Greetings my friends! I realize that I’m a little late in writing my posts, but at least I eventually get around to it when I have the chance, right? Hee hee. As my title subtley implies, this post will be about a great race result I had a few weeks ago in Tweed at the Storm the Trent Adventure race that I was racing in and covering for Get Out There magazine. I ended up in 1st place in my category, which was solo male. There were a few others who finished before me, but they were either the team category or the solo masters category (I ended up 8th overall). However, the victory even in my category was not a sure thing given a few technical problems, so it’s at least worth a quick read of my race report to see how things unfolded on another beautiful day of racing. I also wasn’t alone out there. Deanna opted to tackle the ‘trek’ course (I was on the ‘trek elite’), and given the proximity to Trenton, Deanna’s folks came out to cheer us on as well. Accordingly, I’ve got some good pics of the race on top of the video review. Now read on to find out more!
Pictures from Race
For starters, let me give you all a quick overview of Storm the Trent. This is a race that has run for the last 11 years, and as such, it is a well-oiled machine, and fairly well known. It has been voted by Get Out There readers as the ‘Top Adventure Race’ for many years running, so I was rather curious to try it out. Although billed as an adventure race, it does differ in a few ways from a traditional adventure race, although not much. They stress an accessible format, which is to say it isn’t extremely difficult on the navigation front. However, there is still map plotting, and there were some off-the-trail sections in the ‘trek elite’ version of the race. Essentially, there are 3 races over the weekend. On Saturday was the ‘trek elite’, which was an 8 or so hour challenge. Then the ‘trek’ race, which was 5 hours. Finally, on Sunday, they run the ‘hike’ race which is a 3 hour race. Each of the races is a little easier than the other, with the hike being fully marked and more of an off-road triathlon type race. In the ‘trek’ race, the hiking checkpoints are right on trails, whereas in my race, we had to do actual bushwhacking, which could cost you time and places. All three races consisted of the traditional disciplines of paddling, mountain biking, and trekking.
As with the previous race, we were once again blessed with great weather. In fact, the race director commented that this was the best weather they’ve had in the 11 years that they put on this race. Sounds good to me. The terrain in the area was pretty flat, so it was clear that this would be a pretty fast and frantic race for the participants. Not usually my strong suit, but I was motivated to race hard and do well, and planned to seed myself at the front as the race got underway.
Another aspect of the race that simplified things was that there were minimal transitions. My course was set to be a paddle let to start, then a trek/run around the lake back to the start area where we grabbed our bikes for the bulk of the race. At a few spots on the bike leg, we’d have to drop the bikes to do trekking, and so had to take shoes with us. In learning my lesson the week before, I made sure my shoes would be well attached this time 🙂
Map prep and race briefing went pretty smoothly, but it seemed we’d probably start a little late, as a lot of people weren’t quite ready to go at close to start time, myself included. I was just dropping off a gear bag when I heard the director starting a 15 second countdown. WTF? Turns out he was quite serious about starting on time. Bad start for me. As I ran to grab my kayak and get in the water, I watched lots of people paddling off towards the first checkpoint. Well, at least I wouldn’t have to navigate, but just follow the crowd. I was a little annoyed, but it was my own fault, and I knew that in the long run, I’d claw my way back.
Well, clawing back didn’t quite happen on the paddle leg. Clearly this wasn’t my strong suit. I haven’t put enough time in the boat this spring. I held my own, but didn’t gain any spots. I saw quite a few kayaks on the shore at the transition, meaning I was a little bit back. Luckily, next section was a run section, where I should do well. Unfortunately, things went south there as well, with a few failed attempts at getting a couple checkpoints because I didn’t pay enough attention to the map. My problem was that I took the race too lightly form a navigation perspective. I expected it to be dead easy. When will I learn? It was still an adventure race!! Frustratingly, I knew I was still in the back of the leaders, so started running harder when we hit open road. Dividends started to payback now, and I passed a lot of teams by keeping a hard pace towards the bike transition. However, as I neared the end of that section, all the lead teams were passing me going the other way on their bikes, so I knew where I was in the pack.
I transitioned to my bike as quick as I could, moving my GoPro camera onto the bike before storming off and mashing the pedals furiously. Although I don’t think I’m a super-strong cyclist, I had no option now but to push hard. It was a lot of gravel roads, so I locked out the shock and pedaled hard. We had about 60km of riding to do, with some treks sprinkled throughout. Again, I started passing some teams, and soon found myself towards the front of the pack, riding with the ‘big boys’. I made good work on the treks for the most part, not losing much time. In fact, there was one point where apparently lots of the leaders spend 30mins searching for a CP that I grabbed in 5 minutes, so that helped propel me forward. That’s about the time my first mechanical issue reared up. My map board on my bike loosened up and couldn’t easily be fixed, so it just flopped loosely on my top tube, meaning I couldn’t bike and read the map easily. I had to flip it up by hand, get my bearings, then drop it again. It stayed like that for the rest of the race, annoyingly.
The good news is that pulling into the last transition to a trek section, I found myself in 3rd overall, and this looked like it would be an easy on-trail run. Well, stupidly, I made another bad error. I had marked a spot I wanted to bushwhack in pen on my map, then highlighted it. Unfortunately, the existing trails were also on the map. When the time came, I thought I had to follow the trail, instead of going off trail. I ran an extra 350m down, meaning an extra 700+m of running. I arrived back at the bikes just in time to see the lead pack take off. Damn! I was quite hopeful I’d pass them on the final bike leg though.
Pffffffffttttt! That was the noise I was greeted with upon getting on my bike to take up the chase. A completely flat front tire!! Curse my luck. I had to get off, and do a complete changeover in the blazing hot sun with about a million blackflies treating me like a buffet. I worked quick, but still lost at least another 10 minutes there. It was, to put it mildly, frustrating. It had been such a great race. I was resigned to be mid-pack now. Regardless, I put in a hard effort, and managed to keep my wits about me to grab the final few checkpoints that were just off the beaten path. Others apparently weren’t so lucky. Upon arriving at the finish line, a number of my friends were there to firstly congratulate me on my race, and secondly, and more important to them, rub it in that they beat me. Grrrr 🙂 After that hot race, it was nice to head back to the water for a quick dip in the ‘brisk’ waters.
As the afternoon wore on, I cleaned up my gear and packed stuff up. Grabbed a shower, and ate a great little meal all while watching more racers from both my race and the trek race coming in. I was anxious to see Deanna roll in. When she did arrive, she was all smiles, which made me very happy. She was tired, but had really enjoyed herself, and that was great to see! She’s come a long way in a couple summers, and is really enjoying this type of thing. Lucky for me! We stayed around for the awards ceremony, where I was extremely surprised when I was called up as the 1st place finisher in the male solo category! Deanna also landed on the podium, capturing 2nd in the solo female category in her race. In fact, most of the people at our table were podium winners of all categories (teams, ‘masters’ racers, etc). We joked about it being the champs table. All in all, a great end to the day for us all.
After all was said and done, we piled back into the car and headed to Trenton to spend time with Deanna’s parents. After all, the next day was Mother’s Day! We spent the whole day there, and I was able to clean up all my gear while Deanna hung out with her mom. It was a nice way to wrap up our weekend. Looking back on the race, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone. With the different race options, there truly is something for everyone, and gives people a great chance to experience what an adventure race is all about. If you haven’t done so yet, I highly encourage you to check out the video I put together, and put this race on your calendar for 2013! Till the next race, stay cool kids!