mouthful, isn’t it? I’ve done plenty of snowshoe races in our area as part of the Mad Trapper Snowshoe series each year, but this was the first time I ventured out of town to try my luck elsewhere. As it turns out, this race was also a qualifier for the Snowshoe Running World Championships for this year! That was part of my motivation to tackle this race. I secretly hoped I’d be in the top 3. Have a look at the pictures I posted on flickr, then click on past the link to read the rest of my thoughts on this well-run family-organized race.

For starters, we couldn’t have asked for better weather or conditions. Although it had been bitterly cold the past couple weeks, on race day in Frontenac Park, temperatures were probably somewhere around -11 degrees. This really doesn’t seem that bad when you are redlining for an entire race! Also, the snow cover was deep and plentiful. The night before, there was even a light dusting of snow, so we had fresh powder to start the race with. The course itself was very straightforward. A 6.7km run on existing trails near the entrance of the park. This was a fair bit different from what I’m used to at the Mad Trapper races. There were almost no hills, and virtually zero technical bits. In other words, this was a sprinters race. Straight, flat trails, with very few turns or tough hills to climb. As you can guess, this type of race does not favour me.

Race Stats

So, how about my competition you ask? Well, there were apparently originally 72 racers signed up, but a small group from the U.S. weren’t able to make it, so we were left with 62 racers, which is actually a great number for this type of race, and more than have made it to past events. Of those, a large portion were gunning to get free entries (including food, accommodation and race!) into the worlds. As a result, the field was deep and very talented. I didn’t know most of them, but this year’s current ‘fast guy’, Derrick St John from the Mad Trapper was there. Also, it turned out the reigning world champ was there. Hmm, wasn’t looking good for ole ActiveSteve at this point. Nonetheless, I stayed optimistic, and seeded myself at the front of the pack. The race was set to go promptly at 10am, and with all racers strapped up and a local TV camera crew on hand, the starting gun was sounded by a park ranger.

Much to my surprise, I found myself as the race leader right off the bat! I was being careful not to push too hard, and didn’t understand why I was at the front. Unsurprisingly, this feeling didn’t last long. As soon as we got over the first rise (and out of sight of the cameras), I was passed. And not just by a few people. I’m talking a veritable throng! In spite of the sadness I felt at being crushed, it was also humbling. I did my best to focus on staying in touch with some of front runners, but it didn’t take long for the race at the front to start to spread out. I maintained a very steady pace, and in my heart, I hoped that some of the younger guys had gone out too hard and I’d reel them in. Sadly, in a 6.7km race, there really isn’t an opportunity for that to happen. Frankly, I’m just not made for these ‘sprint’ races. Of course, I knew that going in, so there was no real surprise or angst.

Keeping my steady pace, I did manage to make up a couple spots by passing a couple of the folks who had ran past me earlier. But making up 12-13 spots in order to get one of the coveted “world’s” slots simply wasn’t in the cards. In spite of that, I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and a real feeling of accomplishment. It was my shortest ever race, but I kept a great pace for me, and pulled off my fastest pace ever in a snowshoe race. 16 out of 62 in a field like this was still pretty good. PLUS, I managed to snap pictures AND shoot video while racing for the magazine. After all, I was on the job too 🙂 You can see the results of my video review at the end of this post.

As alluded to, the overall winner was last year’s world champion, and he dusted the course in a time 10 minutes faster than me! Amazing! It was a real masters’ class in snowshoe running out there. They came from far and wide, and gave it their all on the course. At the finish, I didn’t hear a single person complain about their race though. Everyone seemed to have bested their time from the previous year, so apparently all that action up front pulled a lot of people along in the slipstream! Post-race, we piled back into the park trail office for the food and awards. There was a mini-buffet of bagels, pastries, cookies, granola bars, etc. Additionally, there was hot chocolate, recovery drink, and soup. After re-energizing with those, the awards got underway. There were a few funny prizes, like a giant roll of aluminum foil, as well as tons of home-made fleece socks that were made by the race director’s mom and are always a favourite at these races.

After a few final words, it was time for everyone to head their separate ways. It was only 1pm, and the day was absolutely stunning. It was very tempting to stay longer, but with the 2.5 hour drive ahead, and the fact that I had to get the video done, we decided to head home. Even though it was a big investment of time and effort for a short race, it was still very cool. If you’re ever in the Kingston area in the winter and looking for a fun event, see if there is a Dion snowshoe race on. You’ll have a great time and walk away (or limp) with a smile on your face! Next up for me, the Mad Trapper night race this weekend. No video this time, but it’ll still be a great time. If you’re still on the fence, now is the time to try a snowshoe race. At night, it’s even MORE fun 🙂 Till next time, keep praying for more snow (till the end of March anyway).

Video Race Review

1st Race of the 2012 Season in the Books!

Carl Sizes up Competition

Howdy sports fans! Welcome to 2012 and my first race report of the new year. The race in question was the second of 4 snowshoe races in the Mad Trapper series at the Ark in Denholm Quebec. I’ve made a decision this year that I’m going to try and shorten my race reports somewhat, since I suspect not everyone is a fan of epically long reports to go through 🙂 Instead, I’ll try to add some additional race information that’s easier to digest by everyone, including quick course and stat overviews, and video race reviews where I’ve done them. This was one such race, so I’d invite you all to check out the embedded video review at the end of this post. However, one thing that won’t change is my continued visual logs of events in the form of pictures I’ll post on Flickr. So, as usual, I invite you to browse the pictures I posted, then catch up with the rest of the report.

Pictures from Race

The weather for this race could hardly have been any more perfect than they were. We’d gotten a nice dump of snow during the week, so we had fresh snow that was only lightly packed by a few people that had prepped and checked the course. The great conditions also lead to an excellent turnout at the Ark for the race. It would appear that the word has finally spread more to the running community that these snowshoe races are excellent winter training. As such, there were a lot of speed demons there to challenge the course. Gone are the days of me hoping for a top 3 finish I think.

No matter, to me, the racing is increasingly just more about the pure enjoyment of it, and the lifestyle that it brings along with it. I couldn’t be happier than being out on a sunny winter’s day running through the woods on some snowshoes. I also wasn’t the only one from my house racing. Deanna, sporting her fancy new purple snowshoes, decided to come on out and race the 5k course. Awesome! She had also convinced a co-worker to come out and give it a whirl. I think they’ll also be giving the night race a try. Why don’t you all join us for this fun? What could be better on a Saturday night?

This was the so-called hilly course, named in honour of the many lung-burning climbs that competitors have to tackle on their way to the finish line. For the 5k course, you do 1 lap of this course, while the 10k competitors have the joy of crossing the line only to have to head back out for another loop. As usual, I lined myself up at the front of the pack with the speedy folks. I was also doing video for my review as we went along, which was a a bit tricky, but nothing I’m not used to. I stayed with the front group for a while, but I fell off a couple short kilometers into the challenge. There was a solid group of 6 guys that went off the front to not be seen again.

For my part, I was in a second group of 3 guys. We seemed to be pretty evenly matched, and I led our trio for the entire first lap, pacing us up the hills and bombing down the other sides. Unfortunately, at the end of lap 1 a little gap opened up after I paused for a drink of water. I fought to stay with the two others, and that was how I spent the rest of my race. Fighting hard, but just our of reach. I thought I’d get ahead of the guy right ahead of me, as on the steep hills, he seemed to be slowing down. However, he was aware of my presence, and seemed to dig deep just to make sure he didn’t lose his spot. Can’t say I blame him. It was a good battle, but in the end, I finished the race in 8th place. Not bad, but not awesome.

Race Stats


The post-race was spectacular as always, with a great spread of food, and lots of good friends to catch up with. Due to the numbers, there were some people there that I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was good to chat with everyone. Deanna was also very happy with her race, apart from some very painful blisters she developed on her heels. We’ll have to work on that to make sure the next race isn’t as painful for her! For the awards this time, Mike took an idea from our Christmas party where we did a gift exchange. Prizes were handed out, wrapped. Once there were no more prizes, winners had the option to steal from someone else. Also, people could either unwrap them or wait to see what was in them. It was pretty fun, although maybe a little long! No one seemed to mind though.

Once all the prizes were handed out and the food was gone, racers all went their separate ways to enjoy the rest of the day, which was stunning. It’s nice to be able to race, relax, and still be back home by around 2pm in the afternoon. We all left with smiles on our faces and looking forward to the next snowshoe race. I’ll be at that one as well, but won’t be doing a race video. Kind of tough to film in the dark after all :-), However, before that race is another snowshoe race I’ll be doing near Kingston, which will be a qualifier for the Snowshoe World championships! Wish me luck!! I will be doing a video from that one, so stay tuned. Till then, keep the waxed side down in the snow folks.

Video Race Review

Triathlon Tune-Up in Nation’s Capital

Happy at Finish

Welcome to another race report from me in this glorious summer weather that we’re having. As is often the case during the summer months, it becomes a bit challenging to keep things current on my website. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, it’s summer! I’d rather be outside doing stuff than trying to write great prose on my keyboard. Second, being summer, I have a lot of races and ‘stuff’ going on. Again, this limits my time to get things documented. And finally, this year, some of my races also have me acting as a race reporter, which adds to my post-race duties by producing and editing videos of the events. Getting tons of footage down to a 2 minute clip is actually quite challenging I’ve found, and takes a fair bit of time! At any rate, enough whining. I’m trying to catch up by writing up my race report for this year’s National Capital Triathlon that I just competed in. It was my 6th time competing in this event, and 4th doing the Olympic Tri distance (the other two times I did the Kayak Tri). Looking back, it turns out I haven’t done a proper Tri in almost 2 years, and it sort of showed in my results. I’ve swam about 3 times in that time, so I didn’t have very high hopes. However, with a looming Iron-distance triathlon, I knew I needed a little tune-up, so this event, a month before the Iron, seemed a good idea! Read on for a bit more on my race, and don’t forget to check out some pictures Deanna snapped!

Going into this one, I really had no pre-determined goals or time ideas. In fact, I didn’t even look at my past results or anything. I had no clue how my swimming speed would be, or whether I’d be able to push super-hard in all the disciplines. What’s even more refreshing, I didn’t care! I wore no heart rate monitor, and just wanted to go out, race hard, and have a fun time. My current trend in racing now is more about realizing that I will not improve without a lot more training, and I simply don’t want to commit to that much training for the improvements. Life has a lot more to offer me than training and the sacrifices that go with it. I have a motorbike now! Ha ha. I also have a new kayak that I like to paddle. But more specifically, I’m helping someone else grow their abilities on the bike and in the boats. Yup, I’m just enjoying spending time doing those things with Deanna. As a result, something had to give, and for me, that was podium dreams in most races. I’ll still go for it, but the obsession is just a little less these days. As long as I’m keeping fit and staying healthy and having fun, that’s good enough for me. After all, the pro sponsorship opportunities just never seemed to materialize. Guess I’ll be a working sucker till retirement!

Anywho, on with the actual race report. Luck was with us all once again on the weather front. It was an absolutely stunningly gorgeous day for a race. I was glad that the gun was going off at 8:30am, as a later start would have just been painful in the heat and sun. So, as groggy as I was getting up (and slightly resentful), it was for the best. Also, the early start meant we had the rest of the day ahead of us, and plans had already shaped up insofar as after the race, we’d be loading up the kayaks and heading to Meech Lake for some awesome Kayaking. I got to the site a little late, and had to rush to get my T-zone set up, as well as get my timing chip and body marking done. Along the way, I bumped into my friends Nicholas and Christine Allen, who were doing the Olympic and Sprint Triathlon respectively. I seem to see them at all the events I do, like ARs, Spartan race, and now this! Too funny. Great to see them though, and Nicholas and I ended up sort of racing each other within the race, which was fun. After getting my final checks done, I headed to the beach to zip up the wetsuit and await the start of the race.

To refresh everyone’s memories, in an olympic tri, you first swim 1.5km, then hop on bikes for a 40km time trial, and cap it off with a 10km road run. Taken individually, those are all relatively straightforward races, but string them together in one race, and you can have a lot of fun and challenges on any single leg. For the swim, as mentioned, I haven’t swam in a long time. However, I always say swimming is more art than strength. If you have a good stroke, you’ll always finish strong. Although I’ve not swam much, the overall time wasn’t too bad. I finished the swim in 30:46, which is about 2 mins. slower than the last 2 times I raced, and 2 minutes faster than the first time ever I’ve swam it. In other words, it was average for me. I was 41st out of the water to head to the bikes. The actual swim? Well, boring I suppose. As usual, the excitement at the start is when all the people are clamouring to get their space, with arms and legs flailing, you unavoidably get hit. Nothing new there. I focused on keeping my pace and swimming straight. Had I done a better job, I would have been faster. However, I felt good at the exit, and was ready to tear it up on the bike course.

Now on to the 4-lap, 40km individual time trial bike portion. When I hit the road, there weren’t too many other souls out there yet. I managed a pretty quick transition, and passed a couple folks while in the transition. Good start. Hopped on the bike, tucked into my aero position, and started mashing the pedals. As usual, the bike was super-comfortable, and I got into a nice groove. I expected to be able to maintain a pretty decent clip, and sort of hoped my time would compare to other tris I’ve done. Turns out my legs were a bit slower though. Perhaps it was the hard 50k I’d logged 2 days before with Kev in Gatineau Park, or perhaps I’m just too used to my leisurely commute riding rather than hard racing. Either way, my average speed was around 33km/h for the 40k course. That’s about 2km/h slower than my best, but faster than the other two attempts. However, it was good enough to have the 32nd fastest bike split of the race. So again, I’d call that a solid performance, perhaps slightly better than average for me. That only leaves the run course.

Ahhh running, how I love to hate thee :-). My transition from biking to running seemed even smoother than the swim to bike. I racked my bike, threw on my running gear, and was back out on the course with a very quick turnaround. Again, I noted that I passed a couple folks that had come off the bike at about the same time as me. I settled pretty quickly into a steady pace, once again paying no attention to what my watch might tell me about pacing, and rather, just focusing on my stride and how I felt. I got down to the business of picking people out ahead of me, targeting, and ultimately passing them. After a little bit I saw my friend Nick up ahead. We had been pretty close through the whole race, but he had said the run would be his undoing. I resisted the urge to sprint towards him, and instead just kept my pace. There was a woman with me keeping me at a pretty good pace. I found out at the finish that she was actually the 1st female overall (due to my help, stay tuned!). Working together, we got closer and closer to Nick. He glanced back a few times, seeming to be just waiting for the pass. He said he could hear my breath getting closer. I finally passed him on the first half of the 2nd 5k loop.

Once I had passed him, I kept my pace steady, running along with Michelle and chatting a little with her. At a few hundred meters to go, she said “We have to catch her”. This was in reference to a tall figure up ahead of us. Seeing as I liked targets, I said “sure thing” and gradually picked up my pace, dragging Michelle along with me. The gap was getting closed painfully slowly, and I finally caught up to the other woman on the final climb into the finishing chute. I picked up my pace slightly at the finish, crossing the line just ahead of them, unsure which of the two crossed first. If you look at the results, you’ll see all 3 of us had a time of 2:29:34, but Michelle was just after me, than the other woman. She credited me for the win, as I had paced her perfectly in order to get the pass at the finish. I felt a bit bad for the other woman, but was also kinda happy to be part of a rivalry out there :-). My time of 46:09 for the run was good enough for 14th overall in the run, and sewed up 22nd overall for me in the race. Best I can recall is that at the end of the bike, I had been sitting at 40th overall, so I made up 18 spots on the run. Very respectable. I’m pretty sure I’ll be counting on a strong run at the Iron distance tri to make up for shortcomings in the water and possibly on the bike!

All in all, it was a good day out on the race course, and I felt great for the whole event. So good in fact, that after eating and cleaning up a bit, we loaded up the kayaks and went paddling for over 3 hours on Meech Lake. Our reward for the day? Well, from our kayaks, we spent 20 minutes at one point watching a mama bear and her two cubs from about 10m from the shore. It was pretty incredible. They were foraging, playing and just generally wandering around near the water. At one point, mama let me know I was getting too close by standing up and snorting and huffing a bit. That was enough to convince me to back off a bit. She looked surprisingly large when standing up! Luckily, we were pretty sure we could out-paddle a swimming bear. Best I can tell is that a black bear can swim up to 8km/hr, whereas in my boat, I can easily manage 10+ km/hr (faster if being chased by a bear I’m sure!). So to summarize the whole day: perfect! Great race, great paddle with Deanna, and great relaxing once all was said and done. Next up: a short adventure race with Deanna, including a video review for Get Out There.

A Little Urban Adventuring

Team on Boats

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard of the Amazing Race, and that most of your are familiar with adventure racing, and that you’ve perhaps also heard of City Chase, a race series that sort of (loosely) combines elements of both AR and the Amazing Race. In a word, they call City Chase an urban adventure challenge. Well this post will give you a taste of how the City Chase actually works, as Deanna and I recently competed in the Ottawa installment. Like the Spartan Race a few weeks back, I was taking part in the race to provide a video race review for Get Out There Magazine. If you’d like to see the video I put together (it’s kind of frantic), have a look at the YouTube video. I actually had no idea how the race would actually play out, as I only knew roughly what it was about, which is that you race around the city using public transit to complete ‘Chase Points’. First team of 2 that does 10 of them and returns to the finish wins. Plain and simple. Well, as we learned, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. For our first time, we were actually pretty happy to finish in 172nd place in a time of 5hrs 26mins out of over 500 teams that started out. Besides the little video review I put together, you can also check out the photos that I snapped and posted on flickr. As I was focused on the video and racing, there aren’t too many I liked. When you’ve had a peek at those, pop on back and read about the race!

Okay, so we’ve established that in City Chase, there are Chase Points and you race around the city. You can only go by foot or public transit, which in the case of Ottawa means the O-Train or buses. Every participant was given a 1-day bus pass to use for that purpose. Being a Saturday though, I knew a lot of the routes would have limited bus runs, so Deanna and I did a lot of walking instead of waiting. Lucky for us, the weather on race day was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny skies and temps that would eventually climb to around 30 degrees. Hydration would be important over the course of the 6 hours. I should point out that the race has a hard cap. All teams must have crossed the finish line by the 6 hour mark to officially finish. This can be tricky with the public transit equation, and plays into strategy. Given that 40 or so teams ‘tied’ for 384th with a time of 6 hours even, I’m guessing they let that slide a bit. Amazingly, the top team finished in just over 3 hours! Preparation is the key, which leads me to the explanation of Chase Points.

After a group warm-up at city hall, and a race briefing, the Chase was on. We were told the Official Clue Sheet was available at Lisgar Field, meaning all 1100 racers would be bolting over there to get the information. The clue sheet outlines the Chase Points, and lays out the rules. In total, there were 31 possible Chase Points set in 4 groups. In the first 3 groups, you HAD to complete at least 2 of the chase points (these groups had 3, 4, and 4 CPs respectively), then choose 4 from the 4th group. I expected each clue would just tell you where to go and the nature of the challenge. Nope! It is actually a list of different puzzles, like cryptograms, plays on words, cryptic clues, etc. For example, our first CP we went to was called “Tinkle Toes” and the clue read: Bih-kuhm uh pruh-fesh-un-nl bawl-room dahn-ser aht wuhn uhv thee lee-ding dahns stoo-dee-ohs in ot-uh-wuh. Meet uhs aht wuhn huhn-drid and fif-tee-wuhn Chap-uhl Street. Obviously it was just a phonetic clue, so I got it quickly, but there were all sorts of other puzzles to unscramble.

Experienced teams took clue sheets and basically sat down with a map and smartphone. They worked at unscrambling the clues and trying to figure out where each of the challenges was, and tried to plot an efficient route between them that they could complete as quickly as possible in order to get back to the finish line quickly. Also, those keen on winning probably did CP #1, which was done in advance by raising at least $50 for Right to Play. Deanna and I were not quite as experienced, instead trying to figure out a nearby one we could start with. However, there were also 3 CPs which were awarding VIP line passes to the first 25 teams through, allowing teams to skip to the front of the line if they got to busy CP. I thought that might be a good idea, so with that in mind, we bee-lined for the dance studio to do Twinkle Toes. This was a matter of a jog through downtown to get to Rideau and Chapel. Luckily, we were amongst those first 25 teams, and the challenge, which had us do a dance routine, wasn’t too hard, and we were awarded our VIP pass. Happy with this, we set back out into the sun to get to our next CP, which we hadn’t decided on yet. We’d already burned up about 45 minutes for 1 CP!

To solve a couple of the clues, we had to get creative, first calling on Kevin to try and work on a crossword puzzle for us, then rummaging in a store recycle bin to get a Friday newspaper, which had a clue buried within it. While working on the puzzles, we headed back to the Ottawa U campus on foot, where one of the CPs was, and it was right up my alley! Put on by the Ottawa Orienteering Club, you were given a map of the campus indicating the location of 10 control points that you had to punch. I got to work on it right away, running from point to point with Deanna on my heels. We got all 10 controls in about 17 minutes, one of the fastest times of all the racers. Having completed only 2 CPs, we were starting to get nervous already, as we had 8 to go! We decided we’d need to actually do a little planning and strategizing. We now had 2 ‘optional’ CPs done, and needed all our mandatory ones. With that in mind, we solved a bunch of the clues and made a rough plan. We would head downtown where we could pick up 1 CP on Queen Street, 2 CPs on Bank Street, then head out to LeBreton for another CP. Grab a bus towards Westboro where we’d pick up 2 more CPs, then take a bus to the O-Train. From there, take train to Mooney’s Bay for our final 2 CPs before transiting back to the finish line. With a freshly-minted plan, we headed out on foot with purpose.

Our next CP had us at the Royal Oak at 188 Bank, where we had to each prepare a drink and serve to the judge. There was a huge line-up, but our VIP pass was used for maximum benefit here, allowing us to skip the line. Perfect! Sadly, there was no real alcohol in the drinks, and they weren’t something you’d want to sample, as it was dirty glasses and questionable ingredients. Too bad, as it was getting pretty darn hot. Deanna had one slight problem with her drink. Rather than reading ‘1/2 oz’ of Vodka, she tried pouring a 1/2 glass of vodka! The judges admired her strong drink mixing skills, but decided it might be best to try again :-). In spite of that, we were in and out quickly.

Further down the street at Bank and Gilmour, we grabbed a Blackberry from Rogers for the next challenge, which was to take 4 pictures (out of 6 possible clues) within 30 minutes and bring them back to the judges. This was another pretty quick task, which we completed lickety-split. We were now getting a bit more confident and had found our groove. There were lots of other teams out and about, all having a great time and shouting out to each other all through downtown. We now headed up to Queen Street to find the GoodLIfe fitness. Once there, we had to spend 7 minutes on spin bikes sweating it out as an instructor shouted instructions. If we weren’t totally hot from the sun, this workout put us WAY over the top. We finished the challenge and stepped back out totally drenched and looking for some relief.

Lucky for us, our next CP was just the ticket. We now made our way to the west end of downtown to find the whitewater practice area around LeBreton Flats, where inflatable kayaks awaited us. For this challenge, we had to grab a boat, and navigate the whitewater gates down the river for a bit before pulling out and carrying the boat back to the start. The water was a nice refreshing treat, even though we didn’t get to stay or swim for very long. However, the rocks and sand were absolutely scorching, causing both of us to burn our feet! Once again, we had a great run there, and were back on our way soon, this time heading for the transitway to grab a bus to Westboro. Destination? The Ottawa Gymnastics Centre for a super-fun CP where we got to do trampoline work, climb ropes, play on the rings, the pommel horse, balance beam, and the rings. The piece de resistance for us here was doing 5 cartwheels in a row, which anyone who knows Deanna might realize she wasn’t particularly good at those. However, under pressure, she nailed it!

Our reward for a job well done awaited just down the street at the CP called ‘The Mask’. This CP was located at a spa, and entailed me giving Deanna a lovely cucumber and peppermint facial. She had to wear the mask for 3 minutes. Once the time was up, I cleaned her up, and we had to take a ‘mystery shot’, which ended up being apple cider vinegar. YUCK! Luckily, it was watered down by the time we got to it, thanks to the many teams before us. With this CP done, we were left with only 2 more CPs, both of which were at Mooney’s Bay. A bus and the O-Train later, we were jogging to the site. First up was a puzzle CP where we had to assemble 6 puzzles of places in the world, and match the name of the place to each one after making the puzzle. The puzzles were pretty straightforward, and we quickly worked through them, also correctly matching the place names since I knew most of them from sight. Our only problem was the wind which had picked up and kept blowing our puzzle pieces away. Kind of frustrating, but what can you do?

Our very last CP was right up my alley as well. It involved paddling a kayak out to a buoy and back. However, it wasn’t THAT easy. The real challenge was that your teammate had to be seated on the front of the boat as you paddled. If you flipped, you had to start again. There were a range of boats, and one caught my eye. Fat and wide. Ultra stable. I told Deanna to just hop on the front and we’d get ‘er done quick. Sure enough, no problems. As we were out there, we saw another team trying the same, but they had picked a sleeker kayak, and didn’t fare well. In other words, they flipped! On our return I suggested they take our kayak. After all, we were all done and only had to get to the finish line now. Wrapping up was quick and painless, as we just had to take transport back to the Rideau Centre and walk over to City Hall. We’d had a great day and were plenty hot, so we were looking forward to finishing up. Hand in hand, we ran to the finish to complete the Challenge. Once there, they told us we were among the first 180 teams to finish, and directed to get a goodie bag.

Amongst the goodies? Two free beer tickets to use at the Hard Rock for the post-race party! Awesome! What a great way to finish the race. After hanging around for a little bit, we hit the market and the bar for beers. We sat with a few other racers and swapped stories. It was fun to hear about some of the other CPs that we didn’t get to try, including one where you had to let a tarantula or snake crawl all over you! The bar was totally full now, as more and more teams finished off and made their way here. We only stayed a little bit, as we’d also decided to head over to Zak’s for milkshakes, then join Dave and Meghan at Hintonburger for some delicious supper. All in all, a really fun way to spend a summer day with Deanna, and getting to show her a bit more about the city she now calls home. Can’t say for certain, but I can see us doing it again next year as well. Next time I’m sure we’ll approach it even more strategically and try to better our last time :-). Till that time, have fun, and hope you’re all enjoying the fine weather as well! Ciao.

Pick Me to Be a Race Reviewer

The Video

The [brief] Pitch

So, you’re looking for dynamic, energetic, race reviewers to give you two-minute video reviews of races they do this year in exchange for paying entry fees? Well, I’d say I’m your reviewer! I’ve got a full slate already this year, but if you’re willing to foot the bill, I’m more than happy to add more races. Curious about me and my race career?

The Proposed Races

Although I’ve already registered for a lot of my races this season, there are a few more that I’d love to do, and with your support, I can actually enter them! Here are the races in question: