Breaking news… Jim Doucette and I managed to get a podium finish at the March 4th, 2006 Raid Pulse Winter Adventure race this past weekend. Yay bronze medal! I’ll update this post with a picture and full stats as they are added on to the main Raid Pulse website. We were third overall in the duo male category with a time of 6hrs. 20 mins. on the 5-8 hour, 45-50km course. The funniest (or not so funny) part of this win is that the race was 90% skiing, which was definitely not our strong suit. Just ask Jim what he thinks of cross-country skiing. The course wasn’t super-hard or anything, and I handled the navigation for the whole race. We did quite well on a certain portion of the course where other must have had problems. We were actually 3rd to cross the finish line as well. However, 6 other teams managed to get on to the ‘advanced’ course section, meaning the automatically place higher than ‘standard’ course finishers. I think that as a result, our overall placement was 8th. Either way, we were pretty stoked by the placing. Jim even informed me that this was his highest finish in a sprint race. He’s won before, but generally, that’s on multi-day races, which are his specialty (and where I’d like to become a specialist as well!).
The day itself started out a bit chilly, but turned into a gorgeous sunny winter day, warming up the snow, and causing a few problems for us with mushy snow, and me losing all my grip wax in the course of the race, resulting in a difficult last few kilometers on the skis (basically, I couldn’t ‘kick’, so I ended up trying to skate-ski to get up hills!). I even fell through the ice on one of the lakes on the course while wearing my snowshoes. Luckily, it was more like a marsh, so I was able to easly get myself out and keep going. The other thing we got to learn was that the snow this year HURTS! When you fall through it full force, there is a nice thick layer of ice buried, so for example, your arm goes through, then your forward motion is stopped dead by ice. The result: lots of little bruises all over my body from the various falls on hills.
By the time we got to the bike transition, we were more than happy to get off the ‘death sticks’ and put away the additonal dead weight we had to carry throughout the course (snowshoes, used for about 20 minutes in total!). The bike leg itself ended up being dead easy as well. We plowed through the 20-25k of biking, which was all on cleared roads, to the finish line. No mistakes were made, so we had a good ride. We actually regretted dropping the pressure in our tires. Usually, in winter, you’ll lower tire pressure to get better traction, but in this case, we mainly had to deal with water, so in fact the higher pressure would have given us more speed. Not that it really mattered, we weren’t that close to anyone else. I guess the spinning I’ve been doing has helped out as well. I felt good through the whole ride, and Jim and I traded off pulls at the front, breaking the icy wind. At the end, my feet were thoroughly frozen, I couldn’t feel them, but didn’t really care. No obvious frostbite, so it was time for a quick warm shower at the finish, then a nice little Heineken beer to celebrate.
All in all, it was a great day, and now I’ll get back to training. I don’t think I have any other races till May now. Good thing, since I’ve already polished off 5 races this year! I also ended up 4th overall in the Mad Trapper snowshoe race series, so my year is off to a good start!